KiboKo is an oasis in the city serving naturally-grown vegetables with full of energy. 日本語の記事はこちらから。
|Type||Cafe, bar restaurant (eat-in, takeout)|
|Pricing||Lunch: 1500 yen and 2000 yen|
Dinner: around 3000 yen and up
|Favorite||★★★★★ A rare find in the center of Shinjuku where you can enjoy having naturally-grown vegetable dishes from afternoon to night time. At night, it becomes a bar, izakaya, serving organic wines with tapas-style vegan dishes.|
A place where you return to the nature in the center of Shinjuku
As you walk from the Shinjuku station on the big Shinjuku-dori avenue, you see the word “VEGAN” on the window of a building in the corner of Shinjuku 2-chome crossing. Going up the stairs in the old building, you find vegan wine bar, KiboKo.
The restaurant is a warm and cozy place with a homey atmosphere created by the owner Ms. Naoko Numanami. Ms. Numanami opened a cafe serving breakfast and lunch in the bar-area of Shinjuku in 2014 then moved the restaurant to the current location and reopened it as a wine bar serving teishoku (fixed meal) style lunch in the afternoon.
While the style has changed, the philosophy of KiboKo has remained the same since the inception, which is to energize working women in Japan and make their lives beautiful. Ms. Numanami used to be an office worker herself and with a busy work schedule, used to eat a lot of convenience-store food. After noticing how many of the working women around her had children who had various types of allergies, she started studying microbiotic diet and decided to open KiboKo to serve food that’s truly healthy for the body.
While there is an increasing number of restaurants which serve organic vegetables, there is still a limited number of restaurants that serve “naturally-grown” vegetables. Organic vegetables are grown without chemical fertilizer or pesticide but are still grown following a conventional farming method of digging and using natural fertilizers. Naturally-grown vegetables, on the other hand, have been grown in a “no-dig” farm without any fertilizer. Since there are only few farmers following such a method, naturally-grown vegetables are even more costly than organic vegetables, and as a result, many restaurants find it difficult to use them.
↑The method of growing vegetables naturally means going back to the origin – the nature.
Ms. Numanami became fascinated by the strong energy, high nutrition and powerful flavors of naturally-grown vegetables and also driven by the affection that the farmers put into growing their vegetables, and decided to serve foods that use only naturally-grown vegetables.
“I actually want to take off the word ‘VEGAN’ and just talk about the vegetables, the nature. I know that you can’t just be an idealist, but I want to make KiboKo a place where customers can have truly healthy food and feel fulfilled in a natural way,” says Ms. Numanami.
Lunch time menu consists of bowl lunch (1500 yen), ICHIJUSANSAI (one soup, 3 dish) lunch (1500 yen) and assortment plate (2000 yen). Lunch opens at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, which is quite late by the Japanese standard, and runs through 5 o’clock in the evening.
On this day, I tried the ICHIJUSANSAI plate, which came with soup curry with lots of spices, a main dish, two side dishes and a small piece of carrot cake. Hamburg (or Japanese “meat loaf”) made with koya tofu and lotus root is topped with superbly-delicious demi-glace sauce which is made is vegetables and red wine stewed for hours. Naturally-grown rice is so flavorful that it can easily stand alone as a meal itself.
At dinner time, the restaurant becomes a tapas-style wine bar. Starting with an assortment of seasonal vegetable dishes as an appetizer, you should definitely try the coriander gyoza dumplings. The plump dumplings are stuffed with koya tofu, carrot and cabbage filling, which has just the right amount of coriander aroma and flavor, so even people who are not the biggest fans of coriander will fall in love with them.
In addition, the diner menu boasts dishes like vegan bagna càuda, Spanish omelette and Mexican taco rice, which make me want to try everything!
As a wine bar, KiboKo has a nice selection of Austrian organic wines which are light and match well with vegetables, along with organic wines from other countries. For people like me who doesn’t take alcohol, there is also a nice selection of organic and naturally-grown Japanese teas. I tried the soba tea which has anti-aging factors and can improve digestion.
KiboKo had been an eat-in-only restaurant, but with the recent situation, they have started takeout and will also start taking orders to mail some of the foods in air-tight frozen packs. You can find more information and updates on their FB page.
Visit KiboKo to find nature in the center of Shinjuku.