Vegan & Vegetarian Cuisine in Shizuoka Restaurants

VEGAN TREATS AT YASAITEI

Once I explained the notion of “Jooren” or “regular customer” in Japan.
Whereas in many other countries patronizing the same establishment on a regular basis might be considered at best as an ostentatious show, and a disreputable habit at worst, eating and drinking out in Japan is a sine qua non prerequisite to a successful life, both professional and social. Therefore it always is a good idea to ptronize a few etablishments even if it is for a quick drink or snack.
It also makes conversation so much easier and the visits more welcome as it provides a pleasant break from the usual coded life of the Japanese.

good Japanese chefs will always tackle the challenge to satisfy culinary priorities, including vegetarianism and veganism. After all, most omnivores’ food is over 80% vegetarian. Don’t be afraid to ask for precise explanations of your food!

This “o-toshi”/snack served with first drink consists of komatsuna/Japanese Mustard Spinach, enoki mushrooms, mitsuba/trefoil and nameko mushrooms prepared in o-hitashi style/slightly boiled and cooled down before being served in their own juices.

As for drinks, do not worry as Japanese sake and shochu are vegan.
This particular shochu is a bit extravagant. It was distilled by Takashima Brewery in Numazu City, Shizuoka, from the white lees of supelative sake before being matured for a couple of years in sherry barrels imported from Sapin!
Tastes like a soft flowery whisky!

vegerables are plentuful in Japan, and especially in Shizuoka.
They make for beautiful presentation with a minimum of care and improvisation.
Back home, first choose a nice tray to present to your friend or family!
The concept is almost like a flower arrangement!

The best “sauce” for such a vegan sashimi is a mixture (according to your preferences) of sesame oil, sea salt and dark miso!

Wherever you are, I’m sure you will find plenty of vegetables to work with:
In our case,we have form the left: Myoga ginger sprouts, Ice plant, Ameera/very sweet tomato and young ginger roots. It is the season for the laterr and they are so tender that they make a very tasty, crucnhy, raw treat!

Daikon (choose the upper part, as the pointed end is a bit too strong!) on a leaf of shiso/perilla and thinly sliced Spring onions from Shizuoka, radish, kiirokyo ninjin/Yellow Kyoto carrot and those crunchy Japanese cucumbers!

A “side view” to help you understand the presentation!

And another one from the other end!

I sincerely hope this will have given you a few ideas!

YASAITEI
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa-Cho, 1-6-2 Green Heights Wamon 1-C
Tel.: 054-2543277
Business hours: 17:30~22:00
Closed on Sundays
Reservations highly recommended
Seating: 6 at counter + 20 at tables
Set Courses: 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 yen
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)
————————-
Vegan Sashimi at Yasaitei (again!/10-02-15)

How many times have I written about Yasaitei? LOl
And I don’t think I will ever tire of it! Well, if it can help my vegan and vegetarian friends, so much the better. As an omnivore I feel the urge to lend a hand and help them enjoy life in this great country.
I’m actually preparing an article on vegan life in Japan for later in the day to as much information as possible into one posting.

Before I describe the vegan sashimi plate, let me introduce what came with my glass of shochu (vegan alcoholic drink, by the way): mozuku.
Mozuku/モズク is Nemacystus decipiens in Latin.
It is a seaweed that is collected in many areas of Japan and the two main varieties are Okinawa Mozuku/オキナワモズク Cladosiphon okamuranus (Latin) and Ishi Mozuku/Rock Mozukuイシモズク Sphaerotrichia divaricata (Latin). They are usually served in amazu/甘酢/sweet vinegar. At Yasaitei, they come topped with a few sesame seeds and kawaire daikon sprouts/かわいれ大根.
It almost tastes like a dessert.
I shall also write a long article on seaweed, the vegetable of the oceans later in the day!

Alright, now for the description of the plate:
Ameera (sweet) tomatoes from Western Shizuoka, fat celery stem bottoms, firm and so sweet, my favourite green, ice plant, also crunchy, soft and sweet, myoga ginger hid behind, and Spring cabbage. The latter also has a nice bite, is very soft, almost sweet in taste.

Shiso/perilla leaf on a bed of sliced Winter onion is hidden behind the cabbage. Red radish, crucnhy and very soft, and those Japanese cucumbers, gorged with water under a crunchy skin.

For a “side view” to help you understand the presentation.
Simple and so extravagant at the same time!

YASAITEI
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa-Cho, 1-6-2 Green Heights Wamon 1-C
Tel.: 054-2543277
Business hours: 17:30~22:00
Closed on Sundays
Reservations highly recommended
Seating: 6 at counter + 20 at tables
Set Courses: 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 yen
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)
——————————–
Vegan Sashimi Plate at Yasaitei (’10/01/20)

I suppose I don’t have to explain any more this longing I have for Yasatei Izakaya in Shizuoka City, nor the reasons I have to invent to go there!

Therefore, I will start right away describing what I hate and drank there yesterday evening:

Let’s start with the “front row”:
-Slices of green zucchini grown in the western part of Shizuoka Prefecture. They were first cut, then massaged with salt and finally washed, making them tender and tasty.
-Iceplant leaves. I already mentioned this plant is worth discovering, you be vegan, vegetarian or omnivore! They are tender and crispy at the same time, and almost sweet with no tanginess, whatsoever.
-Carrots.
-Sweet red pimento.

“Back row”:
-Plum tomato.
-Daikon. Juicy and so soft in taste!
-Cucumber. Japanese variety, crispy!

Side view to show how the shiso/perilla leaf is supported by thinly sliced onion (winter onion grown in Shizuoka, with its tanginess taken away in a cold water bath).

As usual the dressing was a small saucer of sesame oil with high-quality salt and dark miso paste.

I found out that shochu is the best alcohol to enjoy with such vegetarian/vegan fare.
Incidentally, good quality shochu is vegan.
The first glass (straight with plentyof ice) is called “Doman”, the name of a very rare crab found in Hamanako Lake in the western part of Shizuoka Prefecture. It is a rice shochu distilled by Hamamatsu-Tenjigura Brewery in Hamamatsu City. Crispy and gentle on the palate with plenty of character at 25 degrees proof.

My second glass came from a rare bottle of brown sugar shochu made in Amami Oshima, a small island south of Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu Island (great place to visit and forget about cities, I guarantee you!).
The reason it was at Yasaitei is that one of the lady waitresses is married to a gentleman from that far away island!
The name “Hikanzakura” is the name of a local cherry tree. I don’t have a clue how Oshima Shokuryo Co. distills it, but it is so flowery and mellow, even at 30 degrees proof!

YASAITEI
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa-Cho, 1-6-2 Green Heights Wamon 1-C
Tel.: 054-2543277
Business hours: 17:30~22:00
Closed on Sundays
Reservations highly recommended
Seating: 6 at counter + 20 at tables
Set Courses: 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 yen
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)
———————————-
VEGAN NEW YEAR SASHIMI AT YASAITEI (’10/01/05)

January 5th, 2010. Tuesday, isn’t it? Back to the office. Usual break before late evening work. Hungry, but can’t eat too much as dinner will be waiting for me at 9:30 back home.
Only one option: the quick snack at Yasaitei. Becoming too much of a habit….

What would you expect me to order, then?
Vegatables sashimi!
Boring, you might say…
Totally agree, but boredom is so tatsy sometimes!

In the front, “the usual stuff” you might say:
Celery (grown in Shizuoka Prefecture), red radihes and myoga ginger sprouts.
Now, what is that leafy thing on the left in the background?

Common Ice Plant or Crystalline Iceplant? In Japanese? Ice Plant?
The French actually use it in their cuisine under the name of ficoïde glaciale.

Wikipedia will only say that Mesembryanthemum crystallinum is a prostrate succulent plant that is native to Africa, Western Asia and Europe. The plant is covered with large, glistening bladder cells, reflected in its common names of Common Ice Plant, Crystalline Iceplant or iceplant.
Its leaves are edible, as with other some members of the Aizoaceae family. It is also cultivated for ornamentation (hum!).

And I can tell you they are worth discovering, be vegan, vegetarian or omnivore!

Now, for the second half of the plate: Juicy daikon and crunchy succulent cucumber backed with shiso/perill leaf and sliced winter onions (sweet!)

The dressing was the “usual” sesame oil with rock salt and dark miso.

But I needed a little more (with the second glass of Doman shochu!):
Mukago/零余子!
Now, unfortunately, it might be difficult to find that little thing outside Japan, but note it down on your notebook!

Mukago

A bit difficult to explain. An aerial tuber?
The fact is that it is some kind of fruit/nut/seed (I don’t have a clue here!) produced by yama imo or glutinous yam in Japanese, as one form of natural reproduction.
These mukago are succulent either boiled, or as in this case deep-fried.
Can’t stop eating them once started!

YASAITEI
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa-Cho, 1-6-2 Green Heights Wamon 1-C
Tel.: 054-2543277
Business hours: 17:30~22:00
Closed on Sundays
Reservations highly recommended
Seating: 6 at counter + 20 at tables
Set Courses: 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 yen
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)
————————-
Vegan Sashimi at Yasaitei (’09/12/02)

Service: excellent and very friendly
Facilities: great cleanliness overall
Prices: reasonable, good value.
Strong points: Very fresh local ingredients extensively used. Seasonal ingredients only. All-ladies staff.

Last night, having a long break in the evening and being ravenous, I just couldn’t wait until dinner at home. So, I veisited my favourite izakaya, namely Yasaitei, where I knew I could have a quick and delicious fix without worrying about my wasitline!

In Japan it is usual to be served a small snack (which will be charged at a nominal but reasonable price) with the first drink order.

For a closer view!

The snack was “yuba”/tofu sheets with uni/sea urchin (vegans or vegetarians only need to point out their priorities and they will be served only according to them, so no worries!) and Shizuoka wasabi (and slices of radish).

With a little soy sauce,so simple but so refined at the same time!

The vegetables were basically the same as my last visit, which I don’t mind at all, but the plate and the presentation were different, which I appreciate no end!:
-Yellow carrot
-Myoga/myoga ginger shoots
-Cucumber (so crispy!)
-Celery
Daikon
-Shiso on a bed of thinly cut onions.

For a side view!

Served with sesame oil, miso and salt seasoning and a glass of Doman Shochu by Hamamatsi-Tenjigura Brewery, perfect!

YASAITEI
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa-Cho, 1-6-2 Green Heights Wamon 1-C
Tel.: 054-2543277
Business hours: 17:30~22:00
Closed on Sundays
Reservations highly recommended
Seating: 6 at counter + 20 at tables
Set Courses: 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 yen
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)
————————
VEGETABLE SASHIMI AT YASAITEI

YASAITEI-VEGAN2

Service: excellent and very friendly
Facilities: great cleanliness overall
Prices: reasonable, good value.
Strong points: Very fresh local ingredients extensively used. Seasonal ingredients only. All-ladies staff.

I’ve been an unconditional fan of Yasatei in Shizuoka City for quite a while.
Some might say I’m attracted to the all-female staff, but they would be sorely mistaken as I take my Missus there from time to time!
The reasons are very simple:

YASAITEI-VEGAN1

Yasaitei (The Vegetables Inn in Japanese) makes the extra effort(s) to serve whenever possible produce from Shizuoka Prefecture, including sake and shochu! The only place, as far as I know, which offers shochu from three different Shizuoka breweries/distilleries!
Vegan and vegetarian friends have complained to me unaccountable times that they would not be able to survive in Japan. How far the truth they are!
Vegetables, including organic and biologically-grown, are plentiful in this country. I must admit we are blessed with a very special situation here in Shizuoka Prefecture as this is the mildest region in Japan in spite of the snow falling around mount Fuji. Our Prefecture has become a national reference when it comes to vegetable and fruit agricultural research (omnivores will be glad to hear that it is also at the forefront of marine life sustainibility!), notably in natural environment.

The staff at Yasaitei always keep an extra eye and ear open for any new information concerning vegetables. Many a time I have brought them heirloom tomatoes, burdock roots, potimarrons and what else grown by lady farmers up Abe River just for the fun of it. On such occasions some surprised patrons find themselves served with an extra “service morsel” (meaning free of charge)!

YASAITEI-VEGAN3

Yesterday evening, I needed a “quick fix” in between two work sessions and pedaled to their restaurant only five minutes away.
I just said, “Yasai sashimi no moriawase/Plate of vegetables sashimi, please!”
Written or not on the day’s menu, it will always be prepared with an extra care.
The set I was served consisted of the following (See above pic):
-Cucumber (kyuuri/胡瓜)-the Japanese like them young, narrow and crunchy!
-Japanese long radish (daikon/大根)-Juicy, crunchy, almost sweet (bear in mind that the extremity is astringent!).
-Perilla leaf (shiso/紫蘇) behing the daikon and sitting on a bed of onion (tamanegei/たまねぎ). The onion were thinly sliced and left in cold water for a while to take away the astringency.

YASAITEI-VEGAN4

-Guapara leaves (grapara/グラパラ) in the middle. I will talk about this later!
-Sweet Ameera tomatoes (ameera tomato/アメーラトマト). These tomatoes were originally grown in Shizuoka Prefecture, but are slowly expanding all over Japan. They are so sweet that they almsot taste like strawberries!
-Celery (serori/セロリー). Shizuoka Prefecture grows half of them in Japan! Fresh, juicy and crunchy!
-Myoga ginger sprouts (myouga/茗荷) just behind the celery.

YASAITEI-VEGAN6

These grapara leaves are gron in Chiba Prefecture, north of Tokyo.
For people who can read Japanese, check their homepage!

YASAITEI-VEGAN7

Crunchy but with a juicy and tender inside, they are sweet and taste somewhat like pineapple!

YASAITEI-VEGAN5

Vegans and Vegetarians, do not worry!
Yasaitei does not serve mayonnaise with such beauties.
They will accompany this plate of super fresh vegetables with a small saucer containing sesame oil (goma abura/ゴマ油), dark miso (kuro miso/黒味噌) and natural salt (shio/塩)!

Expect more reports!

YASAITEI
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa-Cho, 1-6-2 Green Heights Wamon 1-C
Tel.: 054-2543277
Business hours: 17:30~22:00
Closed on Sundays
Reservations highly recommended
Seating: 6 at counter + 20 at tables
Set Courses: 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 yen
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)
———————–
Vegan & Vegetarian feast at Tomii: Sansai/Japanese Mountai Wild Plants

tomii-veg1

It seems I can’t away from Tomii these days!
The reason (s) is (are) pretty simple:
This Japanese restaurant not only offers the best value for food (although a little expensive), but they scrupulously serve only seasonal culinary marvels!

tomii-veg2
“Sanbo”

Its young (33) second-generation chef-owner, Kazuya Tomii, has always been surprised to hear that many expat vegans or vegetarians had a hard time to find appropriate food in restaurants or even markets.

tomii-veg4
Vegetables and fruit from Shizuoka Prefecture

Having spent 6 years learning his trade in Tokyo, Kyoto, Gifu and Shizuoka before taking over in 2004, he knows very well there is plenty to savour for non-meat eaters!

tomii-veg3
Sansai/Japanese Wild Mountain Plants from Yamagata Prefecture

When I went there for dinner last Friday, he had just received a whole batch of “Sansai” from a relative in Yamagata Prefecture who owns a mountain (no joke) awash with these succulent wild plants!
I don’t have to tell you that I went vegetarian on that particular night!
I asked him to just prepare them away as he deemed best with some great local Shizuoka Sake!

Here is what I was served (I keep all the items in Japanese in case you have the occasion to find them. Asking in English would be very complicated. If needed, I will send a glossary to any friend who asks for it!):

tomii-veg5

Hors d’oeuvres/starter:
From top clockwise
-Ginbo
-Ukogi
-Ichiya Kogomi

tomii-veg6

Top: Amadokoro with white miso sauce
Bottom: Aka Kogomi

tomii-veg7
A better view of the sansai from Yamagata Prefecture!

tomii-veg8
Nice ware to serve hot sake in!

tomii-veg9

Udo and konyaku kimpira!

tomii-veg10

Sansai Tempura!
From left to right:
-Aka kogomi
-Tara no me
-Udo leaf
-Amadokoro (long stem)
-Koshiabura

Note: vegans, when making tempura, should use cornstarch instead of egg whites!

tomii-veg11

Agedashi yasai with mochi!
Now, this particular dish is absolutely vegan and vegetarian. Very satisfying!

I guarantee you I was full!

TOMII
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa-cho, 1-2-7, Tomii Bldg, 1F
Tel.: 054-274-0666
Business hours: 17:00~22:00
Closed on Sundays
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)
———————

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