Walking by what is now Garçon Ken’s, you would never guess what this quaint restaurant was just months ago. Garçon Ken’s sits alongside the Nagasaki City #1 (Blue) tramline and lies between it and the old Dutch settlement, Dejima. Peer through the restaurant’s royal-blue, paned windows and you’ll see a dining room with cherry-red tables, black chairs and French magazine-decoupaged walls. The restaurant evokes feelings of nostalgia with a French flair; if you step inside, you may hear French jazz or 1930s music playing.
There is a story behind how this restaurant came to be. After 30 years in the seafood distribution business, Kenichiro Watanabe (Garçon Ken), a middle-aged man with a kind face and relaxed demeanor, was tired of his current job and wanted to try something different. Ken had always wanted to open a restaurant and he started making preparations for this dream to become a reality. He spent time training in a restaurant and time planning at home.
In the summer of 2011, he found himself walking along the Dejima district in Nagasaki city looking for a good restaurant location. Noticing an auto-repair shop for sale was all it took. Ken bought the place and now Nagasaki residents have a new restaurant in town.
The menu is modest with room for expansion, but offers some tasty treats and tempting drinks. It lists a selection of simple hors d’oeuvres and desserts. French wine is featured on the drink menu, plus Guinness, Italian soda, juices and the like. Much to my delight, the red wine is served at room temperature, which is unusual for Japanese restaurants. While café options currently extend as far as a basic cup of coffee, Garçon Ken intends to add lattés, cappuccinos and more in the near future.
When I asked Ken how he would describe his restaurant to someone else, he said the main concept of his business was to invite joy and comfort. The décor caters to women, he explained. With the sound of the old city streetcars running outside and a view of the twinkling lights of Dejima, I think he pulled these concepts off nicely. If you visit, be sure to take a peek at the bathroom; the decorations extend beyond the dining room.
With a great ambiance and attention to detail, Garçon Ken’s has become a taste of Europe inside Japan.
Open Monday – Saturday, 5pm – Midnight. Closed Sundays and 2nd Monday of the month.
850-0862 Nagasaki City, Dejima Machi 10-2
If you are in the area for Golden Week, I recommend letting yourself be enchanted by one of Nagasaki Prefecture’s hidden treasures. Hasami, a small town located in the center of the prefecture is a bit of a trek from Nagasaki City, but is the ideal place for a day trip. Famous for its pottery and its extensive fields laid upon a backdrop of gorgeous, green-covered mountains, Hasami all but defines the word “quaint.”
Hasami’s annual pottery festival held from April 29th to May 5that Hasami’s Yakimono Koen (Porcelain Park) gives pottery enthusiasts an opportunity to shop for discounted pottery while talking to pottery makers about their merchandise and the town. Some potters will even give customers a chance to try their hand at making their own pottery! Even if you don’t need new kitchenware, window shopping can be just as fun as buying…
Hasami Porcelain Park
It’s a waste to go to Hasami only for pottery, however. While you’re there, you can take a stroll through the fields, in the mountains or along the river.
Or try one of Hasami’s many delicious restaurants. Most of Hasami’s restaurants use local produce and because of their unique variations on everyday favorites, are very popular among both residents and visitors alike. One of Hasami’s most popular restaurants, Mooks, is located just a short walk from the main site of the pottery festival. Mooks is an abandoned pottery factory turned café which has a rustic feel and a small, but satisfying menu. Due to its popularity you should expect to wait for a table, but the shops in the area will keep you occupied in the meantime. If you see a crowd, don’t be turned off, the food is well-worth the wait.
Have fun on your escape and I hope you leave with a full stomach…
This past weekend, the ALTs of Nagasaki Prefecture held their annual undokai, or sports day, event. Activities included the Arcade Girl relay, piggyback race, mukade, human pyramid, 100m dash, eating contests, tug-of-war, and an obstacle race. It was a great chance for foreigners and Japanese in the community to interact. Please check it out next year if you have the chance!
Human Pyramid – Photo taken by Daisy Wong
As mentioned in Yamaguchi-san`s last post, we at the Nagazasshi have issued our March/April issue.
Please check it out here: http://issuu.com/nagazasshi/docs/nagazasshi4.5
This spring issue features an article on the history of Christianity in Nagasaki, a recent discovery in Matsuura, and the origins of Golden Week. We also have our usual kanji and review articles. Be sure to take a look!