Thursday, February 2, 2012

Vegetarian Sunday: Shitamachi and Shinjuku

Not to steal Magritte's idea, but:
This is not roast chicken.

I have been a vegetarian for almost half of my life and (with the exception of sushi and sashimi) do not miss meat. I am also a stealth vegetarian, and it usually takes people a long time to figure me out. It is not a difficult lifestyle to maintain in Japan (as long as you are a bit flexible), and is certainly pretty darn economical (I only spend about 2000 yen per week on groceries)... which means I can use all the funds left to go and try cool restaurants all across the city.

I first saw RinRinSaiKan on one of those awesome 'hey, lets-explore-Tokyo's-shitamachi' TV programmes, and was kicking myself because I only caught the last two kanji of the closest train station. I searched every combination possible, but was stumped. Then, by some miracle, as I was going home after the epic day of sumo, I noticed that the station I had just entered was the same one from the TV programme! Coincidence or what? I guess the veggie gods were smiling down on me.

RinRinSaiKan (also known as 'Its Vegetable!') is not a fancy place, but the food is fantastic and really cheap. I love seitan, and the entire menu is based around it. I only managed to get a picture of the not-actually-roast-chicken above, because both myself and Matcha-kun were far too busy eating. At lunch they have a buffet, and I can highly recommend the sweet-and-sour 'pork', fried rice and 'chicken' soup. Very healthy, tasty and budget-friendly....the only issue is location, as Kinshicho is a bit out of the way.


Walking around soon became an impossibility, due to the strong, cold wind, and so we took refuge at Sumida Coffee, another hidden gem. A basic, retro interior with a good heater (very important!), really, really good coffee and a quiet atmosphere make it a lovely place to chat for an hour or two. The glass coffee cups are handmade in the area, and remind me of the Bohemian glass of my childhood.


Still full from the tasty lunch, but not wanting to go home quite yet, I remembered the lovely Fashimi's post about Il Bacaro in Shinkuku, with cheap prosecco and antipasti, which was great. There is a nice selection of both veggies and fish antipasti, and they taste just like something I would get at home... with a price to match. The location in a little odd, but for 300 yen prosecco, no complaints! And I do wonder is wine and champagne have a slightly odd effect on Japanese men... as my beau was getting extremely friendly.... blame the prosecco?


  1. wow you are stealth! i am not vegetarian but every once and a while i think i should become not a big meat eater but then i remember i love fish too much :(

    all of those dishes look delicious! you should post some of your own recipes, i would love to learn~!

    1. You could always become a pescatarian :) That is actually a concept better understood in Japan.
      Thanks for the idea, although I fear most of my food recently is pretty tekitou...too busy!

  2. Oh man! That all looks delicious!! I'll have to check out the vegetarian restaurant next time I'm in Tokyo :) I love seitan and whenever I get around to actually making it, it's soo much better than all the expensive meat around here.

    1. Totally! If you come by again let me know, I am always happy to share my discoveries :)