Our trip to Tokyo coincided with another vego friend's holiday, so we arranged to meet up for lunch on Friday at Saishoku Kenbi, in the Korean neighbourhood near Shinjuku. We visited this place for lunch on our first trip, but they've switched things around since then from buffet meals to a la carte. The restaurant is attached to a small Buddhist temple and is tucked away down some back streets - keep your eyes peeled for the green sign and the happy white Buddha to guide you there.
The interior is plain - the buffet table has been replaced by more tables for diners, but otherwise not much has changed. The staff speak minimal English and the menu is all in Japanese but it's clearly illustrated, and thus relatively easy to figure out what to order. The food on offer is a mix of Western-inspired stuff (sandwiches, spaghetti bol, pizza, etc.) and more Japanese-style food (dumplings, noodle soups, rice-based dishes).
Cindy ordered the set lunch (1300円 ~ $14), which was a combination of the two traditions - miso soup and rice, served with a British-style Sunday roast and a little coleslaw-ish salad with a wonderful nutty dressing. The miso soup was loaded up with veggies and herbs and a lighter broth than what we'd had with our previous lunch sets. The roast had a meatloafy texture and was slathered in a rich soy-based gravy. The set came with a cup of tea, a couple of bikkies and some fruit as well, and was probably the best value meal of our trip.
The rest of us all ordered soupy lunches (780円 ~ $8.40). There's a mushroom soup, a hammy soup and the one I ordered - a curry laksa-style soup. This was just what I was after - spicy and warming, with plenty of veggies and and minced mock meat sharing the soup with the noodles. I also grabbed a small taste of Cass' mushroom soup and it was excellent as well.
Sishoku Kenbi is a must-visit - it's cheap, the food is excellent, the staff are lovely and you can even stock up on frozen mock meat and other veggie groceries if you're looking for home-cooking ingredients. I'm a bit sad that the buffet-style lunches are over, but there's still an excellent value meal to be had here.
Read about our first visit to Saishoku Kenbi here. Only Mindful Wanderlust and Japan Vegan seem to have blogged about this place since our first visit.
2-21-26 Hyakunin-cho, Shinjyuku-ku
03 5332 3627
Accessibility: There's one small step up on entry. The restaurant is reasonably spacious, with orders taken at the table and payment at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.