Shoku-Ishinho: Healing cuisine for body and soul

Shoku-Ishinho: Healing cuisine for body and soul

Shoku-Ishinho is an impressive, weighty name for a restaurant, especially one that at first glance looks little more than a simple, modern Ginza teishoku (set meal) lunch counter. Translating literally as “Food Healing,” it is more than just a moniker: It’s a manifesto, a declaration of intent.

It is also a way of telling you before you even arrive that Shoku-Ishinho serves yakuzen cuisine, a traditional approach to cooking that incorporates elements of kanpō, the ancient Chinese system of herbal medicine. It also draws on the principles of yin yang and the Theory of Five Elements, which are explained (although only in Japanese) on a slip of paper you receive along with the menu.

That said, the aesthetic of the dining room is entirely contemporary, from the casual counter seating and light-wood interior to the style in which the food is presented. Few of those coming here to eat will be concerned with the arcane philosophy of the past. What is likely to be of uppermost importance is that the food is light, presented with care and — most pertinent in the current moment — intended to promote health, develop strength and prime the immune system.

At lunchtime, two different menus are offered, one based around genmai-gayu (brown rice porridge), the other featuring a Chinese style of hot pot dubbed yakuzen dashi. Each offers a number of choices, according to the ingredients and desired effect on your metabolism. These range from simple plant-based dishes to relax and clear your mind — though none are listed as vegetarian — to the more energy-boosting properties of chicken and suppon turtle.

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