From afar, Osuya might look like a normal cafe but upon a closer inspection, you’ll see bottles of colorful liquid lined up in the window. While sweet, the drink has an unmistakable taste, the sourness of vinegar.
Osuya, which means “the vinegar shop” in Japanese, sells various flavors of dessert vinegar (酢, su) and also has a small restaurant that serves vinegar-based drinks, food, and sweets.
Vinegar is sometimes advertised as a diet aid or nutrition drink in Japan, but the focus of Osuya seems to be on the flavor. Rosehip, blueberry, apple, and pomegranate vinegar are just a few of the drink flavors on the menu, so choosing can be difficult. Osuya even offers seasonal flavors, such as mango vinegar in the summer. If vinegar cut with water or soda doesn’t appeal to you, maybe a vinegar latte or vinegar beer will.
I wasn’t feeling adventurous enough to drink vinegar on my first visit, so I skipped the vinegar beverages and went straight for the sweets. The cake topped with vinegar sauce caught my eye, but the vanilla ice-cream topped with cherry vinegar seemed like the ideal way to battle the summer heat.
I had expected the cherry vinegar sauce to be much tangier, but instead, it was the right balance of sweet and sour. As an additional bonus for eating inside the restaurant, the large windows at the Ginza shop let in plenty of sunlight and allow you to look out on the busy Tokyo streets.
Price wise, the Osuya restaurant isn’t very different from most coffee shops. Most of the menu items are between 300 and 400 yen. If you happen to like a certain flavor of vinegar, you can head over to the vinegar shop corner and purchase a single bottle for less than 1000 yen. The dessert vinegar sets might also make a good gift for the right person.
Osuya has about half a dozen shops, placed in big cities in Japan, such as Tokyo, Nagoya, and Sendai. If you happen to live outside of the cities, you can still order Osuya dessert vinegar online through Sumurie (in Japanese).
Before visiting Osuya, I had no idea that so many flavors of vinegar existed, and vinegar as a dessert had never even crossed my mind.
What do you think of vinegar-topped ice-cream?
Osuya Official Website (in Japanese)
Osuya Ginza Store Address: 104-0061 Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Ginza 4-6-16, Ginza Mitsukoshi, 1st floor
Osuya Shibuya Store Address: 150-0022 Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Shibuya 2-21-1 Shibuya Hikarie ShinQs Basement 2nd floor