Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Chaya Macrobiotic Restaurant (Shinjuku)

After a much needed night of sleep, we were ready for Tokyo! We spent the morning in various shops and department stores in Shinjuku. Luckily, our lunch spot was much easier to find as we knew it was inside the Isetan Department Store, which was near were we were shopping and about a 5-10 minute walk from the busy Shinjuku JR/Subway station.

Chaya front

We got up to 7F via the lift, which like many things in Japan was very organised. A uniformed lift attendant carefully instructed all the lift passagers what was on every floor, but of course that required an understanding what she was saying. Part of the 7th floor was the 'Restaurant Street - Eat Paradise', and Chaya Macrobi (チャヤマクロビ) was easy enough to find among other restaurants. We saw a few people sitting the chaired that were neatly placed outside Chaya, so we figured that was the queue and sat down. Soon after, a man came out and asked how many was in the party and gave us menus. We took a look at the menu and tried to decipher what was on offer, but it was only about 5 minutes later we got led inside for a table by the window.

We did find out from our pre-trip internet search that Chaya is a vegetarian friendly macrobiotic restaurant that served vegetarian and vegan food along with meat and fish dishes. So after our cheese-kimchee-pancake-with-hidden-meat encounter last night, the first thing I did after we sat down was showing our waiter my 'eat no meat and no seafood (肉と魚を食べません)' phrase that was written in my notebook. He assured us that the lunch set was ok. We were glad to know that we could expect a decent vegetarian meal, so we got to relax a bit and enjoyed the nice atmosphere while we waited for our food. Chaya was a western style restaurant, but I guess maybe not everything there was strictly western. As the name suggested, it was supposed to be macrobiotic, so it served healthy, fresh and seasonally food without any unnatural seasoning or addictives. To be honest, we didn't know much about macrobiotic diets; we only decided to come here because we read that there was a decent vegetarian selections there and the location would be easy to find. Most customers were women, but there were 2-3 men eating there while we were there, something that seemed to be a common ocurrance at other vegetarian/health type restaurants in Japan from what we read in reviews.

Anyway, the lunch set came after a short wait. It consisted of a small cup of vegetable soup, vegetable curry served with brown rice, a good portion of salad and a small side of Asian vegetables (mushrooms and something else we couldn't quite work out what it was, nice nevertheless!). The curry wasn't the normal Japanese curry, but it wasn't really like Indian curry either; however, the vegetable and beans curry was very nice, especially with the brown rice.


We didn't order any drinks with our meals, but the waiters were very diligent in keeping our water glasses filled. The lunch set did come with a drink after the food, and we both chose tea, as in western tea (it's some sort of black tea but in Asia it's known as 'red tea (紅茶)' .


Overall, it was a pleasing meal. The food did not wow us but was certainly very satisfying as well as fresh and healthy. The portions were pretty good (we didn't need to try their vegan desserts), and the service was attentative. Each set was ¥2,100, which wasn't cheap but seemed good value for what we got.

Chaya Macrobi Isetan Shinjuku
7F Isetan Shinjuku 3-14-1, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Phone 03-3358-0399

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