A friend took me to one of Shinjuku's old establishments, Acacia, a yoshokuya, or ‘Western food restaurant’. A ‘yoshokuya’ has very little to do with Western food as we know it, though.
Rather, it is an approximation of what the Japanese defined as 'typical' Western food at the turn of the century. In our case (we ordered the same thing) this meant a very reddish boiled mince wrapped up in boiled cabbage leaves in a thick floury gooey, translucent sauce of some kind, plus a side salad.
It came with a bowl of rice, which, as my (Japanese) friend commented, was completely out of keeping with the ‘Westernness’ of the dish. Buns would have been much more appropriate but, according to my friend, it was all Japanese at the turn of the century could do to drag themselves away from fish, let alone rice.
It didn’t taste bad, but in its stodginess and utter simplicity of taste, it almost seemed like a parody of English fare – something out of Oliver Twist. It washed down well with beer, which kind of made sense. The atmosphere of the restaurant itself was similar. The building itself was obviously old, and the interior was entirely wooden – much of it quite beautifully carved. The artwork on the walls added a pleasantly modern touch, and the service was unaffected and friendly.
Acacia is accessible from the Subnade exit number 10. Just go up the alley that’s immediately on your right as you come out onto Yasukuni-dori, and you’ll see Acacia on your left after a few paces.
Buy instant miso soup online, a healthy staple of the Japanese diet.
Vegetarian restaurants in Japan
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Monday, September 11, 2006
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