Tomato Garden

Tomato Garden

Get your lycopene fix at this trendy Shibuya eatery


Originally published on on November 2009


The beautifying effects of the humble tomato have been well documented over the past couple of years, but here’s a restaurant that’s decided to take the fad to its logical conclusion. When Tomato Garden opened this summer, it attracted a swarm of media coverage from the likes of Fuji TV, Tokyo Walker and The Asahi Shimbun. Why the buzz? Simple: from drinks to tapas, salads, nabe and even desserts, every item on the menu employs a healthy dose of tomato.

Though its location in the heart of Shibuya’s love hotel district might make it an awkward option for families and couples on their first date, Tomato Garden quickly puts diners at ease. The interior has a stylish gothic feel, with a large black chandelier, vivid red seats and staircase. Customers are greeted with a warm welcome from the open kitchen.

On a recent visit, we started our meal with a Bloody Mary (¥819) and fresh tomato and cranberry juice (¥714), along with the “selected tomato” of the day, which in this case was the “Agrin Fresh” variety from Nagano (¥525) and the “Sweet Pure” from Shizuoka (¥683). Both came in a stylish miniature champagne glass, and while neither held any surprises in the flavor department, they were plump and juicy.

We tried the insalata caprese (¥882) next, swiftly followed by a Cobb salad (¥924), which included avocado, blue cheese and shrimp—an excellent combination, as it turned out. The meat dishes were tempting, but we ended up plumping for the avocado, cream and fresh tomato pasta instead (¥1,239). This proved a tad richer than we would have liked, but the generous lashings of cream didn’t overwhelm the tomato—though by this point in the evening, we might not have complained if they had.


The tomato soymilk nabe turned out to be the highlight of our meal (¥1,659). Heated right on our table, the dish overflowed with slices of cabbage, salmon, chicken, mushroom and butter—and, naturally, a whole tomato occupying pride of place in the center. It was rich and creamy, but not excessively so, thanks to the freshness of the tomato and the use of soy instead of cow’s milk. As an added bonus, one of the staff came and added rice with butter in our leftovers to make a risotto once we were done (¥525 extra).

Despite feeling a bit tomatoed-out, our curiosity about the desserts ended up getting the better of us. The thought of another in-your-face tomato dish was enough to make us blanch, so we opted instead for a more subtle choice: crème bruleé with tomato flavoring (¥578). It slipped down nicely, agreeably rounding off a meal that must have given us enough lycopene to last us a month.