For William Petty, a practice of metta, or lovingkindness, begins with what you eat. "Lovingkindness springs from our well-being," says Petty, co-owner of the shojin (temple) cuisine restaurant Medicine in downtown San Francisco. "Food should be medicine for health."
Medicine is thought to be the first restaurant of its kind in the United States, but Buddhist monks and nuns have been cooking shojin for centuries in Japan. Shojin meals are vegetarian and built around simple ingredients like tofu, buckwheat, and seasonal vegetables. Medicine chef Ryuta Sakamoto adds a modern twist with specialties like broiled eggplant with sweet miso sauce and tempura-fried shiso leaves stuffed with creamy fermented soybeans. Meals are served on refectory tables in a stylish, eco-friendly dining room. The soft music and subtle flavors can calm even the most hurried lunch-goer.
"The food speaks for itself," Petty says. "And you don't need to be a vegetarian to love it."
MEDICINE NEW-SHOJIN EATSTATION: 161 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California 94104; www.medicinerestaurant.com.