Better a dish of herbs where love is, than a fatted ox and hatred with it.
[Proverbs, Chapter 15: Verse 17]
It’s spring in Kyoto and time for something fresh. Though Kyoto’s best-known vegan restaurant and purveyor of fake meats Cafe Peace did not survive the winter, new management has stepped into the breach and established a strong new vegan presence on Hyakumanben: Cafe Proverbs [15:17]. I visited the new Cafe shortly after it opened and met the new owner Marre, a charming fellow of considerable and varied talents (in addition to being a cafe-owner both here and Tokyo, Marre is also a best-selling writer, counsellor, minister and gospel singer!). For nigh on 11 years now, Marre has been running Tokyo’s Kick Back Cafe, which although not a vegan restaurant as such, does have plenty of vegan items on the menu. So Akiko Iwasa, Peace’s former owner, not wanting all his good work to go to waste, asked Marre to open a new vegan restaurant on the old Peace premises. But, enough of the history, how is the eatery?
Well, in terms of decor and atmosphere, the emphasis is on new. All the old hippy, ethnic clutter of Peace days has gone out the window, to be be replaced by stylish simplicity. And in terms of philosophy, there is a subtle change of emphasis too. Whereas Peace advertised itself very strongly as a proponent of vegetarian values and idealism, the emphasis of Proverbs is quite clearly on the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle. All the food in Proverbs is guaranteed to be good, healthy, natural product of Japan. And in addition to being meat-free, Proverbs is non-smoking (hurray!) and alcohol-free too (bold move!). But basically, what it comes down to in the end, is the menu. What’s the grub like? Is it tasty? The answer: an unqualified yes. You can check the bi-lingual menu out here, and see for yourself the wide range of dishes on offer. So far, I’ve tried the Nashi Goreng, the Taco Rice and the Tofu Dengaku and they were all very nice indeed. Sadly I didn’t have room for dessert, but I’m looking forward to trying out the chocolate cake on my next visit! Here are some pictures (click through to flickr for a closer look):
The system at Proverbs is a little unusual in that you order at the register and not at your table and you pay as you order, rather than after your meal. However, the staff are very friendly, I got the impression that quite a number of them have some English ability, and as I mentioned already the menu is fully bi-lingual. Cafe Proverbs [15:17] is a little to the north of Hyakumanben, just past the flower shop, on the east side of Higashioji Dori and on the third floor (ironically) over a yaki-niku shop. If you want to try something tasty and healthy, different and new, I recommend it. Alternatively, you can always go downstairs to the second floor and gorge yourself on grilled cow and beer. Here is a map and the opening hours:
Monday – Saturday: 11:00～22:00 (Last order 21:30)
Sunday : 12:00 open
Closed on Mondays ( if the Monday happens to be a 15th, or a holiday, Proverbs will be closed on the following Tuesday).