Thursday, April 30, 2015

Other short notes on Japan

April 3-11, 2014

This final post from our week-long holiday in Japan is a semi-random round-up that will probably be interesting to our readers, but don't fit our usual recipe/restaurant blog format. Here's some advice for vegos in Japan in bullet points.

1) Arrange pocket wi-fi before you turn up. There are a whole bunch of companies who will rent you a mobile wi-fi device (smaller than a phone), delivering it either to the airport or your hotel with a reply-paid envelope to return it in. This will mean your phones can access the internet at almost all times, so that navigating Tokyo's impenetrable address system and astonishing subway map is much more straightforward. This is the first time we've done this while travelling, and it was the best decision we made (for the record we used these guys, but it was a panicky last-minute decision - do your research!).

2) Having arranged pocket wi-fi, go right ahead and download the Happy Cow app - it will point you to nearby veggie (and veg-friendly) places, will give you directions and will make eating out in Tokyo a relative breeze. It costs a few bucks, but it's money well spent (and can then be used on future trips to other cities/countries!).


3) Convenience stores are your friend. We relied on FamilyMart and 7-11 for quite a few meals - they've always got inari and onigiri (this site is helpful for figuring out your vego options at convenience stores). They've also got all manner of snacks and sweets for when you just need to eat something made of sugar or salt.


4) The basement of department stores are gigantic food courts, with shops of all kinds serving up whatever treats you can imagine. From fresh fruit and veg to mochi, from pastry shaped like a lion to fancy chocolate, there's everything you can imagine available (the basement at Isetan was our favourite on this trip).


5) Make a side trip to Kappabashi Street if you visit the temples in Asakusa. It's the kitchen goods district of Tokyo, and there are a handful of shops that specialise in plastic food models that are great fun to browse through. They're a wonderful source of kitschy gifts too, but be prepared to spend a decent wodge of money - crafting lifelike noodles out of plastic doesn't come cheap.



6) Freshness Burger are a handy source of a vegetarian meal (although probably not a vegan one). There are nearly 200 locations in Japan, including a handy one in the new Jetstar terminal at Narita airport. The bean-based veggie burger and fries tided us over before our flight down to Takamatsu.


7) Toys! We went a bit crazy for toys in Tokyo. It's probably wise not to chase your losses in the toy vending machines because you want a very particular type of cat-sushi toy, but these are hard lessons to live by in the moment. We also fell madly in love with Gudetama, the lazy egg-yolk member of the Hello Kitty family - he's hard to miss if you hang out in the shops like Kiddyland (in Harajuku), a five-storey toy shop that should be on everybody's itinerary.


8) Vending machines are a reliable source of heavily sweetened caffiene-based beverages. Tokyo has a few hip coffee places around, but the pickings are much slimmer than Melbourne and I got lazy and quickly resorted to a mix of iced and hot coffee drinks from colourful machines. You can get them milky or black, but they're all loaded with sugar.


And that's it! We had a great time in Japan again - it's not the easiest country to be vegetarian in, but the pay-off is worth the bit of effort that goes into planning (and the semi-regular convenience store snacking). Hopefully there are some useful tidbits in this post, and throughout our restaurant-related posts for others making the journey. Enjoy!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Hang Out

April 10, 2015


On Friday afternoon we snagged the matinee session at the Robot Restaurant, one of Tokyo's cheesiest tourist attractions (see the slideshow below for a hint of the neon pantomime we experienced). We held off on the popcorn and sought out snacks afterwards from Hang Out, a laid-back surfer-inspired vegan bar in Shibuya.


An English printed menu full of photos was available, so we had no problem browsing independently. Before Matt even arrived we demolished a plate of seasoned fries'n'sauce (480円 ~ $5.15). Stomachs thus lined, we were more polite in sharing many more bar snacks over an hour or two, including the hemp potato croquettes (580円 ~ $6.20) and a saucer of kimchi (580円 ~ $6.20).


The rainbow vegetable salad (880円 ~ $9.40) was a gesture towards fresh vegetables that really paid off, the abundant fresh greens decorated with pretty and refreshing radishes, and pots of avocado and sesame-based dressings besides. The gyoza (580円 ~ $6.20) were pretty good too, but we didn't figure out the dipping sauce protocol in time.


Our mock meat of choice (Jamaican jerk vegan chicken) was sadly sold out but there were plenty of others to choose from. The Japanese fried wheat gluten (680円 ~ $7.30) reminded me of Fry's, and was garnished with pickles, soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce. The fried tofu with tartar sauce (880円 ~ $9.40) was a surprise stand-out, with some lively seasoning and crunchy snow pea sprouts.

The staff spoke English well and were very relaxed. We happily loitered at Hang Out through a couple cycles of customers, watching the wall projection shift from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Dead Man and loop around to Dead Man once more. It was the ideal haven from the bright lights and city sounds on yet another rainy night.

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Hang Out
Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Udagawa-cho, 3-12 RIKA Building 3rd Floor, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
03-64553562
standard menu, daily specials

Accessibility: Hang Out is located up a couple of flights of narrow stairs; we didn't see an alternative entry. Inside tables are well spaced and it's quite dimly lit. We ordered at our table and paid at a high counter. The toilet is elevated by one or two steps, unisex, and narrow.
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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Saishoku Kenbi

April 10, 2015


Our trip to Tokyo coincided with another vego friend's holiday, so we arranged to meet up for lunch on Friday at Saishoku Kenbi, in the Korean neighbourhood near Shinjuku. We visited this place for lunch on our first trip, but they've switched things around since then from buffet meals to a la carte. The restaurant is attached to a small Buddhist temple and is tucked away down some back streets - keep your eyes peeled for the green sign and the happy white Buddha to guide you there.


The interior is plain - the buffet table has been replaced by more tables for diners, but otherwise not much has changed. The staff speak minimal English and the menu is all in Japanese but it's clearly illustrated, and thus relatively easy to figure out what to order. The food on offer is a mix of Western-inspired stuff (sandwiches, spaghetti bol, pizza, etc.) and more Japanese-style food (dumplings, noodle soups, rice-based dishes).

Cindy ordered the set lunch (1300円 ~ $14), which was a combination of the two traditions - miso soup and rice, served with a British-style Sunday roast and a little coleslaw-ish salad with a wonderful nutty dressing. The miso soup was loaded up with veggies and herbs and a lighter broth than what we'd had with our previous lunch sets. The roast had a meatloafy texture and was slathered in a rich soy-based gravy. The set came with a cup of tea, a couple of bikkies and some fruit as well, and was probably the best value meal of our trip.


The rest of us all ordered soupy lunches (780円 ~ $8.40). There's a mushroom soup, a hammy soup and the one I ordered - a curry laksa-style soup. This was just what I was after - spicy and warming, with plenty of veggies and and minced mock meat sharing the soup with the noodles. I also grabbed a small taste of Cass' mushroom soup and it was excellent as well.


Sishoku Kenbi is a must-visit - it's cheap, the food is excellent, the staff are lovely and you can even stock up on frozen mock meat and other veggie groceries if you're looking for home-cooking ingredients. I'm a bit sad that the buffet-style lunches are over, but there's still an excellent value meal to be had here.

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Read about our first visit to Saishoku Kenbi here. Only Mindful Wanderlust and Japan Vegan seem to have blogged about this place since our first visit.
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Saishoku Kenbi 
2-21-26 Hyakunin-cho, Shinjyuku-ku
03 5332 3627
set lunch, menu pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Accessibility: There's one small step up on entry. The restaurant is reasonably spacious, with orders taken at the table and payment at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Patisserie Potager

April 8, 2015


Our morning in Kamimeguro was wet and bookended with food failures. First, Michael navigated us towards vegetarian cafe Rainbow Bird Rendezvous for an early lunch. The only word we could read from the hand-written sign on the door was 'Wednesday', but it was pretty clear that they were closed especially for that day, a Wednesday. Later we circled the suburb twice trying to locate Potager Marche before confirming that it had been replaced by a barbecue restaurant. In between, there was a warm dry refuge and cake at Patisserie Potager.


We visited Patisserie Potager last year, and I was keen to try more of their pretty vegetable-charged desserts. The burdock gateau chocolat (470 円 ~ $4.90) was a little dry in the crumb but balanced out with a cream dollop. Tiny cubes of roasted burdock added texture and only the subtlest flavour to the cake.


The Japanese leek baked cheese cake (470 円 ~ $4.90) was bolder, the dense dairy giving way to a squishy centre of caramelised leek. Melding sweet and savoury this well takes skill.

For all the frustration around it, I'm so glad we were able to return to Patisserie Potager. These vegetable-based desserts might be a silly novelty, but they're also damn delicious.

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You can read about our first visit to Patisserie Potager here. Since then it has received mostly positive write-ups on A traveling foodie's gastronomic diary from around the world... and 도쿄 동경 베쯔니 블로그 (in Korean).
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Patisserie Potager
2 Chome-44-9 Kamimeguro, Meguro, Tokyo 153-0051, Japan
03 6279 7753
http://www.potager.co.jp/

Accessibility: Entry is flat from the street and tables are moderately spaced. All the cakes are displayed at a low-to-medium height. I ordered and paid at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Brown Rice Cafe

April 7, 2015


We wound up spending Tuesday afternoon and evening wandering around Harajuku buying plastic toys and other ridiculousness (Kiddy Land toy store is a must-visit if you want to load up on Gudetama-related goodies). The rain kept coming down, meaning we just wanted somewhere nearby for dinner - luckily Brown Rice Cafe was right around the corner.

Brown Rice is attached to British organic cosmetics shop Neal's Yard, and is tucked down a little laneway just to the North of Omotesando station. Like seemingly everywhere in Tokyo, it's much easier to find if you have a detailed map/functioning mobile phone. The layout is sleek and spare - wooden floorboards and tables elegantly arranged, with some nice botanical prints on the walls. There are English menus - vego restaurants in Tokyo seem to be well aware that a big chunk of their market is foreigners. The food is macrobiotic, and heavy on the veggies - you can enjoy a terrine made of 10 kinds of vegetables (1200円 ~ $13) or a mix of veggies cooked using the five principles of Japanese cooking (1300円 ~ $14.10). There are intriguing sounding tofu tasting plates (800円 ~ $8.70), salads and a range of other small plates.

I'm not sure if it's standard or not, but this cute little square of sesame tofu and crackers came out with our drinks (beer for me and a 700円 ~ $7.50 tangerine juice for Cindy) - the tofu was smooth and the sesame flavour worked well with the light sauce it was served with.


We took the easy option and ordered the brown rice dinner set - brown rice, miso soup, some sides and a choice of main for 1700円 (~$18.40) The options on our visit were steamed vegetables, Okinawa-style tofu cutlets or miso dengaku - we chose the cutlets and the dengaku and shared them.


The miso dengaku was a serve of lightly grilled tofu with a strong miso sauce splotched on top, served with an impressive array of pickled vegetables and greens. It was all pretty simple, but I really enjoyed it - the seasoning on the brown rice was a surprising highlight. The Okinawa-style tofu reminded me of crumbed fish as much as anything, right down to the sweet mayo and lemon juice.

We managed to leave just enough room to squeeze in a shared dessert - the tofu lemon cake with berry coulis (750円 ~ $8).


This was a solid rendition of the vegan cheesecake format - they clearly know their way around tofu.

We had a lovely dinner at Brown Rice. The atmosphere is a peaceful escape from the madness of Harajuku and Omotesando and the food is artfully prepared. You're probably best off ignoring the slightly mystical claims in the menu, but the mix of tofu, pickled and fresh veggies, miso soup and brown rice did feel like a healthy way to finish the day.

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Brown Rice Cafe
Green Bldg 1F, 5-1-17 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
03 5778 5416

Accessibility: There are a few steps up on entrance. The interior is spacious and there's full table service. We didn't visit the toilets.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Olu 'Olu Cafe

April 6, 2015


Given that I was working on our first day in Tokyo, I spent the third one wallowing in cherry blossoms for hours (see slideshow below). I was still glowing (and, let's be honest, a little sunburnt) when we met up with Matt for dinner in Sangenjaya. Michael had picked out Olu 'Olu Cafe, a small vegan restaurant with a Hawai'ian theme, decorated with palm fronds, surfboards and fairy lights.

The staff were able to supply us with an entirely English menu and it proved extensive and varied - macrobiotic soups and greens, natto, Hawai'ian and Indonesian fried mock meats and bruschetta appeared on the specials board alone!


I was impressed by the list of non-alcoholic beverages too, which included flavoured vegan milks, teas and sodas. Their iced ginger lemonade (650円 ~ AU$6.10) struck a perfect balance of fruity sourness and a little throaty heat, and was served unsweetened with syrup on the side.


We started out with a plate of pungent garlic edamame (830円 ~ AU$9.00) and sucked as much flavour from the pods as we could. The boiled macrobiotic greens of the day (360円 ~ AU$3.90) were less shareable than we'd hoped, but nonetheless vibrant, tender and expertly seasoned with soy.


We each went our separate ways for mains. Michael had an excellent Mochiko chicken bowl (1030円 ~ AU$11.20) - battered mock chicken pieces in a sweet and spicy sauce served with brown rice and fresh salad, hailed as 'one of the major Hawaiian local foods'. Matt's fish'n'chips (880円 ~ AU$9.60) were less Hawai'ian but just as delicious, with flaky fillets of bean curd skin. My pork and ginger bowl (930円 ~ AU$10.10) didn't conjure up the promised spice but was comforting regardless.

The staff were unfailingly friendly (and explicitly welcome pets too!) and I was sad that we were unlikely to make it back to try more of the menu.


We capped off the night with some bar-hopping, most memorably at corridor-sized Queensland. The bar owner was a lovely and youthful septuagenarian with fond memories of the Gold Coast, a generous supply of burdock pickles and sweets, and penchant for karaoke.

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Olu 'Olu Cafe has been blogged previously and positively on 25Cafes.com, Bon Voyage Vegan and TOFUsenshi.

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Olu 'Olu Cafe
1-11-1 Ikejiri, Setagaya-ku, Sangenjaya, Tokyo, Japan
03 3795 6060
specials, appetisers, mains 1, mains 2, drinks, info
http://ameblo.jp/oluolucafe

Accessibility: Olu 'Olu has a flat entry and a crowded interior. We ordered at the table and paid at a high counter. The toilet is inside, narrow and unisex.
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Monday, April 20, 2015

Komaki Syokudo

April 6, 2015


After a morning spent soaking up the cherry blossoms in Shinjuku Gyoen, Cindy and I set off for an afternoon of video games, anime and nerd culture in Akihabara (see a few highlights in the slideshow at the end of this post). We kicked things off with lunch, at a venue whose quiet vibe was at odds with the rest of the neighbourhood: Komaki Syokudo. This is another place that's quite tricky to locate - the address that Google Maps gave us was clearly wrong, but the Happy Cow directions and map were bang on. The restaurant is attached to a fancy grocery store under the train lines in the Chabara building, and it's well worth wandering through the store after you've eaten to marvel at all the interesting ingredients on offer.

Komaki Syokudo is tucked over on the right hand side of the supermarket and is fairly unassuming. There are a handful of tables, a counter with clearly displayed food options and not much else. There's an English menu, which makes figuring out the system pretty easy. For a set lunch you order one dish from the middle shelf and two dishes from the bottom shelf; throw in miso soup and a bowl of rice and lunch will set you back 980円 (~$10.60). If you're hungrier, you can order the full set of 9 dishes for 1530円 (~$16.50). In either case, choosing brown rice over white will add an extra 150円 (~$1.60) to the price. The cuisine-style is shōjin ryōri, done a lot cheaper than the high-end versions we've had in the past.


We split our meals - on the left above is fried gluten (top shelf) with a mushroom and greens dish plus a curry-seasoned lentil-cabbage dish. On the right, a crumbed rice croquette with a mushroom, carrot and bean salad plus another side we couldn't really identify, based on some sort of mashed root vegetable. It was simple but delicious, with one of the best miso soups of the trip and some nice seasoning on hand to add some punch to the rice.


We wandered happily around the neighbouring grocery store afterwards, scoping out all the amazing ingredients on sale (but saving our money for the toy shopping to come). Komaki Syokudo is a relaxing way to prepare yourself for the hectic madness of the rest of Akihabara - it's the perfect starting or ending point for a few hours of wandering the streets.
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Both Japan Vegan and Sweet Potato Soul were impressed by Komaki Syokudo.
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Komaki Syokudo
8-2 Kanda Neribeicho Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan 101-0022 (in the Chabara building)
menu: one, two
http://konnichiha.net/komakishokudo/english.html

Accessibility: There are a couple of steps up as you come into the building. The restaurant area is small and a little crowded. You order and pay at a high counter. The toilets are located in the nearby supermarket and are gendered.
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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Banwarou

April 5, 2015


We spent the afternoon in Yokohama dodging the drizzle where we could, walking by Kanamara Matsuri and the port, grabbing some bar snacks (including burdock chips! recommended) and focusing on Chinatown (there are a few photos in a slideshow below). We sought out Banwarou for dinner, a Taiwanese restaurant mentioned on Happy Cow.

Although Banwarou serves meat and does not have menu printed in English, it's not too hard to cobble together a veg-friendly feast. 'Vegetarian' is printed on the door and the restaurant owner is keen to assist in limited but enthusiastic English and a side of gesticulation, including a check on whether or not we eat eggs. Inside and out, the walls are lined with photos of their food, and one side is especially dedicated to their vegetarian options.


Our haphazard pointing brought rich rewards - crispy spring rolls (650円 ~ AU$7.00), mochi (which we are more accustomed to calling radish cakes, 650円 ~ AU$7.00), gyoza (650円 ~ AU$7.00) and stir-fried soy beef and mixed vegetables in a salty cornflour-thickened sauce (1890円 ~ AU$20.40).


One of the highlights was a plate of slippery, sweet chilli eggplant (1470円 ~ AU$15.90), which reminded us of the fish-flavoured eggplant in Melbourne's Dainty Sichuan.


The fabulous finale was pulled off with the help of a bilingual vegan Kiwi at another table. At his and the restaurant owner's joint recommendation, we ordered the vego mapo tofu (1100円 ~ AU$11.90) and the sesame noodles (850円 ~ AU$9.20); tossing but not stirring the sesame noodles with chopsticks, then scooping the two dishes into our individuals bowls as a saucy, hearty, rich and spicy melange.


Without Happy Cow's help, we would've walked right past Banwarou - many of the meal photos are meaty and the interior is cramped with few apparent frills. But the restaurant's warm and outgoing owner is undoubtedly its best feature, with the veg-friendly food a firm second.
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Banwarou has also been blogged by Vegan Marathon Runner.
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Banwarou
139 Yamashita-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Japan
045 663 3113

Accessibility: The entry is flat and the interior is small and very densely packed. We ordered and paid at our table. The toilet is inside, narrow and unisex.
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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Ain Soph Jouney II

April 5, 2015


On Sunday morning we explored Shinjuku, where we were staying. We sheltered from the rain in various department stores, marvelling at the toys and too timid to try on the clothes. Michael had four veg-friendly lunch destinations up his sleeve but the first one, Chaya, had a queue of more than a dozen hopefuls seated out front. We were time- and train-sensitive so opted for the next closest venue, Ain Soph Journey.

We'd visited Ain Soph last year for dinner and so knew roughly what to expect. The menu mostly contains English translations, has many instructive and attractive photos and appears to be entirely vegan, so it's not too difficult to pick out a meal. Our waiter, however, didn't speak any English and valiantly continued to speak Japanese to us throughout our visit even though we tried to make it clear right away that we couldn't understand.


At lunch time Ain Soph tend towards set menus - a multi-course banquet runs to 2800円 (~AU$30.20) but other savouries with salad are 1800円 (~AU$19.40). Salads are piled up into pint glasses and served with salty soy and vinaigrette dressings. Michael's green curry (one of the cheaper lunch specials) was like a palak paneer with three tofu cubes replacing the cheese, tasty and soupy with brown rice and more fresh greens on the side.


Ever the sweet tooth, I ordered from the dessert menu. Unfortunately, given our limited ability to communicate with our waiter, this meant that Michael had finished his salad entree and his entire curry before this was brought to the table. He couldn't help but pick at my fluffy vegan pancakes (1400円 ~ AU$15.10) - they were really good! Toppings were abundant - aerated soy cream, date icecream, berry compote, fresh fruit slices and a scattering of nuts and seeds. My wild strawberry tea (600円 ~ AU$6.50) was the ideal tangy, fruity accompaniment.

Our previous review of Ain Soph Journey was tepid, but this time round they proved themselves capable of much more than we'd given them credit for. We only regretted that we didn't have time to linger over their banquet.

Retro J-pop at Disc Union
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You can read about our first visit to Ain Soph Journey here. Since then it's received many positive reviews on other blogs, many of them in Japanese - see Tokyo Chillin', Bon Voyage Vegan, NPO Japan Vegetarian Society, meg, Happy Lucky, Tokyo Today Tokyo, Active Vegan and My Secret Place.
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Ain Soph Journey
3 Chome 8-9, Shinjuku Tokyo, Japan 160-0022
03-5925-8908
big lunch sets, small lunch sets, desserts, drinks
http://ain-soph.jp/top.html

Accessibility: The entry includes a half-flight of stairs. Half the tables are downstairs and another half are up a full flight of narrow stairs; all tables are densely arranged. We ordered at our table and paid at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Mominoki House

April 4, 2015


After our lunch, Matt and and I went for a wander through Yoyogi Park, enjoying both the cherry blossoms and the hordes of people out celebrating their arrival. Before we knew it it was time for dinner, and the Happy Cow App on my phone pointed us in the direction of the nearby Momonoki House in Harajuku. I was too distracted to take photos of the interior, but it's quite lovely - a handful of wooden tables, including a couple of elevated booths and a big blackboard with a detailed menu (including English translations). There is something a bit dated about the vibe, but that's probably understandable given it's been around for 39 years.

Mominoki House isn't entirely vego - there are a handful of meaty options, but the majority is meat-free. There are gluten dumplings, potato croquettes, deep-fried natto and a whole bunch of other small plate dishes, but Matt and I both went for set bigger meals from the specials board. For Matt, a tofu steak with ginger sauce and shallots, with sides of eggplant, beans, lotus root and carrot (picture above, 2200 ~ $24.25).


I grabbed the tempeh steak, which came with a soyish sauce, mushrooms, tomato, a slice of radish, bean curd, some sort of bean paste and decorative greens and flowers (2000円 ~ $22). The food was delicate and beautifully prepared, with an impressive array of ingredients. It's pricy, but you're paying for something a little bit fancier than you get at most of the vego places in Tokyo. It was pretty quiet the night we visited, and the atmosphere was a bit flat, but it's a fun place to check out if you're in the neighbourhood and have a bit of spending money.

(more unrelated cherry blossoms from Shinjuku-Gyoen)
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A vegan in Japan and vegan like a boss both enjoyed their visits to Mominoki House.
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Mominoki House
2 Chome-18-5 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
81 3 3405 9144
Menus: one, two, three, four, five
http://www.mominoki-house.net/

Accessibility: Mominoki House is down a flight of stairs and is quite crowded inside. There's full table service. We didn't visit the toilets.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Nagi Shokudo II

April 4, 2015


A fortunate turn of events meant that Cindy and I found ourselves in Tokyo for a week over Easter. While she worked on the Saturday, I caught up with my brother for lunch at Nagi Shokudo in Shibuya. We'd dropped in for dinner on our last trip, but this time I got to sample the lunch menu. It's 1000 yen (~$11) for a lunch set. You choose 3 dishes from a list of 10-15 options and get them served up with a salad, some rice and a bowl of miso soup.

I ordered the fried soy meat (bottom right), the dahl fritters (bottom left) and the tomato and ginger tofu (top right). This was an excellent way to get back into the swing of eating in Japan. Set meals at lunch are almost always a cheap and filling option, and this set had the added bonus of a bit of flexibility and excellent execution. The tofu and soy meat in particular were brilliant - really top notch.

This is nowhere near Nagi Shokudo, but is Shinjuku Gyoen, where I spent my pre-lunch hours enjoying the cherry blossoms.

The place is lovely too - hard to find, but worth the effort. The staff speak a decent amount of English and the menu is translated, which makes life a bit easier for hopeless monolinguists like us. They have an array of zines and CDs for sale as well and seem to be a bit of a meeting point for Tokyo hipsters (the Portland band Sad Horse were lunching there on our visit).
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Read about our previous visit here. Lots of other bloggers have enjoyed Nagi Shokudo - see Big Tent Vegan, Vegetus, Vegetablian, Cascadian Abroad, Kitty and Buck and JoJo + Japan for positive reviews, while VegOut Tokyo and Bon Voyage Vegan had more mixed feelings.
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Nagi Shokudo
15-10 Uguisudanicho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
050 1043 7751
http://nagishokudo.com/

It's on the quiet south-western side of Shibuya station and you'll need to make sure you have good directions/map screen shots. Even when you find the right intersection the place can still be hard to spot - it's hidden low in a little cluster of restaurants - look for this sign.



Accessibility: Nagi Shokudo is down a handful of stairs and is pretty crowded inside. There's full table service. We didn't visit the toilets.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Radhey Kitchen & Chai Bar II

March 28, 2015


It took seven months, but I finally made my way back to try out Radhey's tea and dessert selection. As you can see from the photo above, the desserts are varied and attractive with well-labelled vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and raw options.


Even having just snuck out of Yong Green Food with their raw dessert menu, it was the uncooked items that Carol, Michael and I were most drawn to. The raw cacao brownie ($7) was almost cakey with a lovely ganache-like topping. Nevertheless, it was outshone by the raw raspberry swirl cheesecake ($7), a super smooth square of creamy sweetness lifted by the tanginess of real raspberries. My plant milk-based chai ($4) was warm and comforting, but too light on the spice for my taste.


On a Saturday night, when the rest of Brunswick St was poised to get rowdy, Radhey Kitchen and Chai Bar was a welcome quiet nook for dessert with a friend. We'll continue to seek it out for comfort food and calm.

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You can read about our first visit to Radhey here. Since then it's been blogged on Fire & Tea, Zinc Moon and Veganopoulous.
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Radhey Kitchen & Chai Bar
336 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
9077 8858
http://www.radheychaibar.com/

Accessibility: I think there's a half-step up on entry and a flat interior. Tables are quite densely packed with a clear wide corridor through the middle. We ordered and paid and a low-ish counter, where much of the food is on display and chalkboard menus are easy to read. We didn't visit the toilets.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Veggie Patch Diner

March 25, 2015


I had another quick work trip to Sydney in late March, and used my couple of spare meals to check out the newish Veggie Patch Diner, a permanent home from Yulli's-related Veggie Patch Van. It's a cute little space - lots of clean wooden fittings, natural light, and a lovely but small courtyard out the back. They're open Wednesday-Sunday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu is about 60% vegan - there's a mix of eggy and non-eggy stuff for breakfast, a burger menu for lunch and dinner and a cabinet of salads if you're feeling like something healthy.


I turned up on the way in to work ready for brekkie. The haloumi and fried egg roll ($10) tempted me, as did the baked chickpeas served on crispy polenta with smoked mushrooms ($15), but I always find myself unable to resist the lure of scrambled tofu (with mushrooms, kale and homemade tomato sauce, $14). It's a mountain of food - deliciously oily and seasoned with some sort of spice mix including turmeric and cumin. There's a good mix of veggies stirred through and a couple of pieces of decent toast buried under it all. An excellent start to the day.

A mere eight hours later and I was back for more, grabbing dinner on my way back to my hotel. After breakfast, it's really all about burgers here. There are six to choose from: zucchini and feta, haloumi, olive and almond, cajun spiced tofu and, my choice for the evening: smoked mushroom and and tempeh burger ($12 or $17 with a choice of sides - you'll see below that I chose a side of onion rings that towered over the burger).


The mushroom burger came with a couple of smoky tempeh slices, pickled banana peppers, lime and pepper mayo an apple and kale slaw and a watermelon/chipotle bbq sauce. And it was excellent - a mash up of tangy, smoky and spicy flavours and a big juicy mushroom. The onion rings were ludicrous - gigantic rings of batter with slivers of onion inside them. It's really too much batter for one person to eat in a single sitting - they're great, but you'll want to share them with a friend.

Veggie Patch Diner is a welcome addition to Sydney's vego dining scene - excellent food, friendly staff, great music on the stereo and a lovely space to hang out in. I'll definitely be back next time I'm in town.
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I first read about Veggie Patch Diner on The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry. Nobody else seems to have blogged the diner, although there are quite a few positive write-ups of the related food van.
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Veggie Patch Diner
239 Glenmore Road, Paddington
02 9331 5992
https://www.facebook.com/VeggiePatchVan
breakfast, burgers, sides and salads

Accessibility: There's a small step up on entry, to a reasonably spacious interior. You order and pay at a low counter. The toilets are out the back, and are up a few steps.