Mustard Seed is an old train carriage converted into a railway restaurant in Gyoda City, Saitama Prefecture.
I didn’t have an opinion on trains one way or another until I came to Japan. But, as happens to so many after spending sometime in Japan, I jumped on the train-loving-train and never got off! I have a fascination with them that I, quite frankly, don’t really understand!
In Saitama we are truly blessed to have an excellent railway museum in Omiya. It competes with another in Osaka for the title of the largest railway museum in Japan. The honor alternates frequently between the two so it is hard to keep up! Regardless, the museum is worth a visit, even if you are not a train lover. We have some other train attractions throughout the prefecture, one I’d like to showcase today is a railway carriage restaurant…
Railway Carriage Restaurant
In the suburbs of Gyoda City, right on the border of Konosu, there is a railway carriage restaurant “Mustard Seed”. Definitely one for the train lovers of Saitama. The restaurant is in out of service train carriages beside the Joetsu bullet train line. The restaurant moves whenever the shinkansen zooms by! Like the railway museum, even if you aren’t a train lover, this novel restaurant is fun to visit. The food is pretty good too!
Mustard Seed was opened in 1993. It is two old train carriages joined in the shape of an L to make the quirky retro feel diner. Inside the dozens (if not hundreds) of 20th century paraphernalia add to the throwback feel. One side of the restaurant, i.e one carriage, is counter stools. The other carriage is booths, just like the carriages of yore.
Lunch and Dinner
The restaurant opens for lunch from 11.30 am to 2.30 pm, Wednesday to Monday, closed on Tuesdays. It opens again for dinner from 5.30 pm to 11 pm. The menu is Italian, mainly pasta. The pasta is handmade and you can choose from four different textures along the lines of regular, thin, fat or chewy.
Daily lunch comes with soup, salad and a drink. Drink choices include tea, coffee, soft drinks and Coca-Cola. There is a large display of coca-cola paraphernalia on one wall on the table side of the restaurant.
By and large it is best to budget about 1,200 yen for an adult’s lunch and 2000 yen for a course lunch. There all sorts of different discounts available. For example, if you sit on the counter side you can get a lunch for just 530 yen. Thursdays are ladies day and they give a 10% discount off the bill.
I have only ever been to Mustard Seed during the day. In the evening it seems to offer mainly “doria” on the menu. And of course drinks too. It is also used for special occasions, such as birthdays or wedding parties. You can order cakes for such occasions including an allergen free cake and a train shaped birthday cake.
They welcome children. If you visit with children they tend to direct you to the side of the restaurant with the tables. They have a couple of high chairs, which are really just for boosting height, they don’t have safety straps. There’s lots for kids to look at, but there aren’t any toys for them to play with. Inside is all non smoking which is always welcome. (There is an ashtray in the garden).
They have a children’s menu which I think is good value for the type of place it is. It costs 680 yen, comes on a bullet train (shinkansen) plate with soup on the side and a soft drink. They also give some treats with the kids menu.
Kids can choose from pasta, pizza or a burger as their main. The meal also has a cheese sweet potato bake, strawberries and chips (french fries). The mini train shaped box of chocolates is a fixture, but they sometimes give extra. I’ve noticed the other treats depend on what you order and other factors. They also sometimes give a lollipop to kids on the way out.
The railway carriage restaurant receives rave reviews online, but occasionally some negative ones too. I imagine that they arise from visits during the busy times. There is a wonderful warmth about the “obaachans” that work there. But I have noticed, the busier they are, the less time they have to interact with customers. Their charm is part and parcel of the success of the restaurant.
Due to its popularity, it is not uncommon to have to wait to be seated and / or wait to be served. But if you arrive before noon it is generally easier to be seated and served quicker. The same with parking; the earlier you arrive the easier it is to get parking.
Mustard Seed Information
|463-1 Maeya, Gyoda, Saitama 361-0038
|Wednesday to Monday 11.30 am to 2.30 pm and 5.30 to 11 pm
|average about 1200 yen (lunch)
|In the area:
|▶Famous Crane game center Everyday UFO, GYODA, Saitama Prefecture
▶Sakitama Shrine | GYODA
▶Kamiya Skatepark and general park | KONOSU
Mustard Seed is close, by car, to the stunning Motoara Cherry Blossoms where you can take a boat down the river under the sakura during the sakura season.