Eat your greens! Do you??? Or if you are like me, the me two months ago, you realize that you don’t– not even close. A quick Google search will tell you that 5 – 9 servings of fruit and vegetables a day is what experts recommend. After some reflection, asking yourself questions like ‘How long do I really want to live?’, you decide it’s time to finally change your diet. It’s never too late. You want to take charge of your health and your body. You want to feel in control and have more energy. If this is you, cheers! You found a good place to start. Let’s drink to your health!
Last August, I went on a quest to find the best smoothies in and around Omotesando in downtown Tokyo. These are my five favorites plus a few more that I didn’t want to leave off the list. Nowadays, I mostly make my own smoothies at home except for an occasional treat on the weekend when I’m feeling lazy. My roommate is getting used to the sound of his grinding blender in use. One of my first steps in losing 7 kg (about 15 pounds) was replacing my favorite after school snack, freshly baked carbs out of the oven (empty calories), with a vegetable smoothie and a handful of nuts: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and protein, long lasting energy, fuel for my body.
If anything, I hope this post inspires you like others who have inspired me: my vegetarian friend, owner of Citron salad bar in Minami Aoyama, Tim Ferriss (blog episode 12 with Dr. Rhonda Patrick on Life Extension, Performance, and more), Tony Robbins, who forever changed my life, and my girlfriend who got me to rethink how I take care of myself and gave me a purpose in life beyond meeting my own needs. She stuck with me even when I still had a tummy that stuck out.
“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. ” – Friedrich Nietzsche (In Awaken the Giant, Tony Robbins references this quote Victor Frankl refers to throughout the course of his book Man’s Search for Meaning. I highly recommend reading both of these.)
I still love bread (read my favorite bakeries post). I love white rice (This is Japan!). I love beer. But now that’s what the weekends are for. During the workweek, I’ve replaced the pleasure of eating freshly baked bread with the pleasure of stepping on the bathroom scale every morning, looking in the mirror, and feeling good about myself.
We all just want to feel good.
#5 AMANKULA (sorry, this shop closed! )
Chia Seed, Avocado, Spinach Premium Smoothie
Tall 520 ¥ Grande 550 ¥
This place used to be Robeks, a smoothie franchise with 90+ locations in the US. They didn’t last long in Tokyo. As soon as Robeks unplugged their blenders, the new guy, Amankula, moved in and plugged the blenders right back in (probably the same ones). From what I see, this off the beaten path Aoyama location continues to get only a trickle of customers even during the summer months.
Amankula’s prices are more reasonable by my standards but the ‘premium smoothie’ I had didn’t taste like the blender had been jam-packed with healthy spinach and avocado. I would go back here for their gluten-free, dairy-free superfood muffins and scones. For a more flavor-packed smoothie, check out the next four on the list. And if you came here looking for a Robeks, now the closest one is at Micronesia Mall… on the beautiful island of Guam.
#4 THE 3RD BURGER
the 3rd Smoothie
490 ¥ (530 ¥ with tax)
Ingredients: komatsuna, apple, banana
Something just doesn’t feel right about listing the 3rd Smoothie at the 3rd Burger as 4th on any list. Anyway, for being a fast casual burger joint, this place serves up a pretty mean green smoothie. And if you order one as part of a combo meal with a burger, it’s even a better deal. The concept alone that you can order a healthy smoothie with an avocado wasabi burger with lettuce and real tomato* is pretty awesome– take notes ‘merica.
After trying their smoothie, I decided to make a smoothie out of komatsuna at home and learned the hard way why this leafy green translates as ‘Japanese mustard spinach’. Eeeghk! I had to plug my nose to swallow by the time I reached the bottom third of the glass. Heck, let’s give it to them and put them at #3. Well done on making a delicious drink out of mustard spinach. You don’t have to be Popeye or have congested sinuses to go back again for this drink.
*quoting my dad, meaning a tomato that is actually red
#2.5 MR. FARMER
Green Cleanse Smoothie
Ingredients: kale, komatsuna, banana, orange, yogurt, agave
The Mr. Farmer I checked out is the one in Omotesando down the side street from Maisen Pork Katsu. If battered and fried pork cutlet is not quite what you had envisioned for a light snack, keep walking down the street until you see the garden-like terrace at Mr. Farmer.
I had the green smoothie; you’ve probably already noticed a pattern. So yeah, it was good enough to put Mr. Farmer at almost the top of my list. There’s also comfortable seating inside. To drink even more healthy stuff for your body, you can sample all of the vegetable and fruit infused waters. It’s self-service at the counter and free– just reuse the same glass and try them all.
#2 FICO AND POMUM
Kale Green Smoothie
12 oz. 560 ¥ + tax
Ingredients: kale, spinach, banana, parsley, grapefruit, orange juice
Hardcore smoothienthusiasts (one word) may not go for this place. Don’t get me wrong, their smoothies must have plenty of good-for-you stuff in ’em. But for one, if I were making a green smoothie at home I’d just add a little water or ice to the blender rather than orange juice. Orange juice — kids love it — full of sugar. What’s good about F & P is that the base prices for their large range of smoothies are more reasonable because the pricier superfoods are add-ons. Skip the chia and with 610 yen you’re in. So why not skip out on one of your Starbucks lattes this week and give Fico and Pomum a spin. I recommend both of their green smoothies.
#1 SKY HIGH
S 750 ¥ L 930 ¥
Ingredients: seasonal greens, orange, banana, pine, spirulina, grapefruit
Everyone I’ve asked about Sky High say it’s good, [short pause] after that they all say it’s expensive. I say treat yourself and go there. You and your body deserve it! I guarantee your wallet will lose some weight. But if you can afford to, go there once for the experience of drinking liquid gold!.* After my first sip on my blue straw I had no idea what was in it but I knew it was good. My second time having this smoothie I still couldn’t identify what was in it without going online to look at the menu. The pineapple and citrus give it a subtle zing and balances out the greens. Super smooth. If you want a real smoothie, taste the real thing, go to Sky High. Then give it a try replicating this recipe in a blender at home. Good luck with that one.
*You can use that sentence to help you rationalize drinking a smoothie that’s almost ten dollars!
NICOLAI BERGMANN NOMU
Hirata Horsepower Smoothie
650 ¥ (702¥ with tax)
Ingredients: banana, strawberry, almond, honey, milk
Nicolai Bergmann is famous for their gorgeous boxes of fresh and preserved flowers. Nomu, the cafe/restaurant inside the flower shop, also happens to serve gorgeous smoothies. It does make sense that a florist would have a good sense for the balance of ingredients. The strawberry banana smoothie pictured here has the perfect amount of sweet. This isn’t the place to get your health boost, unless it’s mental health. Go here to treat yourself, to take in beauty with your eyes and mouth.
Sesame Banana Smoothie
Regular ¥360 Large 410¥
Ingredients: banana, black sesame, milk (or soy milk)
Deli France gets honorable mention. Who knew that banana and sesame were meant to be? This has been one of my go-to smoothies for years. My guess is if you like the combination of banana and peanut butter you’ll like sesame and banana. It’s not a smoothie for a health nut, it’s a smoothie for when you just want to drink a smoothie for no other reason besides wanting to drink a smoothie (like when you were a teenager). I’ve never had the soy milk version – it’s a bit more expensive and so is the version with chia seeds. Unless you are lactose intolerant or a naked Chia Pet*, I’d stick with the original version.
*Sorry, if you were born after 1990 you probably won’t get that reference. You were still a sea monkey (and may not get that reference either). All you need know is that chia seeds used to be pets before they became superfood. I’ll save you the googling: http://www.chia.com Ch-ch-ch-chia!
The 3rd Burger
Fico and Pomum
Nicolai Bergmann Nomu
Did you find a mistake in my post or disagree with anything that I wrote? Do you have a favorite smoothie place that you think should be on my list? Please leave a comment and let me know. Thanks for reading!