Monk's Food

Shortly after I arrived in Tokyo I read about Kichijôji, a very pleasant town in the west of Tokyo, with lots of nice bars, restaurants, shops, even some streetart (I couldn't find much though) and the beautiful Inokashira park. Close to the park, I also read, is a very veggie-friendly place called Monk's Food. That had to be checked out of course! So I spent a day roaming through the streets of Kichijôji, looking at the shops, listening to street musicians in the park and watching the turtles relaxing at the pond there.
With an empty stomach I started searching for the mentioned restaurant and found it so fast, I couldn't believe it! Usually I need so long to find something here with Tokyo's weird address "system" (I am not sure about calling it system at all..). It is a very small, oldfashioned and rather dark looking place and weren't there the Monk's Food sign outside, I never expected great vegetarian cuisine. Because I came alone they asked me to sit down at the bar, not upstairs at the tables. This was fine, I had a look at the wall filled with Jazz CD (the restaurant seems to be named after Thelonius Monk) behind the counter and a sign that says that they use mainly organic veggies from farms around Tokyo.
On the menu were three sets: one vegan, one with fish, one with chicken and some smaller dishes, I was to lazy to translate or ask for translation - because I was starving and a set with a variety of dishes just came right. So without knowing what I can expect I took the veggie set and I can say: it was so worth the 1000something yen it cost. First I got free water and a tasty tea and after a short while a great array of dishes came out of the kitchen! There was Genmai (brown rice) sprinkled with kurogoma (black sesame), a miso soup with lots of vegetables like cabbage and carrots etc., cold pickled greens (sorry I don't know, what kind of leaves - but they were good), a generous serving of tofu with grilled and very juicy eggplants topped with grated radish and crisp pak choi and a bowl with sweet potatos and big red beans.
Oooh, it was so! extremely! delicious! I will definitely go there again. Great food: vegan, organic, healthy and so tasty and filling also (not tiny Japanese style portions you might get at other places), good music in the background and the service was fast and friendly, too. Perfect!
And there was just one more customer, so it was not at all crowded there.
By the way: the lady who served me ate one of the sets too - I see this as as a good sign! I know of some people who were working at restaurants and told me they would never eat there themselves... Monk's Food is not such a place, so I can recommend it with all my heart to anyone who happens to be in Kichijôji.

Monk's Food
1-2-4 Gotenyama
[click address to see map]


soCherry said...

this is so useful - thanks! Esp. as I plan to go to Kichijoji while I'm out there for their giant crafty shops!

Can I ask - is the word 'tomato' always written in Katakana in ingrediants on things? I'm allergic to it and I'm hoping that it won't be written in kanji and then I won't recognise it...

We're not going til Sept so I'll watch for more recommendations - cheers!

Elaine x

Julia said...

thanks for visiting my blog :)
yes, tomato is always written トマト. i've never seen it in any different way, i don't think there is a kanji for it.
have fun it kichijôji, it is a great place!

vegetablej said...

Looks like a great place; it's always such a trest to get a GOOD veggie meal at a restaurant.

I did have one spectacular meal but it had to be specially ordered weeks ahead and made for me. It was for a special lunch with my students and I felt I was putting the chef to a lot of trouble. But it was great -- he had made a kantan jelly with nori that resembled sashimi with a yummy hot mustard and white miso dipping sauce. Also there was a grilled tofu and shitake "stew" that was too tasty.

Julia said...

Wow, that sounds very good, too! But ordering weeks before.. that's crazy! As if we want some extraterrestrial speciality... I can't understand why it is so difficult just not to use fish and meat.
Luckily there are some vegetarian and vegan restaurants here in Tokyo now, or at least veggie-friendly places like this one. The situation changed a lot in the last three years and I hope it will improve more and more, also outside of Tokyo. I will travel through Japan a bit in August and I hope I won't starve on my way ;D

a said...

great site! i'll be able to use some of this info when i go to tokyo in august :)

a said...

thanks for sharing all this great info. it's gonna come in handy when i go to tokyo next month :)

yume no yukari said...

oh, great to finally read a longer review about this restaurant!
i've heard of it, but somehow didn't manage it yet to go there.
my desk-neighbour at class in tokyo, who was also vegetarian and lived in kichijouji, said it is just too tiny. but after seeing your pic which looks so yummy and reading about the jazz music it seems like this place is worth a visit!
also kichijouji is always a good place to spend some time and walk around.
do you know if it is far away from the main station, when you're not coming from inokashira kouen?
as you said, it is always so hard to search for a special adress in tokyo, especially when you're hungry!

Julia said...

it is no more than 10min walk from kichijoji stn, not too hard to find and definitly worth a visit. i love those tiny special places :)

JoanBailey said...

Dear Julia,

Thanks for the review of Monk's. We just moved to Tokyo about three weeks ago and live in Musashino Sakai to the west of Kichijoji. We are going to the area today to buy some plants and do some shopping, so we will check it out. It is good to find a blog about vegetables and food in Tokyo.

We miss our big garden back in Michigan, but we have managed to find some local to farm with. It is also going to be a good chance to learn Japanese. My blog on food and stuff so far is

If you are ever in the area, give us an email at

Ja mata ne!