Japanese cuisine tend to use a lot of meat or meat-derived products in its preparation which can make it very hard to avoid chicken or pork-based ingredients, especially in soup stocks, marinades or sauces for those that live a vegetarian lifestyle. Even though the vegetarian restaurant scene is starting to gain traction in Tokyo, current options are more or less limited to salads or Indian food. So where can a vegetarian or vegan go for a hearty fix?
Kuumba du Falafel is a small store located along a quiet intersection and is 15-minute on foot from busy Shibuya. It has a nondescript shopfront and is easy to miss. The interior is minimalist with a mainly wooden interior, and several seats by the bar counter.
The falafels are very high quality and served in full or half sized portions, the crumbly and moist fried chickpea patties are packed into a pita pocket with hummus, grilled eggplant and pumpkin, lettuce, purple cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, and finished off with tahini sauce. There was also a Japanese touch to it, with a shiso or barilla leaf. The fiery chili sauce that could be better described as a ground chili paste goes very well with the falafel, but should be used sparingly!
There is also a plate option, with the pita served separately. I got the half size and it was big enough for a meal. There is also lentil soup on the menu, which accompanies the falafel in the lunch set. Drinks include coconut water, and various organic drinks and Japanese craft beers.
The clientele appears to be comprised mostly of overseas visitors looking for a quiet spot for a meal. Along the bar are jars of nuts and dates that add to the flair of the place. This delicious traditional Middle Eastern falafel place is a hidden gem in the outskirts of Shibuya that is certainly worth a visit.
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