A vegetable sommelier? Yes, Yasaiya Mei is a special vegetable restaurant that has contracts with farmers from all over Japan and is staffed with certified vegetables sommeliers.Most of the vegetables here are organic and some of the season's best produce are display like prized trophies at the front of the restaurant. Yasaiya Mei is a restaurant recognised by the Japan Vegetable Sommelier Association. Vegetables sommeliers are experts in fruits and vegetables characteristics, as well as the ways to eat them
Much of the fun comes with working out the type of vegetables on the plate. For instance, the signature Bagna Cauda(￥1600)put us to a test right on the spot with the various colorful, but yet strange looking vegetables artfully arranged like ikebana. But before we raise any question, the knowledgeable staff will ramble off the names of each vegetable faster than I could note them down. In fact, Bagna Cauda, which means "hot bath" originated as a wintry dish from Pietmont, Italian. I never come across Bagna Cauda in Singapore but this is quite common on the menus of western restaurants here.
It works just much like a hot fondue, but as garlic-anchovy-olive cream instead of cheese. Thanks to this delicious dip, we could tide through the overly chilled vegetables without much problem. Lunch is always a good time to catch of the good deals. The Nagori Yasai Gozen Autumn (￥1990) showcases the late summer vegetables.
It comes with a bowl of nutty semi-polished rice with 11 other grains and the portion is more than enough to fill up two.
Some of the items include stir-fry summer vegetables, Eggplant Tataki, Simmered sweet potato, Buttered Pumpkin, Roasted Corn, Large Zucchini with Pepper, yam with miso, etc......
Golden Gourd 金系瓜 (left) and Butternut from Ibaraki (right)Eggplant Cheese Cutlet Part of the set meal includes White Clam Tomato Soup that is very light and sweetVegetables might be front and center here but one can still uncover a slab of beautifully steamed tender chicken beneath the bush of salad.
Other side items are common "soul food" like this Beni-Imo( Purple Potato) croquettes(2 for￥650). Excellent croquettes with real fillings rather than just cream and mash potatoes.
Hand-drawn guide describing the components of the lunch.
Mercifully, it's not about the novelty value but most of what we had were tasty offerings. Though it is located alongside other branded boutiques in the posh Omotesando Hils, the food and ambience here doesn't distant away from the masses.
As usual, ingredients change every season but the imagination and care taken to prepare the food deserve an occasion trip to reward our body healthily.