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Special Interview with Masako SHIMOKAWA, Owner of T’s Restaurant - Part 1

  • Ari YATES
  • April 2, 2024

Owner of T’s Restaurant
Vegan Restaurant since 2009

Vegan Meals Meant to Make Food More Inclusive

How Masako Shimokawa’s goal to spread awareness on the wellness of vegan food has created more opportunities for those with dietary restrictions.
Jiyugaoka, a charming town where visitors can meander down small lanes while browsing the many boutiques that dot the streetways. There is an endless array of cafes and restaurants to dine at, but if you look carefully, you might find some that are truly unique from the rest. T’s Restaurant is one of those.

T’s restaurant is a true diamond in the rough offering a delicious array of vegan dishes worth seeking out. Its open glass wall concept and natural wood decor presents a calming atmosphere that is accentuated by an open kitchen concept where chefs can be seen meticulously crafting fine vegan cuisine.

At pleasantly affordable prices, the menu featured a variety of colorful and delicious options. From appetizers of rich vegan cheese, and spring rolls that had an appealing crunch with every bite, to a savory and perfectly spiced sample of soy meat. Each dish was a delightful surprise. The highlight of my meal was the “Matsaman Curry”, a spiced, but not too hotly spiced, curry topped with an array of vibrant vegetables. Each vegetable complimented the curry well, and I kept coming back for more until I realized I had eaten everything on my plate! For dessert, the vegan “Crème Brulé, created a perfect match between a bitter burnt sugar coat and a sweet vanilla vegan custard. The fruits that decorated the sides were a refreshing contrast.

I had the opportunity to sit down and get to know Masako Shimokawa, who founded T’s Restaurant in 2009, with a passion to create accessible vegan food that everyone, whether vegan or not, can enjoy. Through the program “SmileVeg” she raises awareness on dietary allergies and restrictions at local schools and universities and through events run by her restaurant. “While it can be tough to create a place where people can smile, I always finds happiness when I see visitors enjoying the meals made with care at T’s Restaurant!” She enthusiastically remarks.

Her work doesn’t just end there; Masako also helped to found the T’s Tantan chain, which specializes in ramen and tantan noodle dishes located at several JR train stations in the central Tokyo and Narita Airport Terminal areas. The “SmileVeg” program is also implemented at these locations by offering dishes that contain no meat, dairy, seafood, eggs, MSG, or even alcohol products. T’s Tantan offers a specially created vegan ramen set with Yamadai Co. that is also available for international purchase.

Photos by Haruka SHIGA

The welcoming atmosphere and Masako’s dedication to the inclusive dining make T’s Restaurant a must visit next time you are in Jiyugaoka.