Is it possible to enjoy ramen, grilled eel rice, pork don, and soup curry from vegan food? The worlds’ #1 SAIDO completely overthrows people’s imagination for vegan. It is the number one restaurant among 110,000 vegan restaurants selected by HappyCow – the restaurant information website used by most vegans worldwide. The restaurant believes in cuisine as the origin of artistry and health and therefore adopts the concept of “food homology” by preparing astonishing delicacy without using meat, fish, egg, milk, sugar, and chemical condiments in their cuisines.
If you wish to avoid the noisy Shinjuku and Harajuku of Shibuya filled with young people when you visit Tokyo, try the casual stroll with the mature experience by visiting the Jiyugaoka. Jiyugaoka is only 8 minutes from Shibuya by car but the style varies greatly. It is located in the Setagaya Ku and Meguro Ku where rich people live and the residents here value the taste of life. There are many well-known desserts, boutiques, and pets supplies shops with a European atmosphere.
Perhaps it is because of the lifestyle similar to that of Europe and America, there are more vegetable cuisine restaurants and drink shops in Jiyugaoka than in other regions. The world’s # 1 SAIDO is located in this area.
Zero Use of Five Pungent Spices
I was surprised to find the chef of this famous restaurant is a young man. Chef Mr. Katsumi Kusumoto was previously running a member-based restaurant in Nishi-Azabu. When his customers asked him to provide Halal cuisine, he started studying the world taboos on food and cuisine. He discovered that the izakaya, part of Japanese food culture, can have many traps for vegan customers despite the many choices of dishes. He wished to do something for vegan customers and that led to the foundation of SAIDO.
Mr. Kusumoto is committed to making vegan food with spice-added texture and flavor without actual use of the “five pungent spices,” – garlic, scallion, chives, leeks, and onions.
All Details Require Consideration
When one thinks of the world’s # 1 restaurant, it would be natural to imagine the restaurant as high-end décor with arrogance. However, the restaurant looks pretty normal but with a high level of considerate service. Usually, the average Japanese restaurants serve iced water without asking but SAIDO will ask you for the type of water and will provide a kettle of such water. The staff was aware that I was a foreigner when I made a reservation via the phone and they have placed an English menu in front of me. Although I told them that I could understand the Japanese menu better, such considerations for customers have added points to my evaluation.
Visual and Flavor Banquet
The content of lunch sets is quite sumptuous, including the “vegan soup” stewed from vegetables in season, the “vegan green” of garden salad, “main vegan” of the main course at your selection, “side vegan “ of one dessert chosen out of three, and one drink.
Today’s vegan soup was carrot soup and the color looked like pumpkin soup. Although I was not fond of carrots, the soup did not have that grassy taste in my mind but only strong sweet savor. The soup warmed up my stomach and remove all coldness from my body.
The vegan green was served as a pot of plant. When I opened it, the white liquid nitrogen floated out and I discovered that it was molecular gastronomy. The plating looked like a real pot of plant, which bottom was layered with five types of beans and grains while the top was layered with jelly-like floral arrangement mountain, planted with bean sprouts and small flowers. The green was served with a tangerine-flavored dressing that provides exquisite sensation to the eyes and tastes.
Genuine Reproduction of Eel Flavor
I chose an eel box (grilled eel box in a square lacquer box) for the main vegan. There was liquid nitrogen when I opened the box and the surface of the eel was sparking with luster. There were fine cut lines on the body of the eel, making the dish so exquisite, and even the black fish skin under the eel was genuinely reproduced by using the kelp. The outer layer of the eel was roasted to a crispy state with a charming burnt aroma, which was super delicious when served with the five-grain rice and seaweed strips.
For dessert, I ordered the limited Sundae recommended by the staff. There was a visible yellow fruit when the Sundae was served. It turned out to be the golden berry and tasted like cherry tomato but without a slight difference. It was surprisingly good. The top layer of the Sundae was the strawberry smoothie, very refreshing and reached an excellent sweet-sour balance with the minced chocolate and whipped cream. The bottom layer was oatmeal-like grain and the dessert was very healthy from top to bottom.
The efforts of the restaurant prove that glamourous external decoration and exaggerating promotion is not necessary as good food will receive relative word-of-mouth reputation and feedback it deserves.
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A contradictory person who is lazy in nature but always has a high level of action for what I like. The biggest action in my life is to come to my favorite country, Japan. In the third year of living in Tokyo, I go out with my camera to eat, walk, and travel whenever I want to record every bit of my life in this amazing country.