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How have your eating habits changed during COVID? At the end of last year, I really felt I was overindulging. Too. Much. Delivery. So in January this year, I did a reset. I tried to eat clean for three weeks (no meat, coffee or fried foods) and came out of it feeling so much lighter and brighter. During those weeks, I tried a few vegetarian restaurants and also tried JUST Egg and OmniPork. And you know what? I found I quite liked them! So I’m hoping to eat cleaner this year and am very excited about the various green menus popping up around town.
Recently, I visited Kyoto Joe to try their new Green Wednesday all-you-can-eat menu ($380/person).
Kyoto Joe has been around for over 15 years, but this was my first visit. They’ve moved to the 23rd floor of California Tower, which means great views and light. The vibe is playful but formal enough that there were quite a few business meetings going on during my weekday lunch visit.
The Green Wednesday menu is offered for any two hours between 2–5pm on, of course, Wednesdays. There are nearly 30 dishes on offer, fairly evenly split amongst appetisers, robatayaki, hot dishes, sushi rolls and agemono.
We tried the spinach salad and spicy vegetable tartare. The salad is a well-prepared classic, while the tartare is basically vegetable tempura pieces mixed with a creamy, spicy sauce that’s then loaded onto lettuce leaves. Not the healthiest, but certainly tasty. I’d definitely order seconds of both.
From the grill, we tried the Kyoto green peppers, tofu teriyaki, Miyazaki sweet potato, gingko nuts and mock chicken – a lot, but each skewer is manageable. While perhaps nothing stood out as extraordinary, for those who love robatayaki, this is a great way to indulge at a good price point. And note that the mock chicken is made of tightly wrapped bean curd sheets.
The sushi rolls
I love sushi rolls and was really excited to see what they’d come up with. My favourite rolls were the unhealthier ones like the mala roll (with vegetable tempura and topped with avocado) and the edamame tempura roll (with cheese and chilli bean sauce). The Mexican roll and the spicy la la roll both have jalapeño and were quite hot! Nice, but perhaps best for those who really like jalapeño. And a couple of the other rolls were a bit too healthy-tasting for my liking.
When the cauliflower tempura came out, I knew my thoughts of eating healthy were going out the window. I expected a few pieces, but a large bowl of deep-fried, sauced florets arrived (and I wasn’t upset about this!). This dish was absolutely delicious. I’ve tried a few vegetarian sweet-and-sour “chicken” dishes in my time, but they were all… not good. This is the most satisfying vegetarian sweet-and-sour dish dish I’ve ever had.
We also tried the avocado tempura. As hot avocado can take on a bit of a bitter taste, it’s often served with a sweetish dip (like the avocado fries at Mrs Pound, RIP). This comes with standard tempura sauce, which is a bit of a shame.
My dining companion suggested the Berry Beri mocktail ($58), made with strawberries, blueberries, apple juice and Yakult. It’s not something I would have chosen myself, but I gave it a go and it was great – a refreshing smoothie, not too sweet at all.
The other stuff
The staff forgot to put in one round of our order, but I consider this a small gaffe. The service was generally very good.
It’s unfortunate that Kyoto Joe’s Green Wednesday menu is only offered on Wednesday afternoons. If you can make the time, it’s an excellent spot for a long, leisurely late lunch. Otherwise, grab some of the dishes (especially the mala roll and cauliflower tempura) à la carte during your next visit.
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