Crazy Vegan Sushi Course at M's Table
Having seen pictures of Vegan sushi on the Tokyo Vegan Festival and the occasional SNS post, I started to grow curious. Can really EVERYTHING be made Vegan?
After seeing some crazy good reviews of M's Table in Yokohama, we decided to give them a go when running an errand in the neighborhood. And what kind of neighborhood! The Bio c' Bon organic supermarket with tons of Vegan snacks and other options (including Vegan mozzarella and cheese-filled pasta!) is only 1-minute away, and Taiwanese restaurant Koukien, with over 50 veggie options, is within a 10-minute walk. As a real foodie I can only suggest you come early, and you come hungry.... #Eatallthefoods
"M's Table POMPADOUR" is located on the 2nd floor, above the bakery with the same name. The bakery opened the Plantbased cafe in the beginning of 2019, with the philosophy of bringing joy to customers, including vegans and vegetarians. On their website they note to cook without any animal products or white sugar (and many gluten-free options!), "believing this is important to prevent illness, nourish life and maintain good health by eating a well-balanced and delicious diet". Interestingly the bakery itself is anything but Vegan friendly...
Upon entering we wondered if we would be allowed to enter with our "boroboro" (worn-out) sneakers and flip flops. The restaurant, located on the second floor, has a very clean, modern and fancy atmosphere and is definitely suitable for a more fancy occasion. As opposed to more at-home cafes like Magokoro and Olu'Olu (my scene..), I could imagine bringing anyone here: from a date, to a business meeting, from a birthday party, to a girls lunch. The restaurant was filled with fashionable ladies by themselves, well-dressed couples, and a group of "madames". According to an interview, the place is also a popular lunch spot for salary men, and frequently visited by foreigners.
The lunch menu had a hand full of options, including salads, pasta, "crispy pizza", and soup. We went with the Vegan Burger (to continue our ranking of available Vegan burgers!), the Sesame tantan-men Noodles, which were heavily recommended online, as well as on the "recommended menu", and the Vegan Sushi set, as it did not come as a stand alone option.
Full disclosure, I didn't do my homework before visiting and was purely guided by a couple of recent, delicious-looking photos on Instagram. If I had, I would have been aware of the relatively limited lunch menu, LONG waiting time, and ambiguity on the coffee creamer being vegan or not (reported by several guests).
Despite COVID they unfortunately do not offer take-out.
The iced coffee we ordered was served with a delicious syrup and a very sweet, creamy creamer (that I'm now slightly worried about might not be Vegan as several people mentioned they were served non-vegan creamer in the past...).
To be fair, we've had our share of Vegan burgers lately, with them being a big trend and amazing options popping up all over the place. Personally, if I do indulge in a burger, I need it to be juicy, messy and full of umami. This burger was a bit more clean, with very balanced flavors. I can imagine you'd truly enjoy this if you're looking for a healthier/lighter version than e.g. UMAMI burger. It did remind me of an actual hamburger, without the help of vegan cheese or heavy sauces!
A very big disappointment was that they served it without the fries, which looked absolutely delicious on the menu and were part of the reason we selected the burger in the first place - and did not give us a heads up about this. They instead served 2 small chicken nuggets, which were crispy and very flavorful.
We love ourselves a big bowl of noodles and often have soy-milk based noodles at home. This Tantanmen noodle dish was very creamy with a very intense sesame flavor. The homemade rice noodles were tougher than wheat noodles, but quite enjoyable and it's great to see a proper gluten-free option! The homemade Ra-yu was a very nice addition and added some welcome balance and spice to the dish, but was not quite enough (I later read in a review that you could ask for seconds. Again, homework!). Here too, I can imagine you would enjoy this if you like a milder, more balanced ramen, as opposed to e.g. T's Ramen or Kyushu Jangara 's vegan options.
Veggie Sushi SET
The sushi could only be ordered as a set, so we went for the whole menu at ￥3000.
The first round was a creative tempeh dish - at this very moment we realized the chef was French trained! The presentation and balance of flavors said it all. I was completely mindblown by how strawberry and tempeh can work together! Pleasantly surprised by this starter.
The next round was some steamed veggies with a piece of gyoza and a side dish - we unfortunately didn't catch what it was exactly. The gyoza is probably glutenfree and made from rice flour. The side dish was a very sticky kind of soup that unfortunately neither of us could finish - which does not happen a lot.
This round was sadly not very enjoyable for us personally, but I can imagine those who are gluten free are happy with the option.
Next was a fried round with fried veggies, maitake mushroom and even a grape! surrounded with a spicy green dressing. The dressing was amazing! The grape blew my mind and was probably my favorite surprise of the entire menu! (what sushi..?!) The rest of the items were nicely fried and crispy, but as just a plate of fried items without salad, soup or rice, it was surprisingly unbalanced and heavy, in sheer contrast to the balance and attention of each stand alone dish. Serving this together with one of the other "courses" would have made all of the difference!
Finally! le moment suprême!
The Vegan sushi has an enormous impact. No Instagram filter needed to capture those amazing colors and constructions! The beautiful set is well worth the wait. Each sushi gets a brief explanation and the ingredients are clever and very realistically executed.
Honest review? No matter how you arrange a red paprika/bell pepper on a scoop of rice, it will not taste like fresh fish. BUT, the texture of the pepper was made very soft and maguro-like. The "salmon" texture was really impressive and the flavor delicious! The fried unagi was heavenly, and the tamago/rolled egg cleverly made with tofu and kabocha. The miso soup served with the sushi was unfortunately almost cold...
The key words for this menu were "interesting" and "fun". Trying the different flavors and textures was a really fun experience and I would definitely take fellow vegans here for the wow-effect. Would I order it again? Definitely not as a set; although there was a nice volume and I appreciate the complexity of the courses. The sushi stand alone I would have again - preferably with hot miso soup!
We had a great laugh, with our cutlery being taken away every time staff visited our table, and while we started with one spoon, one fork and one pair of chopsticks each, we finally had to call someone over to ask for something to eat with as we'd been served food without any cutlery left. The staff was polite, but a bit timid and a bit unapproachable for a talk or questions - but that's just our personal experience (I blame the flipflops!) If my path brings me here again, I would try one of the pastas, desserts (which looked mouthwatering) and/or make sure to come in the evening for the extended menu.
Address: 4 Chome-171 Motomachi, Naka Ward, Yokohama, Japan, 231-0861
Access: 5 minutes from Motomachi-Chukagai station, 1 minute from bio 'c bon (how we orientated), on the second floor above the bakery.
Food: VEGAN SUSHI! and french inspired fusion dishes.
Price: Quite reasonable for the volume of food.
Service: Staff was polite, but very timid and
Location: Bit of a walk from the nearest stations.
Overall: I can imagine this being a comfortable spot for local vegans, shoppers and office staff to get some yummy, affordable food without having to travel to Tokyo. With a stylish layout, friendly staff and central location, it's a great vegan cafe with French inspired, well-balanced dishes AND!... Vegan sushi that's definitely worth a visit if you haven't tried it before.