Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hanazono (花園)

…roughly translates to a “flower garden.” And it is the name of an Asian noodle restaurant in downtown Port Townsend, Washington.

We (cousin David, Chuck, and I) were headed down a side street toward a destination to be blogged about tomorrow and my stomach was telling me that it was well past lunchtime. We walked past a coffeehouse and deli, but that didn’t seem to interest any of us. And then we came to Hanazono Asian Noodle. What did any of us know about Asian noodle restaurants? Not that much. So why not learn?
“One of our new favorite places to eat in Port Townsend is Hanazono Asian Noodle…. Hanazono's has limited seating, so when it gets busy you might have to wait a bit for your food. But this isn't fast food..., this is gooood food and well worth the wait time. It actually can be quite fast when they're not super busy. Hanazono's was opened in 2005 by Kaori (Hull) and her mother, Yoko, and continues to use only fresh ingredients sourced organically and locally” (
“Our regular menu includes a variety of noodle dishes, featuring three types of egg noodles: classic thin Ramen and Yakisoba noodles, and Champon—the perfect noodle for Kaori’s special Champon soup. We serve Soba (buckwheat) noodles in soups, stir-fries, and salads; and thick, wheat Udon noodles in stir-fries and our traditional Nabeyaki hot pot. We also serve rice noodles with some of our lighter soups…” (
For a small restaurant in a small Olympic Peninsula town (population 9,100), Hanazono has a surprisingly large menu. Appetizers included Gyoza (potstickers stuffed with fresh cabbage, pork, and green onion), Geso Karaage (deep-fried squid legs), Agedashi Tofu (tofu tempura in fish broth), and Seaweed Salad with daikon and carrot garnish with ponzu sauce. There were thirteen varieties of sushi including the intriguing sounding Spider Roll with tempura soft shell crab, daikon sprouts, and cucumber inside and avocado and tobbiko (flying fish roe) on top with wasabi mayo, eel sauce and sesame seeds. And it was Chuck who concluded that donburi meant with rice and there were teriyaki chicken, curry chicken, vegetable, and eel versions.

Our final decisions were all over the map. David opted for one of the day’s specials—the Mabo Ramen. “Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish that consists of a meaty broth, noodles, and shredded vegetables and meats. The popular food is available fresh at noodle stands all over Japan…… In Japan, this dish is eaten widely by all classes, and can be found in incarnations from simple to gourmet” (

But this was certainly not the ramen sold ten for a dollar and the staple for many a college student. David’s version was full of tofu, pork, and bamboo and, as described on the specials’ board, “stir fried in a spicy gravy” and served over ramen noodles.
From what I can determine, this is a noodle dish of Chinese origin that has been adopted by the Japanese and it is characterized by the use of tofu and pork in a dark soy-based broth.

Chuck is less intrigued by Asian noodle soups than I am, so he went a more traditional route. His choice was the Yakisoba (焼きそば?), noodles which are “literally fried noodles (and) is considered a Japanese dish but originated in China and is technically a derivative of Chinese chow mein. It first appeared in food stalls in Japan at some point during the early 20th century. “Although soba means buckwheat, typically suggesting noodles made from that flour in mainland Japan, yakisoba noodles are made from wheat flour similar to ramen…. It is prepared by frying ramen-style noodles with bite-sized pork, vegetables…and flavored with yakisoba sauce, salt and pepper. It is served with a multitude of garnishes, such as aonori (seaweed powder), beni shoga (shredded pickled ginger), katsuobushi (fish flakes), and mayonnaise” ( The yakisoba sauce seems to be a mixture of oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sake or water.

Chuck’s dish was a beautiful plate of noodles, pork, cabbage, carrots, onions, mung bean sprouts, cilantro, pickled daikon, and seaweed and had the flavors that I closely associate with Chinese food. Which is not surprising given its Chinese foundation.
I ordered a dish that I had never heard of, the Champon with egg noodles, seafood, pork, and vegetables (carrots, peas, corn, and cabbage) in a spicy broth. “Champon is essentially a noodle dish, but it’s a special one that is prepared very differently and has a mix of ingredients you probably won’t find in any other types in Japan. Champon is made by frying a combination of pork, seafood and vegetables…before a soup…is added into the pan. Then the very different cooking style happens—the noodles are added straight into this mix and boiled in the soup. The noodles are similar to the normal ramen style but are slightly different, so they cook properly this way…” (
This was really interesting with a simultaneously spicy—from chile flakes--and sweet flavor. When I asked our server about the source of the sweetness, she consulted with the kitchen and reported back that it came from the “champon sauce.” Big help. But I found a few recipes on line that called for mirin, a sweet Japanese rice wine and have concluded that this provided the sweet undernotes.

Now every once in a while I make a smart decision. My champon came in both a small and large size. “Just how large is the large” I asked our server. She left the table and came back and showed me two empty bowls. The small will be plenty. And the comparison between David’s large mabo ramen and my small champon is shown as evidence.
Since all three dishes were new to me, I find it hard to rate Hanazono relative to other Japanese noodle houses. So I’ll just say that I had 4.0 Addie food with 5.0 Addie company.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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