(Class bell rings) Good morning class it is great to see you all! If you haven’t noticed, Spring is here and the cherry blossoms are out! Everyone is outside enjoying the beautiful weather and having picnics under the cherry blossom trees, many beautiful sites to see during this season in Kyoto. We all needed Spring to come with all the troubles going on lately around the world. But, to get back on topic, today`s adventure is not lacking in taste or in philosophy, this place is abundant in both. Let`s get focused and find out more about this place called Padma.
If you look under Padma in the picture above, you can see it says Zen food. Zen is definitely intertwined with conversations of vegan food, but this store is sending the message that the Zen philosophy is connected with the foods in this restaurant. If you are still wondering what Padma means, in Nepalese it means the lotus flower. The lotus flower is a huge symbol in eastern philosophy representing enlightenment and purity. So, touching back on Zen, the picture is looking clear to me that the owner of this shop is heavily influenced by Buddhism.
Walked into the restaurant and I was right on the money. Being really interested in Buddhism myself, it was really easy to tell the owner was really interested in Buddhism as well by the layout of the restaurant. The store`s layout had very earthy toned colors, tons of wood furnishings, and a bunch of old little trinkets.
I came very early so I could talk to the owner of the shop. She came up and greeted me with a warm hello and allowed me to choose where I wanted to sit, so you know I took full advantage of this opportunity. Take a look at where I sat!
Again, let me just highlight, its cherry blossom season, its warm outside, and I could tell I was about to eat some finger licking good food. The view was amazing, the shop is on the second floor and being seating right next to the window you get a great view of the river nearby and the cherry blossoms.
Looking at the details of the cup and the plate, everything in the store stayed true to that Zen- like atmosphere. I was able to talk to the owner for a bit and find out more about her.
The owner as I said before has an interest in Buddhism, so many years ago she went to India, the origin of Buddhis, and ended up learning Yoga. As she was learning Yoga, she was learning how to cook vegetarian dishes. When she came back, and at the time she was staying in Tokyo, she was not vegan. But over time, in her spirit, she could tell that having a simpler diet can not only save her health, but save the world. When she began this journey, she started to learn about Japanese healthy diet practices like macrobiotic food as well as food the priest eat at temples. She finally decided she wanted to open up a shop, but in Tokyo she said there weren’t many people who were really interested in these concepts at the time, but she found a community who wanted to make this shop happen in Kyoto, hence we are here now.
So much more to find out about the owner, but she had to prepare my food and get ready for the lunch rush. I decided to take a deeper look around the store and see what other interesting things I could find.
She is selling some really cool products here. She has some coconut-based products, as well as charcoal which is great way for taking out toxins, and she is selling homemade soap.
She had tons of books and music; she even had a dj booth. Another thing that added to the great atmosphere was the music, it was so fitting to the environment, it just adds to the whole experience.
Then as I sat down, she had brought me my lunch, and oh my god I was blown away.
Tons and tons of different foods, with different flavors. The owner says when it comes to her food, she wants to use all organic ingredients as well as what ingredients she uses in her recipes. For example, she likes to use the fruits and vegetables that are in season. In the spring time, broccoli is in season so she cooked up this great fried broccoli which they call tempura in Japanese. There was a gluten-based meat, a vegetable soup, dumplings, brown rice, eggplants drizzled in soy sauce, daikon drenched in a tomato paste and seasonings, spring rolls, and shredded carrots with a dressing mixed in. What stood out for me was the spices in the foods. She creates new tastes with familiar foods we`ve eaten before. She said she likes to make people guess what seasonings she adds to her food to make it more exciting for the customer.
And just like that, the food disappeared. What a great meal, I really enjoyed everything, but especially the dumplings, I never tasted such flavors.
Last but definitely not least, the owner gave me her in season strawberry cheesecake with vanilla ice cream on top. It tasted so much like a non-vegan cheesecake I was highly impressed by the taste. And that concludes my adventure at Padma.
Don`t think I forgot guys, even though I didn’t order off the menu I did take a look at the other delicious options they had. I came at lunchtime but there are a lot of different options especially at dinner. Also, if you like to have your meal with some alcohol they have a variety of options which I am sure will satisfy you.
LESSON WRAP UP
Padma was really an experience. The food, the atmosphere, and the owner really all fit together and make the experience very unique. Talking to the owner I asked what was her hope for her store in the near future, and she said she wants to keep spreading peace through her food. I was so taken back by her genuine response. While she was telling me about her journey to bringing her store to life, she said there were many obstacles on the road to completion but overall her experiences were great. It really touched home for me because even though she is doing her passion, nothing is perfect, but she is happy. This is a huge principle of Zen which is just being in the moment, because even though you may run into some rough patches, you always have something to be grateful for in this present moment.
(Class bell rings)
Looking for delicious foods that are made up of no animal products?
You have come to the right place! I am here to help you on your journey while you are here in Japan. I am here to tell you being plant-based in this beautiful country is possible! I, Zane Johnson will be your “sensei”, (Which means teacher in Japanese) who will guide you to the most delicious plant-based spots Kyoto has to offer.
Just to give you some background information on what I can bring to the table, I have been plant based for over a year now, but I have been on and off the plant-based diet for over 7 years! I look forward to seeing you guys in class!
Without further due, class is in SESSION!