The Waseda neighborhood, an area boasting the famous university of the same name, is a hotbed of budget eats and international restaurants. Students can chow down cheaply on food from Burmese to Spanish tapas to yes, delicious and healthy vegetarian food.
Cafe VG is only two minutes from Waseda subway station and 100 meters south of Waseda U’s main campus, and the throngs of students walking the street might miss the place, set back from the road behind a small parking lot, if not for the chalked-up sandwich board propped on the sidewalk.
Thread through a narrow corridor made by a tall wooden fence and the space is revealed: an intimate spot with seating for about 30, including several tables outside on the patio. Mismatched vintage furniture is complemented by leafy green plants and old curios, like a rotary phone and old steamer trunk. Bottles of booze and coffee syrups line the counter.
The lunch menu changes daily, but includes things like taco rice, Thai green curry, and chunks of gluten done fried-chicken style, all for under 1000 yen. We opted for the taco rice (also available vegan) and daily plate lunch. Both came with a heap of crisp greens and julienned veg in a rainbow of colors, with not-small portions. The website claims that this is not “stoic” vegetarian food, but something easy-breezy; I think they mean that you don’t have to choke back a sludgy lentil soup with some flabby bland tofu in order to enjoy your meal.
Drinks here are not cheap, but the lunch offerings come with the option to add a drink for 150 yen. Ours were peach Italian sodas, with and without cream, and the bill was still less than 1000 yen each. Drinks are regularly about 500 yen for soft drinks (siphon coffees! matcha and sakura lattes!) and more for alcohol (the usual cocktails and half a dozen “world beers”); but the ambience is great for studying or sketching and the staff is lax about letting patrons hang around for hours.
The café is a patented pet-friendly space, with two small terriers (one a Fukushima rescue) acting as house mascots. Your pooch is welcome as well, in- or outdoors. Don’t have a dog of your own? Ask nicely and you might get a cuddle or some slobber from Mocha or Latte, the café denizens. These well behaved cuties tend to stay behind the counter but occasionally come out to greet visitors of their species.
VG is open from 11-10 (11 p.m. on weekends) and serves dessert, alcohol, and dinner, but the best bargains are undoubtedly to be had during lunch. Even outside of the lunch specials though, you’d be hard pressed to spend 2000 yen on a meal here, and can choose from the aforementioned specials as well as an array of salads, pastas, and sides. Student or no, if you’re in the area, give Café VG a chance.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CafeVG