Vegetarian Food In Japan: 5 Best Dishes to Try!
For travellers who are also vegetarians, they need to research on available plant-based food options suitable to their lifestyles apart from preparing their itineraries. Before heading to their destination, they need to know which vegan dishes are available within the area and which restaurants serve legit vegan dishes.
While the Japanese diet is healthy, it centres mostly on fish and meat. But nonetheless, sticking to your vegetarian diet is possible, and that doesn’t mean eating sushi all day! If you’ll be going on a Tokyo tour soon, here are some 5 awesome food choices that are not only deliciously mouthwatering but are also vegan-friendly:
Okonomiyaki is a savoury pancake loaded with various ingredients that has become one of the favorite vegan dishes of foreigners. Its name literally means “grilled as you like it” so you have the option on what goes into it. This is cooked on a hotplate right in front of you and afterwards, slathered in delicious sauce. Since it’s made-to-order, you can opt for a cabbage-based or noodle-based Okonomiyaki and customize it based on how you want it!
2. Vegan Ramen
You might have been intrigued why there’s a huge fuzz about Japanese Ramen. It’s mostly because of its distinct flavor — brought by its soup, umami, and noodle type. This much-loved Japanese dish comes in different flavors and combinations and you’d be happy to come across restaurants which serve Vegan Ramen. Just make sure that their soup broth does not contain dashi — a type of soup or cooking stock made of pork bones, shellfish, beef bones, or fish.
Tempura is also a familiar dish among visiting foreigners. It usually consists of either seafood or vegetables that are lightly battered and deep fried. Just like the Okonomiyaki, Tempura is cooked-to-order so you can easily request if you’d like meat or fish to be excluded in the dish. Apart from being a delicious crispy taste and customizable option, tempura is also the vegan dish in Japan that’s easiest to find!
If you’re not a fan of Tofu, that’s because you haven’t tried one in Japan. The Japanese are said to be masters of this extremely versatile bean curd loaded with proteins! You can opt for it to be served either boiled (yudofu) or fried (agedofu). It’s so versatile that it can be used in sweet and savory dishes such as Hiyayakko, Yudofu and Miso Soup. So, leave your prejudices behind and try this dish that’s about to become your next favorite vegan dish!
Kushiage, more commonly known as Kushikatsu, are gourmet food options you should definitely try when you visit Japan! These are known to be the country’s best deep-fried food on a stick found in Izakaya restaurants (those pubs which offer tapa-style food). “Kushi” refers to the bamboo skewer while “katsu” is the meat (or vegetable) cutlet that’s fried in panko-breadcrumb coating. When you’re about to try this dish, don’t forget to let the cook know that you prefer just vegetables!
While research is a must-do before embarking on your first day tour in Tokyo, keep in mind that not all Japanese people speak English fluently. You need to take note of useful and specific phrases to let restaurateurs know that you’re a vegetarian looking for vegan meals only. No one wants a trip ruined by a disastrous meal, right?
Finding the best vegan dishes in Japan is only one of the few things to do for a vegan lover like you in the city. If you’d like to get the most out of your trip and discover vegetarian recommendations, ask a local instead! Join free walking tours in Tokyo and get first-hand tips and secrets about Japan’s local culture.
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Ronica is a writer who loves books and photography. She likes to discover new dishes, explore places she's never been to, and try exciting activities. She hopes to satisfy her curiosity by traveling the world.