Thursday, April 29, 2010

Restaurant Mannan

On 18th April, hubby and I had lunch at a Bangladeshi restaurant named Mannan. The restaurant has newly opened this spring and is located inside a supermarket chain named Gran Mart of Izumi town in Akita. The restaurant is about 50 kilometers away from our home and it took us one hour to reach there by our car.
Mannan restaurant at Green Mart supermarket

The restaurant is extremely clean as it has opened just one month ago. A huge poster is present at the entrance of the restaurant that provides information about the restaurant and a brief explanation of Bangladeshi food. There are many table seats inside the restaurant. We chose to sit in a semi-private room. Toys of an elephant and an auto-rickshaw were placed on the windowsill of this room, which looked very cute and the restaurant looked rather authentic.
Hubby standing at the entrance of the restaurant

Semi-private room inside the restaurant

There were several choices for lunch and it was a bit challenging for us to decide what to order off the menu. Finally, hubby ordered palak paneer and rice. I ordered coconut chicken curry and naan bread. Hubby and I shared our food so that we could taste both the curries. Naan was soft and chewy. Both the curries were simple and delicious. The aroma, flavor, and taste of the curries were authentic which reminded me of my mother’s home-cooked food that tastes somewhat similar to Bangladeshi food. We enjoyed our lunch very much.
Menu front


Palak paneer and rice

Hubby having lunch

Coconut chicken curry and naan

Me having lunch

Bangladeshi shawls were provided at each table and I wrapped it around me just for the sake of taking a photo.
I am wrapped in a shawl

We liked the food of Mannan restaurant and would definitely visit again.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hong Kong House

On 27th March, a few of hubby’s office colleagues and their families had dinner party at a Chinese restaurant named Hong Kong House located in Yurihonjo city. The restaurant serves a unique style of Japanese Chinese cuisine that is very popular, distinct, and caters to Japanese tastes but is not necessarily typical authentic Chinese cuisine.

Hong Kong House restaurant is located about three kilometers away from our home. One of hubby’s office colleagues gave us a ride to the restaurant and it took us about ten minutes to reach there by her car. Hubby’s colleagues and families gathered at the restaurant at about 5.45 pm and the dinner party started at about 6 pm. We ordered various kinds of Japanese Chinese food like fried chicken karaage, shumai dumpling, deep-fried shrimp mixed in mayonnaise sauce (ebi-mayo), sweet and sour pork (subuta), stir-fried pepper steak (chin-jao rosu), stir-fried shrimp in chili sauce (ebi-chili), gyoza dumpling, fried rice (chahan), fried noodles topped with vegetables, meat, and seafoods simmered in a thick sauce (gomoku ankake yakisoba), and many more items. Drinks included beer, sake, oolong tea, and orange juice. There was a lot of food and free flow of drinks. Everyone enjoyed eating various kinds of dishes, drinking, and chatting with each other. There was a relaxed atmosphere at the dinner and it was nice to interact with all the people present.

Various kinds of Japanese Chinese food

Hubby’s colleague and family

Another colleague and family

Hubby and I along with two of hubby’s colleagues

Everyone enjoying dinner

There were three kids at the dinner party, and hubby and I had a lot of fun playing with them. Kids are so cute.
Hubby playing with a baby

The baby is so cute

Me with a kid

Me with two kids

No meal is complete without a dessert. So we ended the dinner with a small bowl of annin tofu which is a Japanese creamy almond gelatin dessert. The dinner party ended at about 9 pm. It felt great to go out for dinner with hubby’s colleagues and their families.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Indian restaurant Lakshmi

On 21st March, hubby and I went for lunch at an Indian restaurant. We tried a new place named Lakshmi located in Akita city. The restaurant was about 50 km away from our home and it took us one hour to reach there by our car.
Indian restaurant Lakshmi

The restaurant was very clean and had eight table seats. The restaurant serves authentic Indian food cooked by an Indian chef and his assistants. There was a semi-open cooking area and we could watch the chef make hot naan breads. There were several choices for lunch and it was challenging for us to decide what to order off the menu as everything sounded good. Finally, hubby ordered a set menu named ‘Lakshmi tandoori lunch set’. I ordered a set menu named ‘A-lunch set’ having chicken curry and saffron rice. We also ordered masala chai. Hubby and I shared our food so that we could taste both the lunch sets.
Lunch menu

Both the lunch sets had salad of shredded cabbage. Chicken curry of ‘A-lunch set’ was delicious and it was fun to eat spicy hot curry. The combination of saffron rice and chicken curry was perfect. I relished eating the food very much. Hubby also tasted it and liked the spiciness of the curry.
Shredded cabbage salad

Chicken curry

Chicken curry and saffron rice set

Hubby tasting chicken curry

The dishes of ‘Lakshmi tandoori lunch set’ were served in small bowls on a round steel main tray. On the main tray there was naan bread, rice, and a piece of tandoori chicken. Palak-paneer (spinach-cheese) and daal (a pulse preparation) curries along with yoghurt were served in smaller bowls. The taste of the curries was balanced with the right consistency and went fairly well with both rice and naan. Naan was soft, chewy, and flavorful. Tandoori chicken and palak-paneer were delicious. Although I am not sure the type of pulse used for making daal curry, a special feature of this daal recipe was that it had asafetida as one of the spice ingredients. Asafetida has a distinctive pungent aroma, which may be unpleasant to some people. It was the first time that hubby had daal curry with asafetida in it and he was rather shocked by the aroma as he is not used to very strong spicy aromatic flavors. So it was very amusing to see his shocked facial expression when he tasted daal curry. Later I ate his entire bowl of daal curry, and found it to be very flavorful and delicious. We finished the meal with a bowl of plain yoghurt topped with mango sauce. Yoghurt is considered to aid in digestion of hot and spicy Indian food.
Lakshmi tandoori lunch set

Hubby about to eat a piece of naan bread

Hubby busy eating

After the meal, hubby and I had a cup of masala chai. It was sweet milky tea with lot of spices, and a great after-lunch treat.
Masala chai

Hubby enjoying masala chai

Hubby and I enjoyed eating hot and spicy lunch at Indian restaurant Lakshmi. The quality of food at this restaurant was very high. Aroma of various spices and warm rich flavorful Indian food usually lifts my spirit up.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Yurihonjo hinakaido doll festival - part 2

As I wrote in the previous post, on 13th and 21st March hubby and I went to see a doll festival known as Yurihonjo hinakaido. The festival is a public annual traditional display of dolls and is held in six public exhibition halls as well as fifty different locations within Yurihonjo city of Akita prefecture. This festival event is held in the month of March. While hina matsuri is a private display of hina dolls at homes of families with daughters, hinakaido festival is a public display of antique hina dolls some of which date back at least several hundred years. In the previous post I wrote about the display of Edo period hina dolls at Yashima kyodo bunka hozon denshu shisetsu in Yashima. Today I will write about our visit to Shushin-kan in Honjo Park where exquisite hina dolls were displayed in an exhibition room.

Shushin-kan in Honjo Park
On 21st March, hubby and I went to see the display of hina dolls at Shushin-kan in Honjo Park. Honjo Park is located on the site of Honjo Castle which was built in 1613. Shushin-kan and Honmaru-no-yakata are two halls located in the center of the park. We can learn about the history and culture of Honjo at these two halls. Although hina doll display was held in both the halls, we visited only Shushin-kan hall. The park is located about three kilometers away from our home and it took us ten minutes to reach there by our car. Various types of old and exquisite hina doll sets like kokinbina and kyohoubina were exhibited in one of the rooms of Shushin-kan hall. The exhibition room looked so beautiful with several hina doll sets. We moved inside the room in a counterclockwise direction and enjoyed seeing the antique doll sets one at a time.

Kami-ningyo paper dolls of Mishima Michi
The first hina doll set on display was made by Mishima Michi. She was an elementary school teacher. In 1961, after retiring from her job as a teacher, she started making kami-ningyo paper dolls using washi Japanese paper. These kami-ningyo dolls are made of Tosa washi paper of Kochi prefecture. Three-dimensional dolls are one of the salient features of Mishima Michi’s paper dolls. The dolls on display have two dimensional traditional collars that express the beauty of shoulder line, and the entire shape of dolls have a three-dimensional feeling. These dolls were donated by Mishima Eiji to the local historical artifacts museum named Honjo kyodo shiryokan in 1998.
Kami-ningyo paper dolls of Mishima Michi

Emperor and empress (dairibina) paper dolls made by Mishima Michi

Hina dolls of Watanabe-ke
The second set of hina dolls on display belongs to the family (ke in Japanese) of Watanabe Yoshio of Mikura town. On the back of the case where this doll set is kept, the year 1838 is written which is probably the year the dolls were bought. It is also written on the case that the doll set belongs to Jou-un-in. Jou-un-in was the wife of the ninth feudal lord Rokugo Masatsune of Honjo-han of Dewa province. The wife was originally from Ise province and moved to Honjo after marriage to the feudal lord. These hina dolls do not have pedestal. The height of emperor and empress dolls (dairibina) is 45 cm, which is very large. These dairibina dolls are of the type kyohoubina. The dolls have gorgeous clothes and kazari (accessory) decorations, which is one of the salient features of kyohoubina dolls. The gorgeous clothes and the hugeness of these dolls represent the peak of hina matsuri festival during Edo period.
Hina dolls of Watanabe-ke

Dairibina dolls of Watanabe-ke

Empress (ohinasama) doll of Watanabe-ke

Emperor (odairisama) doll of Watanabe-ke

Five male dolls representing musicians (gonin bayashi) kept on the right side of dairibina dolls of Watanabe-ke

Five male dolls representing samurai attendants and ministers kept on the left side of dairibina dolls of Watanabe-ke

Hubby appreciating the hina dolls of Watanabe-ke

Me standing in front of hina dolls of Watanabe-ke

Hina dolls donated by Sudo-ke
The third set of hina dolls on display was donated by Sudo family. This doll set is of the type Kyohoubina and was made in 1853. Odairisama (emperor) and ohinasama (empress) dolls look very elegant and the clothes of the dolls look gorgeous and well maintained.
Hina dolls donated by Sudo-ke

Dairibina dolls of Sudo-ke

Ohinasama doll of Sudo-ke

Hina dolls donated by Miura-ke
The fourth doll set on display was donated by Miura family. This doll set is of the type kokinbina and was made in the beginning of Showa period. The dolls are well maintained and look almost practically new.
Hina dolls donated by Miura-ke

Dairibina dolls and three court ladies (san-nin kanjo) of Miura-ke

Ohinasama doll of Miura-ke

Hina dolls donated by Miura family were the last ones on display in the exhibition room. Shushin-kan hall is basically a facility to learn about the history and culture of Honjo. So we moved around inside the hall and saw various exhibits related to the history of Honjo. There was an armor set on display which belonged to Kusunoki family of Yurihonjo, who later donated it to Honjo kyodo shiryokan museum. Family crest of a famous samurai Kusunoki Masashige is put on the armor. He is remembered as an ideal of samurai loyalty and belonged the transition era from Kamakura period to Nanbokucho period. Although the family crest of the famous samurai is there on the armor but little is known about its origin and it is unclear as to how the armor reached Kusunoki family of Yurihonjo.
Hubby standing next to a samurai armor that has family crest of Kusunoki Masashige

Top portion of the samurai armor

We enjoyed seeing the antique hina doll display at Shushin-kan hall in Honjo Park.