Like an unseasonable snow fall, mounds of pink and white petals have already begun accumulating across the city, marking a sudden (though not unexpected) conclusion to Tokyo’s 2019 cherry blossom season.
While things might be wrapping up throughout much of the Kanto region, further north incredible displays of sakura can still be readily viewed, with a full bloom not even expected until May 5 in Sapporo.
And much like the actual cherry blossom, while seasonal menus have largely disappeared, there’s a few holdouts, one such being BOTANIST Tokyo. Located in Harajuku and literally just outside Exit 7 of Meiji-jingumae Station, this natural beauty store and café has gained a considerable following on Instagram for photogenic foods like its recently debuted sakura burger.
A Cherry Blossom Burger
A spin on their already well-known Botanist burger, it features a house-made soy patty topped with vegan cheese, fresh vegetables and a creamy tomato aurora sauce. All this goodness is then sandwiched between two pink buns, naturally colored with Japanese sweet potatoes. That aurora sauce also has a pinker tone for cherry blossom season largely due to a splash of beet juice added during its preparation.
Aesthetics aside, and I do like all the pinkness, it honestly was a great vegan burger. The patty has a certain meatiness and weight, the sauce gives off a slight Thousand Island taste, while the buns have a very nuanced potato flavor. It all comes together in a taste experience that, although mild, is rather complex. Plus, with freshly made chips and pink coleslaw, it makes for a refreshing springtime take on a classic burger with sides.
Spring Tea Fling
For a drink, I decided to give butterfly pea flower tea a shot. Admittedly, this has nothing to do with cherry blossoms, but the overall floral essence of the colors do make you think spring. When receiving your teapot, the herbal tea itself is a vivid, almost sapphire blue. However, if you add lemon to your cup, it almost instantly turns a light purple color. While cool in and of itself, butterfly pea tea also is caffeine-free and, similar to green tea, is packed with antioxidants that may have anti-aging properties.
For those who want BOTANIST’s full sakura-themed experience, try the spring bloom pasta. Fresh tomatoes are kneaded into this pasta, giving it a pinkish color and hearty taste. The dish is complemented by locally harvested mushrooms, garlic oil, sliced bamboo shoots, greens, balsamic vinegar and even fresh strawberries. In this way, you’re getting another taste of springtime in Japan, which surprisingly pairs well with the more savory elements of the pasta.
There’s also a seasonal buddha bowl, packed with fresh vegetables, rice, quinoa and vegan soy-meat curry.
Sweet Sakura Sensation
Of course, you have to get something for dessert now. And, to this end, a three-layered sakura and berry or peach and cherry smoothie bonbon more than satisfies your sweet tooth. I gave the sakura and berry a try. Essentially, you have a berry smoothie, thick whipped cream and frozen berries topped off with sakura ice cream, cereal bits and more berries.
So, if you find yourself still craving something cherry blossom-themed or, worst case scenario, you missed the bloom itself, you can still get a taste of it at BOTANIST Tokyo until May 8.
Find more information at botanistofficial.com/shop/