Luxurious Vegan Junkfood by Cafe Titan KOMEDA
KOMEDA Coffee is a staple in the Japanese Cafe industry and has an overall good reputation for delicious food, nice coffee and a great cafe area where you can relax, read, work or study.
Whereas many other big names in the industry recently launched "Green" or "Soy-" items at an attempt to profit from the growing veggie trends, KOMEDA went full out and opened a 100% VEGAN cafe in Ginza, Toyko.
GO BIG OR GO HOME!
Starting in 1968 in Nagoya prefecture, with their first franchise two years later and their current brand name "KOMEDA COFFEE" marked five years after that, the chain has gradually developed into one of Japan's favorite cafe's. Well known for their free breakfast in the morning, delicious fusions deserts, combining American style pancakes and whipped cream, with Japanese Matcha and Azuki flavors, and great service, winning an All-Japan award for best service in 2012, KOMEDA is now present in all of Japan's prefectures! With 400 cafes in 2011 growing to 835 cafes as of 2019, with their first foreign franchise opening in Shanghai (2016) they are not only continuously growing, but have also always been experimenting with new shops and formulas. Opening a "sweets cafe" as well as a "high-end (and strictly no kids) cafe", the latter of which closed again after 8 years, they certainly are not afraid of a challenge or to stick to their own style - by, for example, different from most competitors, not offering any rice-based dishes.
Due to the high number of competing coffee shops in birthplace Nagoya, KOMEDA offers a "free morning service"; If you order a coffee before 11:00 you get a free breakfast set with toast and toppings - every time you order! Can you imagine this outside of Japan?! Is it just us Dutchies that would go crazy?
Prioritizing the focus on their coffee, which is made to be uniform throughout all of their franchise locations, along with priding themselves on flavor, service, and their homemade bread, their brand overall promises the "ultimate place to relax" while enjoying "your favorite cup of coffee" in a "living room-like space".
For their Vegan cafe "KOMEDA is □" they show the same level of commitment, with a well thought-out concept, properly defined SDG (sustainable development goals) and an incredible, BIG VEGAN MENU!
From Hazzle to Heaven
My very first visit to KOMEDA was 3 years ago on a first date. I was not drinking coffee at the time as my stomach didn't agree to it, and as a result, there were virtually NO options on the menu! Normally, I would wing a french fries or plain white rice option whichever shady bar, cafe or izakaya I ended up at, but now my options were limited to orange juice or an overpriced plain tea...
So when we heard KOMEDA was opening a full Vegan cafe with large menu, we were beyond excited! I was a bit skeptic after some recently released (cough*half-assed*cough) vegan options by other large companies, and having never tried the original KOMEDA food - I did not know what to expect. #Shewasntready
We HAD to visit this place and re-do our first date with actual food! But... COVID. Tokyo.
We held of our visit until more than a month after opening. We went by car. And we went at opening time so it would be quiet.... Meaning.... we woke up at 4:00AM! #dedication
After a loooong journey with lots of coffee (which I can now handle, thankfully!), we arrived at the building. Other than most KOMEDA, which look like European ski-huts from the outside, the KOMEDA is □ cafe has floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides, creating a fresh, modern look.
The original KOMEDA cafe's are all based on a brick- and wood interior, as they suggest the warm colors and touch of skin on natural wood makes it easier for people to relax. The Vegan cafe takes this to a whole new level by a huge "tree of life" kind of design, with wooden seating areas and a lot of plant decorations. Whereas a lot of Tokyo (Vegan) cafes go into a minimalist-hipster vibe that can feel cold and impersonal, KOMEDA, true to their style, manages to create a comfortable and warm area.
Each seat, or seating area, has a tablet with the whole menu in various language - including allergens information, ingredients and dish explanation! And so the fun begins!
Having come all this way, and never knowing when and if we are able to visit again, we had to try EVERYTHING! The menu is based on Vegan Junkfood - I could not ask for more.
Morning Set - I obviously had to try the famous morning set which comes with a coffee before 11:00. Not finding many coffees with vegan whipped cream out here, I started of breakfast with a soy-whipped cream coffee. With this comes a slice of toasted bread, complimented by a topping of your choice: Jam, Sesame paste or An paste.
I loved this SO much! If my local KOMEDA ever turns Vegan, I might just spend my mornings here indulging on that magical, creamy toast... #StillDutch (<- we love bread...)
Next, we knew we had to try one of their burgers. You know, quality control.
While waiting for our burgers our finger slipped and accidentally ordered a plate of "Soy Ham Katsu" too... Whipped cream, burgers, cutlet... nice, light, little breakfast.
The cutlet was surprising in many ways. First of all the portion size. They are massive! Which is great! but was slightly challenging at 7 in the morning. The texture was so much better than we had anticipated. Thick, juicy katsuo, with an incredibly nice bite and complimented with a vinegary sauce. Would love to eat this with rice.
Then came the burgers. We had ordered the signature Teriyaki Avocado burger and the Miso Cheese burger. Both were served cut in half, as you can request when ordering, served with french fries and had great volume. Both tasted great, but the Teriyaki Avocado burger especially was sensational and even better than some burger "specialty places" we have visited recently. A simple, but very well executed formula of great bread, fresh avocado, fresh tomato and lettuce, well-balanced teriyaki sauce and a surprisingly delicious patty. Impressed! Oh, but I hated the fries - I prefer mine to be either seasoned or crispy - not pale and mushy.
Absolutely full, but not wanting to miss out on the mouthwatering deserts we had seen on SNS since their opening, we decided to fit in one last dish, which after a long and hard battle, we decided to be the Mochiri Matcha cake.
It is one things to create a beautiful desert. But to create a proper delicious Vegan desert has proven challenging; with a lot of options out there being overly sweet, very dry, falling apart, or overall plain. Not this one! I don't know how they did this... but I am impressed! I am not even a sweets person (savory>sweet), but I thoroughly enjoyed the fluffy cake, with intense Matcha flavor, and the strong Matcha syrup for a full-on green tea party on my plate.
What a party, from start to finish! (until the bill came that is. Nae cheap.)
IN IT TO WIN IT
Next to the ridiculously good food and KOMEDA-style comfy cafe space, KOMEDA has a long list of goals and sustainable developments plans on their website. With slogans as:
-> "Why not enjoy a meat-free meal every now and again?"
-> "Let's create a meat-free day!"
they are one of the first key players to go beyond the concepts of "this is healthier for you", "this will be popular with fashionable woman" and "eat this when you're on a diet", and truly dive into the details and reasoning of a plantbased diet.
Their points include
1. ECOLOGY. A plantbased diet will help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from cows and pigs; Enjoy your meals with a more relaxed and peaceful (guilt free!) mind, while reducing the pressure on resources such as water, land, and forests. - They go as far as to use global warming!
2. HEALTHY. Offering a delicious plantbased menu, with proper seasoning and umami (hallelujah!) It seems they contacted actual experts in the industry, such as the Japan Vege Project, even a year ago to do proper research on this.
3. REUSE. The big symbolical trees in the cafe are cleverly made from recycled timber, originally used to move cargo. They use actual coffee in some of the wall decorations, for a natural look, and eco certified crushed recycled glass(!) in the floors, and left over pieces of glass-blowing ateliers for their light bulbs.
With these points KOMEDA shows they truly invested to comprehend the best strategy for both the Vegan menu as the ECO/Green concept. Finally, they explain that their unique name: KOMEDA is □ invites you to insert your own feeling into the black space (e.g. relaxing. delicious. creative. comfortable), so they can recognize and develop these strengths even further.
How about KOMEDA is VEGAN PARADISE? ;)
Address: 1 Chome-13-1 Tsukiji, Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0045
Access: 2-minute walk from Higashi-ginza Station
Food: Coffee and Vegan Junkfood
Price: Pricey. But worth it (imho).
Service: Ordering system through tablets. Service when serving the food and at the register was fine.
Location: Very city - but maybe just to us inaka-folk.
Overall: What a fun surprise. KOMEDA IS manages to surprise Vegan and Flexi, newcomer and die-hard KOMEDA fan, with their beautiful new interior and large Vegan menu. They deliver on all of their usual promises of great food, great coffee and a living room style cafe where you can relax to your heart's content.