If you have an hour or two to stop by and enjoy the Edo style village of Haneda airport, stop by this small restaurant. Especially if it’s lunchtime, I recommend Hyakuzen, a Japanese breakfast/lunch restaurant in the extreme corner of the main alley of the village.
Origin of 松花堂弁当 Shokado bento
松花堂弁当 Shokado bento is a famous bento that originated in Kyoto. It is served in a square box, separaded into four compartments like the Chinese character for field 田 and covered by a lid with long edges. Ingredients fresh of the season are packed in small containers in each square.
But it was not born out of convenience like a sandwich or Makunouchi Bento 幕の内弁当 eaten between the acts of long Kabuki performances. Shokado bento is developed from the Kaiseki cuisine of Kyoto. During the Edo period there lived a famous Shinto-Shingon Buddhist priest, calligrapher and tea master, Shokado Shojo 松花堂昭乗 (1584 – 1639). He lived in a temple near the mountain Otokoyama, near Iwashimizu Yahata Gu 石清水八幡宮.
He used square boxes with compartments which are normally used by local farmers to keep his calligraphy tools and tobacco tools. When he retired from his temple duties, he lived in a hut near Takimoto-bo Temple and often invited his learned friends of the time in his tea house, called Shokado (Pine Flower Temple).
The story is moved fast-forward to the year 1933 when Yuki Teiichi (tei-ichi) 湯木貞一, a tea conoisseur of his time, was invited to Shokado and saw the box of Shokado on a shelf on his way out after an invitation. He immediately got the hint to use such a kind of divided box for an official meal for kaiseki to be served in a new restaurant called Kitcho 吉兆. It is still in operations today with over 30 branches across Japan
(Adapted from Washoku Japan)
Hyakuzen Shokado Bento
First square, 煮物 stewed items, an included a mountain yam, pumpkin, shiitake mushroom, a piece of braised pork belly (underneath the sakura-shaped fish cake) and spinach, all stewed in a dashi stock.
Second square, おばんざい obanzai is like an amuse bouche and appetisers combined into one. Obanzai (おばんざい) is a traditional style of Japanese cuisine native to Kyoto. For food to be considered obanzai, at least half of its ingredients must be produced or processed in Kyoto. Ingredients in obanzai cooking must also be in season. Obanzai cooking heavily relies on vegetables and seafood, prepared simply. Another characteristic of obanzai is the incorporation of ingredients which are usually discarded as garbage.
There were eight items – a rice cake grilled with red miso, shrimp boiled in sake, croquette with sweet sauce, tamago egg, ikura with grated radish and uni, assortment of fish cakes.
Third square, 焼物 grilled item. Typically a fish or a meat, this was a piece of fatty mackerel.
Fourth square, 造り sashimi. Two slices each of sea bream, tuna and swordfish. Very fresh and delicious.
I ordered an add-on of 国産ブランド牛 local beef. Not exactly wagyu, but it was tender and really flavourful with the special steak sauce used to pan fry the beef. Local-bred beef is still miles better than some of the beef in other places.
Don’t be surprised by the little amount of miso soup. The soup and rice here are free-flow.
Konomono 香の物 is a necessary part of every Japanese meal. Typically, Japanese does not eat rice with all the savoury dishes as one treasures a really good rice. Hakyuzen has very good rice made from Sumidaya rice shop.
Hyakuzen uses rice procured from Sumidaya 古式精米製法 隅田屋米 which produces a blended rice variety to balance the taste, sweetness and texture for consistency. Just like blended whiskey, you are guaranteed a consistent taste and smoothness but no surprises.
Just because it’s an airport restaurant doesn’t mean it can’t be good! As with most restaurants in Japan, service is excellent. The staff will quickly take your orders and attend to you promptly. They’ll also keep an eye on your bags and coats so you don’t have to lug them with you to your table.
Tel : 03-6428-0425
Date Visited : Apr 2019
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