Traditional Japanese Matcha (green tea ice-cream) appears on this menu for the Emperor of Japan – even if it is written in French and stands alone among an array of western dishes.
In the middle of the Russo-Japanese War (between Russia and Japan) the Emperor of Germany sent his personal Military Attaché, Prince Karl Anton of Hohenzollern, as an observer to Japan.
On the Prince’s second day in Tokyo he was invited to lunch with The Emperor Meiji (then Emperor Mutsuhito) at the Imperial Palace for which this is the menu. Baroness Albert d’Anethan, wife of the Belgian Ambassador to the Japanese Imperial Court, remembered the arrival of the Prince of Hohenzollern and on the day of this imperial luncheon wrote:
“Albert [the Belgian Ambassador] accompanied by his two secretaries, went to the Shiba Riku Palace to write his name down in the Prince's book. Just as he was doing this, the Prince came up to him and introduced himself. Albert is much taken with him, and he seems to have charming manners. He said how delighted he was to be dining with us on Thursday, and how he had already written and told the Princess that he was dining en Belgique. Albert introduced his secretaries, and the Prince introduced his aide-de-camp, Major von Bronsart. His Highness was on his way to his audience with the Emperor and to lunch at the Palace when Albert met him”.
German newspapers also reported that when the Prince of Hohenzollern arrived at the Imperial Palace for this luncheon, he stood in the reception room with total silence and stillness all around. At precisely midday a cannon shot and all those present engaged in the deepest of bows signalling The Emperor Meiji had entered the room. The Emperor, dressed in the uniform of a Military General, then accompanied the German Prince to a separate room for private discussions where their conversations were interpreted into French by court officials.
Afterwards, the Emperor and Prince moved to the large banquet hall for this luncheon where court society had already gathered and were waiting standing behind their allotted chairs. The Empress Shōken then appeared, dressed in European court attire, along with the various Imperial princes and princesses who also joined for this lunch.
After the banquet, the Prince of Hohenzollern was accompanied to another palace room by Prince Fushimi Hiroyashu, a member of the Imperial Family who was a Fleet Commander in the Imperial Japanese Navy. It is reported the two then smoked cigars and, diplomatically importantly for Japan, Prince Hiroyashu was able to speak fluent German with the Prince of Hohenzollern as he had moved to Germany in 1889 to train at the Naval Academy for the Kaiserliche Marine.
On the following day the Belgium Baroness noted:
“The Japanese are doing a great deal for the Prince. He comes as a special envoy from the German Emperor to follow the war, and likewise, I am told, for the purpose of proving that Germany's relations towards Japan are by no means so antagonistic as is supposed”.
From the private Royal Menu Collection of © Jake Smith
From 1886 onward, the Empress and her ladies-in-waiting dressed in western clothes.
Consommé à neige
Saumon au vin blanc
Salmon grilled in white wine (it is possible this may have been Sake)
Filet de bœuf à la Godard
Beef filets garnished with quenelles, braised lamb sweetbreads,
cockscombs, truffles and mushrooms all bound in a ham and champagne sauce named after 18th century French General
Côtelettes de cailles à la Chantilly
Sautéed quail cutlets with glazed goose liver
Marquise au cherry brandy
Cherry brandy sorbet/sherbet
Chapon truffé rôti, Salade japonaise
Roasted castrated young hens with truffle slices stuffed between
the skin and breast; and served with a Japanese salad
Asperges à la béchamel
Asparagus spears in Béchamel sauce
Fonds d’artichauts à l’Impératrice
Thé glace à la chrysanthème
Green Tea Ice-Cream (Matcha)
Prince Karl Anton of Hohenzollern
The Japanese Emperor's luncheon guest on this day.
Menu dated 26th May 1904
Luncheon at Shiba Riku Palace, Tokyo, hosted by His Imperial Majesty The Emperor Meiji (Mutsuhito) (明治天皇) of Japan in honour of a visit by His Serene Highness Prince Karl Anton of Hohenzollern.