I already mentioned it in my last posting: this time I will recommend my favorite non-Japanese restaurant in Tokyo! I don't want to deprive this wonderful little place from you, it is a Taiwanese eatery in Kinshichô called "It's Vegetable". And the name is the motto of this place! Everything is made of vegetables and soy - no meat, no fish, no milk, no egg - let's call it vegan :)
I wanted to check out this place when I visited Tokyo on a saturday to spend a day free of work just with meeting friends, shopping, and eatingeatingeating... After having read about it here, I suggested going there for dinner and a friend of mine wanted to make a reservation for us there. Unfortunatly when she called, they told her that they will have a privat party that night and aren't open for public. I was so dissapointed! However since we had already arranged to meet at Kinshichô station, we thought "let's just go there and see what it looks like. Maybe we can throw a glance on the food and see if it is worth coming back another time". It is not far from the station and we found it easily because of the big sign:
And yeah, it looked so promising that my friend just went right inside and started talking with the guys who were having their party there and with the restaurant owner and told them that she is here with a bunch of hungry vegetarian (ehem, actually I was the only strict vegetarian around, but well..) friends from all over the world, who came aaaaaallll the way, nearly starving etc etc and asked them if it weren't possible that we joined their party! Hehehehe... They seemed to be amused and also happy to have some girls around they could practice their English with, closed ranks and let us to stay. We had to pay a little bit and had all kinds of food and drinks, nice conversations and a lot of fun! And the food was great! Actually so great that I nearly forgot to take pictures. You can see that it is already half-eaten on my photo. It was an array of vegetables, mushrooms and all kind of Tofu / soy dishes (maybe also Gluten, I wasn't so sure about that) that were imitateting meat or fish - but in an extraordinary delicious and convincing way! Usually I am not such a big fan of such things like mock chicken wings or Tofu Schnitzel or all that stuff. I don't miss meat because there are so many other awsome things to eat in this world, so that I don't even think of meat as something edible anymore (no wonder after being a vegetarian for more than half of my life). However at "It's Vegetable" it just tasted so perfect, that even my non-vegetarian friends were amazed and loved it.
There was a dish that didn't just have the consistency but also really tasted and looked like fried fish, another dish was with slices of vegan "chicken" and there was Cha han, fried rice that seemed to have a lot of egg inside, but uh uh, all vegan ingrediences!
Very tasty and pretty different to Japanese Tsukemono were the Taiwanese style pickles.. Mmmh, well actually there was nothing I didn't like of all the things they brought out of the kitchen into the small, packed restaurant that night! And I guess that is true for any other day, without Party, too. Ok, I love Taiwanese food anyway, so they didn't have hard times to convince me of their dishes, but please believe me: it was really good: crunchy veggies, delicious mushrooms, many different kinds of tastes from spicy to sour to savoury - just right!
For lunch time they offer an all you can eat buffet for just 850yen and during dinner time you can order a la carte or also go for the buffet that is 1200yen then. Very good deal, I think! Beside the fantastic food, there is also just a very nice and homey atmosphere in this family-run restaurant. You can feel that the people who run this place do it with love and are very committed to the goodnes of vegetarian food. It is one of those likeable places you just see and know it will be fine. So please try yourself :)
4-1-9 Kinshichô, Sumida-ku, Tokyo
11:00~14:00 all you can eat buffet only
18:00~20:00 all you can eat buffet or a la carte
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