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Friday, October 07, 2005

Medicine Eatstation: Restaurant Review CLOSED

Medicine. Does that sound like a restaurant? I didn't think so. But then I had a chance to eat there and experience what "new-Shojin" style eating is all about. It's a cuisine grounded in Zen Buddhism. The food is vegan and excludes even onions and garlic. Why? Because this is food to support spiritual enlightenment. It is not meant to excite the palate or stimulate the senses. If you can accept that as the premise behind the cuisine, you have a better chance of appreciating it as I did when I got a chance to try it at an event a week ago. I shared a meal with Joy so check out her review over at Confessions of a Restaurant Whore. Incidentally she seems to remember the meal in much better detail than I do.

The name of the restaurant is actually Medicine Eatstation. It is located in the midst of the downtown financial district, an oasis of calm for the harried. Located up on the second floor of the Crocker Galleria, it has a slightly ethereal quality. It is simple, modern yet chic at the same time. The main dining room consists of communal tables set in rows with large picture windows overlooking the street and a plasma screen with a pastoral scene from Japan undulating before you.

So what about the food? Well, I can't say I loved all of it. But some dishes were terrific. One of the specialties of this cuisine is Sesame Tofu. I love the nutty flavor of sesame seeds and this has a mellowness and soft texture that was comforting and delicious. The Mountain Monk Salad was outstanding, it had nuts and exotic greens, tomatoes, grapes and sprouts. I would order it again in a minute. The nine-grain Soboro a grain dish of amaranth, couscous, spelt, forbidden black rice, Himalayan red rice, wheat berry, quinoa, teff and golden flax seeds with ginger tofu and green beans was one of my favorite dishes. It was light yet hardy and satisfying.

On the flip side I don't like natto, a very strong flavored Japanese fermented soybean product so the tempura fried shiso leaves filled with the stuff left me cold. The miso soup had a very sweet flavor that tasted wrong to me. Finally the sushi was just too bland.

In general the food is light, mild, and soulful, prepared and served with a philosophy of "maitri" (pronounced may-tree) which means loving kindness. Who would enjoy this type of meal? Anyone who is trying to pay attention to their diet and be more healthy--physically or spiritually. Someone training for a marathon, getting over an illness or ending a fast would appreciate this type of food. Also it's a great place to take those who are interested in Japanese culture or Zen Buddhism. While the cuisine does not traditionally include alcohol, the restaurant has a great selection of sake.

Medicine Eatstation CLOSED
161 Sutter St
San Francisco
Mon-Fri lunch 11:30 - 2
Teas & Dessert 2 - 5
Dinner 5 - 8:30
Sat 11:30 - 4