Kochi isn’t particularly known for its ethnic food, and it can be quite difficult to find a foreign ambience at places around town. Luckily, for those looking to step out of Japan for an hour or two, Grow Up Company in Ikku has trendy Americana down to a science. Classic deli pizza signs, 1950s beer ads, root beer cans, silver dollars and cowboy paraphernalia…Grow Up Company does retro America better than the good ol’ USA!
By far the coolest thing about Grow Up Company is that its kitchen consists of an Airstream trailer attached to the side of the building and opening into the area behind the bar. How unique is that?! Grow Up Company is housed in a simple brown aluminum barn of sorts, but it has been carefully and tastefully decorated into something homey and unique. Handcrafted window blinds, colorful hanging light fixtures, hand-decorated menus and candles on the tables make it feel like your favorite coffee shop or cafe back home.
Of course there are still Japanese aspects. Smoking is allowed. The English music selection can be a bit…eclectic. And Grow Up Company is actually a three part enterprise: the restaurant (Grow Up Eat), an attached women’s clothing boutique (Grow Up Select) and a…wait for it…garage across the street (Grow Up Motor Works). As in motorcycle repair, custom painting, and parts importing. Only in Japan!
The menu is a kind of Japanese-American mix. Entrees range from traditional Japanese staples like karaage, omurice, and yakisoba to American-style chicken and broccoli pasta to interesting fusion dishes like the delicious seafood butter rice with white sauce. Most dishes come with rice, a small green salad, and an amazing potato salad. Featured desserts, like muffins, pies, or custards, change daily, and you can always order a parfait or ice cream. Drinks include fruit juices and coffee drinks more common to a café, as well as a fairly extensive selection of imported beer (e.g. Sam Adams, Brooklyn Lager, Red Stripe…try Zima, MillerCoors’ “alcopop” now only sold in Japan!). A limited brunch menu, dessert sets consisting of a dessert and a drink, and an unlimited soda “drink bar” are also offered. Utensils and (gasp!) napkins are a welcome treat.
Grow Up Company has great service, and many small touches really set it apart from other eateries. For example, if you order a muffin and eat in they will warm it up and serve it to you with a scoop of ice cream and decoratively arrayed corn flakes surrounded by powdered sugar and swirls of fruit or caramel sauce. In the winter warm, handsome shawls drape the back of every chair for you to put over your lap. Home and fashion magazines are available for browsing at your table. Comfy chairs and a low coffee table in the corner beckon to those looking to relax with a drink or a book.
The next time you`re craving a taste of home stop by Grow Up Company for the great food and even better atmosphere!