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Drink of the Week: Tokyo Rose 

Fumanchu
7336 Manchester Road, Maplewood
314-647-3331

Though many brothers and sisters share characteristics — the width of the bridge of the nose, jaw line, eye color — it's usually outsiders who can see the similarities most clearly, and once the connection is made, it inevitably results in an: "Oh, you must be a [last name]." If you've ever visited Fumanchu's sister restaurants, nearby Boogaloo and El Scorcho, you'd consider the familiarity in their similar shotgun-style layouts, pressed-tin ceilings and how each restaurant's theme is carried out to a campy, ultimately attractive end. "Oh, you must be a Johnson," you'd say, immediately placing its genetic makeup squarely in the Mike Johnson family of Maplewood restaurants.

We think about genetics every time we look at our phone that's up on the bar. We're waiting on the call that'll launch us into full-on responsibility mode. Our sister's a week overdue with her fourth child, and we've volunteered to watch the other three whenever Number Four is ready to make his (her?) grand entrance. What will this one be like? The possibilities of genetic combinations are more numerous than a Yahtzee game that goes on for eternity.

Fumanchu's walls are deep crimson and the decor, like the place itself, is whimsically exaggerated in nature. Yes, the place is named after the fictional mustachioed mastermind, and if that already sounds offensive, then you probably won't get much out of the old kung fu flicks that are projected onto the wall near a pair of comically large nunchaku. What looks like two ceiling fans joined by their bases swirl overhead, while huge underlit, overturned lotus leaves emit a red-orange glow over the booths that line one wall.

Geographically speaking, Fumanchu has a lot of ground to cover in its pan-Asian theme, and their cocktail menu takes up the challege. Sake is featured in heavy rotation here and some — like strawberry-and-lychee and pineapple — is infused in-house, behind the bar.

We order the Tokyo Rose. And no, we don't see any apparent similarities between this drink and English-speaking women who broadcast Japanese propaganda during World War II. Rather, it's Gekkeikan sake, lemonade and muddled strawberries, and like all of Fumanchu's cocktails and martinis, it's $7.50. With the bits of strawberry and the lemonade, the drink's color results in the palest orange. We're surprised how nice a complement the sake is to both the fresh strawberries and the lemonade, playing off their sweet and sour tastes without masking the spirit of either. This is, hands down, our favorite drink of the summer.

We check the phone again. Nothing. We order a second drink.

If the kid turns out to be a boy, maybe we'll take him to see a Fumanchu movie. By the time he's four, it's possible Disney will have co-opted the character, transforming it into a loveable hero. And if it's a girl, by the time she's four, we will have already signed her up to be a Chinese Olympic gymnast.

But mostly, we'll impart the enjoyment that comes with not taking any of this stuff too seriously.

Got a drink suggestion? E-mail kristie.mcclanahan@riverfronttimes.com

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July 29, 2020

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