Fresh, Custom Salads at Crisp Salad Works, Azabu Juban
Roy Miyano is a restauranteur who knows how to give Tokyoites what they want. I've been a fan of his establishments ever since he opened the first branch of the popular burrito chain Frijoles in Azabu Juban several years ago. So when I heard that he would be opening a new custom salad place in the same neighborhood (which just happens to be my own neighborhood), I couldn't wait to try it out.
My first visit to Crisp Salad Works was on a Wednesday afternoon just two days after it officially opened. I had had a busy day, meaning lunch was delayed and I caught a lull in between the busy lunch and dinner periods. “We’re either understaffed or over-customered,” laughed Roy, who was hand washing salad bowls behind the counter when I walked in.
In many ways, Crisp resembles Frijoles, with its pared down interior design and cafeteria-style ordering system. The menu consists of six signature green salads (from classics like a chicken Caesar and a Cobb to original creations such as The Hipster and Earthy Nutty Crunchy) and two grains bowls. You can also choose to build your own salad from scratch, choosing your base, ingredients and dressing. The ingredients are fresh and prepared onsite, with lots of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available.
After placing my order, a staff member assembled all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Then, at the end of the counter, Roy stepped in, which is when the fun part happened. After dumping all of the neatly assembled ingredients onto a large cutting board, he proceeded to vigorously chop them, simultaneously mixing them together. After everything was uniformly sized, he returned it to the mixing bowl and added the dressing, making sure to evenly coat all of the vegetables and chunks of grilled chicken. The last step was placing everything in its ceramic serving bowl, ready to eat. The whole process took just a couple of minutes, making this one type of fast food I’m happy to support.
For my first Crisp Salad Works experience I chose the Red Thai (¥980), which includes romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, carrots, spicy broccoli, red cabbage, cilantro, sunflower seeds, and creamy Sriracha dressing. It was everything one would want in a salad: crisp, colorful and full of flavor. It is also excellent value for money due to the generous portion size.
On my next visit I am looking forward to trying the Guacamole Green (romaine lettuce, spinach, grilled chicken, avocado, tomato, red onion, homemade croutons, and Mexican honey vinaigrette; ¥1,080) or The Hipster (romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, feta cheese, celery, apple, raisins, walnuts, and basil onion dressing; ¥1,180). Seeing as how it’s just a couple of blocks away, I can see this becoming a regular stop on my lunch circuit.
Address: 1-10-10 Mita, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Open: Daily, 11 a.m.–10 p.m.