You have that “life is good” feeling when you find yourself approaching your restaurant of choice, and a parking spot becomes available. Others see it, but it’s yours for the taking and you are parked in front of Kaya at 2000 Smallman Street a few minutes before your 11 a.m. brunch reservation. No three-block walk. No $5 or $10 parking lot fee. Just lock the car and walk into the restaurant. Life is indeed good.

Two minutes after locking the car, I found myself looking at the menu trying to decide between Fried Chicken with Waffles or Eggs Benedict when I noticed the Ox Tail offering. I can only remember having a few opportunities to eat ox tail, and at those times, I decided to go in a different direction. But this time I would be adding ox tail to the foods I’ve tried and hopefully enjoyed. So as my wife ordered the Eggs Benedict, I requested the Ox Tail with Fried Rice as if it were something I did all the time.

My meal was a combination of Fried Rice and Ox Tail mixed with scallion, carrot, green beans, soy, ginger, cilantro and sambal topped with a plain egg omelet. It was good; there was a unique earthy flavor that I can only describe as sort of beefy, a little spicy and pleasant.

Since this was the first time I can remember eating Ox Tail (or sambal for that matter), I can’t tell you if it was good Ox Tail or not. But I can say that it was a satisfying meal that forced my taste buds to expand their horizons. Discovering new foods is both exciting and challenging. I can’t eat something one time and feel that I know much about it, but I’m looking forward to experiencing this unusual sounding nourishment in the near future.

Since my brunch at Kaya, I’ve discovered that Ox Tail is enjoyed by everyone from the world’s poorest folks to diners at some of France’s most expensive restaurants. I can now add myself to that list.

By Tom Pollard