Daikanyama’s Mottainai Farm Radice Tackles Japan’s Food Waste

By Alexandra Hongo
February 12, 2016
Food & Drink

[THIS RESTAURANT CLOSED] Japan is often admired for its exquisite presentation of food, which is achieved with a notoriously meticulous perfectionism and style. Whether it’s sushi, sweets, fruit, or even just a salad, the look is every bit as important as the taste. “Japanese people eat with their eyes,” the saying goes. On the flip side, however, lies a darker reality: food that isn’t deemed the perfect size, shape or color lands in the dump. But one cafe in Daikanyama is trying to change this.

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Japan’s annual food waste amounts to as much as 18 million tons, five to eight million of which is edible food discarded for reasons as simple as it visually didn’t live up to the standard. That amount is about equivalent to—or even more than—the total amount of annual global food aid, according to the most recent statistics from the World Food Program.

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One café in Tokyo tackling this issue is Mottainai Farm Radice in Daikanyama, an area known for its posh and artistic vibe. The name of the restaurant derives from its aspiration to curb Japan’s mottainai (wasteful) behavior. A cafe during the day and a bar and restaurant at night, Radice offers a variety of healthy cuisine options using vegetables, in addition to savory meat and other specialties. It partners with local farmers who sell produce that wouldn’t pass large retailers’ tests because they are blemished, misshapen or differently sized than what is considered “normal.”

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Radice then transforms these into a delicious lineup of meals and drinks, including the healthy “fusuma” toast (¥500), which consists of four bruschetta topped with avocado and shrimp and tuna and tomato; the crispy “big nakakiage” (¥800), tempura-style fried vegetables; and the fresh “capo” juice (¥500) served at dinnertime as an amuse-bouche in a choice of five purpose-targeted flavors: beauty, reset, constipation, detox and hangover (also available for takeout in two sizes). Other dishes on the menu include cheese fondue (¥1,280) served with bites of fresh vegetables, meat and shrimp, and the mildly sweet avocado tiramisu (¥700).

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Those who visit after 5 p.m. can browse an impressive selection of wines, champagne and other spirits when Radice turns into a cool, casual bar. Those leaving earlier can still browse a small market area that features everything from veggies to nuts and wine.

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You’ll be surprised at how good those cast off veggies and fruits taste when your conscience gets in on the feast, and you’ll wonder why anyone would consider tossing them aside. To visit, take the Tokyu Toyoko line to Daikanyama station and leave from the north exit. Walk the bridge, turn left midway and turn left again after descending the stairs. Then simply enjoy the cuisine and your contribution to a less wasteful Japan.

The Deets

Address: Joware Daikanyama, 2-21-1 Ebisu Nishi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Tel: 03-6452-5531

Open: Mon–Fri, 9 a.m.–11 p.m.; Sat, Sun & hols, 7 a.m.–11 p.m.

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