The pursuit of balance is paramount for Yoko Inoue, and the recent launch of Northcote café Shoku Iku (Japanese for ‘food education’), is a sharp reflection of the conscientious way she’s been living her life thus far.

Native to Japan and previously a private chef across Melbourne, Inoue spent years exploring different diet lifestyles before she considered herself ready to open up her own raw and organic eatery. “I just wanted a nice and healthy place where anyone could have a light lunch and explore a different way of eating,” Inoue says.

When learning of macrobiotic philosophy – a discipline that revolves around eating seasonally and organically and balancing one’s diet according to the Chinese concept of yin and yang – Inoue subsequently combined it with her raw food diet, which comprises food not heated above 48 degrees in order to retain all enzymes, vitamins and minerals.

Convinced that there’s no perfect diet, Inoue says “the most important thing is to listen to your body and to be flexible”.

Inoue changes the menu every day, depending on what she feels like cooking or the availability of fresh produce at the organic store just across the road. Everything on offer is vegan, with mostly raw options like beetroot spaghetti with green chilli alfredo, chunky apple and celery salad or even raw lasagne.

There are also unexpected raw desserts, like a raw peppermint ice cream sandwich that you won’t ever feel guilty about eating. To wash it down, choose from the broad range of organic smoothies on offer and add your own boosting herbs.

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A massive timber communal table, surrounding stools dominates the simple, warm space and naked light bulbs hang from the ceiling. Directly connected to the main room is the open kitchen area, which allows patrons to observe Inoue as she makes the dishes and ask her questions or advice.

Along with selling some homemade organic sweets under her Shoku brand, offering Saturday night dinners with a monthly menu, running an online blog, planning upcoming in-house cooking classes and looking after her nine-year-old daughter, Inoue tries to be as balanced in her daily life as she is in her diet.

“I’m not really thinking huge,” she says simply. “I just want to enjoy what I’m doing at the moment.”

Shoku Iku
120 High Street, Northcote
0403 569 019

Wed to Sun 11.30am–4pm
Sat from 6pm

Dinner is available at Shoku Iku on Saturday nights from 6pm. Bookings are essential, and it is requested that you arrive before 8pm.