Free lunch? Coming right up

September 30th, 2010 by Sandra Barron


Dashi for the taking

Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch?

Dashi Cafe will open in Yurakucho on Oct. 1 serving free miso soup and onigiri. What’s the catch? Nothing, as far as we can tell, except maybe a little MSG. The place is sponsored by spice manufacturer Ajinomoto, whose flagship product is the flavor enhancer (and Japanese kitchen staple) MSG. They say they are working in cooperation with agricultural and fishing associations to assure high-quality domestic ingredients. The cafe is intended  to create a relaxing environment where women can enjoy all-you-can-eat helpings of miso soup and Japanese broth (rice balls are one to a customer) and relax a bit during the work day.

Tokyo Walker reported that the purpose of Dashi Cafe is to rekindle Japanese women’s interest in cooking these traditional foods. To that end, it will be women-only during hours when nearby office workers might sneak out for a quick bowl of soup, between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and then open to all until from 3 until it closes at 7 p.m.

This is one in a series of unconventional projects by Ajinomoto designed to get women excited about cooking. You’ll recall their gyaru cooking keitai site for making cooking cuter and more fun.

This isn’t the first free cafe that’s popped up in the Ginza area. Harimaya Station opened about a year ago as a free cafe that showcased the company’s rice crackers. Shoppers could have a cup of tea or coffee and try one of each of several varieties of crackers for free, but it has since started charging ¥200 per drink. So if soup is your thing, check out Dashi Cafe before they change their minds.

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