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July 2004
Issue 050

Special 50th Issue!


Bean There, Done That

Continuing with our theme of classy nights out, Beans Café Soya offers a unique dining experience in Horie.

Soya is not easy to miss. The façade is imposing, and is a beacon for those looking for elegant dining. Just off Nagahori, a short walk down from Yotsubashi, Beans is another fine example of the stylish establishments that are popping up in the area.

As the name suggests, there is a theme present in Soya. The majority of the dishes use beans in some form or another, mostly but not exclusively soy. For those not enamored with pulses, there are other options, but that would beg the question of why you would be going there. The menu is clever, utilizing the ingredients in imaginative ways to produce some tasty dishes on an Italian theme.

Your first taste of the impending bean-fest comes in the pre-appetizer stage. As with many restaurants in Japan, diners are first given a small appetizer, unasked-for. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is due to the generosity of the management, as you will find it on your bill at the end. At Beans, we were offered selection of hors-d’oeurves to whet the appetite, with small servings of chili beans, a square of omelette and some bean pate. We were also given a small glass of ume-shu, an aperitif designed to cleanse one’s palette. Quite delicious, but, in what was to sadly become somewhat thematic, a little insubstantial in terms of size.

The appetizers fared slightly better, with some fresh spring-rolls (¥680) and some chick-pea croquettes (also ¥680) on offer. The skin of the spring rolls was made with (funnily enough) soy milk, and the croquette balls were quite delicious, tender falafel. The main courses were fairly tasty, especially the fresh pasta with lentils and sausage, but fairly inadequate in terms of size, given the cost (¥1,250). The roast duck with mashed potatoes, served with a balsamic vinegar and red-wine sauce was also fairly small and did not really live up to expectations. Dessert was another question however, very reasonably priced at ¥480, a firm soy milk blancmange with raspberries and cranberries.

The restaurant, which has been running for around two years, is aesthetically pleasing, located as it is in an old warehouse, previously used for storing wood. The ceiling in high, and the white interior and clever lighting make it extraordinarily spacious. There are two balconies overlooking the main floor, which houses the open kitchen, allowing diners to see what exactly goes into the preparation of their meals. The staff are friendly and attentive, and the management are always concerned about your dining experience. One group, celebrating a birthday, got the full nine yards, with a cake presented by the staff and cheered by the patrons.

Soya has been by all accounts a success, to the point where they feel justified in imposing some strange and fairly strict rules on their customers. During busy periods, groups are limited to two hours. Enough time, surely, to eat your fill but something that may hang over your head should you be looking for a leisurely experience. Last orders must be placed within ninety minutes, and there is a minimum number of dishes to be ordered. Such strictures do impede somewhat with the atmosphere, which would otherwise be relaxed and comfortable, with some chilled-out jazz accompanying your meal.

SOYA
1-9-3 Kitahorie, Nishi-ku,
Osaka 550-0014
Nearest Station: Subway Yotsubashi, Yotsubashi Line, Exit #4
Open: Everyday except Tuesday
Week days: 12:00-23:00 (last order 22:00)
Weekend and holidays: 12:00-24:00 (last order 23:00)
Tel: 06-6110-1460
www.soya.ne.jp

Text & Photos: Euan Mckirdy

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