I was never a big cheese addict. I mean, I enjoyed pizza and nachos and tacos like most Americans, but when I found out how dairy/veal cows were treated (21-sec video with moderately graphic content), and also about the undeniable link between dairy and cancer (thankfully this is quickly becoming common knowledge) it was a no-brainer to say "no" to dairy-based cheese forever.
But if I had easy access to the sublime vegan cheeses I had at the 100% vegan Choice Café and Restaurant in Kyoto, it is totally possible that I could become a vegan cheese addict.
The soft cheeses were rich and very smooth. The harder cheeses were substantial and slice-able yet still creamy. The bite on each of the cheeses varied from a gentle tang to bold sharpness. The menu explains that the staff received intensive training from vegan chef extraordinaire Miyoko Schinner, author of the Artisan Vegan Cheese cookbook. (Miyoko Schinner, I was happy to hear, is opening an artisan vegan cheese shop and manufacturing facility, Miyoko's Kitchen, in Fairfax, California, USA any day now!)
I don't want the vegan cheeses to overshadow the other food we had at Choice...it was all pretty remarkable.
Choice Restaurant has an open kitchen where you can watch the amazing chefs at work. They also offer for sale a number of vegan food products, including cookies (yes, I always notice the cookies).
They had a pretty brisk take-out business while we were enjoying our dinner. People would come in, place their order at the cash register at the front, then wait in a seating area stocked with lots of vegan, vegetarian, and health-based books, magazines, and comic books. I even spotted an English version of T. Colin Campbell's groundbreaking book on the link between diet and health, The China Study, on the shelf.
Choice Café and Restaurant is located at 89-1 Ohashi-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Japan. It is currently open from 10:30am to 9pm Monday through Saturday, and from 10:30am to 6pm on Sunday. It's on a big, bustling street in Kyoto, about a block east of the Kamo(gawa) River. The special 6-course lunch and dinner menus require a 1-day advance reservation (Tel 075-762-1233), although on the day we went, the chefs were kind enough to let us order it without having made one.
For links to more restaurant reviews from our July 2014 trip, please see our post "The Vegan Community in Japan is Alive and Well!".
Thanks for reading. Peace and love to all who live.