Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Soup Stock Tokyo

Tokyo is reputed to be one of the most expensive cities in the world. I don't usually notice that it is, apart from the appalling exchange rate (about 82 yen to the dollar) and the occasional melon worth its weight in gold. Fruit boutiques, though, seem to belong to that planet also occupied by Louis Vuitton and Porche, where stratospheric prices are justified by the product's status and craftsmanship. Could a humble cup of soup ever aspire to be part of that world?
Well, I'm not saying 610 yen for 250 milliliters of vegetable soup is quite in the same category as a thousand-dollar wallet... but if I thought I could get away with a soup cafe that charged that kind of price in the US, I'd be opening one tomorrow. Soup Stock Tokyo serves nothing but soup, rice, bread, and Japanese-style curry, and the cheapest item on the menu is this "R" for regular sized cup of soup, on its own. Add bread or rice to make a lunch set, and the price goes up to 760 yen. You can also choose two soups in an even smaller size, plus rice, to make a 900 yen set. Considering that soup, rice, and bread are some of the cheapest things to make (soup kitchens, anyone?) this seems like highway robbery. Yet the shop is always crowded and today, an admittedly soup-friendly cold and rainy one, there was a line out the door.
One reason for its popularity might be that it's a healthy alternative for people who eat out every day; each type of soup has its calorie content clearly posted and none of them is terribly high. The paper cups actually have a mark on the inside showing the level to which they're to be filled, so you know you aren't exceeding the small serving size. There's a variety of soup flavors, as shown on the website, and the selection changes daily so even if you ate here every day you wouldn't get bored. I chose the vegetarian minestrone, and it was served with a few fresh basil leaves sprinkled on top. The soup was full of chunky pieces of bell pepper and onion, and had a smooth texture that might have come from some kind of added carbohydrate, though there were none of the usual minestrone suspects of noodles or whole beans. With a piece of my homemade bread, it was a light but tasty lunch - though I still don't think the price is justified.
Soup Stock Tokyo
Locations around the Tokyo area

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