Vegan good, 'zines, and indie music in Shibuya
Nagi Shokudo has been around several years now and has become one of the mainstay vegan spots in Tokyo. Tucked in Shibuya's backyard, the restaurant manages to be very convenient to this major station while staying away from the madness that is the scramble crossing. You may be surprised to find when you come out on the other side of the station that the surrounding area is positively quiet.
Unlike many vegetarian restaurants in Japan that tend to have only a few plate-lunch style specials, Nagi's menu is varied, with over a dozen dishes to pick and choose from, not to mention a healthy list of libations. Some choicey bits are the soy meat with sweet chili sauce, reminiscent of karaage (Japanese fried chicken), a tofu and veggie curry simmered in coconut milk, a kabocha squash salad, a stir fry with mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, and carrots, and many other colorful and mouthwatering dishes. For a few hundred yen extra, you can make an even heartier meal by choosing the gohan set, which gives you brown rice, miso soup, and house-made pickles.
The master of this restaurant, Akinobu Oda, has dreamed up so many tasty morsels that he has released a cookbook called Nagi Shokudo no Vejitaburu Reshipi (Nagi Shokudo's Vegetable Recipes), which is available for purchase in the shop if you'd like to try your hand at deciphering recipes in Japanese and cooking some of the shop's signature dishes.
Nagi is a little hard to spot despite being less than ten minutes' walk from Shibuya station. Look for the Sakuragaoka post office right across the street, then check for the red and white sign that sits at street level. The cafe is a half-flight of steps down, with windows peeking out at sidewalk level.
Seating less than twenty, there is a small raised tatami area with a couple of tables, and half a dozen regular tables seating 2-4. One small quibble is that the tables and chairs are so diminutive, even someone like me with a 5'4" frame can feel cramped. It may be better for those with longer legs to choose the tatami area, where you can sprawl out a bit more. This isn't a snooty place - no one will think twice if you stretch your legs.
After your meal, check out some of the many 'zines and albums available for perusal and sale in the shop. Oda also runs a music label and his tastes run to indie pop and rock, with lots of great quirky stuff thrown in.