SASEBO, Nagasaki - "Nyuko Zenzai," a zenzai red bean sweet soup topped by taiyaki, a fish-shaped pancake filled with anko bean jam, is a popular dish at Mugihan+plus, a restaurant in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture. The dish costs ¥500 (S$5.7) including tax.
Nyuko Zenzai, which literally means eating zenzai soup while entering a seaport, is so named as sailors on warships of the former Imperial Japanese Navy celebrated their return to port by eating the soup.
It was listed on the menu of restaurants in Sasebo at the suggestion of the Sasebo Convention and Visitors Association in 2003 as a dish unique to Sasebo, a naval port.
In other restaurants, it is more common for mochi rice cake or shiratama dumplings to be put on top of zenzai. Thinking it would be too common, Kaiji Kato, 51, manager of the restaurant, decided to put homemade taiyaki on top instead.
Taiyaki, with its springy texture, and the rich-flavored zenzai are an exquisite combination. It is even more appealing to the eyes when a white marshmallow likened to a sailor's hat is put on the taiyaki's head.
The store mainly serves udon and soba at lunchtime. It becomes a wine-izakaya pub dining restaurant at night.
Lunch time: 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Dinner time: 5:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
Closed every Monday
9-15 Shimanosecho, Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture