Cafe Hohokam

Although I despise Harajuku on principle (it’s too crowded and most of the shops are overrated tourist traps), I do sometimes visit a friend who lives there.  One day, I was on my way back to the station and I noticed a sign proclaiming BURGERS!! so I checked to see if they had a veggie option.  Much to my surprise and delight, Cafe Hohokam does, indeed, have an option for vegetarians!  Their fresh vegetable burger does have cheese, though, and I am sure that the buns have some sort of milk product (butter?), so it is not for vegans.

Here is a picture of the Fresh Vegetable Burger with Mozzarella Cheese – vegetables are lettuce, tomato, chopped onion, avocado, and a relish, all served on a natural yeast bun that is made in-house.  I thought it was pretty delicious, but the fries are nothing special.

Try it with a super rich strawberry shake!  This shake is very thick and good, but it does have a bit of an odd flavor for those used to American milk shakes.  Still, very yummy!  I had already tried some in this picture – the cup came very full.

Cafe Hohokam:
Address: 3-22-14 2F Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 03-5775-5708
Hours: 11:30-23:00 (LO 22:30)
Bilingual Websitehttp://www.cafe-hohokam.com/
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Eat More Greens

Eat More Greens is a restaurant that I frequently visit for lunch.  Although their lunch menu stays pretty much the same all year, I love the way that they change the dinner menu each season!  I try to visit for dinner at least once each season to try their creative seasonal dishes, too.  Sometimes I get lucky when I go for lunch and they have a seasonal dish on the menu.  Today was one such lucky occasion!

This is mabo nasu, a Chinese-based stir fry with Japanese eggplant.  Eat More Greens uses several types of Japanese mushrooms in their recipe and serves over brown rice.  This was a really delicious early summer recipe!

Eat More Greens:
Address: Frenshia Azabu-Juban South 1F, 2-2-5 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0045
Phone: 03-3798-3191
Hours: Weekdays: 11:00-23:00
             Weekends: 9:00-23:00

Farmer’s Kitchen: Ebisu

My husband and I finally visited a restaurant we have been eyeing for a while – Nouka no Daidokoro in Ebisu. My husband and I refer to it as “Farmer’s Kitchen”, as that is the closest English translation.

The great thing about Farmer’s Kitchen is that you have a choice as to how much meat you want in your dinner – the menu is arranged by a Vegetable:Meat:Fish ratio and you can choose from 4:4:2 , 6:2:2, and 10:0:0 — I always get 10:0:0, but it is possible that some dishes have chicken or fish broth in them.

The salad bar is all-you-can-eat, and includes lots of fresh veggies and dipping sauces.  Here is our first selection – udo, raw Japanese eggplant, red daikon, and komatsuna leaves.  We got a garlic miso paste, sea salt, and spinach sea salt to dip into, but we didn’t need them!

Farmer's Kitchen

Although this picture isn’t the best, we were next served a little cup of daikon soup.  This soup was really creamy and actually seemed to be a potage instead of a thin soup.

Now, I am not a big onion fan.  I will eat well-cooked onions if they are used as a seasoning, but I would never bite into a big old onion!  But this looked yummy – a Spring Onion with balsalmic glaze.  I was so surprised at how sweet and tender the onion was!

Next I got a spring vegetable appetizer.  This is a piece of asparagus wrapped in a spring roll wrapper and put on top of kuzumochi that had been flavored and colored with green spring vegetables.  The orange stuff is carrot sauce.  Doesn’t this dish bring to mind a new shoot of grass?!

My husband got one of the 4:4:2 choices, and his appetizer was this fish and veggie patty thing.  He said it was sort of à la meunière, but tomato-based.  The perfect transition from the salad bar to the main courses!

This is an agar and vegetable dish served with matcha sauce.  The vegetables included daikon, yellow bell pepper, carrot, and mixed lettuces.  The agar was flavored somehow… a little salty and some light vegetable taste — so yummy!

My main course was veggie steaks – and wow! they were delicious!!  Japanese eggplant, yellow bell pepper, nanohana, and shiitake mushrooms served with balsalmic vinegar and matcha salt.  I felt like I was eating the flesh of the earth!

Not to leave out our meat-eating friends… this is my husband’s main dish – a chicken and vegetable stew.  The vegetables were carrots, bell peppers, potatoes, onions, and komatsuna leaves.  My husband reports that the chicken was mainly used as an accent for the veggies, and was quite pleased with the dish.

And finally, we got a vegetable miso soup, rice, and lightly pickled daikon.  The soup was awesome!  Lot of vegetables simmered for a super long time – my guess is that they use the trimmings of vegetables and simmer all day.  Very complex taste!

Farmer’s Kitchen, Ebisu:
Address: Ebisu South One 1F; 1-7-8 Ebisu-Minami; Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0022
Phone: 03-3719-4831
Hours: Lunch: 11:00-15:50 (L.O. 14:40)
             Dinner: 18:00-23:00 (L.O. 22:00; Drink 22:30; Last Entrance 21:45)
            Open Every Day except New Year’s Holidays and during renovations (see website)

Tenya – Meguro

It’s crucial to be able to find cheap, fast food sometimes.  There are very few options for vegetarians, and almost none for vegans.  One decent place is Tenya, a Japanese fast food chain that serves tendon, short for tempura donburi.  Basically, it is vegetables and seafood fried in batter, dipped in a soy-based sauce, and served on top of steamed white rice.  The nice thing about Tenya is that they have a vegetable-only selection – the yasai tendon (野菜天丼).  It is important to note, however, that the batter has eggs, the dipping sauce has fish broth, and the vegetables and seafood are fried together.

I went to get some tendon the other day, and decided to try the spring vegetable tendon set, which is served with miso soup and a small bowl of udon.  The vegetables were Japanese eggplant, umeboshi, kakiage (carrots and onions that are minced and mixed together), sugar snap peas, sweet potato, and daikon.  I added a lotus root and green bean topping as extras to mine.

Well, my reaction was a bit mixed.  I have to say that umeboshi should not be fried!  Otherwise, everything else was pretty good.  I won’t say that Tenya is the most delicious restaurant in the world, but it is good quality for the speed and price.  Another thing that is great about Tenya is that they are located all over Japan, and if you are in a big city like Tokyo you can find them just about anywhere.

Tenya, Meguro Station:
Address: Kami Osaki 2-16-4 甲陽 Building 1F; Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 141-0021
Phone: 03-3280-1708
Hours: Weekdays: 11:00-23:00
             Weekends and Holidays: 11:00-22:00

Pasutakan

Okonomiyaki – the stuff dreams are made of! I LOVE this Japanese dish, but I didn’t know that I loved it until my French friend was planning her visit to Tokyo and mentioned how much she loved Okonomiyaki. My husband and I went that very night to Pasutakan in the MyLord’s Department Store in Shinjuku and I learned just how scrumptious this dish can be! I didn’t take pictures on that visit, but I did this time around. Of course, we had to take my French friend, and did so on August 27. We went to Pasutakan again, because they let you cook at your own table and you can “build your own” okonomiyaki.
PLEASE NOTE: Okonomiyaki/Monjayaki both contain katsuodashi – dried fish broth – so it is NOT strictly vegetarian. Pasutakan does offer many “mostly vegetarian” okonomiyaki, though (meaning, nothing except the dashi is non-vegetarian.)  But make sure you tell them “niku nashi, ebi nashi, ika nashi”

Before mixing, okonomiyaki looks like this. This one was for my husband and friend – it had shrimp, squid, and pork in it, so I didn’t eat it! Primary ingredients for okonomiyaki are flour mix, broth, egg, and cabbage. This one also had pickled ginger, a popular ingredient. Mine (not pictured at this stage) had corn, potato, cheese, mochi, and pickled ginger. Not all mixed in one! We had two, but I forget which had corn and which had potato…

After thorough mixing, you put the mixture onto the hot frying surface with some oil. The okonomiyaki should be about as big as the width of a normal adult hand fully spread. You then cook with a cover for 4 minutes on each side.

The finished okonomiyaki! We top with okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise. My husband and friend added nori seaweed and dried fish flakes to the top, but I like mine just like this!

Here is a type of dish served at Pasutakan that is more native to Tokyo – monjayaki! It may look similar to okonomiyaki at first glance, but they actually evolved separately. Monjayaki came about in Tsukishima in Tokyo. First, the ingredients are cooked on the hot plate and a “levee” is made from them to contain the liquid parts. Then, the liquid is added slowly. The first picture is after the “levee” has been made and about half the liquid is frying away. The monjayaki is then spread over the whole hot plate and the monjayaki should get really fried – crispy = delicious!!! The bottom picture is the near end product. YUM! But watch out – it is salty!

Pasutakan:
Address: Shinjuku MYLORD 8F; 1-1-3 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0023
Phone: 03-3349-5611 (MYLORD main switchboard)
Hours: Sun-Sat 11:00 AM-11:00 PM

Nuun Again

My French friend visited from August 25, and we took her to our favorite Tokyo restaurant on her first night. Since I have posted about Nuun so many times, I will only post pictures of the dishes that I haven’t yet shown.

One of our appetizers – steamed seasonal vegetables steamed served with rock salt and green pepper miso for dipping. I showed this in my Nuun Dinner post, but as you can see, it does change with the season! Here we had portions for 3 – asparagus, okra, broccoli, a type of gourd/squash (not sure which one, but yummy!!), baby corn, and delicious baby carrots. So fresh tasting!

This is the dinner-sized portion of a lunch I had at Nuun once. It is the tofu cutlet, served with two dipping sauces. Read the link above for more info on this too-yummy-for-description dish!

 Last “new” dish we had: new potatoes with 3 toppings: red miso (see closeup), butter and salt, and soy sauce. All three were delicious as expected, but the red miso was so good that I could have eaten all three! I highly recommend this dish to everyone.


Nuun:
UPDATE: NUUN HAS CLOSED!!

Azabu Shigezo

A good friend of mine visited from France from the end of August through the first few days of September. This restaurant, Azabu Shigezo, was visited on September 1, after we returned from Kyoto. We were really interested in this restaurant because tofu is their speciality. It was a truly great experience!!!! The food was exquisite. I highly recommend that everyone try this restaurant – even people who think they don’t like tofu! You haven’t really tried it until you’ve eaten here!

Most Japanese izakaya-style restaurants serve little starter dishes if you order drinks, and this was no exception. These dishes were remarkably fresh and good. Nasu with shoyu, topped with negirenkon and gobō lightly mixed with sesame oil. Delish!
We started with their fresh yuba, served with a dollop of real wasabi. They make the yuba at the restaurant, and there are a limited quantity of orders each day. I am soooo glad that we were able to get one! This may not look so yummy, but the taste was… phenomenal! Very rich texture, and the taste is incredibly subtle. I ate a small piece just by itself, and was moved by it’s fresh taste.


They had three types of salt available, as well as a very nice soy sauce. We dipped the yuba in these – just a touch of salt is needed! The three salts are (from the left): salt with seaweed extract so it has a lot of minerals; coarsely ground sea salt; and finely ground sea salt. Each had a distinct flavor and they were all great.

Next we had the seasonal homemade tofu dish. Again, orders are limited. This was… indescribably scrumptious! So tender, and the green color and sauce is made from fresh seasonal beans. It was shockingly sweet – good shock! The taste of summer was clear in this dish.

Then we had fried yuba rolls with cheese and nori. I’m not 100% sure what type of cheese this is, but it was a really good combination. The cheese was very creamy and gooey – just like hot cheese should be! The fried yuba was very nicely crisp. The nori added some salty flavor to the mix, so it was really good.

Next was agedashidofu. I must admit that I am not the biggest fan of agedashidofu usually, but this was very good. Lots of flavor, and the breading was just right – not too thick or too thin!

We then ordered a salad. This is shredded daikon on a bed of red leaf lettuce with some kaiware daikon sprouts on top. The dressing was goma – very rich and lots of vitamins! This salad gets a top rating from me – the daikon was very crisp and fresh and the dressing was perfect for the cold, sharp flavor of the daikon.
 Final dish: reimen – cold noodles with cucumbers, negi, kimchi, and half a boiled egg as topping. The sauce was slightly spicy, but cold and oh-so-yummy!
Now – the TRULY get part of this restaurant!! They speak good English (or the waiter who waited on us did) AND they were willing to put any meat on the side! My husband and friend of course gobbled up the meat. None of the dishes we got had meat in them – the ones with meat were “topped” with some meat – ham or chicken, mostly. They willingly just put these into extra dishes and I got to enjoy the food without the thought that it had touched meat! Everything is made as you order, so they are able to do that. What a wonderful restaurant!! We will definitely be returning – sooner than later!!
Azabu Shigezo:
Address: Crest Azabu 2F, 2-13-9 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0045
Phone: 03-5765-9180
Hours: Mon-Wed 5:00 PM-12:00 AM; Thurs-Sat 5:00 PM-1:00 AM; Sun and holidays 5:00 PM- 11:00 PM
Note: RESERVATIONS SUGGESTED!