“Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.”
― Okakura Kakuzō,
Avid tea drinkers know what I am talking about here. So do coffee drinkers. Drinking smalls cups of tea or coffee mugs of elixir make a bad day seem bearable and it allows you to take upon the world with more courage. Sometimes, it is hard to look upon tea and coffee as mere beverages. They take upon a larger meaning where they lend that support, balance and beauty that we truly deserve. Such was my experience at this exquisite Japanese tea house called Chawan at the Amwaj Lagoon.
A concept based around «Hanami» a Japanese tradition of drinking tea under the cherry blossom tree, Chawan ( meaning Tea Bowl) surprises you with its tranquil and aptly designed interiors. The display cases were adorned with hand-made and hand-painted tea cups. Every inch of the restaurant seemed to have been thoughtfully done and embellished.
The entire evening was spent listening to fascinating trivia about Japan’s esoteric culture and sipping on Cherry Blossom tea from Ms. Budoor, who is the owner cum chef cum everything of Chawan. Dressed in a flowery Kimono and looking like an absolute doll, she took me through her cultural experience of living in Japan. Having studied her masters and worked in Japan, Budoor found herself falling in love with the language, food and cultural nuances. She visited auctions and collected an enviable range of hand made tea cups, cushions and other genuine Japanese artifacts which she proudly displays in her Tea House.
Budoor makes all the snack -type food all by herself and you could have pleasure of watching her as she quickly shapes the ‘Onigiri’ – Japanese rice balls with her deft hands. Further into our conversation, I was quite surprised to find out that Budoor holds a job as an on-air graphics designer for Al Arab News channel. Running a restaurant with such finesse at such a young age with a day job – now that is really something!
My Japanese experience began with Budoor presenting the hot towel to clean my hands. Then she politely offered me the Tea House’s menu. I was a bit confused and asked her to help me out. She picked out a few very authentic Japanese snacks and asked me to try the Cherry Blossom Tea.
Every sip felt like a moment out of time.
Some sort of a balance was being restored.
Hot and fragrant, the tea nuzzled my throat and the cheer of the cherry blossom was doing its trick. As I was still enjoying the lingering taste of the tea from my last sip, Budoor presented the “sampler bento ” that included kani salad “crab salad with Japanese mayo and fish roe”. The crackers were dutifully served with Chawan’s signature Wasabi Hummous. There was two bites of Shrimp and crab dumpling “ebi and kani gyoza” too with a soy based sauce. The flavours were striking and tantalizing.
It felt like my taste buds were lighting up!
Next item was Onigiri – Japanese rice ball. A carb -fest with sticky rice moulded into a petal-shape, supported by a seaweed. A quintessential Japanese snack served to school-going children in their bento- lunch boxes.
Dessert was a non-fussy and utterly delicious -Mochi ice cream and Matcha pudding “Japanese green tea”.
After such a beautiful food experience, I wanted to know more about Budoor and Chawan. Budoor explained, she wanted to bring back the essence of Japan to Bahrain and share the quiet exquisiteness of the Japanese culture and heritage via her dainty tea house. She practices the famed Japanese tea ritual in Chawan and helps people like you and me experience the heart of Japan. She even allows you to borrow beautiful Kimonos to authenticate the experience.
After my elaborate dine-in experience at Chawan, Budoor showed me gracefully to the door bowing humbly and saying – Arigato ( thank you). Well, I would say, Arigato, Budoor for this elevated experience. Find your own piece of Japan and head to Chawan and treat your senses.
The outlet is open 6 days-a-week, except on Monday, from 5pm to 10pm on weekdays and 5pm to midnight on weekends.
For details, follow them on instagram @chawanbh
and check out this extensive menu here.
This post was a sponsored one but all the views expressed were mine.
All pictures are mine, except where stated by Chawan.