Yasai Cafe Meguri (Nikko, Tochigi-ken, Japan) – ★★★

Quick Check:

  • Quality: ★★★ – Good
  • Location:  Nikko City, Tochigi, Japan
  • Type: All Vegan
  • Price: $$ – Average (~¥1300 lunch set)
  • Website: None (HappyCow Page)
  • Phone Number: 0288-25-3122
  • Hours: Sat-Wed 11:30-17:00 (Thur-Fri sometimes closed)

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About & Location:

Yasai Cafe Meguri (Vegetable Cafe Meguri) is a vegan macrobiotic restaurant located in Nikko City, at the entrance to Nikko National Park.  It’s a 2 minute bus ride or 15 minute walk from Tobu Nikko Station, on the Nihon Romantic Highway (the main road leading away from it).  It’s between Tobu Nikko Station and  Toshogu Jinja, Rinnoji Temple, and Shinkyo Bridge.  A map can be found on the restaurant’s Happy Cow Page.

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Food:

Yasai Cafe Meguri specialized in Organic, Vegan, Macrobiotic “teishoku” lunch sets.  The lunch sets are ¥1280 on weekdays and ¥1380 on weekends.  They have a large drink menu and daily Japanese sweets options.  The menu is entirely in Japanese, unfortunately, which may make ordering difficult for non-Japanese-speaking travelers (unfortunately I forgot to ask if they spoke English, but Nikko gets a lot of tourists, so hopefully they speak a little).

Yasai Cafe Meguri is apparently very popular, has only 10 seats, and stops serving food when they run out.  They take reservations on weekdays, but on weekend it’s first-come, first-serve.  I went on a Sunday at around 12:30 pm and got a seat immediately, but it was pretty busy already.

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I ended up ordering the Soy Protein Mushroom Hayashi Rice (大豆たんぱくときのこ味噌ハヤシライス), which turned out to be a sort of mushrooms, onions, and soy protein balls in curry, with a round of rice.  It was really good, with a mix of bitterness and sweetness that was unusual (I usually find Japanese curries to be a bit too sweet, so this was a nice flavor change).  The Hayashi Rice came topped with an array of delicately sliced vegetables (tomato, asparagus, red radish, cucumbers, and green pepper).

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Atmosphere & Service:

The decor at Yasai Cafe Meguri was bright, natural, and quirky, which are basically all of my favorite things.   There was lots of light wood, light neutral Japanese ceramics, traditional Japanese decor, wooden utensils, and home-made crafts scattered cozily about the place, but in spite of the slightly cluttered effect the place was spotless and somehow very relaxing.  There are two types of seating: The first is western-style, at high wooden tables with raised chairs, and the second is Japanese style, on a raised platform with tatami flooring and low tables with cushions.  The Japanese-style area, which runs along the windows, appeared to be in high-demand, so I had to settle for the table (which was still lovely).

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The most incredible aspect of the restaurant (at least for me) was the gorgeous Japanese-style papered ceiling.  It was clearly very old (and quite water-damaged), but it made the place seem magical. I know that’s pretty sentimental, but it was really overwhelmingly beautiful to me.

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Yasai Cafe Meguri is not just a restaurant but also a store, selling CD’s, crafts, cosmetics, eco-friendly household supplies and organic vegan foods products.  There are lots of places online and around Tokyo where you can buy similar food products, but the household supplies are at times a bit harder to come by, so if you’re looking for something specific, this would be a good place to check out.

 

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The service was nothing incredible, but the staff were friendly and the food came in a reasonable amount of time, considering they had almost 10 customers and only 2 staff.

Overall, I was very pleased with my visit and would definitely return again!  I wouldn’t make a special trip out to Nikko for the meal, but if you’re going to be in town to view some of Nikko’s incredible historical sites and natural beauty, definitely make sure to lay aside time to visit Yasai Cafe Meguri for lunch!

 

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