Sample plant-based cuisine and ‘phantom beans’ with wild health claims in Tokyo

Black sesame cake from Hoccori Cafe, an eatery offering vegetarian and vegan dishes in Tachikawa, Japan. (Ray McIntosh/For Stars and Stripes)

Hoccori Cafe offers meat-eaters and vegetarians alike a chance to try plant-based cuisine in a calming cottage environment in western Tokyo.

This Tachikawa cafe specializes in healthy, organic vegetarian meals that rely heavily on local ingredients. Most of Hoccori’s vegetables are grown right in Tachikawa without chemical pesticides.

During a visit in April, I tried the spicy black curry, which came with a salad. For another 350 yen, you can include a small bowl of black senishi soybean miso soup. Extra rice is available for 250-650 yen, depending on how much you would like.

Black curry from Hoccori Cafe, an eatery offering vegetarian and vegan dishes in Tachikawa, Japan.

Black curry from Hoccori Cafe, an eatery offering vegetarian and vegan dishes in Tachikawa, Japan. (Ray McIntosh/For Stars and Stripes)

I also tried the “whimsical snack and drink set,” which was a gluten-free and vegan black sesame cake. This dish did include nuts and soy, which are common allergens, and it was not marked on the menu or on the “whimsical snack” sign.

According to the menu, the enzymatic brown rice is mixed with “phantom beans,” black senishi soybeans, Himalayan rock salt and red salt and is cooked at high pressure and high temperature.

Hoccori Cafe uses black senseok soybeans in many dishes. The menu says they are produced in Hokkaido and have five times more antioxidants than regular soybeans and twice as much polyphenol as traditional red beans.

The menu claims the food is completely nutritious and “highly detoxifying,” with a wide range of beneficial effects, including prevention of modern diseases, anti-aging and dieting.

The cafe also offers a vegan and gluten-free section for handmade sweets made from “safe ingredients,” according to its menu. This includes a Japanese sweet potato wrapped in delicious red bean paste and sprinkled with soybean flour with brown rice.

Hoccori Cafe in Tachikawa, Japan, specializes in healthy, organic vegetarian meals that rely heavily on local ingredients.

Hoccori Cafe in Tachikawa, Japan, specializes in healthy, organic vegetarian meals that rely heavily on local ingredients. (Ray McIntosh/For Stars and Stripes)

The meals on average cost around 1,200 yen, or about $9.40, and many dishes include a serving of coffee or tea. The savory dishes are portioned large enough to share or eat on your own, while the seasonal desserts or “whimsical snacks” are on the smaller side.

Hoccori has daily veggie bowls, and the gluten-free “whimsical snack” options change frequently.

Around half of the food is partially and the other half is fully vegan. Vegetarian dishes include pizza rice (which has cheese) and “veggie pork” (which has egg).

The “whimsical snack” is guaranteed to be gluten-free but is not guaranteed always to be vegan, so you must check.

A section of the menu is set devoted exclusively to the cafe’s unique teas. The seasonal drink of April is hot lemonade, which costs 650 yen. The cafe offers a small dish of soy milk with coffees and teas.

Hoccori offers professional cooking classes for anyone interested in how the cafe prepares its food. These cost around 7,500 yen per person, and the lessons are only in Japanese. More information on cooking classes can be found on the Hoccori Cafe Facebook page.

Hoccori is a 20-minute, direct train ride from Fussa Station, near Yokota Air Base. The cafe is in a small building in a busy section of Tachikawa and just a 10-minute walk from Showa Park.

The dining environment is a cozy, cottage vibe and seats about 20 indoors. The interior is decorated with dried flowers, small figurines of geese and other creatures, crochet details and plenty of wooden accents.

The shop does not have an English menu, but the owner knows some English. A translation app on your phone will come in handy. Some items have pictures on the menu, and those that are vegan are labeled as having no animal products.

Hoccori Cafe in Tachikawa, Japan, specializes in healthy, organic vegetarian meals that rely heavily on local ingredients.

Hoccori Cafe in Tachikawa, Japan, specializes in healthy, organic vegetarian meals that rely heavily on local ingredients. (Ray McIntosh/For Stars and Stripes)

Hoccori Cafe

Location: 2-5-8 Shibasakicho, Tachikawa, Tokyo 190-0023

Hours: 11:30 am to 3:30 pm, Tuesday through Saturday

Prices: Average drink cost is 500 yen and 1,200 yen for meals. Cash only; takeout is available.

Dress: casual

Directions: A 10-minute walk from the south exit of Tachikawa Station.

Information: 042-595-8379

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