Sometimes it is strange: something so good is just around the corner, I know it is there, I walk by every day and say to myself "you really have to try it - you know it'll be great", but for some reason or the other I never make it there as long as it is so close.
I first have to move away, don't come by for several month, become angry with myself that I didn't walk in right away the first day I saw it and now have to go through quite some effort to check it out finally. Just to see that it is as fantastic as I thought it would be from the first moment I learned of it's existence on. Nezu no ya is such a treasure.
When I came to Tokyo a year ago I used to live just five minutes walk from the little organic foodstore that hosts a vegetarian restaurant in its backroom. Everytime
on my way to the metro station or during my countless strolls around the neighborhood I had a look on the sample food they displayed and knew that this is a place just the way I love it. For around 1000 yen you can have a meal consisting of a variety of daily changing, beautiful little dishes, prepared with love for the detail and with organic and strictly vegetarian or even vegan ingrediences.
All nice, tasty, healthy, Japanesy :) Paradise! And believe it or not: although munching myself through veggie eateries virtually all over Tokyo, I never managed to just make the step into the restaurant behind the store that I visited several times! The main reason was that Nezu no ya only offers lunch and if I don't have to get up early for work or something I am rather a late-breakfast-no-lunch-but-tea&sweets-and-early-dinner kind of girl. And during my stay in Nezu there was no need for me to have breakfast early and so I was never really hungry enough for a big lunch like that. This changed when I started working on the countryside but then of course Nezu no ya was too far away to just drop by for lunch...
However recently I made it there! I had to drive to Tokyo for a delivery, was early and stopped by at Ueno park for some Hanami (the classic...). Starving after seeing all the people having picnic under the cherry blossoms I hurried to Nezu no ya - thinking "now or never!" And luckily it became "now" not "never"..
It is such a pleasant place! A quiet and very relaxing atmosphere overwhelms you and lets fall off all the stress the moment you sit down. It can really make you forget the hectic outside world for a while. The interior is simple, earthy and comfortable. It wasn't very crowded the day I have been there but also not so empty that you feel lost and lonely - just right.
Yet the best thing of course was the food! That's what I came for and that's what makes me wanna go there over and over again! They offer for example a daily changing lunch set, vegetable curry, a Tofu set or a Natto set, for the more adventurous lovers of authentic Japanese cuisine ;)
I tried the lunch set of the day that consisted of a soup, rice, vegetables, salad, pickles and a kind of Tofu patty. The miso soup was a wonderful steaming goodness with seaweed, vegetables, mushrooms and some kind of broad, flat, soft ?noodle?
that reminded me of southern German "Flädle" (pancakes from the other day, cut into stripes and served in a broth). The rice was hearty Genmai topped with Gomashio. The Tsukemono (pickles) of cucumber, Daikon radish and carrots were crunchy and not too salty or sour, so that they still had plenty of the original flavor of the fresh vegetables they were made of. The same can be said about the pink
Renkon (lotos root) slices, also a cold dish, marinated in Mirin and Shiso (perilla leaves), I guess, and definitely as decorative as they were delicous! The little dish to be seen in the upper left corner of my photo was a savory mixture of carrots, Konnyaku, Aburaage (fried Tofu). And oh, the fluffy-soft Tofu patty was soooo yummie! Especially after sprinkling some juice from the extremely intensive and fragrant mandarine on it... mmmmh!
Now that was a feast! Even a much longer way is worth to be made for this kind of food! This is what I am constantly searching for, this is what I write this blog for!
Nezu no ya ranks alongside Mikoan (Kyoto) and Monk's Food (Kichijôji) in my personal top 3 of Japanese restaurants! (Next time
I will share my favourite non-Japanese vegetarian restaurant in Tokyo with you.. )
I had to change my motto from "now or never" to "now and forever"!
Nezu no ya
1-1-14 Nezu, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo (click for map!) (on the lively shinobazu dôri)
Nezu stn on Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line
lunch served between 11:30 ~ 2:30 o'clock. No dinner!
closed on sunday and holidays