Update March 1, 2014 – Sadly, Vegetable Sushi Potager has closed. I’ll now be on the lookout for other unique sushi and vegetarian options. This eatery will be missed!
At first glance, the meals on offer at Tokyo’s Potager seem like any other top-quality sushi restaurant. Look a bit closer, however, and you’ll discover there’s nothing remotely fishy about the food on your plate!
Potager (or Vegetable Sushi Potager, to use its full name) hides in the shadow of the Roppongi Hills building in central Tokyo, just one among many worthwhile lunch spots in this neighborhood. The neon-green bamboo bar gleams brightly and the open kitchen erases any pretentious airs, leaving chefs and diners in full view of each other. But where Sushi Potager really sets itself apart is its menu … it’s vegetarian menu, to be precise. But lest you think it’s all salads and cucumber rolls, scroll down for a glimpse of what’s really on offer.
On a recent visit, I splashed out on the full course lunch menu, a five plate offering that takes about an hour (or a leisurely 90 minutes) to finish. My first course was a cold parsnip soup, dotted with drops of pesto and mango. A fresh veggie salad followed – some inclusions were run of the mill (mixed greens, sliced carrots), others were inspired (lotus root, pumpkin). All were at peak freshness, and tasted amazing when dipped in the accompanying mayo dressing.
And then the fun began. My third course of “sushi” arrived and it was a dead ringer for the real thing – an herbed carrot and cream puree that could double as sea urchin in a gunkan maki (battleship roll); a slice of red daikon with teriyaki sauce that I swear could be tuna; a section of peeled tomato, mimicking the colors of salmon.
By the fourth course, the chef no longer needs to fool me – I’m convinced that I could eat vegetarian for the rest of my life and be thoroughly happy. The offerings in this course still look like sushi, but aren’t twins. I slurp down tomato curry on a snowy soup spoon, drool over a mushroom morsel that fairly melts in my mouth, and savor a chunk of taro potato drizzled in miso.
By the time dessert arrives, I am stuggling to make room. Don’t ever believe vegetables won’t fill you up! My waiter, whose English explanations have been stellar to this point, falters a tad over “giri fruit”, but I don’t know enough to contradict him. Besides, the fluffy parfait doesn’t need to be named, just devoured with spoonfuls of cold pineapple soup and a sesame crunch cracker.
If you’re in the mood for something lighter, you can order simpler set plates or choose from the à la carte options. But the full lunch is worth your time, and a good value at ¥3990.
Check out Vegetable Sushi Potager’s mouth-watering website for a full description of menus and for directions on how to find them.
Want to include a lunch at Potager on your next trip to Tokyo? Book an Uncover Japan Samurai Itinerary and I’ll call and make the reservation for you!