A place where people can freely enjoy healthy dishes
— Describe the characteristics of S/PARK Cafe.
Taniguchi: S/PARK Cafe is being developed based on the concept of a veg-centric cafe where people can be inspired to learn more about their health, allowing them to view health through the lens of food. Veg-centric is a coined word meaning focused mainly on vegetables. We are planning to develop a location where people can consume well-balanced, delicious meals mainly featuring vegetables.
Mizuno: We are hoping to make the meal an enjoyable experience in itself by selecting not just vegetables but all kinds of seasonal ingredients that convey the feeling of that time of the year, also taking into consideration nutritional balance. The plan is to design the menu with advice from researchers and certified nutritionists at Shiseido Running Club about, for example, how to improve nutritional absorption for a meat dish by combining it with other ingredients.
— What are the differences between S/PARK Cafe and Shiseido Parlour?
Mizuno: We wanted to make it a bustling place where all kinds of people can just drop in, so that’s why we made it a casual cafe that is semi-self-service. That’s a concept we haven’t tried with Shiseido Parlour.
Mizuno: At Shiseido Parlour, we offer our guests full service. By contrast, this time, we’re adopting a semi-self-service style where our guests take their trays themselves and choose where to sit.
Taniguchi: In particular, since we are sharing facilities with the GIC lab, we want to develop menu items based on their research as well as create visually appealing dishes that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Mizuno: Also, considering the environment in Minato Mirai, I think we’ll have all kinds of guests, including parents with children and solo diners. We want to make it a place with a menu and space that can accommodate each guest’s style. For example, we’ll have a range of tables, from those that can seat large parties to those where you can sit by yourself with your laptop.
Commitment and trial and error of the cafe located within a research facility
— Tell us what your focus is and if you have any recommendations.
Taniguchi: Some may think that the taste of healthy dishes mainly featuring vegetables will only be mediocre. We are developing delicious dishes in collaboration with the chefs at Shiseido Parlour in a bid to dispel this negative idea. We are planning to beautifully portray the concept of veg-centric through food, and are also in the process of creating veg-centric sweets by working closely with the team of pastry chefs. Please keep a look out for them.
Taniguchi: We had a discussion with the Shiseido researchers before, and we talked about not being swept away by fads, but that we should develop menu items here based on correct information. For example, I think one of the strengths of a lab is that we can suggest the optimal ways of eating different popular nutrients.
— This cafe is located within a research facility. Have you been benefited from the location?
Taniguchi: We tried out a number of menu items while continuously talking things over with Shiseido researchers.
For example, they suggested making small capsules containing vegetable extract based on the method for producing artificial salmon roe.
Mizuno: They also suggested putting the capsules into drinks. Coating soft serve ice cream with it to prevent melting was another idea.
Taniguchi: We discussed that nutrients in the ingredients often change or are reduced when heated which hinder the commercialization (mass production). Based on the knowledge that only comes from researchers, we are still discussing how to make the most of fresh ingredients and turn them into unique dishes that are unavailable elsewhere.
Mizuno: Incidentally, oxidization of oil created an issue when developing dressing. It sounds a bit extreme, but we considered extracting oil from sesame seeds at the cafe by pressing or crushing them to produce the freshest dressing. We had to abandon the idea because it was too time-consuming and the amount extracted was too small (^^).
Offering trustworthy dishes without forgetting a sense of beauty
— How would you like to develop S/PARK Cafe?
Taniguchi: Cosmetic products can be applied externally, but food is something that goes inside and travels through your body. Food is essential for the growth and development of body functions. This is precisely why we are determined to offer food that has a well-substantiated explanation. But, we also want to make a point of not being too stiff, but serve food that’s also directly appealing.
— I had the impression that S/PARK Cafe was for beauty-conscious people, but I have started to feel that there is more to it.
Taniguchi: Of course it offers beauty and health-conscious dishes, but I do not want to make assumptions.
Instead of having the concept of a cafe that should be popular among women, we want to make it a comfortable place where people of all ages and sexes can just drop by.
Mizuno: I also hope to establish a place with many options. S/PARK Cafe is neither exclusively for vegans, nor for meat lovers. Customers should be able to choose what they want to eat or what their body desires, because both meat and vegetables are available. I would like to offer a variety of options to customers.
Taniguchi: I hope that customers will be tempted to eat our dishes because they sound like they are healthy, not out of a sense of obligation to stay healthy. I would be happy if they truly enjoyed the dishes.