While recently in Kobe's pretty Motomachi area for a day, I thought I would check out the local vegetarian food. A quick search revealed the Modern Ark Pharm Café, halfway between Motomachi and Sannomiya stations and only a short walk from each. Along the way are lots of small funky businesses peddling housewares, used clothes, and curios.
Modern Ark fits right in. Outside, chalkboards proclaim the drink menu and the day's specials. At the entrance of the pretty white wooden building, two businesses flank the front door: the café on the left and an antique/vintage store on the right, operated by the same owners.
The café's entryway is strewn with flyers for local non-profits and eco businesses, and a pastry case faces the doorway with an array of desserts. Inside, one corner is filled with organic and health foods for sale, like grains, sauces, drinks, and toiletries. An indoor dining area has a handful of tables with a few more on the sunny wooden deck.
For lunch, choose between a few sets for around 1000 yen. Choices might include a seitan wrap sandwich with soup and pickles, or a vegetable curry plate with brown rice, or a bean-laden chili with a side salad. Drinks are also included: try organic coffee, herbal tea, apple juice, or dandelion coffee. Fancier drinks and organic wine can be had for a small surcharge if tippling at lunch is your thing, and plate options can be made vegan.
If you visit at teatime, try the banana cake, coconut tiramisu, or matcha and cream cheese pound cake, made with aluminum free baking powder. For drinks, consider organic rosehip tea, a matcha au lait (can be made with soy milk), or a hot "black zinger" – a nutritious drink made from black soybeans.
Pains are taken here to use organic, healthy, and domestic ingredients. Staff are aware of what goes in the food, so if you have allergies, let them know and they will try to accommodate you. In addition to the café and shop, Modern Ark also holds regular events such as yoga classes, homeopathy workshops, fortune-telling, and more. Check the website or at the shop for an updated calendar.