Q: how many calories are in the perfect lunch?
The answer, well if you’re listening to the team at Tokyo’s Tanita restaurant anyway, is around 500.
Now to fat measuring fans (?) the name Tanita might ring a bell. This restaurant is the brainchild of the weighing scales company and every day it serves two calorie-counted dishes based on the meals served in their company canteen. Now anyone who has eaten in a British canteen might not think that hugely appealing, but the Tanita canteen is legendary, it’s already had a bestselling cookbook and now, it’s branched out into making meals for the masses. And the masses like. When the restaurant opened last year the queues were out the door and when I visited there were only three tables left. The rest were full of office workers and ladies who lunch.
The basic premise is simple: you pick from one of the two meals on offer and Bob’s Your Diet Friendly Uncle. But there’s more to the venue than a tasty lunch spot. The restaurant doesn’t just aim to provide you with a healthy meal on this occasion, it aims to give you a total diet overhaul with your midday munchies. Consumers can avail themselves of egg timers to ensure their meal lasts the recommended 20 minutes for satiety. There’s a small set of weighing scales so you can weigh your serving of rice and know what a recommended 100gm portion looks like in the future – and then, in the big shiny room to the right there’s a set of people scales where the in-house nutritionist can weigh you and have a little chat about your diet per se. By the time you leave you’re fully genned up on how to eat well.
My original plan was to eat there, but a few things stopped me –
1) I got lost so by the time we got there at 2.30pm The Boyfriend was not looking like a man who wanted to eat diet food
2) There seemed to be a system which was beyond me! I encountered a nice smiley worker in a catering hat and queue of middle aged ladies waiting for something – but I couldn’t work out what the process was. However with a lot of smiling and pointing at my camera I did manage to get inside to take some snaps at least
3) I couldn’t actually see any food. According to the machine from which (I think) you order, fish seemed to be the dish of the day – but all I could see in the kitchen was a slightly anemic looking veggie mixture. And as it was also now less than 30 minutes before closing, I wasn’t sure if the egg timers might have some kind of breakdown if I tried to order, waited for someone to cook and I crammed in my meal before the doors shut.
Still I like the idea of setting yourself a calorie limit for lunch – and 500 calories is a nice amount for fullness. If I had to choose right now what I’d have for that many calories it would be…
Half a carton of Covent Garden soup (normally about 180 calories), three Ryvitas (135 calories) topped with 100gm of tuna mixed with low fat salad cream and jalapenos and a small side salad. For some reason I’m having a tuna and jalapeno craving. So, what would your choice be?
Touristy bit: The address of the Tanita restaurant is 3-1-1 Marunouchi. The website is here and you can run it through google translate and get a map. Or tap the address into google maps and go to exactly where it sends you – there’s a handy address plaque on the right hand side to check that you’re there. Do not do what I did and get it into your head that the building is called something strange and walk around for ages ignoring this handy plaque.
Go inside and to your left you’ll see a set of stairs in the middle of the lobby leading down to a food court. Just to confuse you The Tanita restaurant is not listed on this but head downstairs and when you get to the bottom do a U turn to the left and walk right to the back – you’ll see a restaurant with big glass windows ahead of you. As you get closer you’ll spot the weighing machines in the window.