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Sunday, Sept. 2, 2001

VEGGING OUT

The growth of green cuisine


By MAMI MARUKO and ASAKO MURAKAMI
Staff writers

A decade ago, it was difficult for vegetarians in Japan to eat out, but now there are far more restaurants to meet their needs -- and those of anyone else who enjoys tasty, low-fat and nutritious food.

KANTO

Tokyo

Natural Harmony -- The menu includes Japanese and Western meat and fish dishes, but its vegetarian fare is a good bet, especially the daily "Harmony Set," an assorted platter of various vegetarian dishes.

An 8-minute walk from Gaienmae Station, Puzzle Aoyama Bldg. 1F, 3-38-12 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, (03) 3405-8393. (No smoking.) Open daily: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; 5:30 p.m-10:30 p.m.

Akasaka Tofu-ie -- Tofu dishes are the specialty here, with skillfully prepared dengaku, natto tofu and gomadofu. One or two of the lunchtime sets are normally vegetarian.

A 5-minute walk from Akasaka Mitsuke Station, Sanyo Akasaka Bldg. 1F, 3-5-2 Akasaka, Minato-ku, (03) 3582-1028. Open: 11.30 a.m.-1.30 p.m.; 5 p.m.-10.30 p.m. Closed weekends.

Mominoki House -- Simple, healthy, Japanese-style fare, with fish and meat as well as vegetarian dishes. Seating on several levels, with platforms and sunken pits making the room seem more spacious.

A 5-minute walk from Meiji Jingumae Station, YOU Bldg. 1F, 2-18-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, (03) 3405-9144. Open: 11 a.m.-10.30 p.m. Closed Sunday.

Athara Petara -- A diverse menu, with more than just the usual curries and pappadum. The food is well above average -- richly flavored, filling and inexpensive.

A 3-minute walk from Roppongi Station, Hanatsubaki Bldg. 3F, 3-15-23 Roppongi, Minato-ku, (03) 3478 3898. Open daily 11.30 a.m.-2 p.m.; 5 p.m.-1 a.m.

Crayon House offers a vegetable market (top) and a restuarant.

Crayon House -- The first floor is a children's bookshop, but in the basement are an organic vegetable shop and two natural food restaurants, Hiroba (Japanese) and Home (French), in which 70 percent of the vegetables used (all from the vegetable shop) are organic. Home's organic lunch course (1,890 yen) includes a vegetable main dish, whole-rice bun or whole rice, fruit and organic tea. Hiroba's buffet lunch menu is extensive, and although most dishes are vegetarian, some contain meat. Nicely priced, at 1,260 yen (630 yen for ages 2-6).

A 3-minute walk from Omotesando Station, 3-8-15 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku, (03) 3406-6409. Open: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. all year round. Hiroba: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (buffet lunch); 5 p.m.-10 p.m. (dinner). Home: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (set menu); 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m.

Bodaiju -- Creative Chinese cuisine offering a varied lineup of vegetable dishes using potatoes instead of fish, and soybeans instead of meat. Some dishes are a little oily, but this is a great place for a really filling lunch.

A 1-minute walk from Mita Station, Bukkyo Dendo Center Bldg. 2-3F, 4-3-14, Shiba, Minato-ku, (03) 3456-3257. Open: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Closed Sunday and holidays.

Monk's Foods -- Healthy Japanese food, with one of the three daily set lunches being all vegetables (beware flaked bonito in the dashi).

A 5-minute walk from Kichijoji Station, 1-2-4 Gotenyama, Musashino, (0422) 48-3977. Open: 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. (till 9:30 p.m. Sunday and holidays). Closed Wednesday.

Nataraj -- This Indian restaurant's curries are based on organic ingredients such as gluten, Indian cheese, vegetables and pulses. Genetically pure, additive-free vegetable oils are used. There are two locations, in Aoyama and Ogikubo.

Aoyama: A 1-minute walk from Gaienmae Station, Sanwa-Aoyama Bldg. B1, 2-22-19 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, (03) 5474-0510. Open: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and holidays. Closed for the New Year holidays.

Ogikubo: A 2-minute walk from Ogikubo Station, Fukumura-Sangyo Bldg. B1, 5-30-6 Ogikubo, Suginami-ku, (03) 3398-5108. Open: 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. every day except the New Year holidays. (Lunch menu till 2:30 p.m. on weekdays.)

Alicia has nutritional, tasty cuisine on the menu.

Alicia -- This small but cozy restaurant has the feel of a log cabin and is filled with carved wooden figures. Set menus include nutritionally balanced vegetable and soybean dishes that taste as good as they look. A delicious set-menu meal, at 1,400 yen, is chick-pea curry croquette, salad, gomadofu, molokheiya dressed with mustard, whole rice, pickles and miso soup.

A 5-minute walk from Shimokitazawa Station, Dai-ni Suzuki Bldg. 2F, 2-9-23 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, (03) 3485-3681. Open: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; 5 p.m.-9 p.m. except Saturday and holidays, 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Closed Wednesday and Thursday.

Cafe 8 -- This is a completely vegan cafe. A la carte dishes start at 800 yen, and the menu changes daily.

An 8-minute walk from Omotesando Station, Time & Style Galleria 3F, 4-27-15 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, (03) 5464-3207. Open: 11 a.m.-1 a.m. (till 3 a.m. Friday, Saturday and the day before holidays). Closed Wednesday.

Down to Earth -- The inexpensive international cuisine here includes original dishes such as couscous salad and falafel pita sandwich.

A 10-minute walk from Daikanyama Station, 2-5 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku, (03) 3461-5872. Open: noon- 3:30 p.m.; 5 p.m.-11:30 p.m. everyday.

Jap Cho Ok -- This Korean eatery's menu is comprehensive and includes a good selection of vegetarian items, with an emphasis on herbs and spices. The "vegetarian course" (3,500 yen for lunch; 5,800 yen for dinner) includes dishes ranging from sui-gyoza using tofu to soup with vegetables and deep-fried vegetables. Seats in the modern interior are in semi-private rooms.

A 10-minute walk from Gaienmae Station, Alteka Belte Plaza B1, 4-1-15, Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, (03) 5410-3408. Open: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; 5:30 p.m.-3 a.m. Monday-Saturday; 5:30 p.m.- 11 p.m., Sunday and holidays.

Kanagawa

Kamakura Sasa no Ha -- Two types of kaiseki-style unpolished rice menus are served here, including dishes such as spinach garnished with sesame seeds and gomadofu.

A 3-minute walk from Kita Kamakura Station, 499 Yama no Uchi, Kamakura, (0467) 23-2068. Open: 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. (Reservations needed after 4 p.m.) Closed the third Monday of the month.

Saikontan -- A natural food shop (with restaurant set to reopen in fall) that sells everything from brown rice to organic seasoning -- and also retails bento and sozai (everyday dishes) that both vegetarians and non-vegetarians can enjoy.

A 5-minute walk from Odawara Station, 1-16-38 Sakae-cho, Odawara, (0465)-24-3027. Open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Closed Wednesday.

Gatten (a branch of Saikontan) -- An izakaya that uses ingredients free of agricultural chemicals. The creative Japanese-style menu ranges from a 300 yen hiyayakko (chilled tofu cut into blocks) to a 1,200 yen deep-fried Camembert, including many vegetarian dishes. Some dishes include dairy products and fish stocks, so ask for a vegetarian menu upon reservation.

A 1-minute walk from Odawara Station, 2-5-5 Sakae-cho, Odawara, (0465) 22-7537. Open 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Closed Sunday.

KANSAIKyoto

Mikouan -- Shojin ryori (Japanese vegetarian food developed at Buddhist temples) is on offer here, including vegetables, tofu and soybean-related dishes.

On Kawabata-dori near Kamo River, San Festa 1F, 106 Shin-ikesu-cho, Kawabata-dori Ebisugawa-agaru, Sakyo-ku, (075) 751-5045. Open: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. everyday.

Okara House in Kyoto serves up a variety of tofu lees.

Okara House -- Okara, or tofu lees, is the specialty here, served alongside rice mixed with other grains. Be warned, though: Bonito is used to make the miso soup.

Near Myoshinji Station on the Keifuku Kitano Line, 17-10, Taniguchi Enjoji-cho, Ukyo-ku, (075) 462-3815. Open: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed Sunday.

Osaka

Saga -- Serves home-style dishes using mainly vegetables. Advance notice is recommended for strictly vegetarian fare.

Located near Shin-Osaka Station, 1-21-2, Higashi Nakajima, Higashi Yodogawa-ku, (06) 6328-8851. Open: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Closed Sunday and holidays.

Banmai -- On the second floor of an attractive wooden building, this restaurant is supplied by the first-floor organic vegetable shop.

Near Ishibashi Station on the Hankyu Takarazuka Line, 3-15-5A, Hachizuka, Ikeda, (0727) 61-0064. Open: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. everyday except during the Bon and New Year holidays.

Green Earth -- Serves sandwiches, pasta, curry and other dishes for vegetarians.

Near Honmachi Station on both the Midosuji and Chuo subway lines. 4-2-2, Kitakyuhoji, Chuo-ku, (06) 6251-1245. Open: 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Monday and holidays.

Kobe

Sora -- Unusually, this is a strictly vegan restaurant, serving Western-style dishes. All vegetables are free from agricultural chemicals.

Near Nishimotomachi Station on the Hanshin Line, Lion's Mansion Kobe Motomachi 2F, 5-6-4, Motomachi-dori, Chuo-ku, (078) 351-3132. Open: 11:45 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Closed Monday.

Kobe's Yum Jamu appeases vegetarians in Kansai.

Yum Jamu -- Asian food on offer here is meat-free, but uses fish and dairy products.

Near Motomachi Station on both the JR and Hanshin Line, Hirose Bldg. 3F, 3-2-17, Kitanagase-dori, Chuo-ku, (078) 322-0135. Open: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m. everyday.

Ainoujin -- Vegetarian lunches served. Call in advance for vegetarian and other special-order dinners.

Near Settsumotoyama Station on the JR Kobe Line, 1-2-12, Tanaka-cho, Higashi-Nada-ku, (078) 431-9282. Open: 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. (lunch: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.). Reservation required for dinner (anytime-9 p.m.).



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