Go for the Gusto

Family restaurants are not, as a general rule, bastions of culinary inventiveness. Not unless, of course, you consider concoctions like "tuna-corn-cod roe-garlic-mayonnaise spag" or "cheese packet steak" to be on the cutting edge of... well, something. Then again, dishes like these perhaps evince a willingness to try almost anything.

Which is why it's not such a big shocker that from March 18 the family chain Gusto (part of the Skylark Group) starts serving vegetarian food from Sofa (see review above) at all their locations. They're starting out small, though with positive feedback it's hoped that they'll add more vegetarian options to a menu that is woefully in need of a karmic tune-up. The first two inductees are an Indian curry (tentatively priced at JY680) and annin-dofu (price not yet decided), which is a Chinese almond jelly dessert. (Since almost all desserts are already vegetarian this choice is a bit perplexing; on the other hand, I guess it is vegan.)

Not the boldest of beginnings perhaps, but Skylark will also commence selling vegetarian food and meals on the Web at Here you can order (the site is mainly in Japanese with some English thrown in) "helthy gifts" such as a non-alcoholic herb drink or Sofa "ham" (pictured above), or even order meals online.

Now I just hope more of Tokyo's stores and restaurants take note: What busy urban working people need a lot more of is virtual grocery stores; food we can order online and find it ready and waiting when we've struggled through our nasty commutes. Keep it coming. Zenya Marley

Gusto Family Restaurants can be found all over Tokyo; for the location nearest you email

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