WASHINGTON - Scoring a table at the Tokyo pop-up of the world's finest restaurant for your 39th birthday is hard. Finding the perfect date to join you can be even harder.
Mobile tech entrepreneur Stephanie Robesky was among the lucky few to get a reservation at Noma, open only until Valentine's Day in the Japanese capital, out of 60,000 who applied.
Even better, it's on her birthday, during the last week of January.
But with no one special in her life right now, the San Francisco single gal posted a date-wanted notice on her Nerdgirl.com blog with a demanding set of criteria.
Single. Male. Between 28 and 46 years of age. Good conversational skills. "Easy on the eye," in her words, and capable of using a fork and knife correctly.
"I was thinking, if I got 10 people who applied, that would be nice," she told AFP by telephone on Tuesday. "And then it just got crazy."
As of Tuesday, more than 300 applications had come through, and Robesky expects still more to trickle in before she calls a group of friends over to help her come up with a short-list.
She'll then invite the three most interesting prospects out for coffee - hence the stipulation they must all be from the San Francisco Bay area - before making a final decision by Friday.
The winner must pay his own way to Japan, and get his own accommodation. But Robesky will pick up the tab at Noma, which runs at 64,900 yen (S$734) for the multi-course meal with wine pairings - before tax and tip.
So heated is the competition that 82 friends of one hopeful, software engineer Kyle VanderBeek, have signed an online petition at Change.org urging Robesky to pick him.
"If you ask the undersigned, 'Who would you want to break bread and sup deadly hornet larvae with?,' we the undersigned would unanimously choose. Kyle," they said. "Kyle's your guy."
Likes: reading, movies and good food
Robesky's quest got an unexpected boost when Noma's 37-year-old chef Rene Redzepi - who founded Noma in 2003 in Copenhagen - gave it a shout out on his Twitter feed on Sunday.
"Single 'Nerd Girl' wants Bay area dude for epic Tokyo Dinner," the Danish champion of New Nordic cuisine wrote.
Crowned the world's best restaurant by Britain's Restaurant magazine for four of the past five years, including 2014, Noma is at Tokyo's Mandarin Oriental hotel from January 9 until February 14.
It welcomes no more than 44 guests for lunch and dinner, with a set menu and wine pairings, and Redzepi himself in the kitchen with his 50-strong team brought over from Copenhagen.
Robesky, whose big circle of friends mostly consists of gay men and married couples, and who gave up on her online dating accounts on New Year Day, concedes her approach is bold.
"I know what I want and I'm successful at what I do, and if that is seen as a bad quality for women, which I think it is sometimes, I don't care," she said.
On her blog, she describes herself as five-foot-six and "slim shady." She enjoys reading, movies and "bad TV," scuba diving, playing the ukelele, bald cats and eating "good food."
But on her mission to find the right companion, ready to cross the Pacific for her one-of-a-kind birthday dinner, she's learned that "there are a lot of interesting people out there."
"This has renewed my faith in dating in the Bay area."