The city of Lexington is full of many things for families to do during the day–there’s The Candy Factory, a place that has hard-to-find treats; there’s the Bob Timberlake Gallery, which exhibits many of the local artist’s works; or there’s Lanier’s, which is Lexington’s only downtown hardware store. But, if you’re over twenty-one, and don’t want to go to bed before 10:oo p.m., there’s very little to do.
Enter Shoto, a very unassuming Japanese hibachi restaurant, which sits just off of Main Street.
The interior of the restaurant is neatly decorated with high ceilings that let in light through big windows, Japanese woodcuts hanging on the walls, and intimate tables. The upstairs is a little more private, and hidden away from the main floor. There is no real indicator that the restaurant is anything more than just a restaurant, besides a set of curtains sitting in the back of the upper room.
Stepping behind those curtains, though, is like walking through a door in Alice in Wonderland–a completely different world exists therein. The walls, mostly brick, are covered with art from local artists, there is a pool table, and a bar stocked with artisan beers. Jimmy Huynh, the owner of the bar, and of the restaurant, is the Sam Malone of Lexington, he literally knows everybody’s name. (This might have something to do with the fact that Lexington is such a small town, and his bar is, to my knowledge, the only one in town.)
The place had been redecorated since we had been there last because a fight between two strippers in the bar had left it a wreck. Jimmy gets all kinds of characters in there, but they are mostly young people, which is refreshing since, as mentioned, there is little to do in Lexington. Jimmy also has all kinds of stories about the bar’s many frequenters. We asked him why there was a pair of mangled glasses dangling from the bar and he said, “Oh, someone tried to run out on their tab.” Apparently, a person tried to leave the bar without paying, and was chased down by bar patrons in a group effort, and then beaten up. All they could get were his glasses. So, now they remain a grisly trophy, and a reminder to other patrons.