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Food & Drink

Jingu House at the Japanese Tea Garden

Photo: Michael Barajas, License: N/A

Michael Barajas

It's hard to see where all the money went (a million bucks if sources are correct), but that's all too often the case. And I do admit that the newly restored Jingu House looks great in the setting of the refurbished Japanese Tea Garden. Get over to Brackenridge Park, stroll the paths. Regard the colossal koi. Sit in the shade of the Japanesque pavilion…

This should be the point where I also say "and be sure to stop into the now-and-former teahouse for a snack while you're there." But no. The house and the garden both have a venerable, if checkered, history, one that includes a Japanese torii gate by Dionicio Rodríguez of Broadway bus stop (and other) fame, and a tearoom that was run by the Jingu family from 1926 until they were evicted in the wake of anti-Japanese sentiment surrounding WWII. The house could have been a living testament to the intersection of cultures, but instead the interior is singularly soulless and institutional looking. And then there's the food.

Maybe the chicken salad sandwich and the vegetarian wrap are better, but the bento box is a bomb. The noodles were decently flavored but mushy, the sushi with dry crab and even drier rice might have been tolerable when assembled, a portion of overcooked sesame chicken breast and vegetables tasted of soy sauce and steam table, and the accompanying brown rice was relentlessly bland. Only the marinated cucumber survived unscathed.

"May life throw you a pleasant curve," proclaimed my fortune cookie. Fine, but a pleasant lunch would have been good, too.

Jingu House at the Japanese Tea Garden

Brackenridge Park
3853 N St. Mary's
(210) 226-5919
10am-5pm; Sun-Sat


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