Monday, 20 February 2012


vegetarian friendly restaurant

Before I get down to business, I'd like to send some love out to those who have left me encouraging comments, emailed restaurants suggestions and so on.  Though I often neglect to reply, I do read all of them and appreciate hearing from you!  It's nice to be reminded that when I throw bits of my experience out into the atmosphere, actual humans are catching and making use of them.

On to the restaurant of the day, I'm really excited to introduce you to dish (yes, that's a lowercase d), a spot that's high on my list of veggie-friendly favourites.  We initially came across this self described "organic cafe" in a stylish men's magazine, which was featuring eating and drinking spots in various Tokyo neighborhoods.  I was initially drawn to the arty-eclectic vibe created by the white walled, wood floored interior, pleasing hodgepodge of furniture, and art on display.

Dish is a nice place to relax with friends or a sweetheart, but is also somewhere I'd be comfortable hanging out alone.  They have a nice selection of magazines that would be fun to pour over while sipping a hot drink.  In the warmer months, one can also enjoy a meal out on the patio.

Appreciators of wine will be pleased by their nicely stocked wine list, and glass of house wine will set you back only 525¥.

A lovely dish salad (945¥) is a pleasant way to start things off.  The homemade dressing usually contains anchovies but the chef will leave it out on request.  A poached egg tops this salad, but egg avoiders could of course order it without.

There are a few meat and fish-free pastas on the menu, and each one I've ordered has been delicious.  On our most recent trip, we went for the spicy, tomato sauced arrabbiata (1470¥), asking them to leave out the salami.

The vegetable pie (1260¥) is a must-order.  Cutting into the crust releases the succulent veggies inside.  Served with a little mountain of mashed potatoes, drizzled with a non-meaty gravy, and accompanied with a sidecar of add ons: parmesan, chopped onions, and pickled pepper slices.  Oh yes.

Dish scores full points for ambiance and food, but there is one thing that has bothered me on a few of my visits.  With no designated smoking and nonsmoking sections, nonsmokers have no escape from wafting second hand smoke from neighboring tables.  I pine for the (far off?) day when Japan, too, bans smoking in eating establishments.  In the meantime, dish is still a dandy place for a bite to eat.

practical information...  

how to get there:  Take the Odakyu line to Yoyogi-Uehara station, and use South exit #1 (南口1番出口), heading to the left as you exit.  Dish is on your right less than a minute from the station, on the second floor of a red brick building with an external staircase.

address: 〒151−0064東京都渋谷区上原1−33−16オオツカビル2階

Ootsuka building 2nd floor, 1-33-16 Uehara, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 〒151-0064

telephone: 03-5465-6455

hours: open 12:00 - 3:00am.  Lunch runs from 12:00 - 6:00 with a different menu, so the dishes mentioned above may not be available.  There is a night charge of 10% added to the price of all items after (if my memory serves me correctly) 11pm.

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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

It's Vegetable: Taiwanese vegetarian cuisine in Tokyo

Vegetarian restaurant, vegan friendly

A random Wednesday off today gave me a chance to check out a place I'd been meaning to go to for ages. Back in August I went on a short trip to Taiwan and since then I've been craving another dose ever so delicious Taiwanese veggie cuisine.

A 30 minute subway ride away from Shibuya, It's Vegetable is a bit of a hike out the areas of Tokyo I usually frequent, but a satisfying meal tonight and a good book for the train convinced me it was time well spent.

Some of the reviews on Happy Cow had mentioned that it was necessary or at least a good idea to make a reservation for this place, but I got the feeling one would be fine without one.  That being said, the restaurant was nearly full when I left around 7pm (on a weeknight), so perhaps during peak times a reservation would be a good idea.

 Lunches run buffet style, with all you can fit on a small, medium or large plate system (with some weight restrictions).  Dinner can be ordered from an extensive menu of dishes, most of which feature soy based fake meats.  Many of these items can be ordered either small (630¥) or large (840¥).  I tried the braised "chicken" and mixed veggies with hot sauce, a flavorful dish with chewy meaty bits reminiscent of the sweet and sour pork of my childhood.

While nearly all of the menu is handwritten in both Japanese and English, the soup noodle section curiously has no English translations.  The friendly owner kindly walked me through the soup varieties, and I selected the first one on the list, a shoyu (soy sauce) based soup topped with a variety of veggies (900¥).

My only regret with this dinner was that with only one stomach, I was limited in the number of items I was able to try.  Given that there were so many yummy looking options I'd like to sample, I'll try to return here with friends and share a feast of little dishes.

It's Vegetable is easy to find.  From Kinshicho (on the Hanzomon and Sobu Lines), head to exit 5, turning to your left as you exit.  Take the first left from there, and you'll find the restaurant on your right within the first block.

As mentioned on the menu, while all items are vegetarian and contain no egg, some items do contain dairy products.  If you are vegan, let the staff know and they'll point you in the the right direction.

Practical information...

address: 東京都墨田区錦糸4-1-9

4-1-9 Kinshi, Sumida-ku, Tokyo

telephone: 03-3625-1245

closed on Mondays

opening hours: lunch 11:45-2:30 (last order 2pm), dinner 5:30-10:00 (last order 9:30)
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