Some of Yokohama’s famous sightseeing spots are the Red Brick Warehouses, Yamashita Park, Chinatown and the Landmark Tower. Have you heard about the famous classical Hotel New Grand located just a few minutes away from Yamashita Park? This is where well-known dishes like Napolitan and Le pudding a la mode originated from and were featured in the popular comedy movie “The Wow-Choten Hotel”. I will now introduce a way to enjoy the historical building and its gourmet treats without staying overnight.
Three reasons why Hotel New Grand is a great place to visit
Let me introduce you 3 reasons why you should visit Hotel New Grand in Yokohama.
First because this building was constructed in 1927. The current hotel consists of the old building (which you can see on the photo) and the “tower” or the new building (in the background on the same photo). The old building was constructed by the popular modern-style architect Jin Watanabe who also designed Tokyo’s former Hattori clocks shop (now Wako building in Ginza). This is a classical hotel built before the war. In 1992 it was designated as an important historical property of Yokohama city and in 2007 the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced it a heritage of the modern-times industry.
The second reason is the food dishes created here. This is where popular meals such as spaghetti Napolitan, doria, Le pudding a la mode and others that we all love originated from! When the hotel was first opened there was an emphasis on French style gourmet and the menu appeared as a result of hiring foreign chefs which was still rare for Japan in those years. You can still eat these dishes at the hotel’s café even now.
And finally, the hotel’s location. Hotel New Grand is just 1 minute away from the subway Minato-Mirai line’s Motomachi-Chukagai Station which goes to Yokohama Chinatown and Yamashita Park. Across the street from the hotel is Yamashita Park. Nearby is another famous shop called “Eggs'n Things” which initiated a big pancake boom in recent years. The hotel is indeed located in a very convenient place for Yokohama sightseeing.
The hotel's symbol: the large staircase
The first thing you see after entering is the giant staircase. It was designed under the concept of “European taste” and the tiles you see were specially imported from Italy. There are elevators at the top of the stairs. You can feel more of the classy atmosphere if you stay overnight.
Speaking of which, many famous people have stayed in this hotel. For example, Charlie Chaplin, the famous American baseball player Babe Ruth, the post-war novelist Shotaro Ikenami, Showa period’s superstar Yujiro Ishihara, famous actor Yusaku Matsuda and others. This hotel is well-known among international celebrities too.
However, the most famous guest was undoubtedly Field Marshal Douglas MacArthur. He stayed here before the war during his honeymoon trip and was the first guest after the end of the war. An interesting story tells about how MacArthur was impressed by the poverty and lack of proper food after the war, and ordered delivery of goods not only for the hotel but for all citizens of Yokohama. Room 315 where he had his office is now called “MacArthur suite” and still has the writing desk and the chair he used to sit on. You can actually stay in that room.
The old building's second floor is often used for movie shootings
This hotel provides not only accommodation, but also many historical spots and interior that is interesting to explore. Be sure to climb up the giant staircase and go to the second floor. There is a wide space with sofas and desks. This was once the hotel’s lobby. There is a banquet room on the same floor so the lobby is now used as a waiting room. Try resting for a bit on the sofas.
This classical and historical lobby of the old building is often featured in movies, TV series and novels. Some of them are “The Wow-Choten Hotel” (2006), “Karei-naru Ichizoku” (2007 TV drama), “Tsunagu” (2012), “Nankyoku Tairiku” (2011 TV drama), music videos and many others. It’s worth seeing them!
Eat Hotel New Grand's gourmet selection!
As I mentioned earlier, Hotel New Grand is the birthplace of spaghetti Napolitan, doria and Le pudding a la mode! Many people come to Yokohama specially to eat these dishes where they originated from.
There are several dining places at Hotel New Grand, but the best place to eat the three dishes I mentioned is “Coffee House The Café” on the first floor. The prices are slightly more expensive than in an ordinary café, but the taste is unique! This is an ideal place for a special treat.
But what if you come alone or with another person, yet want to try all three original dishes? Don’t worry, there’s a special set menu for the weekdays which covers all three items – spaghetti Napolitan, doria and Le pudding a la mode. The volume of each dish is smaller than usual, but you can actually have all three of them in a set. This set menu goes also with a salad and as much coffee as you like.
Special set menu “gourmet-zukushi” Season-limited between April 1 and September 30. Only on weekdays and only 20 sets available per day. Not offered between April 26 and May 6, as well as between August 9-17. Price: 3348 JPY (tax included) plus a service fee of 10% The above information is for 2014 but there is a big chance that the same set menu will be offered in the years to come.
The exquisite taste of the doria!
From those three dishes I want to introduce the doria. It’s surprising that doria (a baked pilaf topped with a cheese-based sauce) originates from Japan. You might think it’s originally French or Italian, but it’s actually Japanese. However, the first person to cook it wasn’t Japanese, but a Swiss chef. He was the first chef of Hotel New Grand – Saly Weil. He had written on the menu card that the cooks could prepare other meals by request as well, and one day a customer who didn’t feel very well asked for something easy to swallow. Then Weil put shrimps boiled in cream sauce over rice, seasoned that with cheese topping and baked it in the oven. This is how the doria was born. As it became popular, the doria was included in Hotel New Grand’s menu as well as in the menu of other restaurants. Here at this café you can try the original taste. The combination of shrimps, delicious white sauce, cheese and rice is truly fantastic! Be sure to try it yourself. (If you want to learn more about the other 2 dishes, check the link in the memo below)
A perfect place for sightseeing in Yokohama
Now you know another place to stop by when you visit Yokohama for tourism. It’s a really great spot which I strongly recommend. Enjoy a different type of sightseeing experience in this classical hotel.