By Peter Sidell
Amazingly delicious wholesome food made without meat, fish, dairy, eggs or refined sugar. Gen is a great venue for healthy eaters and anyone with food allergies.
Opened in 2010, Gen is conveniently located on the main road leading up from the JR station, very near the Matsumoto City Museum of Art (and rather ironically located next to the TEPCO office building). It is the senpai sister shop of the newer Hitsuki Macrobiotic Café, located just a few blocks away at the end of Nakamachi street.
Gen is easy to find for English speakers (and readers) as “Vegan-Vegetarian-Macrobiotic” is clearly written in English on the shop's exterior. The staff are very friendly and welcoming. The day I visited, the staff member who served me spoke English fluently and we had a great chat. She told me she was in training in preparation for opening her own macrobiotic shop in Cambodia.
On the menu, there are a range of burgers, snack foods, curries and rice dishes. There are also kids' sets available. I chose the ¥1,500 set lunch of the day which included battered and fried vegetarian meat, and served on a bed of rice with a savory sauce on top. It came with fresh asparagus, miso soup, and a plate of salads and a small side of pickles. It was simple, yet delightful, macrobiotic home cooking at its best. The brown rice was soft and perfectly cooked, all the side dishes were bursting with fresh-from-the-garden vitality.
The dessert with the set was a subtly spiced stewed apple and rhubarb cup topped with soya custard. Yum! There is also tofu-cheesecake, muffins, and tofu gâteau au chocolat available on the menu. They make all of their breads with brown rice flour, making them seem a bit heavier than standard flour products, but the genmai replacement makes the dishes much healthier, full of vitamins and minerals.
The décor is quite retro and homely. My table was an old school desk, my chair covered in grandma’s cushions. The slideshow on screen showed their pets and conveys the owners' deep love for animals. The staff I spoke with was telling me of the owners pet pigs and goats. I’d love to have a pet pig, I hear they are loyal, great for composting kitchen waste and even more clever than dogs.
There is an extensive English menu, cash payments only, seating for about 20 people.
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I've been living in Hiroshima since the mid 90's & still discovering new things to enjoy. I'm a big fan of both the old "wabi sabi" as well as modern and new designs, Japan offers both of these type of places to explore and enjoy. Even after many years here, I am still discovering surprising, fantastic and wacky things about this strange and wonderful land. I hope you enjoy your adventures around Japan- feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about traveling with kids, vegetarian dining or anything specific to Hiroshima.