Tofu for What Ails You

Tasteful design and designed tastes rule at the vegan Medicine Eatstation

I've been longing for Japanese noodles for weeks (because of the entrancing Mikio Naruse retrospective currently at the Pacific Film Archive), but the bowl of soba (buckwheat) noodles in broth we share here doesn't fulfill that longing. Its few ingredients -- including leafy greens the menu claims are fiddlehead ferns, a delicate spring vegetable whose characteristic curled tops are nowhere to be seen -- don't come together. On the whole, I prefer our starters.

We finish with a glass of coconut milk hiding gelatinous and chewy surprises (kanten cubes and mushroom slivers) in its depths under floating toasted buckwheat grains, and a Valrhona chocolate tofu mousse that initially tastes good, but which has the characteristic chalky aftertaste of tofu sweets. The most delicious item of the night is, astonishingly, the simplest: shaved ice topped with yuzu citrus syrup and the tiniest baby tangerine sections. (In Naruse's 1940 film Traveling Actors, I saw two men playing the front and hind legs of a horse cool off with a similar confection.) Another unexpected delight? The yuzu lemonade.

Monkish: Medicine Eatstation's large, airy room 
reminds us of a monastery or a refectory.
James Sanders
Monkish: Medicine Eatstation's large, airy room reminds us of a monastery or a refectory.

Location Info


Medicine New-Shojin Eatstation

161 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94104-4501

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Embarcadero


Medicine roll $6.50

Sesame tofu $4.50

Broiled eggplant $5

Sesame lotus-shiitake salad $8

Roasted dumpling squash $15

Braised mushrooms Gohan $18

Yuzu shaved ice $5


Open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; for tea, sushi, and dessert Monday through Friday from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.; and for dinner Monday through Thursday from 5:30 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m.

Reservations accepted

Wheelchair accessible

Parking: difficult

Muni: 2, 3, 4, 15, 30, 45, 76

Noise level: low to moderate

161 Sutter (at Kearny)

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Last night I had a steak and a Manhattan after a double bill at "Noir City," and I must say I enjoyed my dinner at Medicine Eatstation much more. (I hope I'm not starring in a vegan version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.) I'd happily return, especially for lunch, when the restaurant offers six multi-course meals (called "foundation sets") for $8.95-10.95. And I would always, always finish with the yuzu shaved ice.

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