By Mark Guthrie
Regular readers of my missives in these pages will have probably come to one basic conclusion about my lifestyle: I don’t take the best care of myself. Yes, many is the late-afternoon that I struggle into consciousness, peeling my sweaty face from the linoleum of my bathroom floor, encrusted in the various effluence of the previous night’s debauchery; blood, mucus, vomit; the hangover monkey continuing his sadistic wont, drumming a tattoo into my skull, and wiping his arse on my tongue.
It is then that I climb to my hands and knees and begin the daily forage for the sustenance that will enable me to continue on my daily routine of Facebooking, watching pornography and writing for this illustrious digest of Nagoyan life.
However, more often than not, this daily scavenge throws up little more than the occasional stale pizza crust, meaning I am forced to frequent the nearest conbini in order to fill up on shitty, cosmetically-filled sandwiches or mountains of greasy fried chicken. It is not exactly what you would call the breakfast of champions.
But my life has not always been thus. You see, having lived in the three great metropolises of the English-speaking world – London, Sydney, Sunderland – at one time, in moments of vitamin deficiency, my body craved good, healthy deli fare. In actual fact, it still does. However, this being Japan, unless I want sushi (hint: I bloody well don’t!) my options are particularly paltry should I wish satiate my craving for health-based, fresh fast food. Well, until now, that is. Welcome to Freebell Deli.
“Freebell?” I hear you ask. “The ‘gaijin towers’ where we go to parties and cram 50 people into a two bedroom apartment?” The very same. Because now Lizzie Takahashi, resident of those very towers, has teamed up with Freebell grande fromage Taka Kinoshita in order to create the newest, and it has to be said, best NYC-style deli bar in Nagoya.
“I was tired of eating greasy burritos and limp, under-filled sandwiches,” explains Lizzie. “I have lived in New York, in London, and I just missed eating fresh and healthy fast foods. You just can’t find these sorts of things in Nagoya,” she adds, a characteristically effervescent smile dancing across her lips. “Especially not in the conbinis!”
A mere stone’s throw from Lucent Tower near Meieki, Lizzie and Taka have created an oasis for those of you that miss the home comforts, but are sick of greasy fish and chips or fatty burgers. Lunch times – from 10:30-13:00 – you will find freshly made sandwich and soup du jour sets for ¥700 (or ¥550-¥650 and ¥398 sold separately), accompanied by sodas – from Dr. Pepper to San Pellegrino by way of Canada Dry– you are unlikely to find anywhere else in the city.
For an evening takeout menu (16:00-20:00) you can find an a la carte option, with made-to-order sandwiches, chicken wraps and (a particular favourite of mine) Lizzie’s special burritos, all of which are flavoured with authentic seasoning and ingredients.
“Of course, you can find burritos, burgers and sandwiches elsewhere,” continues Lizzie. “But I have found that the spices aren’t quite right. Some places mask their food with seasoning and grease. But we have sourced our ingredients from all over, trusting in their freshness and authenticity to bring out the flavour of each and every meal.”
For those of you in need of something with a slightly higher calorific count after a hard day of work, there are burgers and hotdogs, the latter of which you can choose from up to ten mouth-watering toppings, and all of these night-bites can be picked up for less than ¥700.
Like any good deli there are homemade cookies and brownies with which you can enjoy a steaming cup of coffee, a specialty herbal tea or, should you so wish, one of the many international brand beers. Yeah, you heard right, there’s no piss-weak Japanese beer here, but a choice of premium international bottled beer, or the month’s guest beer on tap, and you can just kick back and enjoy the intimate, relaxed coffee shop vibe.
“We have sofas and a big screen TV,” says Taka. “We want to give a really welcoming atmosphere, and not just for our residents, but for everyone. I am always looking for ways to help the international community in Nagoya, and I like to think that whether you live in Freebell, happen to be in the area, or are just looking for some great food, you will always feel welcome and at home in Freebell Deli.”
And not only will you feel welcome, but you will also feel a lot healthier. Not to mention happier at having kicked that horrific fried chicken dependency well into touch.
Freebell Deli is located on the 2nd floor of the south entrance of Freebell Mansions in Nishi-ku, a nine minute walk north along Meieki dori from Nagoya station, or a four minute walk from exit 3 of Kamejima station. For more info check them out at: facebook.com/freebelldeli