My friend Y. discovered a really cool restaurant in Shibuya. It’s called “Sora no niwa” (here’s one review with a map) and is about 10 min walk from Shibuya station. It specialises in tofu, and thus is a paradise for vegetarians and vegans, or those who aren’t yet convinced that the seemingly tasteless Japanese invention can turn into a broad variety of unforgettably delicious miracles, or anyone. Tofu, made from soybeans, is really low in fat, so those with restricted diet would also rejoice at the possibility to fill their stomach without the feeling of guilt. We had some creatively made tofu snacks, tofu soup, tofu which gets cooked right on the table, tofu tempura, tofu with rice, tofu tiramisu and tofu cocktail… Tofu-avocado and tofu-cheese snacks were heavenly! Also, the atmosphere is really pleasant. Good choice in all aspects! Maybe a bit expensive though.
In general I’m very happy about the food options in Tokyo. ¥500 (EUR 4) will keep you full. This is a price of decent salad in Vilnius…On the way to the Japan Foundation I decide to have lunch by the Yotsuya station. Still feeling lost and confused in Japan. The wind, the rain and the pace of the hurrying people around, and especially the fact that I’m not sure where the Marunouchi subway line starts contribute to creating an unfriendly impression.
However, then I drop by to “Yoshinoya”. My friend Y. said once that he would eat in this chain back when he was a BA student. I absolutely enjoy the way the ever-hurrying waitresses shout “Irasshaimaseeeee!!!” as soon as I enter and try to place my umbrella into the already full umbrella case. I choose a beef dish, and soon receive miso soup, a bowl of rice, some tea, some Japanese pickles and a plate with thin pieces of beef. Enjoying the meal and watching the waitresses run around in a semi-enclosed area encircled by a bar where people eat, I’m starting to think of whom I’ll ask for directions.Like in other countries, there is obviously a demand for cheap lunch for students and part-timers, or anyone. One way to eat cheaply is to buy something from a convenience store. They have sandwiches, rolls and tuna in rice, wrapped in nori (dried seaweed). Back home, I believe I would often choose tuna in rice if I had the choice. Also, there is a choice of microwave food, including some sea food options. The nutritious value is, of course, doubtful after freezing, defrosting and heating in a microwave oven, but it can be a fair option on the busiest day of the week.For those who prefer to sit and eat, “Yoshinoya” is really cheap. ¥500 (EUR 4) will keep you full. This is a price of decent salad in Vilnius – compare Japanese salaries to ours… A place where I often go for lunch with my colleagues in Vilnius offers pangasius with vegetables for EUR 3.5, and it leaves us half-hungry (we still keep frequenting the place because we like the quality).I have spotted other relatively cheap places, so next time, when I’m not in a hurry and it’s not raining, I’d rather choose a small local cafeteria than a part of a chain.I’m staying outside of Tokyo, in the neighbouring Chiba prefecture. There is a big shopping mall next to my station. I went there with friends for a dinner. There is a place called “Community dining” (yes, in English – don’t be surprised, English is ubiquitous in Tokyo). The place has a circle of counters with various food (udon, curry, soba, pizza, pasta, Korean dishes…) and a big hall with tables. People can choose whatever they like and sit together. If I prefer Korean food and my companion is dying for a pizza, there’s no need to separate. I assume that’s why it’s called Community dining.Yesterday my friend took me out for lunch in Akihabara. We went to a bit more luxurious place, with the dinner of the day for about EUR 8.5. Apparently, it’s a building with restaurants on each of the five floors. Free tea refills are something I really love about Japan.Obviously, I haven’t pinned many places for eating on my mental map yet. But as you already know, I believe that the distribution of these places is vitally important for the city, as it dictates the way people move across its space every day. Can they find anything right next to their offices what would satisfactorily cater (literally) for their needs? Or do they need to hurry to a side street, a known district, or even somewhere one or two subway stops away?This is still left to be answered. For now I simply enjoy the variety offered to me by this city.