Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture – As healthy lifestyles are picking up in popularity, more and more people are finding themselves opting for healthier food choices. Whether you are vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, or just someone looking for a delicious, but all the while, nutritious meal in Japan, Healthy Penguin Café in the Matsumoto City of Nagano is an amazing find!
What is Healthy Penguin Café?
Healthy Penguin Café is a café run by the lovely Rooney family on a side street connecting to Matsumoto City’s famous street of frogs–Nawate Street. They offer a variety of healthy food and drink options that are friendly to the Earth and despite not having meat on the menu, even those who are meat-lovers will find that their Thai curry and one of their most popular dishes – their burrito bowl can have them satisfied and coming back for more the next day. Reviews are often read how friendly the atmosphere is, how flavorful and delicious the food is, and how great a find it is in a country where it is actually quite difficult to find places that accommodate special diets. Other pros many have found coming here is that you don’t necessarily need to speak Japanese. Along with the Japanese menu, there is an English menu option, so not only would it be perfect for an outing with a Japanese friend, but even those with limited Japanese ability can find themselves feeling right at home in this café which is one of its greatest aspects – that it feels just like home.
What’s on the Menu?
When looking for places to eat, many often prefer to know ahead of time what options are available, and at Healthy Penguin Café, though some dishes change with the availability of local produce, there are still certain “regulars” on the menu that make Healthy Penguin Café the great eatery it is. Many of these regular dishes can be seen on the menu itself as well as on a sign board at the junction of Nawate Street and the street that they are located on.
Starting with one of the lighter dishes that is available year-round is the avocado toast. This delicious dish consists of avocado, sprouts, and tomatoes – and as some have commented, has been gaining popularity due to the recent Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wedding. Garlic-lovers may be happy to discover that this dish has also recently gained the option to add garlic to the mix which makes its flavor even more divine.
Popular dishes on the hardier side are the burrito bowl and the quinoa curry. The burrito bowl is loaded with tons of delicious veggies and beans on multi-grained rice and topped with a delicious home-made sauce, which the quinoa curry is packed full with spices that you just can’t get enough of. Both dishes are often arranged beautifully as each ingredient is carefully hand placed by the cook.
Not on the menu, but still something you will have the chance to try is the water. At Healthy Penguin Café, it isn’t just water you get to quench your thirst here, but refreshing naturally flavored water. A lot of thought is put into this every morning, and the cucumbers and citrus fruits flavoring the water is definitely a great addition and leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to take on Matsumoto again.
There is no parking area for Healthy Penguin Café, so if driving, you would need to park at one of the nearby paid parking areas and head in the direction of Nawate Street from there.
How to get there: Healthy Penguin Café is approximately 900 meters from Matsumoto Station, and about 750 meters from Matsumoto Castle. Walking there from the Station is easy, as you just take a left as soon as you exit the east exit of the station. Follow the road until you reach the Metoba River Bridge. Cross it, and turn right so you are then walking along the riverside. Keep going straight until you reach Nawate Street which is easily spotted with its statue of giant frogs and the police station next to it. Go down Nawate Street and when you see a produce stand at your right, you can turn left down the small street and will find it on your right.
Japanese Address: 長野県松本市大手4－3－25
Telephone Number: 090-4153-8575 (+81-90-4153-8575)
Operating Hours: Thursdays, Fridays, Mondays (11:00 – 17:00), Saturdays, Sundays (11:00 – 19:00)