Category Archives: eating

Nagi Shokudo: Relaxed vegan eatery in Shibuya

Nagi Shokudo Set menu

When in Tokyo, I like to try out different vegan or vegetarian restaurants in addition to my mainstays. Nagi Shokudo (なぎ食堂) isn’t located that far from Shibuya Station but far enough that the bustling noise that everybody associates Shibuya with sounds merely like a whistle. But that’s the way most of Tokyo is, once you leave the busy main streets.

 

So I left the busy part of Shibuya behind walked up and down while being baked in the Summer sun – and missed the restaurant on my first try. Nagi Shokudo is not located at street level but a few steps below. There’s no big sign and the restaurant is partly obscured by a plant. 

 

Nagi Shokudo is supposed to be quite busy during lunch hour but I was lucky and the restaurant was empty when I arrived (but it was full when I left). The restaurant has a very laid back, casual atmosphere and they serve various Asian-style food depending on the day. Their lunch set was delicious with rice, soup and vegetables. A great place for lunch and highly recommended!

 

Nagi Shokudo is open from 12 to 4pm (last order at 3pm) and 6 to 11pm. They close at 4pm on Sundays. Menu and website are in Japanese and English. [ Map ]

 

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Oktoberfest 2012 in Shinjuku, Tokyo

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Honestly, I’ve stopped counting how many Oktoberfests were held around Tokyo alone, let alone Japan. An Oktoberfest held in a month other than October is nothing special though. Even the original in Munich starts in September. The Oktoberfest Shinjuku was held near Seibu Shinjuku Station. Personally I’d just skip the Oktoberfest and walk a bit further to Shin-Okubo to eat some Korean food instead, but I’m biased 😉

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On the plus side, Oktoberfest seemed quite authentic to me. Plenty of German food and more than one beer variety to choose from. For Bavarians complaining about the rising beer prices every year, Shinjuku Oktoberfest must be a shock: 1 mass (liter) of Franziskaner Weissbier for 3000 Yen (about 30 Euro). For comparison: In June it was announced that the beer price at the Munich Oktoberfest would be between 9,10 and 9,50 Euro.

How authentic is the rest? Read the rest of this entry

Vegan Meetup at Pink Cow

Pink Cow Vegan Meetup
The Pink Cow is an expat- and vegetarian-friendly bar and has regular live music and art events. Together with the Tokyo Vegan Meetup Group, an all vegan buffet is offered each month and although it’s on the pricey side (2800 Yen), it is quite popular. Before having their regular meet-up at Pink Cow, the meetup group moved from restaurant to restaurant. Vegan meet-ups at places other than Pink Cow are now rare.

Food is just one part why people join this meet-up, socializing is the other one. It’s like an international party with a more laid back feel and the food is much better, but that’s just my personal opinion. There are a lot of international/friendship parties each month and the cost can vary between 1000 to 3000 yen. Some give discounts for foreigners and women, so if you are a female foreigner, you’ll get the biggest discount.

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All-you-can-eat buffet.

Veganism is just one of the topics people talk about at the tables and most of the people aren’t even vegans. Vegans do exist in Japan and at least in Tokyo there are quite a few vegan/vegetarian restaurants. I’d still say that if you plan to lead a vegan lifestyle in Tokyo, you need to be both an excellent cook and should be okay ordering many things online. Read the rest of this entry

Lucky Pierrot Hamburger Restaurant in Hakodate: Christmas everyday

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Theme-based restaurants are nothing special in Japan and I’ve been to a couple of them in Tokyo. Lucky Pierrot was recommended to me by a friend. It’s a hamburger restaurant where each branch uses a theme excessively. There is one which has christmas images everywhere – not only during christmas time, but through the whole year. I’ve seen a shop in Amsterdam years ago that sold christmas items the whole year, counting the days until christmas on a blackboard – “185 days until christmas”.

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I’ve been to two Lucky Pierrots in Hakodate: One is opposite the Goryokaku Tower and another is near the red brick warehouses next to the Hakodate Nishihotaba Museum. The restaurants are usually open until 11pm.

There is a menu outside with names of the dishes both written in Japanese and English. Some odd burgers can be found on the list such as the Hakodate Snow Burger and the Marriage Burger. Read the rest of this entry

Organic Cafe in Sapporo

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Life is not easy for vegans in Japan, but on the other hand they are usually excellent cooks (at least I assume they are). While there are quite a few vegetarian/vegan places in Tokyo (including the international Loving Hut chain), there are almost none in Sapporo. But there is one near the Maruyama Park where I ate after visiting Hokkaido Shrine and the Maruyama Zoo.

It’s a bio-organic cafe which sells cakes and cookies but also has two dishes. There is a group table and a couple of smaller ones. The drinks are a bit on the pricy side but like at every other Japanese restaurant, (tap) water is free.

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My meal consisted of six small dishes, including rice, salad and soup. I like variety and smaller portions so I liked it. The cafe reminded me a bit of Govinda’s, a vegan restaurant in Nakano I wrote about before. Comparing them further makes not much sense I guess, but the Bio Organic Cafe is a place I can recommend. Surprisingly there was also free wifi service (limited to 30 minutes) although I don’t know if it was offered by the cafe. Read the rest of this entry

Vegetarian restaurant Govinda’s in Nakano

Govinda's Daily Menu
Nakano Station is only five minutes away from Shinjuku via the Chuo Rapid Line. The area around the station is popular with manga and anime fans (Mandarake) and shutterbugs (Fujiya). Some vegetarians come here because of Govinda’s, an Indian-style vegetarian restaurant. Govinda’s is not part of Nakano Broadway or the Sun Mall and some people complain that it is hard to find.

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Cafe Karma

Actually it isn’t particularly hard to find and not that far away from the station either. After you arrive at Nakano Station, take the north exit for Nakano Broadway/Sun Mall. You will see a bus stop and the mall in front of you and a painted wall on your right. Turn right and walk until you see Cafe Karma (which is a nice place too, by the way). Turn left into the small side street. You will pass a restaurant and the LIFE super market.

This area is full of small restaurants, record shops and shops which cater to otakus. After about 100 meters, you will see this building on your right:
P1090348 Read the rest of this entry

Ramen Museum in Yokohama

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Yokohama was the second city besides Tokyo that I visited when I first came to Japan and back then I heard about the Ramen Museum, but didn’t have time to visit it.

Having visited only one food-themed museum before (Kimchi Museum in Seoul), I was still impressed by the Ramen Museum. After you pay the entrance fee (300 Yen), you will come to the museum part which is pretty much like any other museum: explanations about the history, local varieties and other interesting trivia about ramen. Most ramen (ラーメン) dishes changed over time and many Japanese cities have local varieties of the dish. In fact, if you buy any japanese travel guide for Japan, a large part is usually reserved for explaining about the local dishes, even if it’s just a small town right next to Tokyo!

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It’s nicely presented, but the real interesting part of the museum is downstairs. This is the place where you’ll experience ramen Showa-style. The two basement floors are replicas of some parts of downtown Tokyo in 1958, including adverts. Back then the popularity of ramen was increasing. News broadcasts can be heard in the side street and an old TV was showing a boxing match. There are nine ramen restaurants on the two basement floors, tickets for the dishes are bought in front of each restaurant. Everything’s written in Japanese with few photos provided. They also offer small-sized ramen in case you just want to sample more than one variety of ramen.

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The Ramen Museum is just a five minute walk from Shin-Yokohama station. I liked it more than the Kimchi Museum, especially because they do the experience part so well (this excludes the toilets by the way, which are modern). It’s probably also one of the few museums many people will visit to eat and not to be educated.

Class Trip – Kirin Beer Factory

Time for another class trip, this time with the C11 and Suzuki-sensei. I was a bit confused when I arrived and only found the Korean girls from my former class (they are a class above me in school). Always nice to chat with them but where was my class?

Well, they came later but then we could finally go to the Kirin beer factory. Since Kirin is an old Japanese beer brewery, it is considered part of Japan’s history and culture so it’s ok. More recent culture such as Cosplay or maid cafes may not ok’ed by the school. Anyway, it was a guided tour where they did show how beer is being made. Through the windows we could look into the factory. The ticket also allows you to get two drinks or a snack. And they have a lot of merchandising material.

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After the “official” part, we went to “Portofino” an Italian dessert and buffet place. They have an all-you-can-eat (tabehodai) on the menu. The buffet offers pizza, pasta and salad, so there a lot of choices for vegetarians. Desserts and drinks are also part of the tabehodai offer.

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Last but not least of course: KARAOKE!

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Two hours Japanese, Chinese and Korean songs.

Shopping & eating outside

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My favourite shopping spree grounds are Shimokitazawa and Harajuku and today I travelled to the latter, since, well, it’s on my way anyway. But first I ate at the Mominoki House which is a “food concept store” offering various vegan and vegetarian choices. Today I had the Vegetarian set (Brown rice, miso soup, seven kinds of veggies) and although the food is tasty and I like the restaurant, I’m always a bit annoyed when they reply in English. Well, time for learning the phrase “Sorry, I don’t speak English” in Korean, Spanish, Danish or whatever language. Or I try German. Heard it’s a nice language 😉

Oh, and they are one of the places labeled “English OK!”. I think this campaign is just stupid and the restaurant is not even in the middle of a tourist area anyway. But campaigns like this are usually not about showing appreciation for certain customers but more about getting more of them into your shop.

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Afterwards I gave in my tendency to go into side streets which look just to nice to go unexplored and somehow arrived at the Design Festa Gallery. There are actually two of them and they are open for all artist who are willing to shell out the rental fee. The outside of DFG West is nicely designed with the kind of chaotic atmosphere that I like about the Design Festa event. There are various rooms to explore and at the time I visited there were some nice photographs and paintings exhibited. The Gallery cafe is also one of the few places in Tokyo with free WiFi.

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“Going already?” *sniff*

Slightly off the Takeshita dori is a T-Shirt shop called “Design Tshirts Store Graniph“. This is just one store of many and they also have some stores inside other stores. What I like about their design shirts is their tendency to use random German language words. Bad English is just so 90’s! The only time the designers seem to get it right is when they can copy the whole text from the internet e.g. when it’s an older poem. While they have a website in English and show more non-Japanese than in an average Ayumi Hamasaki video, the staff speaks Japanese. That’s a plus in my opinion.

For the irony of it, I bought a shirt with lots of cameras on it. Looks cool, especially if I travel with my digi cam!

Eatup Meetup: Thai Restaurant

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When I came to Tokyo last April I went to almost every meetup – the Japanese language meetup, the Japanese-English meetup, the English-Japanese and the Japlish meetup. As exciting as these meetups where, I decided to reduce my meetup time a bit. But once in a while, there’s a meetup I really want to go to, like today’s Eatup Meetup.

This meetup couldn’t be more conveniently located since it’s maybe about 100 meters away from the Starbucks where we studied (the “book pile” JLPT meetup).

Another convenient thing was that two fellow JLPT students, Tom and Rick, were both hungry and available and so came along to the Eatup Meetup. I don’t know if Korea is to blame for this, but I actually made my meal a bit more spicy 😉