Does this make sense to anyone?

Vegan Healing Cafe in Shibuya

After reading the review of Shibuya’s Vegan Healing Cafe over on (I was hunting for vegan options in town using I decided I had to get myself over there and check it out. The landmarks in the map from that review made it super easy to find and I was very happy to find that the single employee spoke English when I walked in. I was more than happy to just point and smile at the items I wanted but right away the gentleman there started telling me which items on the menu were the most popular and how everything they served was 100% vegan. The menu was also in English which I thought was a great sign. I took his advice and ordered the main course that he suggested as well as an iced coffee. He wrote it down, and ran back to the kitchen. Moments later he brought my coffee and I thanked him.

I was the only customer in the restaurant at this point but it wasn’t long until some other folks showed up. A couple showed up and ordered food and drinks. They were served, and then they ordered desert and were served. I still hadn’t received my order but thought perhaps it just took a while to make my dish. That couple left and again I was the only person in the restaurant. Another employee showed up, a lady this time (perhaps the same woman mentioned in the review but I’m not sure) who went right back to the kitchen. Another couple arrived, ordered, were served and left and I still hadn’t gotten anything. I thought it was getting to the point of being really odd when I realized I’d been sitting there waiting (I was reading so wasn’t entirely aware of the time) for almost an hour. I tried to get the attention of the guy who had taken my order to no avail. And when I say I tried to get his attention, I mean I was the only person there and he kept walking right past my table and I would try to talk to him but he wouldn’t make eye contact and just kept walking. Same with the women when I moved on to trying to get her attention.

At this point I was sure something was up but didn’t know where the line was between being rude and just trying to get their attention so I didn’t get up to chase them around or anything and tried to continue being patient. More people came and ordered some stuff to go, which was prepared and given to them and still nothing headed my way. By now I’d been there for over an hour and a half so I gave up. The coffee I ordered was listed on the menu for 480 Yen so I left 600 on the table and walked out. No one followed me or even looked at me as I left. I’m totally baffled here. Does this make sense to anyone?

5 Comments so far

  1. Joi Ito (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 3:47 am

    That is REALLY strange… and rather uncommon. I have never heard of “intentionally rude” service in Japan. It sounds like the twilight zone. I’d love to hear from someone who knows this place better…

  2. Nate (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 4:47 am

    Either the man accidentally failed to tell you that his recommendation took 2 hours to prepare, or possibly his short term memory is affected by his lack of animal protein.
    Your iced coffee was probably poisoned too ^_^

  3. Martin F (unregistered) on July 17th, 2007 @ 2:17 pm

    Very strange indeed. The only thing I can think of is that he thought you only wanted the coffee. Even though you talked to him about the other dishes, and indeed ordered something, he might have thought you were just curious about the food there. Having said that I would never wait that long in case I wasn’t being served. Since the first worker spoke English, I can’t understand how such a misunderstanding could have happened, though.

    Tipping is not common in Japan, so I bet they were pretty confused too when they found your 600 yen on the table!

  4. dan (unregistered) on July 18th, 2007 @ 8:40 pm

    I’d just like to say I’ve eaten there often, and never had a similar problem. It’s actually one of the better vegan places I’ve been to in Tokyo. It is a very small scale operation though, maybe you just caught them on a bad day or there was some misunderstanding like the other commenters suggest

  5. winnie (unregistered) on July 21st, 2007 @ 1:28 pm

    it sounds strange to me as well.
    though i have been staying here for a month and a half only, the customer service in japan is probably NO.1 in the world (though they may say something at my back).

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