(Class bell rings) Welcome back to Vegan Discoveries class! Today we are going to discuss some core values, which are imbedded in many cultures around the world. Culture is what sets one group of people from another group of people apart. With many cultures’ goal to continue in the realm of time, they all contain similar values that help to shape our world today. With out further adieu, let me tell you about this amazing adventure I went on where I had a really eye opening experience! Let’s begin my adventure in PETTiROSSO!
On my way to PETTiROSSO, it was a very rainy day. (Might I add, when it rains in Kyoto, it really looks cool with the traditional buildings.) When I walked in, I was greeted by a lovely smell of spices, and walls full of art and wine bottles. The lights were low,giving the place a very relaxed but classy vibe. Very different from the other restaurants I have visited, and with the rain that day, it just felt like the perfect atmosphere for that moment.
I was then greeted by the traditional welcoming greeting when you enter a store in Japan. But, to my surprise it was not from a Japanese man, it was from a foreigner. When I talked to the man on the phone, which is the owner Marco, he totally sounded like a Japanese native. (We talked in Japanese on the phone.)
Once I snapped out of the daze, I greeted him back and told him I was on the phone with him coming to discover what delicious foods he has to offer at his restaurant.
He politely lead me to a very comfortable seating area which is actually one of my favorite places to sit at when I eat.
Where do I like to sit when I go out to restaurants?
A. A window seat B. On tatami C. By the bathroom
THE ANSWER IS:
If you said on tatami, you guessed right! I love being closer to the ground with the Japanese aesthetic of the tatami. If you chose the by the bathroom, you fail! (Just kidding, but seriously?)
As you can see the walls are still filled with art and wine bottles, and even though you can’t see it in the pictures, relaxing music was also playing in the background. I really enjoyed the music he was playing, plus the various abundant smells of good food, all my senses were in a frenzy.
They have many great options available as well as English to make your eating experience more enjoyable. Everything sounded too good, so I asked Marco to give me what he recommends. To get a little bit of everything, he recommended the dinner set which comes with a soup, 4 kinds of sides and a main dish. I’ll tell you now if you want the best experience at PETTiROSSO, being that there are so many different options available, I would also recommend trying a little bit of everything rather than just a lot of one. The good thing about PETTiROSSO is that they also cater to vegetarians as well as people who would like to eat fish. The fish is fresh and caught by local fishermen in Kyoto.
For those of you who are a fan of drinking as well, Marco also used to work at a winery, so all their wine is chosen specifically to match the food and to give you the best taste for your buck. CHEERS!
NOW ON TO THE FOOD!
I was first served a super, duper delicious soup. The soup was purple with a creamy base and filled with vegetables and croutons. The taste was so rich with plenty of spice; I was taken back by how good it was. I didn’t doubt how good it was going to be, but the flavor was just amazing. I was really excited for the main dish if the soup was this good!
Next came the sides, which was their homemade bread, burdock root with enoki mushrooms, quinoa tomato salad, mustard spinach with eggplant, potato salad, and a green salad. Everything had its own unique flavor and really hit the spot. My favorite out of all the dishes was the BREAD! I was in shock how good the bread was! It was crispy and flaky and tasted so good when you pair it with the green salad. I had to take a picture of my face to try to articulate how good it really was!
Yea, that good! Let’s take a closer look at the other sides!
After I left no evidence on my plate, and I thought I had just eaten all the delicious food I could eat, Marco then brings out my main dish!
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS, I PRESENT TO YOU:
VEGAN BROCCOLI AND ALMOND LASAGNA!
My jaw dropped from the beautiful flaky crust of the lasagna.
I had no doubt in my mind this was going to be a treat. Pictures are worth a 1000 words, I can show you better than I can tell you!
Once again, I left no survivors at this veggie massacre! Once I start, I can’t stop!
After I ate that delicious meal and I became sane again, I started looking at the menu, at the atmosphere of the store and the accent Marco had, and I began to realize where Marco was from!
Where is Marco from?
THE ANSWER IS:
If you guessed right, great job! Marco was born and raised in Italy. By the atmosphere of the restaurant, the food on the menu, the wine, and the plates used to serve the food, it was easy to guess the restaurant was a mix of Japanese and Italian culture. The interesting thing also about this is that Marco is married to a Japanese woman named Ayako, and she is the chef. I will get back to their story in a minute. But, it is a tradition for me now (I called it) to have a dessert to match the delicious food I eat for Vegan Discoveries. PETTiROSSO has many options for their desserts, so I was unsure what to pick at first, but I went with my gut, not my brain, and I ordered the:
VEGAN CARROT CAKE
It was very soft and decadent.
If you felt like jazzing things up you can add the strawberry jelly to the cake.
After I finished eating, Marco invited me downstairs to ask him some questions while he was preparing meals for the other customers.
Marco and his wife Ayako are a very interesting couple. As I said before, Marco is from Italy, and his wife is Japanese, and their restaurant is clearly mixed with both cultures. It was really amazing to see the mix of both cultures in such balance because I am American, and my wife is Japanese, so it was great to see another couple of different cultures doing so well. The restaurant is not located on a main street, but on a side street that contains a lot of traditional style houses and the restaurant itself is actually a traditional house as well. Some of the utensils and plates also had a Japanese feel to it. Then on the other hand, the look of the place had a more Italian feel to it with the limited seating giving it a more homey feeling, the décor, and the food on the menu were influenced by the Italian culture. Talking to Marco, I found out him and his wife met in Italy where she was studying to be a chef, and since they both had a passion for food, they traveled all around and tried many different foods. With this experience, it helped them to create their menu. Also all of their vegetables and fish are all from Kyoto and in season, which is another aesthetic influenced by the culture of both Italy and Japan. Depending on the season their menu will change as well, so no matter what season you come, their will always be something new to try.
But what I respect most about these two is that they are the only two who run the restaurant! They have no outside help, and open everyday besides Monday. You have to wonder how can just two people pull this off? This is their passion, what they love to do! Because their hearts are in it, giving customers great food, they have become quite popular among foreigners and natives to Kyoto, but they are not at all about the fame. This passion and meaning they apply to their restaurant has definitely come from the influence of their cultures. As you may know, Italy is known for it’s fine dining and through out their history they produced many top-notch artists. Japan as well has a hand into creating their products with precision, and being mindful of peoples’ feelings they come in contact with. Put these two powerhouse cultures together, and BAM you get a great creation like PETTiROSSO. The last question I asked Marco was, “ Where do you see this going in five years?” He said he wanted to move out to the countryside, start a farm and run the restaurant from out there in a more relaxed environment. I could only sit their in deep respect to Marco and his wife because they are just doing things they love, no matter how difficult it may be, they are moving from a place of love.
LESSON WRAP UP
PETTiROSSO is a great place with a great relaxing environment, amazing food and hard working people. I highly recommend for you to go there because Ayako is a professional chef and the mix of Japanese and Italian flavors is definitely something to try! (My mouth is watering right now thinking about it.) They want people to enjoy their meals, but also to respect their space of creating. Because they only have two people working there, it is harder for them to cater to bigger groups of people. If you decide to go, give them a heads up so they can give you an enjoyable dining experience. With all that being said class, class is DISMISSED!
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!