Today I’d like to introduce the shop where I work part-time making vegan food for takeout, Natural Styles in Okusawa, Setagaya Ward, Tokyo.
I have been a customer at this shop ever since I moved to the area in 2019. They have a lot of organic/natural/vegan products. At the end of 2020, I saw a “hiring” sign on their door and decided to go for it. I had been wanting to make vegan food a part of my career and I was curious to see where it might take me.
Working at a small shop with a small kitchen, there are definitely limits to what I can do. But I also have a lot of creative authority in the kitchen, meaning I can make pretty much whatever I want as long as we have the ingredients! The menu is not decided and changes every day depending on what we have on hand. To reduce food loss, I try to use veggies that are not as nice looking (and therefore often go unsold) in my cooking as much as possible. I also only make a small amount of each dish so that we don’t have any leftovers going to waste.
Here are some of the dishes that I have made over the past couple of months:
For Setsubun, which is on February 2nd in 2021, I made Vegan Ehomaki (sushi rolls) using my homemade vegan tofu cheese!
I spread the word on Facebook, and someone came to buy some (and even picked up some other veg products while they were there)! I was happy to see their pictures and their message that they enjoyed them.
Speaking of veg products at my shop, we have quite a few!
Snacks, condiments, instant foods, soy meats, bread, wine, salads, and deli! We have a variety of vegan products available. I’m doing my best to add English labels that say “VEGAN” next to the Japanese labels so that it will be easier for vegans to recognize which products are vegan (at the time these photos were taken, I had yet to do so).
My boss, the owner of the store, can also speak English really well! If you ever come by when I’m not around and you have any questions, feel free to ask Ogawa-san!
Additionally, we currently have one type of vegan bento (VEGAN CURRY) which is available for takeout upon request. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare, but it’s really tasty so I recommend it! You can choose between regular white rice or 酵素玄米 (koso genmai – sprouted brown rice). I recommend the brown rice! It’s healthier and I think it is really delicious. If you don’t specify, you will probably end up with white rice, so be sure to say you want brown rice when you order!
The taco rice can also be made vegan if you just tell them not to add cheese. Unfortunately, we don’t have vegan shredded cheese at the shop yet (hopefully we will!) so for now you’ll have to use what you have at home if you order it.
Disclaimer: We have a few part-time cooks (we all have different shifts) and I’m the only one who is vegan. The curry and taco meat are made vegan ahead of time and frozen, so there’s no need to worry about that, but some days there will be deli items or salads that are not vegan (they might have cheese, chicken, etc.). In that case, they will not be labeled as “vegan.”
Additionally, I am always open to requests! If you live nearby and you have anything that you want me to make, let me know! I will do my best to meet your request. I started this job because I love vegan food and cooking and because I wanted to increase vegan options in my area. I hope to meet more vegans who live nearby and contribute to my vegan community as much as I can. I hope to see you soon!