If you are looking to experience a little bit of the Japanese culture, Zaan Japanese Tea House is a place you should visit. A small restaurant, it is easy to miss but it is definitely worth going to.
Looking for Zaan Japanese Tea House had me going, “saan ba (where is it)?” to my companion as I actually drove past it. There is a signage for the place however, I just didn’t see it. So I would say, thank you for Waze and the sharp eyes of my companion. Zaan Japanese Tea House (map) is housed in a yellow green building on the left side of the road coming from Roces Avenue. Click the link that says map to see the map 🙂
I loved the little touches put in to make the culture felt in the tiny space allotted for the entryway. There are also samples of calligraphy and pottery that add to the ambiance of the place.
The majority of the restaurant feels like a regular cafeteria (regular tables and chairs) but there is an elevated section that simulates tatami mats and this is where the tea ceremonies are held. Yes, this is where we were seated for lunch. Lucky!
The menu is pretty simple. Our appetizer was Hiya Yakko (Silken Tofu) and the Mini Salad Japanese Style which they served to us two ways – the first batch just the leaves and sauce; the second set had shredded dried fish. Personally, I preferred the first batch’s flavor. It was nice of them to offer us the options though.
We also had the soba with meat which was surprisingly filling. I thought I’d still be hungry after but I wasn’t. I was also pleased that I managed to finish the meal without switching to a spoon and fork. I was too hungry to take a picture though (sorry!)
After our lunch, we availed of the tea ceremony (btw, this is not free, folks). The proprietess conducted a short lecture to teach us some of the why and how to since no talking is done during the actual tea session. I learned that the tea ceremony is also a time of meditation and is quite soothing and calming. No, it wasn’t because of the tea we drank.
The wagashi (sweet) we ate as part of the tea ceremony was cute too! It was designed and handmade by Ms. Iwamoto, the proprietess of Zaan. She said she changes the concept every month as suits the season and of course, special events.
There are events such as chit chat days and koto playing (music) for those who want even more exposure or like me, a chance to practice speaking the language. Check out their page for more info.