Marusan Foods (Japanese style cafe/restaurant), Shimokitazawa

Today's feature is one of those "I've lost track because there are too many of them" funky eateries of cool Shimokitazawa. Marusan Foods (the restaurant logo is a circle or "Maru" with number 3 inside or "San", hence the name) serves lunch, acts like a cafe in the afternoon, and from what I heard provides aficionados with good and healthy dinner fares in the evening.

the several jars of fruits marinating in vinegar

I climbed up the stairs to the third floor, got there at noon sharp for the opening and there was no customer around until I was finished, so lucky me for the relaxing lunching experience. The only problem was that their A/C wasn't working, so on a 35C heat day, that may explain why I was the only fool sweating in there.
The music playing was a series of Walter Wanderlay-ish loungy keyboard music so the heat and the music made for an out-of-place Copacabana atmosphere.

The food is far from being Brazilian though, if not for the green and yellow color of their specialty dish Omu-Raisu (stirred rice stuffed omelette), reminiscent of the Brazilian flag.
Yes, you heard me right: their Omu-Raisu is green and yellow, when it should be and has always been yellow and red, that is the color of the omelette and the ketchup-based sauce on top. This is the first time I have EVER seen such anomaly and I believe Marusan is the only place in Japan which serves a green Omu-Raisu.

Jako-Sansho-Gohan Omu-Raisu

The green sauce is actually a green peas sauce that is flavorful enough to remind me of those peas potages they serve in French cuisine. Very good stuff, but it unfortunately blends so well with the rest of the dish that you don't really feel the peas at all.

The quickly sauteed rice beneath the excellent and runny omelette is very low on salt, mixed with fried Jako (very small dried baby sardines) and very aromatic wholegrain Chinese pepper "Sansho". The bomb of flavor and the numbness to the tongue that this spice brings continues to amaze me. So it's actually maybe without surprise that the peas seem so reserved when the rest of the ingredients are so flavorful.

A Sansho pepper on the left and a white Jako (can you see it? It looks like a long rice grain)

Overall a well-balanced and excellent dish. I still doubt the efficiency in taste of the peas, but the color they bring is WAY WORTH IT!

My ¥890 set came with an excellent and pungent Aka-Dashi Miso Soup (made of regular "Mame-Miso" fermented bean paste and "Kome-Miso" fermented rice and bean paste; you will often come across this soup in Sushi restaurants), some Tsukemono marinated pickles and the delicious grey-brown paste on the above picture which tasted like a Goma-Dofu (Sesame Tofu). If it was indeed what I reckoned it was, then it is a dish consisting of black sesame seeds, water and Kudzu powder. If not for the very little Katsuo-Bushi (dry bonito shavings) that was topped on the paste, it would have been the perfect Buddhist vegan Shojin recipe.

After a satisfying meal (despite the brutal heat), I had to have something refreshing so I chose from one of the many curiosity-enhancing "vinegar-marinated fruits drinks" they offer the "Marinated fig in milk" drink (for an additional ¥300). As you can see from the very top picture of this post, they have a dozen of different fruits marinated in vinegar which you can mix with Soda, Milk, Soy milk or some final liquid I can't remember anymore.
I thought the combination would be too weird, surely undrinkable or at least way too sour, but my mix actually tasted like a very nice slightly sour Fig Lassi (if that can give you an idea). I'm not sure I would drink gulps of it, but I thought it acted as a perfect dessert to finish the overall very satisfying lunch.

I definitely recommend this place for lunch (I haven't tried the dinner yet). The staff is nice, the food is good and affordable, the location is charming; so provided the A/C is back by the time you visit the place, you should thoroughly enjoy it.

Marusan Foods is open everyday from noon to midnight, and until 02am on Saturday nights
Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa 2-8-5, 3F
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