“People aren’t overcome by situations or outside forces. Defeat comes from within.”
― Banana Yoshimoto, Kitchen
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto is a contemporary expose on human relations and emotions of loss and love, which tells the story of a quirky young woman, the protagonist, and her newly found friend and his transsexual mother. She resides in the artistic, slightly countercultural neighborhood of Kichijoji, northwest of central Tokyo. Kichijoji holds an enclave of indie stores and cafés, a petting zoo in a park, the famed Ghibli museum, as well as its own red-light district.
A couple of friends were in town from Kochi that weekend, who found a vegan burger place called DevaDeva Cafe in Kichijoji. Vegan options in Tokyo are a little hard to come by and I, myself had never had a veggie or tofu burger before and was really looking forward to it! We found the place a short walk from the station on the second floor of a nondescript building. DevaDeva is derived from the Bhagavad Gita scripture and means “God of Gods”. As can be deduced from the slogan “HAPPY FOOD AMAZING FOOD THAT BRING BLISS AND HEALTH” and the simplistic, wood-based interior, DevaDeva Cafe advocates clean eating and introduces a deeper, more spiritual meaning to the term “soul food”. Yogi inspired CDs, incense, as well as pamphlets on going vegan, may be found near the door. There is only a lunch menu as the opening hours are 11:30am to 5pm (as the rest of the day is spent meditating and realising bodhi or satori 悟り in the Zen take on Buddhism?), although the option of evening reservations are available for private parties. The cheerily chill vibes were certainly making a good impression thus far.
Besides vegetarian/vegan burgers, there is also pasta, pizzas, curries, lentil soup and a range of desserts made from organic, naturally sourced ingredients. The menu was also very English friendly. The signature Yogi burger came with a smidgen of thick-cut fries, but the burger buns were really good and carried delicate hints of oat and wheat. The veggie “chicken” patty was well-seasoned and had a firm texture to it. Overall the burger wasn’t just “not bad”, it was actually yummy. I was on the way to freeing my mind, body and soul from the clutches of the God Carnivorous. This is not meat, this is not meat.. this is not meat??
For the post-meal brew, we walked over to Kugutsusou くぐつ草 or “puppet grass”, an underground cave of a specialty coffee shop that always has a line waiting for impeccable single-origin drip coffee. Warning: Purists only. If your idea of coffee is a (insert horrific expression) frappe from Starbucks, please pass on this one.
Thereafter, we took a walk around the Inokashira Park and the Ghibli Museum, where we caught a glimpse of Totoro and its 5 meters tall Robot Soldier. It was early spring, and there were tons of people in the park and some paddling swan boats in the lake. Kichijoji is wonderfully eclectic and unpredictable, you can never get tired of exploring its myriad of facades!
Yubinbango 180-0004 Musashino-shi
Tokyo Kichijojihon cho
2-14-7 Jixiang Building 2F