Houston hotel restaurant

Houston hotel restaurant HOUSTON--Cafe on the Green, a restaurant at the Inn on the Park here, has added a Japanese-style breakfast to accommodate the rapidly increasing number of Oriental patrons.

The platter, a combination of steamed rice, miso soup with tofu, grilled fresh salmon, tamagoyaki (a Japanese-style omelet), seaweed, pickled Japanese vegetables, and green tea, is the brainchild of Yoko Authur, the Japanese sales manager for the hotel.

"The Japanese kept telling me 'I wish you had a Japanese breakfast,'" she says. "So I persuaded the chef to try it."

In the beginning, Authur, who is responsible for making the Four Seasons hotel a home-away-from-home for Japanese businessmen, would cook the breakfast herself upon request.

When it grew in popularity, she and executive chef Kaspar Donier decided to include it on the restaurant's menu.

So the middle-aged Japanese native donned an apron and showed the Swiss chef the proper technique for cooking each dish.

I'm open to try everything," said Donier, who also serves as chef at the hotel's highly respected French restaurant, La Reserve.

Breakfast is served on a setting of blue-and-white dishes on a black lacquer tray. Each item, down to the prepackaged seaweed, comes in its own dish. Chopsticks are optional.

"The Japanese like to eat small bites of many different things," Authur explained. "The portions are very small."

A few adventurous and health-conscious Americans have tried the Japanese breakfast, Donier says, for its high-protein -- and without extra soy sauce -- low-fat, low-salt nutrition.

"We began this only two months ago," Authur noted. "But sales to Americans are slowly escalating."

The restaurant sells between five and 15 of the $12.50 breakfasts each day, Donier said. He experienced few problems in rolling out the product, aside from a delay in acquiring the place settings, he said, while admitting, "It was a bit difficult to train some of the hotel's Mexican cooks in Japanese cooking and serving techniques."

The breakfast required the addition of a Japanese rice cooker, an appliance very similar to an American slow-cooker that steams and keeps rice for several hours.

Aside from conventional American and imported Japanese fare, Cafe on the Green also serves an $11.25 Mexican breakfast (scrambled eggs with tomatoes, peppers, cheese, avocado, chicken, and refried beans, served with flour tortillas) and a $9.50 Londoner breakfast (one soft-boiled egg, bacon, toast, sweet butter, and English breakfast tea).

Houston's Inn on the Park is the first in the Four Seasons group to offer the Japanese breakfast, and the management of the chain is considering rolling the meal system-wide, according to Tali Blumrosen, director of public relations for the hotel.

Authur has compiled a package of amenities for Japanese guests at the inn, including an affiliation with the JCB Japanese credit card and a Japanese tea service on arrival. Each Japanese guest also receives a yukata (equivalent to a cotton bath robe) and a hotel brochure printed in Japanese.

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