The book was published in 1969 by Russ Rudzinski, the owner of a country- style japanese restaurant called Mingei- Ya on Union Street in San Fransisco. Apparently (from what I'm able to dig up on the web) this was quite a famous restaurant in the 60s, but was closed down a long time ago.
I love oriental food, and could easily have bought it just for the recipes, but it's the great graphics, layout, colors and paper I fell for. It's a beautifully crafted book, printed with black and red inks on brown textured rice paper. The pen drawings are beautiful and rich in detail. They're done by artist Mike Nelson, who I unfortuneately haven't been able to find out anything about. Anyone? I found a graphic artist by the same name, but too young to having been around, professionally, in the 60s.
The restaurant interior and courtyard must have been pretty amazing too, just listen to this quote that I found in the food column of SF Weekly:
"I was reminded of a long- gone restaurant in san Fransisco, Mingei- Ya, a woody Japanese country- style place that felt as if you were dining inside an especially beautiful cedar- lined closet." That says it all, huh? I've always been amazed about how much Japanese and Nordic aesthetics have in common, even though they are, literally worlds apart, the simple lines, the love of wood. You see it all over the fields of architecture and design, both contemporary and modernist.
I found some more great stuff this weekend, but decided this deserved a feature of it's own. To be continued!
PS. If you want to see some more amazing graphics, head on over to Potshots and have a look at this beautiful children's book from 1911! Great blog, by the way, highly recommend it:-)