- 3 min read

Soh Soh on Ropeway Dori

Healthy lunches and dinners

On Matsuyama’s fashionable Ropeway Street, there’s one restaurant that always seems to have a row of people camped outside on the wooden benches provided for that purpose. It’s hard to ignore the fact that these campers are all young women. Curious, I decided to visit the place at a tactically cunning 11:30 on a Friday morning to see if I could squeeze in for lunch.

This is Soh Soh, the restaurant that boasts a daily lunch set, “with loads of vegetables, that brings joy to your body”. As one who gives first priority to their taste buds and alcohol sensors, I tend to be skeptical of claims like this, but something that can draw patient lines of apparently discriminating people can’t be ignored.

Fortunately I had no difficulty getting a table. A charming waitress asked if I wished to order the one set lunch available, and explained that I had a choice of three types of rice, with as many refills as I wanted. Judiciously, I chose the set lunch. Also the brown rice with a topping of ‘tororo’, a delicious roux of grated yam and fish stock. Brown rice is something of a rarity in Japan. People tend to frown on it as an expression of extremism and a throwback to unhappy times when there wasn’t anything else. Doctors condemn it as indigestible. Nevertheless, it’s very toothsome, and the unapologetic way Soh Soh serves it speaks of a strongly held dedication to natural flavors.

This approach is very apparent in the other servings too. There’s a bowl of rich miso soup with tofu and negi chives, and a plate with a beautifully arranged variety of rather unusual things, including fried breaded shiitake mushrooms with tartar sauce, and sesame tofu. The salaryman at the adjacent table observed to his colleague, “This really is healthy food!” Indeed the generous lump of rich, creamy, sticky sesame tofu felt like a burst of pure nutrition. It was delicious. The salad of leaf vegetables, meat and vegetables stewed and sautéed in various combinations, and pickled vegetables were also very agreeable. Another interesting ‘healthy’ touch was the pre-prandial shot glass of Chinese leaf and pineapple over ice – not a brilliant combination it must be said, but pre-prandial juice seems like a jolly sort of refinement anyway. This very filling meal cost 880 yen, a little higher than your average lunchtime repast, but well worth it.

Soh Soh also has an izakaya menu in the evening, and I’m very keen to try their food with a shot of something stronger than fruit and vegetable juice. I have no doubt the combination will be a healthy one.

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