Ain Soph Soar (Ikebukuro) & Ain Soph Journey (Shinjuku)

Note: This is a bit of an unusual entry since I’m combining two restaurant reviews, but as I’ve only visited each for one meal it seemed more appropriate to combine the reviews.  I’m not going to “rate” this entry as a whole since I had mixed feeling about the two restaurants, but they have overlapping menus.

Quick Check (Ain Soph Journey):

  • Quality: ★★★★ – Very Good
  • Location: Shinjuku Sanchome, Tokyo, Japan
  • Type: All Vegan
  • Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am – 11:00pm, Sun 11:30am- 10:00pm
  • Price: ¥¥¥ – A little expensive (expensive course menus but more moderate lunch and single-course options)
  • Website: HappyCow Page, Restaurant Website
  • Note: RESERVATIONS REQUIRED (make an online reservation here)

Address, Access & Contact:

  • English Address: Shinjuku Q Building 1F, 3 Chome 8-9, Shinjuku, Tokyo, 160-0022
  • Japanese Address: 〒160-0022  東京, 新宿, 三丁目-8−9, 新宿Qビル1F
  • Closest Train Station: Shinjuku Sanchome (also a 10 minute walk from Shinjuku Station)
  • Phone Number: +81 3-6228-4241

Google Map:

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While at Ain Soph Journey (Shinjuku),I started with the Raspberry Champagne. It was a hefty ¥1000, but I was feeling a bit impulsive and hey, how often can a vegan order Champagne at a restaurant?  It gets exhausting asking for winery names and checking Barnivore and usually disappointing, so I often don’t drink wine when I’m out.  So I went for it, and I have to say, it was very good.  The raspberry portion made it so sweet that I ended up drinking it a bit too quickly… which might explain why I found everything afterwards so goddam delicious.  Maybe.

Raspberry Champagne

Raspberry Champagne

For my main meal, I ordered the pancake set for ¥1400 (this also for sale at the the other Ain Soph complexes).  It’s a lot for a meal and even more for pancakes, but I was with a group of people so I decided to just give in a bit and treat myself to something I might not ordinarily get on my own.  Several members of the group ended up ordering it, since it’s a popular item and we’d all been talking about it on the walk over.

In spite of the high price tag, I have to say that somehow these pancakes were WORTH ¥1400.  I make pancakes all the time for myself and they cost almost nothing, so I was prepared to be disappointed, but I was happily surprised.  These were the best pancakes I have ever had, vegan or otherwise.  I have no idea what recipe they’re using, but these were just absurdly fluffy and rich, and liberally coated in vegan butter, jam, cream, fruits, nuts, and a small scoop of ice cream.

Vegan Pancakes - ¥1400

Vegan Pancakes – ¥1400

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My group also got a side-dish of fried “chicken” (I believe it was about ¥600), and they were also pretty exceptional.  I’ve had vegan fried “chicken” a few times, and it sometimes a bit tough or fried too crispy for my taste.  This was just right though – crispy but not to the point that it scratched your mouth, and tender enough that chewing it didn’t become a jaw exercise. I’m really happy I had a chance to try a few bites, and would definitely recommend it as a side-dish or appetizer: it’s a perfect “sharing” food!

Fried "chicken" Side-Dish

Fried “chicken” Side-Dish

 

Quick Check (Ain Soph SOAR):

  • Quality: ★★★ – Good
  • Location: Higashi-Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan
  • Type: All Vegan
  • Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am-4pm, 5pm-11pm; Sun 11:30am- 4:00pm, 5:00pm-10:00pm
  • Price: ¥¥¥ – A little expensive (expensive course menus but more moderate lunch and single-course options)
  • Website: HappyCow PageRestaurant Website
  • Note: RESERVATIONS REQUIRED (make an online reservation here)

Address, Access & Contact:

  • English Address: Shinjuku Q Building 1F, 3 Chome 8-9, Shinjuku, Tokyo, 160-0022
  • Japanese Address: 〒160-0022  東京, 新宿, 三丁目-8−9, 新宿Qビル1F
  • Closest Train Station: Shinjuku Sanchome (also a 10 minute walk from Shinjuku Station)
  • Phone Number: +81 3-6228-4241

Google Map:

P1050668

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Ain Soph Soar is another branch of the Ain Soph chain. It’s located in Higashi Ikebukuro, just across the road from Sunshine City.  They have many of the same offerings as Ain Soph Journey, with a mixture of reasonably priced lunch sets and more expensive course menus.  I ended up ordering the Green Curry Set. It included a side of soup, and small vegetable side-dish, and a mini-dessert for about ¥1400, which is pretty reasonable (although a bit more expensive than average).

Green Curry

Green Curry

I was expecting something like a Thai Green Curry, so I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed to receive something that appeared significantly less likely to give me heartburn.  It was actually boiled daikon with some sort of green sauce, and while it was good and and tasted very clean, I can’t say it was exactly delicious. I tend to prefer rich food, so this may have just been a personal preference, but I would have chosen a different dish had I known.  On the bright side, though, the tomato soup that was served on the side was hot, flavorful and really hit the spot.

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My friend ordered the Mushroom Curry & Hayashi Rice set, which in hindsight I should have ordered!  It looked much richer, and she really enjoyed it.

Mushroom Curry & Hayashi Rice Set

Mushroom Curry & Hayashi Rice Set

The highlight of my meal was the teensy little dessert that was served afterwards.  I chose the bread pudding, and it was so beautiful-looking and had a perfect texture – it was moist but not soggy, and was absolutely delicious.

Bread Pudding

Miniature Bread Pudding

On the way out, I saw an Candied Orange Peel & Matcha (Japanese Green Tea) Muffin at the counter, and bought it on impulse to eat later.  It was such an interesting flavor combination that I just couldn’t pass it up!  However, I wasn’t very impressed by it.  The combination of flavors was great, but there was just way too much orange peel in it – it’s a very intense and bitter flavor, and there was so much that eating it was just unpleasant at some points (in spots where too many peels were concentrated).

Orange Peel & Matcha Muffin

Orange Peel & Matcha (Green Tea) Muffin

Overall, I would say my visit to Ain Soph Soar was mixed – what they did well they did exceptionally, but a few of the items left me unimpressed.  I don’t know if this is an issue with this location, or if just by a fluke I chose a the more disappointing options.  I’d give it another chance, but if you end up going, I recommend you don’t go for the green curry or the muffin.

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