Billing themselves as the first vegetable sushi specialty restaurant in the world, Potager is very serious about their creations, and their ten-piece nigiri lunch is an entertaining and affordable gourmet treat. This is the kind of place where the waiter describes in loving detail the provenance of each ingredient in each item you're served. (Those descriptions are delivered in either Japanese, English or French, by the way.) For the more visually oriented, a big map at the entranceway shows the many small farms around the country that source the superlative vegetable products used here.
Lunch comes in two parts of five pieces each, and the beautifully constructed nigiri are arranged in the order in which they should be eaten, so that your palate is treated to a progression of intensifying flavors. Some highlights: a big burdock root soaked with ume plums for eight hours, until it was very soft and intensely colored. A tiny tomato stuffed with a salad of black rice, white rice, balsamic vinegar and minced olives. An Italian-themed piece fashioned to mimic maguro sushi, made with ripe tomato, mozzarella, and a dab of tomato-based sauce.
Continuing the theme of sushi lookalikes: a creamy and delicious carrot mousse, wrapped gunkan-style in nori and looking just like uni. An expensive Tokyo-grown leek, served very simply with a light dab of sauce. And finally, a spicy curry-infused tomato and cream assemblage that was served in a spoon. No soy sauce for dipping, no gari for palate-cleansing, just ten carefully thought-out and self-contained flavor-delivery units. Plus a nice thick soup, which we were told was made from the extra parts of the vegetables that didn't go into the sushi itself.
The decor is sophisticated and just a bit splashy, with a modern-Kyoto color palette and a harvest theme - organized around a huge, smoothly polished sushi counter, with a few small tables and a private room or two off to the side. The ten-piece nigiri lunch is Y2100, with optional desserts and beverages if you want to prolong your meal a bit longer. At dinnertime prix-fixe menus are Y5250 and Y8400; these include more pieces of nigiri and other dishes like risotto, rice soup, chawan-mushi, and salads. Vegan full-course dinners can be arranged if you call a few days in advance.