vegetarian friendly restaurant
Well hello and happy new year to you! I'm nearing the end of a restful 11 day stretch of holidays here. I hope you are all feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your weekday lives again.
The first few days of the year are not ideal for dining out, with many places shut for a well deserved break from the daily grind. After calling up a few places I've been wanting to try, to no answer, I decided to head over to Koenji to try my luck. I'd had my eye on a few places dotting the shotengai that extends out from the station, and I was pleased to find my first choice, Tequila House, was open for business.
Heading into the restaurant, I immediately took a liking to the atmosphere. The brightly painted walls, well stocked bar, honky tonk music, and Mexican wrestler-infused decor made for a vibe I'd like to share with friends over a great meal and a few rounds of drinks. My date for the night, a copy of Jane Eyre, seemed a little at odds with the surroundings, but did not object when I ordered a Mexican mojito (700¥), which I believe contained both the usual rum and a dose of tequila for good measure.
On the menu, I saw a couple of options that seemed likely to be vegetarian. The avocado taco (350¥) looked like a good bet, with cheese, onion, jalapeño, onion, salsa (50¥ each), and guacamole (100¥) as possible add ons. I was also intrigued by the saboten (cactus) steak. I've seen this option on menus before but never had enough curiosity to override my desire for more familiar and safely delicious Mexican fare. If anyone out there has experience in the cactus steak department I'd love to hear your thoughts. I asked for the server's meat and fish free recommendation, and he pointed me in the direction of the ベジタブルタコス (vegetable taco- 450¥), which he said was a bigger portion than the avocado taco.
My vegetable taco was delicious mix of cheese, guacamole, salsa, and veggies on a flour tortilla. In the last few bites of my taco, I became aware that a creamy sauce drizzled over the mix had a distinctive ceasar salad dressing flavour. If you're a fish abstaining veggie like me, you'll probably be aware that ceasar dressing almost always contains anchovies, which puts it on my no-no list. I asked the server if he could kindly check the ingredient list for me, and as I suspected the dressing did in fact contain anchovy. So if you are equally picky about small quantities of fish, you'll probably want to order this dish without the ceasar dressing (see language note below for guidance). I'm not sure if they include this dressing in the other tacos, so it might be a good idea to check before ordering!
At 450¥ the vegetable taco was quite a bargain, and if you were looking for a light meal this would probably suffice. I was pretty hungry, though, so I took another look at the menu and ordered a mini plate of guacamole (I believe it was 350¥). This zesty guac was full of flavor and a nice size to accompany another dish.
The menu contains very little English, but does have lots of cute illustrations to help you order!
Overall, I was really pleased with my experience at Tequila house. They scored full points for atmosphere in my books, the food was delicious, and the prices quite reasonable. Yet another reason to love Koenji, definitely one of the coolest neighborhoods of Tokyo. I'm already plotting a return visit, this time with drinking companions!
How to get there: From Koenji station, head out through the turnstiles and immediately turn left. Turn left again at the bus loop, and walk straight across the road, heading towards the McDonalds. (Not far from McDonalds there's a liquor/ foreign food/ spice shop called Tokyo-ya that is worth a visit if you are a Tokyo resident!) Pass between the McDonalds and the KFC and head straight. You'll first walk for a few minutes through a covered shopping arcade, which turns into an uncovered arcade. Stay on this street and you'll be heading up a hill. You'll see Tequilla house on your right. It's about an eight minute walk from Koenji station.
Tokyo, Suginami, Koenjiminami, 3-23-19
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Koenji has pretty high foreigner traffic, so the young staff working at this place probably speak a bit of English. Regardless, this is a good phrase to remember even for those just visiting Japan! You can substitue the first bit with whatever you want left out.
shiizaa doresshingu nashi-de onegaishimasu.
Without ceasar dressing, please.