This vegan restaurant in Ginza is a culinary gem. Any vegetarian will attest that it is by no means a challenge to find a delightful vegetarian meal in Tokyo, much less a vegan one. Look back nearly a decade ago, when there were slim pickings for practicing vegans, coupled with a lack of appreciation for vegan cuisine.Yet that was when Ain Soph founder, Yuki Shirai, decided she would start a vegan restaurant in Ginza –Tokyo’s most fashionable district, no less.
Yuki was first introduced to vegan cuisine when she visited Canada as an exchange student. She recalls being both fascinated and inspired by vegan cuisine. It was only years later that she was emboldened by those memories to found Ain Soph.Armed with a few vegan recipes from her Canadian host mother and zero restaurant experience, there was little to suggest that Ain Soph, this premiervegan restaurant in Ginza, would have the fan base of vegans and non-vegans that it does today.
It is clear to see why people keep coming back to Ain Soph. The warm smiles that greet only make the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen all the more inviting. Yuki encourages input from everyone on the team; she believes this to be the best way to ensure they can provide customers with the best experience possible. The sincerity and attitude of thoughtfulness that Yuki insists on is reflected in her choice of team, the service experience, the décor and most of all, the menu. This delivery of inspired mindfulness comes from the Japanese term “omotenashi” おもてなし. Often described as Japanese hospitality and service, your Japanese friends will protest that it is much more than that — and you will be inclined to agree after a visit. At the centre of the spirit of omotenashi is the art of preparing Matcha tea – something taken seriously and sincerely at Ain Soph. Each step of tea preparation is carried out with thoughtfulness and intent; each step contributes to the resulting flavor of the bowl of Matcha tea, enjoyed by the customer who ordered it. Yuki means for all customers of Ain Soph to experience omotenashi this way.
Ain Soph Ginza is designed with your comfort in mind. Each guest is invited to stay, and take time to be in the moment to enjoy the cuisine and the environment. The modern cement walls and use of wood in the décor articulate the design that goes into each dish at Ain Soph.
Interestingly enough, the name Ain Soph is from Hebrew, meaning infinity. Yuki wanted to create a world of infinite taste possibilities for vegans and also for introducing non-vegans to the cuisine. Although the menu offers Japanese favorites like hayashi rice, the restaurant goes beyond to showcase a range of vegan delights with international flavors. The Kisho Bako dinner set is a visual surprise: the cover conceals a wooden box with a grid of nine compartments, each containing a delicate construct of a vegan delight from a part of the world. Using only the seasonal best, each of the nine mini dishes contrast and complement each other, providing you with a taste experience to savour.
For lunch, the Fukurokuju Bento lunch set comes recommended as a way to experience Ain Soph’s vegan culinary ingenuity. The seasonal soup and salad pave the way for a sampling of three hot dishes served with organic brown rice. Leave room for one of Ain Soph’s vegan desserts – we assure you there will be no regrets.
It may be a little known fact that most vegan restaurants commonly incorporate tofu into their main dishes, desserts, and even baked goods. With commitment to providing a memorable taste experience for vegans and non-vegans alike, Ain Soph has limited their use of tofu and stretched their creativity using less-than-common ingredients. Vegan cheese for example is used in their matcha cheesecake to uphold the integrity of what a cheesecake is expected to be. The end result is an elegant matcha dessert that is creamy enough without the disappointing aftertaste of tofu tends. It certainly does not hurt that a high-quality matcha powder is used for this delightful creation. Baked daily on site and not available for take-out, the matcha cheesecake easily takes center stage over afternoon tea or provides a satisfying finish to your meal.
Available for take-out are an extensive variety of cookies and puddings that leave you spoilt for choice. All vegan with some gluten free options, crowd pleasers like the tiramisu in a jar are in close competition with the chocolate chip biscotti and Ain Soph’s home made granola. A Ginza-only favorite are the Raisin Sandwich cookies – vegan cheese with plump organic raisins sitting between two slices of crispy cookies. Baked daily on-site, these go quite quickly, so we advise you to call ahead to place an order if you do not want to be disappointed. A good complement to the sweets is Ain Soph’s very own blend of two fruit teas that use a combination of premium dried fruit, select herbs and flowers that delivers a slew of healthful benefits.
Located around the corner from Kabukiza Theatre, Ain Soph is a street away from the main bustle of Ginza just minutes from the Higashi Ginza station. We recommend making a reservation if possible. There is also a tatami room available for private events.
Ain Soph Vegan Restaurant Ginza is the first of 3 other restaurants in the group serving up delicious vegan cuisine: Ripple is the vegan burger joint that promises nothing more than good burgers and fries; Journey is the perfect hideout from the bustle of Shinjuku; and perfect for families is Soar,in the neighborhood of Ikebukuro. Also part of the group are the Trueberry cold pressed juice bars in Hiroo, Omotesando and Naka Meguro. Don’t forget to ask about the Ain Soph point card when you visit any of these outlets to enjoy members-only privileges.