Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Tokyo
Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Tokyo
Being vegetarian or vegan in Japan has long been considered a rather tricky situation. Between the ubiquity of dashi and other fish-based sauces in many dishes, plus the fact that most of Japan's iconic cuisine features some element of meat, the country has been a little slower than its western counterparts at hopping on the meat-free bandwagon.
That said, in recent times, and in Tokyo especially, plenty of new culinary innovators are coming up with ways to cater to vegan and vegetarian guests. From major chain outlets to small, niche restaurants, the meat-free way of eating is gaining plenty of ground and becoming far more accessible.
While there are already plenty of lists out there offering tips on vegetarian choices in Japan, we thought it'd be hand to create a list of vegan options for those wanting to eat popular Japanese food specifically. Enjoy!
AFURI is not your typical quick dinner after work salaryman fare. It's one of Japan's most innovative and stylish ramen chains. It's also one if it's most popular too, especially with younger, health-conscious crowds. Their signature meat-free dish is the Rainbow Vegan Ramen, a bright bowl of egg-free noodles, vegetables, and a light and delicious vegetable-based broth.
Locations: Sangenjaya, Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Nishi-ikebukuro, Ebisu, Nakameguro, Azabujuban, Ropponhi, Harajuku
Over the years, T's Tantan has become a staple in the vegetarian and vegan culinary scene. This cozy chain serves up an impressive selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes, both locally and internationally inspired. Their vegan tan tan ramen, however, is a signature dish. It's such a hit that they also sell prepackaged, instant ramen version of the dish in the restaurants and selected convenience stores.
Locations: Ueno, Marunouchi
Noodle Stand Tokyo
Located in the vibrant neighborhood of Harajuku, Noodle Stand Tokyo is a laid back ramen shop that's perfect for tired tourists looking for somewhere to take a break and fuel up. The store sells a variety of both traditional and fusion ramen dishes, but it's their vegan option that's also their most exciting. The coconut miso ramen is a combination of creamy coconut and salty miso topped with soy meat, greens, and ginger, which tantalizes the tastebuds and warms the soul. It comes in both vegan and non-vegan versions.
Senjo Handmade Gyoza Shop
While the physical store may be tiny, the legend of the gyoza at Senjo Handmade Gyoza Shop is larger than life. This compact store in Ikebukuro is run by a long-serving Taiwanese born Tokyo resident, who hand makes all gyoza pieces herself. These gyoza are not your regular run of the mill dumplings though, the multi-colored gyoza is more Taiwanese, so they're bigger than your typical Japanese offerings, and they come in an unprecedented combination of flavors. There plenty of vegetarian and meat versions available here, as well as two vegetarian lunch sets and one vegetarian dinner course.
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/DbLfdzM5stLThSdWA
For something a little more high-end, try Gyoza Shack, the bar and gyoza hangout located in the locally loved neighborhood of Sangenjaya. As well as unique and upmarket choices for carnivores like lamb and gorgonzola and ground chicken, they also serve coriander (cilantro) stuffed vegetarian options, which goes perfectly with a well-paired sake.
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/8VeLhEhBh3yeQ9au6
Gyoza Bar Comme a Paris
Another hipper than most gyoza joint is Aoyama's Gyoza Bar Comme a Paris. This effortlessly trendy, the restaurant serves gyoza paired with wine, as opposed to beer. As the name alludes, Gyoza Bar Comme a Paris draws inspiration from French fusion cooking, so don't be surprised when you see dishes like 'onion gratin gyoza' on the menu. Their main menu also features vegetable gyoza with a side of three different homemade dipping sauces.
Tendon Tenya Tempura
Tendon, one of the best, most satisfying ways to enjoy tempura isn't always easy to find for those wanting to avoid seafood. Luckily there's the budget-friendly chain store Tendon Tenya Tempura. For vegetarians, there's the vegetable tendon, which for only 560 yen, will get you a bowl of rice topped with six different vegetables like sweet potato, mushroom, lotus root, eggplant, pumpkin, and beans.
Location: Ikebukuro, Shibuya, Harajuku, Shinjuku, Akihabara, Ryogoku, Asakusa, Ueno, Ameyoko, Ginza, Tsukiji, Tokyo Station
Tempura Shinjuku Tsunahachi Ginza
Definitely an integral part of Tokyo's tempura legacy, Tempura Shinjuku Tsunahachi Ginza was founded back in 1923, and today has branches throughout the city. Here you can make the lunch set vegetarian by ordering just from the vegetable menu, and there's plenty to choose from, or you can order a set and request that it's made vegetarian only. Do be wary if you go with the lunch set, there's a chance the miso and sauce have been made with dashi (which contains fish stock).
Located just below street level off the main drag of Omotesando is where you'll find Crayon House, an organic greengrocery and restaurant with one of the best vegetarian buffets in the city, which often also serves tempura. While it's a buffet-style operation, it's hard to know exactly what you're going to get on any given day; you can rest assured that no matter what you do pick up, it's going to be healthy, veg-friendly and delicious.
One of the main challenges of finding truly vegetarian okonomiyaki is that many places use katsuodashi, a type of fish infused dashi in their batter. This is not the case at Tsuchiya; a delicious make it yourself okonomiyaki restaurant in Shinjuku, just be sure to ask for the strictly vegetarian batter. Popular with both locals and non-Japanese speaking guests, it's a welcome restaurant that's flexible and a whole lot of fun.
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/8MsBvsrK74urSwk69
Another Shinjuku okonomiyaki outpost worth visiting is Zen, a casual restaurant that serves up some of the best vegan - yep vegan - okonomiyaki in Tokyo. They use yam (sticky mountain potato) instead of egg and hold the dashi broth. As well as selling vegan okonomiyaki, the restaurant also offers meat-free variations of other Japanese classics like vegetarian yaki udon.