Cafeterias at government offices serve up buffet of corporate culture

Kyodo

Public interest in company cafeterias has been growing since a 2010 top-selling recipe book about dishes served in the cafeteria of scale maker Tanita Corp. revealed that some are offering healthy and tasty food at reasonable prices.

But most companies don’t let outsiders use them. For those really curious about corporate cafeterias, one well-kept secret is that many of the offices in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government welcome nonemployees, and their menus often reflect the characteristics of the offices, making the experience something of a field trip.

For instance, Teshigotoya (handwork place) Sakura is one of the cafeterias at the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry one can enter without an admission card. Some of the dishes there reflect its policies, with whale curry and whale steak readily available.

Tomato-simmered deer meat is a dish offered as part of efforts to make good use of deer that were captured to reduce the rampant population.

According to the farm ministry’s website, the restaurant, which is open only during lunchtime on weekdays, offers dishes using homegrown foodstuffs, reflecting the government’s battle to shore up the national food self-sufficiency rate.

But using cafeterias at most other ministries in the Kasumigaseki district in central Tokyo requires an ID card. Some even require visitors’ bags to be inspected.

City Hall meanwhile allows the general public to dine at its cafeteria on the 32nd floor of its twin-towered skyscraper in Shinjuku.

In addition to the great view taking in Mount Fuji and Tokyo Sky Tree, the reasonable prices of its dishes — which max out at ¥660 — are among the cafeteria’s most interesting attractions.