You may not expect that a chain restaurant known for performative griddlework would inspire intense self-reflection, but that’s part of what makes Jaya Saxena’s piece about training to be a teppanyaki chef such a lovely surprise. Come for the onion volcano, stay for the many other layers Saxena peels back.

I think about the toll of that kind of performance and the burden of framing your culture primarily as “fun.” The menu that has barely strayed from steak and shrimp and fried rice. Spending all night slicing and dicing and flipping to applause, then reemerging into a world that values you only for your ability to conform to its preconceptions. Perhaps you think of yourself mainly in terms of how well you live up to others’ expectations, even if you never agreed to them, and fret about performing that role. Perhaps there’s barely room to think of what else you could — or want to — offer. Anyway, there is no show good enough to earn you acceptance. But still, you hope.