Sansai ("mountain vegetables") are edible plants that grow naturally in the fields and on the mountains. As the warm spring sunshine makes many plants emerge and flourish, mountain vegetation comes into season—bracken, fiddle¬head ferns, Japanese butterbur, udo (spikenards), tarano-me (young buds of Japanese angelica trees), and others. After its semi-hibernation during the winter, the body can be invigo¬rated by the strong flavors and uniquely sharp bitterness that often characterize spring sansai. The bitter taste of sansai is believed to come from polyphenols, which are anti-oxidants. For this reason, many health-conscious people and those favoring natural foods look to mountain vegetables.
Mountain vegetables spoil relatively quickly, and thus they are often boiled in water and stored in packs for sale. Throughout the year, many restaurants offer bowls of noodles with preserved sansai. Still, one of the best ways to appreciate these vegetables is to boil them fresh from the mountains and eat them with a little soy sauce or other flavorings. They can also be battered and fried into crunchy tempura. Here at the Keio Plaza Hotel, Tempura restaurant Shun and some other Japanese restaurants offers dishes of sansai, such as tarano-me tempura.
Keio Plaza Hotel's restaurants with Sansai menu