There's no doubt that you've found a 100% vegan restaurant when you first spot Casa de Comidas La Paprica, also known as Paprika Shokudo, in downtown Osaka, Japan. The word "Vegan" in English script is prominently featured on their main sign on the building, and another sign proudly stating "Vegan For Life" stands outside the front entrance.
A friendly man greeted us outside and showed us a cute wrought iron stand where we left our very wet umbrellas. We then entered a very warmly lit and charming cafe. It was filled with wooden tables and chairs, and there were colorful throw pillows along the wooden bench seating.
After we received their English menu (yay!) and placed our order, a woman came out with a beautiful tray with a dozen tiny bowls filled with various items, and asked us to select one each. I chose a chilled potato salad (they make their own vegan mayonnaise in-house out of soy milk, canola oil, and vinegar!) and and Ryan selected the pickled cucumbers...this complimentary amuse-bouche was an unexpected and lovely way to start our meal. This was followed by the Chef's Assorted Appetizer Set, which was visually appealing as well as tasty.
The Soy Milk Mochi Cheese Margherita Pizza had one of the most interesting takes on vegan cheese I've seen to date. Mochi is traditionally served as a dessert item, but the stretchy and chewy texture of it is actually similar to cow's milk cheese. The soy milk mochi cheese is made in-house from their own original recipe. The flavorful tomatoes, fresh basil, and other herbs made this quite a delightful pizza.
The Soy Meat Karaage Dinner Set came with a generous portion of crispy battered marinated soy meat drizzled with two kinds of sauces, a fresh green salad (with different colored carrots cut out in the shape of butterflies), steamed veggies, miso soup, and brown rice. It was delicious, and very filling.
As we were enjoying our dinner, both of our eyes kept falling on the little wooden treasure chest that was on our table. When we opened it, we saw a mysterious mahogany-colored stone sitting inside. We had no idea what it was or why it was there. Finally, Ryan's curiosity got the best of him, so he picked up the chest and started examining it more closely.
Then all of a sudden, a woman prepping in the open kitchen literally dropped what she was doing and rushed over to our table. She smiled and looked expectantly at each of us, first at me, then at Ryan, then at me again. The two of us were just sitting there looking at her, then each other, wondering what was going on. Then it hit us...the stone was a remote buzzer, and Ryan had accidentally pressed it and called for service. Since Ryan was still holding the little treasure chest in front of him with both hands, I took it from him and put it back on the table and shut the lid. We started waving our hands in the air, saying "gomenasai, gomenasai (sorry, sorry), we didn't know what that thing was, we didn't mean to call you over here!" She realized we were clueless and starting chuckling along with the two other people in the kitchen. We noticed two small children at a nearby table giggling uncontrollably at the commotion as their parents tried to shush them, so we smiled and waved at them.
To finish, we got the Assorted Three Dessert Plate. It actually came with four desserts (woohoo!)...a cheesecake, a brownie, a fruit pie, and green tea ice cream with lots of fruit garnishes...yummy!
The bathroom was thoughtfully furnished and super cute like the rest of the restaurant, so I had to snap a pic.
Paprika Shokudo is currently open daily from 11:30 to 3pm (last order 2pm) and from 5:30pm to midnight (last order 11pm), but closed on some holidays. They are located in downtown Osaka at 1F Alivio Shinmachi Bldg, 1-9-9 Shinmachi, Nishi-ku, Osaka, Japan, a three-minute walk from Exit No. 2 of the Yotsubashi subway station. They also have a Facebook page where they post lots of gorgeous photos of their food.
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.