Today we venture to suburban Yokohama, along the Den-en-toshi Line, for delicious, wholesome and healthy hippie food. Both of today’s cafés are not exclusively vegan or vegetarian, but do offer veg options for folks of those persuasions. Both spots are bursting with colorful, seasonal, vibrantly colored vegetables that will make you feel virtuous and energized.
First up, Sun’s Market Café in Azamino. This spot is just a few hundred meters down the road from the station, and is a kind of typical healthy café, with lots of wood, light, Beatles music and an open kitchen where you can glimpse the cooking action. It’s very clean, and true to its name, sports a small market with some pantry staples and organic veg for sale in addition to the café.
Using the tagline “organic and natural vegetable labo”, they use organic, pesticide-free ingredients, with deli items and vegan selections, clearly and proudly labeled. Breakfast offerings include things like an açai bowl with oatmeal, nuts and fruit, and smoothies with açai, banana and apple. Lunch prices start at 880 yen for a veggie meat and vegetable curry, while the daily special plate (pictured above) changes regularly, but had brown rice, soy karaage, carrot, daikon, Jerusalem artichokes, broccolini, taro root, parsnip and seaweed salad, Chinese cabbage, and mustard greens, for 1200 yen. You can also make it a “set” for an extra 300 yen, which gets you a drink, vegetable soup and a dessert — we got vegan maple ice cream and vegan milk pudding. Other examples of the vegan sweets available are brownies and sweet potato and lemon peel cake. For non-vegans, they have things like a shrimp, avocado and chili sauce brown rice bowl with plenty of veg (980 yen).
Next, we’re heading a little further into the sticks. Tiger is a tiny, ten-seat restaurant in the middle of almost nowhere. Located right next to Tana Station (two minutes away), the station’s name gives a good hint as to what’s in store: the restaurant is literally adjacent to some fields and rice paddies. Don’t be fooled by the boonies address though: Tiger’s proprietress Atsuko serves up some roaring good food with a healthy punch in this unassuming little spot.
Her menu is quite limited – only about three dishes are usually up for grabs: a yakisoba chock full of vegetables (800 yen), a curry dish and, my personal favorite, the teishoku, or daily set plate (1200 yen). Always different and always delicious, the plate pictured below has zucchini, eggplant, lotus, onion, green beans, Tanegashima (an island in Kyushu) sweet potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, broccolini, tofu, daikon, Kyoto carrots, potatoes, komatsuna (a Japanese green), and brown rice with mixed grains.
Tiger is not expressly vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free, but the restaurant’s mistress is very knowledgeable and accommodating, and will adjust her food to your needs. However, if you know you’re going, she would appreciate a call so she can start prepping in advance: her kitchen is tiny and her hours limited (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday). She’s also pretty flexible and when we told her we wanted to come in at a certain time, she opened the restaurant for us.
If you’re digging the rural vegetable vibe, you might also want to make a pit stop at the JA (Japan Agriculture) building down the street, which has a farmer’s market with local veg.
Happy, healthy, hearty eating!