Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tokyo ward helps diners on veggie hunt

When dining out, it's not always easy to eat enough vegetables. But the search for restaurants serving up plenty of greens in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, has become a lot easier thanks to a new website run by the ward government that lists establishments offering dishes with 100 grams or more of vegetables.

The project is part of the Happy Vegetable (Hapi-Veggie) Daisakusen, a dietary education initiative undertaken by the ward. The website provides maps to restaurants, recommended dishes and the amount of vegetables in each dish. "Eating plenty of vegetables every day helps prevent colds and fights fatigue," said Mika Noji, a nationally certified senior nutritionist in the ward's health promotion department. "We want to help people eat more vegetables more often."

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry recommends eating 350 grams of vegetables per day. However, a National Health and Nutrition Survey conducted by the ministry in 2010 showed people in their 20s to 40s ate an average of 233 grams to 257 grams of vegetables a day, far short of the goal. The ward decided to designate restaurants in the ward that serve vegetable-rich dishes as Hapi-Veggie member shops, to help people wanting to eat more vegetables but unsure where to dine.

Currently, the program has registered 19 eclectic shops--from a French restaurant serving full-course meals to a relaxing and stylish cafe--offering guests a wide choice. One registrant, hachisucafe, recommends their beef tendon stew set. The stew includes 250 grams of vegetables, such as onions, carrots and tomatoes. It is simmered for five hours before serving, giving it a rich flavor and a pleasant mix of the sweet and sour tastes of the ingredients. "Many vegetables are blended in the stew," said Tomoko Hachisuka, an employee at hachisucafe.

Indian Veggie Meals at Suraji include 380 grams of vegetables. In the set is keema curry, their signature dish cooked by an Indian chef, with boiled seasonal vegetables done in a savory peanut sauce and naan. More than 20 people, mostly women, order the dish every day, according to the restaurant.

For those who like eating vegetables with sake, a chef's set at Nezu Club may be just the ticket. The dish has more than 250 grams of vegetables bought by owner Etsuko Yamada at Tokyo's famous Tsukiji Market. She often chooses rare vegetables, such as shiro zuiki (taro stem), which is usually served after being simmered. 

Yomiuri Japan

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