On our first night in Matsuyama, after we’d checked in and recovered from walking in the heat from the train station to the hotel, we decided to scope out a couple of vegetarian/vegan restaurants that Mr. Hicks had found online, for future reference.
The first one we went in search of was Vegreca. It sounded great from the write-up my husband had found, which described it as part record shop, part veggie café. We looked up the address on Google maps and marked it on our tourist map, then gamely set off into the evening. It was reasonably straightforward to find – we walked straight south from our hotel on the west of Matsuyama Castle along Imabari Highway until we reached the junction that has a Starbucks on the right. We turned left along a narrow street that had some kind of animal hospital on it called Dog Pillar MD. Vegreca is at the end of the block in a building with a Spanish style doorway. It’s opposite the train shed for the Iyotetsu railway and looks very anonymous.
We’d set off thinking that we could locate it and then head back the following day for lunch, but the lights were on and a board was out on the street, and we hadn’t eaten yet so we decided to go in.
As we walked in, there were canteen style tables in front of us, a bar to the right, and in the front of the shop were wooden boxes containing vinyl records and some CDs. We were invited by the staff to sit at a table, so we headed to a table for two at the back of the café area. Through the window, we could see the train line. A couple of trains rattled past during our meal.
The owners were really friendly, and were playing some great music, so we knew we were in the right place for us! The music was so good that we asked who the bands were, and I bought two CDs by one of the artists who was playing. The owner told me that they were playing a gig in Osaka that same week, in case we wanted to go to see them live. Unfortunately, their gig in Osaka didn’t coincide with our overnight stay there.
Vegreca serves two curries a day, which are chalked up on a board behind the bar, along with a list of side dishes and desserts. The daily curries are also posted on Vegreca’s Facebook page each day. The side dishes on our visit included chickpea falafel, spicy fried potatoes and a snowpea salad. We took one each of the chickpea curry (ひよこ豆のカレー) and the Thai green curry (グレーンカレー), which came with a warning that it was very, very spicy, plus the salad and the falafel, which were drizzled with dengaku sauce. The fafalel were amazing, especially with the sauce, and the salad was fresh and tasty with its scrummy dressing. The curries were both excellent as well, and were served with brown sticky rice. I tasted some of my husband’s green curry, and it wasn’t so hot – it had a nice prickle to it, but it didn’t remove all sensation from my mouth. Perhaps it’s a Japan-UK difference!
After our curries, we were in the mood for dessert. We both went for the cheesecake, and the owner kindly pointed out to us, with genuine concern on her face, that it wasn’t vegan. We assured her that it was okay, and then we chose the sauce we wanted on top. I went for lemon, as usual, and Mr. Hicks chose the いちご.
I love lemon cheesecake. It is my favourite dessert, and this one was up there with the best that I’ve had. The lemon was more of a marmalade than a sauce, and was very flavoursome.
We finished up with a masala chai for me and an Americano coffee for Mr. Hicks, then we chatted a little with our hosts, who had been joined by a couple of friends at the bar, before tipping out into the night.
If you find yourself in Matsuyama, I urge you to search out Vegreca. Their hours are irregular, but they post up a monthly calendar on their website and on their Facebook page. Whether you’re vegan, veggie or omni, you won’t regret going. Be prepared to spend money on more than just delicious food, though!