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Vinegar Bars and Cafes Cater to Workers on the Move (August 22, 2006)

The Kurozu Bar at Shinbashi Station (PANA)
As more and more consumers recognize the health benefits of su (rice vinegar), vinegar bars and cafes offering beverages that combine rice vinegar with ingredients like fruits and vegetables have begun to appear in Tokyo. They are attracting an increasing number of working men and women looking for new ways to beat the summer heat and stay healthy. These shops are competing for customers by developing original concoctions like desserts featuring rice vinegar and vinegar drinks made using oranges and grapefruits.

A Remedy for High Blood Pressure?
The vinegar-drinking trend gained momentum in 2004, when kurozu ("black vinegar") became all the rage. Up until that time, the drinking of vinegar was relatively uncommon, but a boom was ignited when Chinese black vinegar, which contains more natural amino acids than the regular kind, began to be touted as both tasty and healthy.

Acetic acid, the primary constituent of vinegar, has been scientifically proven to aid in the prevention of disease. For example, drinking 15 milliliters of vinegar each day has been shown to lower high blood pressure. The compound also suppresses the buildup of lactic acid, which helps people to recover from fatigue; promotes secretion of saliva, which aids digestion; and contains antifungal agencies. Such benefits have spurred an increase in the number of vinegar drinkers, as evidenced by a questionnaire by a food manufacturer, in which more than 60% of the respondents said that they have tried a vinegar beverage and some 70% said they would like to try their hand at concocting their own recipe.

(From left) Vinegar and soy milk, vinegar and blood orange juice, and a blueberry vinegar shake (Nippon Restaurant Enterprise Co.,Ltd.)

Black Vinegar Drinks
In June 2006 the Kurozu Bar opened inside Shinbashi Station in Tokyo, targeting health-conscious office workers. The shop features a selection of nine vinegar beverages, including black vinegar with soy milk and a blueberry vinegar shake. The bar is of the tachinomi (stand-and-drink) type to cater to workers on the move. Formerly a bento (boxed lunch) shop, the conversion to a vinegar bar has led to a threefold increase in sales.

In July, OSU-Café@Limapuluh, a vinegar cafe, opened its doors for one month only in Aoyama, near Omotesando Station. In addition to vinegar beverages, the café offered a special vinegar-inspired menu that included everything from main dishes to desserts.

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Copyright (c) 2006 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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