Oooh how excited I am to tell you about this! Eating out in Japan can be intimidating if you’re on your own (bestie is still at work during the day up until the wedding so I’ve been riding solo 9-5); there is a language barrier when you go to any country where you don’t speak the language, but this is heightened in Japan due to the use of characters over our usual alphabet. If the menu has no pictures you might not know what you’re getting at all! And if there are any of you out there with dietary requirements it can quickly get complicated as it’s not exactly easy to explain. However, yesterday I was determined that I would eat out alone. While wandering around the Omotesandō area of Tokyo I wandered down a random street and stumbled upon Brown Rice Canteen, a vegetarian Japanese restaurant! (side note, lots of the options are also vegan)
Brown Rice is actually operated by Neal’s Yard in Japan and is attached to a pretty big store of theirs and so the restaurant runs with the same ethos as their brand: natural, simple and wholesome. Ingredients and vegetables are delivered from farms around the country, I did a bit of research after leaving and found, for example, that the sticky brown rice comes from Toyama Prefecture and the malted white rice for miso soup from Yamagata Prefecture. We all know I love a good support local so it was already looking good. So I decided to go all in and get their daily special for ¥1500 (about £9 on pre-brexit exchange rates, please don’t ask me what it is now because who bloody knows). FYI, this is pricier than other lunch deals in Japan but Omotesandō is a more luxurious area so it wasn’t that surprising. They did give me a menu in English, bless them, but the staff were all Japanese speakers so it still counted as conquering my eating alone in Japan fear.
Ok so the other thing is that because it’s Japanese I can’t tell you exactly everything that was in what I had but I can give you the general details. I got one soup and three sides deal which basically meant I got miso soup, simmered root vegetables and seaweed/greens, brown rice and some pickled veggies all alongside tofu topped with cress and some sort of caramelised onion glaze, followed by an iced coffee.
Ok I don’t think my picture skills do it much justice here, I’m such an awkward person when it comes to photographing food. But honestly, it tasted great! There were all the traditional Japanese flavours packed into this dish, so it doesn’t feel as though you’re missing out on the Japanese experience at all. Each part of the meal had its own specific things going on which gave the whole lunch a fun variety of flavours and experiences to try, and the tofu/caramelised onion combo was dynamo. Big fan here. I love a good caramelised onion anyway but I’ve never put it with tofu before, I was definitely in favour. After the lunch my iced coffee came with a milk alternative and a sugar alternative. I couldn’t tell you what they were because I had no way of asking but the sweetener was a syrup and the milk definitely wasn’t the ‘normal’ kind.
Asides from the food lets talk about the vibe. Firstly, the decor of Brown Rice is really nice. It’s very stripped back, plain and simple, but there are lots of plants around (I LOVE plants) to give it an earthy feel, as well as an indoor/outdoor spatial design that makes the whole place feel very open and airy. They had great jazz playing the whole time, meaning that though I was alone I was happy to have a lil boogie with myself, and most importantly, you can see the kitchen! I love restaurants where you can see the food being prepared, it’s fascinating but again just gives an extra level of transparency. The staff were also super friendly and nice, the only problem was they gave me the bill written in Kanji, so I gave too much money just in case tax was extra so it didn’t have to be awkward if I hadn’t given enough. I’m so English, oh well.
But yes, if you’re in Tokyo and looking for a veggie option I would totally recommend this place. It’s got a great vibe, great food and great jazz so you can dance with yourself if no one wants to hang with you because they have to work instead, winner winner veggie dinner! Stay tuned to the blog because shortly after this discovery I found loads of other cool places in Tokyo, so I’ll be writing all about those next week!
For now however, the wedding is on Saturday and I have maid of honour duties to perform, so until next time, stay magic y’all.