Offering cheap, filling staples like curry rice and bowls of noodles, the company shokudo (canteen) in Japan is not generally a place that has foodies waxing lyrical. But ever since Marunouchi Tanita Shokudo opened for business in January and started attracting press for its healthy nutritious meals, there’s been an increasing interest taken in what’s on offer at the company shokudo.
Offering the same dishes as served at Tanita’s cafeteria, Marunouchi Tanita Shokudo serves a low-calorie but tasty menu. The restaurant was opened in response to the success of a recipe book of company canteen dishes published last year. Tanita manufactures bathroom scales and other health devices and is able to use the restaurant as a showroom for its products to health-conscious customers. Visitors to the restaurant can get free dietary advice from nutritionists.
The success of Marunouchi Tanita Shokudo has sparked media interest in the humble company shokudo and a recent set of tours offered by LUXA, a website that sells luxury experience coupons, has allowed a select few members of the public and press to take a sneak peek inside some rather upscale company cafeterias. Recent tours of the canteens of Microsoft and cosmetics manufacturer Pola have shown that these companies are putting on a spread beyond the usual cheap and filling fare.
Microsoft, featured in Tokyo Bargain Mania, has the One Microsoft Cafe on the 19th floor of their new offices in Shinagawa. With its splendid view, the upscale space resembles a luxurious hotel lounge more than a dining hall. The menu is rather sophisticated too offering dishes like “chicken fried in basil with tomato paprika sauce” or “cream cheese mince cutlet.” Despite the swankiness, the prices are extremely reasonable with a main meal and side dish going for around just ¥680. After meals staff can lounge in sofas nearby to enjoy a coffee or a chat.
The latest tour held was at cosmetics company Pola in Gotanda and was featured on J-Cast. Though Pola’s cafeteria predictably serves items such as curry rice, each item is made to be rich in dietary fiber and potassium. The cafeteria also has a unique anti-aging menu on offer every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month that includes dishes such as “clams, bamboo shoots and rice with mackerel sauce” and “tea jelly.”
Dishes containing collagen are purported to be good for the skin and have been popular for several years, so we’re wondering whether the folks at Pola might not be considering publishing a shokudo book of their own, filled with anti-ageing recipes. We’re also keen to see whether other company shokudo will follow their example.