Eat Well in TokyoJapan is, more than anywhere else in Asia, somewhere that it's well worth making a significant effort to take the subway and even plan a day sightseeing around meals. For some restaurants foreigners make up a significant proportion of customers, so given how often restaurants close, that extra time you spend may just make a difference to a restaurant staying in business. Also, it's often impossible to find vegan food at 'normal' Japanese restaurants, and thirdly, because Japanese vegan food, or Japanese-made fusion food, is so good (probably the best in Asia, if you're willing to make he effort to find it), so it's such a loss to scrape by on "fried potatoes" (chips) or bowls of white rice elsewhere, and tragic to make "compromises" or become "flexible" as so many previously or otherwise vegetarians seem to do.
Use HappyCowI can't recommend the Happycow Android App enough for basic survival (in the cities). It tells where the nearest restaurants are at any time, and Google Maps can be easily used to get directions to the noluearby restaurants it finds. It always pays to call ahead first though in case they are closed or fully booked (especially Friday and Saturday nights).
SummaryIn this post I aim to summarise the most popular vegetarian restaurants to foreign travellers, mostly as a result of their location. But there are plenty of excellent restaurants not here, especially in north-western Tokyo, which unfortunately has little to offer most short-term visitors.
Categories of food are intended to be useful rather than definitive genres of food. Locations are likewise: they can be anything from a station to a city.
This page is always a work in progress. Please feel free to comment if you think I have missed something or something is out of date.
KeyPrices include a drink and dessert if it would be normal to have one at such a meal.
$ = inexpensive ( <1000 Yen)
$$ = midrange (1000 - 2000Yen)
$$$ = expensive (< 3000 Yen)
* = exceptionally good food worth adding to your list.
Tokyo Station, Imperial Gardens and Yasakuni ShrineThis area will probably top any visitor's itinerary, and if you live in Tokyo you'll probably pass through Tokyo Station fairly often, so it's fortunate that there are two great vegan eateries nearby.
Main Article: Tokyo Loving Hut
|$$||Japanese, Taiwanese, International||Mon-Fri: 11:30 - 17:00, Sat: 11:30 - 15:30||Website||Happycow|
|〒101-0051 東京都千代田区神田神保町1-54岡田ビル２F |
Okada Bldg 2F, 1-54, Kandajinbocho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0051
|Directions on Loving Hut page .|
While smaller than most Loving Huts around the world (a reality in a country in which very few people would ever consider visiting a vegan restaurant) the Tokyo Loving Hut serves a delicious a la carte menu and a great buffet on Saturday afternoons, which is in my opinion the best-value meal in Tokyo at 1500 Yen. See my featured article of the Loving Hut here. They do a lot of vegan catering for events, and run cooking classes, so their hours change frequently, so it's always best to check their calendar here (scroll down) or call them on 03-5577-6880. The Loving Hut has long been one of my favourite restaurants in Tokyo.
|It can look nicer than this, but however it looks, this 1500 Yen buffet (Sat only) is Tokyo's best-value meal.|
|$||ramen, curry||07:00 - 23:00 |
|Inside the ticket gate of Tokyo Station.||Follow directions to Keiyo Line -> Keiyo Food Street.|
When you're passing through Tokyo Station (eg for a Shinkansen ride, or for the Narita Express to or from Narita Airport) be sure to enjoy a bowl of ramen from T's Tantan. It will probably the only place you'll find it vegan, since the broth is virtually always made with fish flakes (called dashi) and perhaps other animal stock powders, though chefs at most restaurants won't think of this when they offer it to you in the same conversation that you explain you don't eat fish. (Chabuton ramen chain now offer a vegan ramen too, but it's not nearly as good.) T's Tantan promote veganism to their mostly non-vegan clientele in a gentle but powerful style with symbols and phrases (curiously in English) all over the walls, leaving diners with no doubt that they are enjoying a plant based meal. It's inside the ticket gate (but not the Shinkansen gate), so don't exit the station. Head towards the Keio Line, and then Keio Street (an underground food "street"). If you happen to come from outside the station (which seems unlikely) you'll need to buy a ticket into the station.
|a bowl of ramen from T's Tantan, Tokyo Station|
While they clearly aim to serve vegan versions of trusted traditional Japanese favourites to non-vegan passers-by, their menu is always expanding, and I particularly like their authentic Thai Massaman Curry (summer only)! They have also added soy pudding (better than it might sound) on weekdays (lunchtime only).
|Thai Massaman curry, soy pudding and orange juice from T's Tantan - a great lunch for 1500 Yen.|
|$||macrobiotic||Mon - Fri 11:30 - 16:00||Website||Happycow |
(read these reviews)
|〒101-0054 東京都千代田区神田錦町3-19-21 橋ビル1F See Map||Takebashi Station, Exit 3B|
|Kushi Garden now has a simpler, set-based menu, so no longer offers these a-la-carte dishes (2015).|
Kushi Garden, like the nearby Loving Hut, is a pioneer of vegan food in Tokyo, and has survived while so many other great vegan restaurants of its time have closed. It's menu has been reduced to three items only, all for under 1000 Yen, but it's still a good option for healthy(ish) vegan food around this prime area of Tokyo
Pita the Great
|$$||donor kebabs||call 03-55630851||no website||Happycow|
|〒107-0052 Tokyo, Minato, Akasaka, 2 Chome−11−7, ATT新館2階||Tameikesan-No Station, Exit 12 |
Walk clockwise around the ATT Building and follow signs and stairs from the back.
Pita the Great is run by a friendly, eccentric Israeli man who has been serving up legendary falafel sandwiches (now all vegan) for decades. You'll do well to find him there and open though, however I heard a rumour that he always opens 12- 1PM weekdays (and never weekends). He seems to spend much of his time running about delivering his famous pita breads around Tokyo, so be sure to call ahead before you visit, as there isn't much else vegan around the area.
Shibuya is the home of the young, fashion-conscious crowd in Tokyo. If you're visiting Tokyo, you'll visit Shibuya, probably to see the famous Shibuya Crossing, and the surge of humanity that through this famous intersection each time the pedestrian lights turn green.
As well as the famous Shibuya Crossing, be sure to take a stroll through Yoyogi Koen (Yoyogi Park), one of my favourite places in Tokyo.
|Yoyogi Park is like Tokyo's backyard, where people come to stroll, jog, picnic, play music, kick a ball around, or rehearse theatrical performances.|
It's also worth taking a walk around nearby Harajuku, the heart of the young fashion scene (even more than Shibuya). The closest vegan restaurant to Harajuku and Yoyogi Park is Hannada Rosso (below), which serves delicious macrobiotic food.
|$$||Japanese / fusion||Mon - Sun12:00 - 16:00 (LO: 15:00) |
Mon-Sat:18:00 - 23:00 (LO: 22:30)
|15-10 Uguisudani-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo||550m walk south of Shibuya Station. Requires map but worth the effort.|
|a lunch set from Nagi Shokudo|
Nagi Shokudo, or "Nagi" as it's known by its loyal fan base, probably serves the most authentic Japanese vegan food in Shibuya, and the set meals are particularly good, with so many different foods to try. It's doesn't have the most beautiful interior (so perhaps not one for a business lunch) and it can be a bit difficult to find without a smartphone, but such great Japanese food at an all-vegan restaurant makes it well worth the trouble and the 5-10 minute walk (from Shibuya Station) to get there.<
Kuumba Du Falafel
|$$||falafel||hours vary - call first |
|website (not much here)||Happycow|
|渋谷区神泉町23−1||15 minute uphill walk from Shibuya Station, Exit 3|
|Kuumba Du Falafel even serve Phoenix drinks from Auckland.|
Kuumba Du Falafel used to be one of my favourite places to go for a simple, delicious meal near Shibuya, however over the last year or two I've found that the standard has slipped somewhat, and this is confirmed in its recent reviews by reviewers I know and trust. If you're in the area and really want falafel it's worth considering, but I'd make Vespera's Falafel a much higher priority. Pita the Great's falafel may be even better, but it's harder to find open and there's no indoor seating. Kuumba is very much a distant third among vegan falafel places in Tokyo. For more info see my page of falafel here.
It's about a 15 minute walk from Shibuya Station.
If you're hungry after a stroll through Yoyogi Park and/or Harajuku, head to the macrobiotic restaurant Hannada Rosso. While it's a perfectly delicious burger meal offered by friendly and welcoming staff, it's little different to any decent burger you'll eat anywhere, so it's not somewhere to plan to eat at. It's just where I go when hunger kicks in after an afternoon at Yoyogi Park.
|a burger from Hanada Rosso in Harajuku (near Yoyogi Park)|
Olu Olu Cafe
Also a short hop on the Den-en Toshi line from Shibuya is the Hawaiian-themed, all-vegan Olu Olu Cafe. Delicious, inexpensive Hawaiian / fusion food is served by a friendly couple, in a pleasant, stylish Hawaiian-themed interior. Its vegan owners want to present great food in a friendly, welcoming Hawaiian atmosphere, and they've certainly succeeded in both. This is the place to go for something different in this part of Tokyo, or just somewhere to head for what will likely be one of your best meals in Tokyo.
|Olu Olu Cafe near Shibuya, Tokyo|
If you're hungry in Shibuya Station, pick up a cup of soymilk (I like the "Mixed Berry Soy Milk Pearly") from Mr Bean, the Singaporian soy milk company. Beware that the ice creams and all the foods contain egg or diary products.
ShinjukuShinjuku is like a little slice of life in Tokyo, with business and entertainment a plenty. It's well worth a stroll around, and a trip up the Shinjuku Metropolitan Towers for the view (though Tokyo Sky Tree is probably better). I used to recommend the Loving Hut for this area, however it recently moved to Jimbocho (perfect for visiting the Imperial Gardens, Yasakuni Shrine etc) so I need to recommend other places in Shinkuku. This blog is always a work in progress...
Point is one of my favourite tiny, a-la-carte restaurants in Tokyo. A tiny establishment, run by one friendly and talented chef who also doubles as waiter and dishwasher, this place serves delicious set meals in a peaceful atmosphere. Call ahead to make sure you can reserve one of the few seats, especially on busy nights. Photos to come.
North of Shinjuku in Shin Okubo (Korea town) is Saishoku Kenbi. They used to do an incredible lunch buffet, but they're still worth visiting for the a la carte menu. While they do serve egg and dairy products, they have plenty of vegan options.
|a set lunch at Saishoku Kenbi|
Ueno & Akihabara
This place boasts itself as selling Shojin Ryori, traditional Japanese temple food. Traditionally such food is very expensive (at least 5000 Yen p/p) but an amazing experience, which should be enjoyed at least once while in Japan, preferably in Kyoto. However Komaki Syokudo's sets are surprisingly similar, with the beauty, simplicity and perfection of Shojin Ryori for a fraction of the price, at around 1000 Yen for a basic set. If you're shopping or window shopping in Akihabara then this is the obvious place to come for lunch.
|Lunch set from Komaki Syokudo|
While its Happycow location is correct, Komaki Syokudo has all the ingredients of a place hard to find: it's in one of many commercial buildings around a busy hub, surrounded by so many skyscrapers that GPS doesn't always work so well. It's inside the Charbara department store, under the tracks and opposite the UDX building. I forgot to note this down, so please let me know if there is a specific exit number - arigatou! When you enter it's at the far right corner.
|Komaki Syokudo is in the Chabara Centre.|
Buona Tsuba Tsuba is in between Ueno and Shinjuku, and is well worth the visit from either of these (or from Tokyo Station). Somewhat expensive, it uses millet and other healthy grains to create delicious vegan Italian food. The same owners also run Tsuba Tsuba Cafe nearby, which I haven't made it to for years.
Buona Tsuba Tsuba should be included on any visitor's must-visit list. I intend to write a complete post on it soon.
If you're in the mood for spending up, or watching others spend up, head to Ginza, and while there, try a delicious meal from Ain Soph. From 2PM - 5PM on Saturday, and midday to 5PM (6PM April to September) on Sunday the main streets are closed to cars and become pedestrian zones.
There is also a branch of Nataraj in Ginza. Since they stopped serving their value lunch buffet there is really little to recommend them for, as their a la carte meals are, in my opinion, grossly overpriced, and you'll probably find a more flavoursome meal elsewhere for half the price. But if you must eat Indian in Ginza then this might have to be the place. For more info see my separate page on vegetarian Indian restaurants in Tokyo.
ChibaTo me, Chiba feels like Tokyo's sprawl, and while it's no doubt a convenient place to live, it's unlikely to top many tourists itineraries, except as an entrance and exit point through Narita Airport. Some people may wish to go to Chiba for Disneyland (which may or may not abuse animals - more research needed) or better perhaps for birdwatching.
|Bird watching in Chiba is a great way to escape the city without leaving the city.|
Note that Happycow (rightly) lists Chiba as a separate city from Tokyo, so restaurants there won't show up under Tokyo (but will show up on the Happycow Android App if you are in the area). According to Happycow, the only vegan cafe is Sweet & Peace Cafe, which I haven't made it to yet. It's about one and a half hours from Tokyo Station or two hours from Narita Airport. Nikoniko restaurant also looks good, and is about the same distance from both. If you're tired after a long journey and just want a good meal, the best bet is probably just to head to Tokyo Station and go to T's Tantan, or the Loving Hut.
RoppongiIf you're 'going out' in Tokyo, you're probably going to Roppongi.
|$$||Taiwanese||11:30 - 14:00 |
16:30 - 21:30
|Korean Kimchi and as Taiwanese as it can get: Ma Po Tofu|
This branch of Chien-Fu, a chain of Taiwanese vegetarian restaurants, is the place to eat in Roppongi. Food is typical tofu and mock meats, but my Ma Po tofu (a taste of Taiwan for when I miss it) was delicious, and very similar to what I used to eat from my closest vegetarian restaurant soon after I arrived in Taiwan.
Chien-Fu also have a branch in Kunitachi (about 30 minutes by train west of Shinjuku.)
Nirvanum?I'm reluctant to recommend a non-vegetarian restaurant with so many vegetarian restaurants to choose from in Tokyo, but Nirvanam have a vegan/jain menu, and their masala dosas are excellent. They are close to Kamiyacho Station, one stop from Roppongi on the Hibiya Line. They also have a new store near Toranomon Station.
Eastern TokyoEastern Tokyo, much like most of Tokyo's sprawl, offers little to the traveller, but it's home to one of Japan's oldest Taiwanese restaurants, It's Vegetable, and one of its best Cafes, Sasaya Cafe.
|$$||macrobiotic / fusion||hours||website||Happycow|
|〒130-0003 Tokyo, Sumida, 横川1-1-10||directions|
Sasaya Cafe is one of Tokyo's top vegan cafes. Located adjacent a pleasant city park (but without much of a view of it) it serves delicious all-vegan food (the odd dish contains honey) in a spacious, mostly wooden interior. Prices are very reasonable, at around 1000 Yen for a simple set meal. They also serve some delicious baked goods, and a natural cola. If you want to hang out before or after visiting the Sky Tree, perhaps while you sit out the wait for your turn to queue, then this is the place to come.
|A fresh and delicious Tempeh curry set from Sasaya Cafe|
It serves fairly traditional Taiwanese foods, perhaps slightly better presented than most food in Taiwan to cater to Japanese tastes. It gets mixed reviews, but even having spent many years in Taiwan I still enjoy it occasionally. Non-vegan items seem to be quite clearly labelled, a rarity among Taiwanese restaurants around the world.
|I can't help myself when it comes to ordering Ma Po Tofu from Taiwanese restaurants.|
North-Western TokyoThis suburban sprawl has many good (mostly small, western/fusion) restaurants, many of which are not far from central Tokyo and are worth the effort to get to them, though I must admit that living in Yokohama it's so far away from here that I rarely do make it there.
This new falafel eatery is more than just falafel, and it's located in Koenji, the centre for alternative youth culture in Tokyo, and well worth an explore. It also has other vegan restaurants nearby. Prices are incredibly cheap for such good food, with mains starting at 500 Yen. Main page here.
Cafe Rappa is a small, alternative vegan cafe run by a man who is clearly passionate about healthy, vegan food. It's about 20 minutes from Shinjuku. See my main post here.
Tokyo's first raw-food restaurant has been around for years. Located in a pleasant suburb, not far from Mejiro Station, La Table offers a delicious and surprisingly filling raw meal for 2-3000 Yen. It's all vegan except for possibly honey.
Deva Deva cafe is one of Tokyo's most popular and famous vegetarian hangouts for years. There are plenty of vegan options, including some of the best pizzas and burgers in Tokyo.
YokohamaIf you're headed to Yokohama (for Chinatown and Yamashita Park, or for the Yokohama anti-fur march) it's best to eat before you come, since there are no vegetarian restaurants in the city. The best option is to stop at T's Restaurant (Jiyugaoka Station) if coming on the Tokyo Toyoko / Minatomirai Line, and Phono Kafe (Kamata Station) if coming on the JR Line. . If you do get stuck for food in Yokohama, the best option is the Indian restaurant Sitar (close to Chinatown). The owner, Kumar (who is almost always there) understands what vegans can and can't eat and he (or his staff) will make sure that your meal is vegan. If you're taking the Shinkansen, Maharaja Indian restaurant (chain) on the 9th floor of Shin-Yokohama Station (Cubic Plaza) does vegetarian dishes (including South Indian food) and the helpful manager is always happy to explain what can be made vegan.
T's restaurant (owned by the same company as T's Tantan) on the way (Jiyugaoka Station on the Tokyu Toyoko / Minatomirai line to Yokohama). It serves excellent fusion cuisine, and is perhaps worth a visit even if you're not on your way to Yokohama. They also started serving some ramen (like at T's Tantan) during "tea time" in the afternoon, during which time they also serve cakes and drinks.
|No it isn't cheese, from T's Restaurant, Jiyugaoka.|
|salad and dessert from T's Restaurant in Jiyugoaka|
|$$||macrobiotic, Japanese, fusion||Fri-Mon 11:30 - 19:30 |
Phono Kafe is a charming little a-la-carte restaurant in Kamata (Tokyo), which is easily accessible from central Tokyo and Yokohama. It's close to Haneda Airport, so this is the logical stop before or after a flight. It's a very pleasant and interesting 15 minute walk from Keikyu Kamata Station (a short ride from the airport), mostly along a river and through a quaint little suburb. It may of course be necessary to taxi if coming with luggage, or leave it in a locker. It's closer to Kamata Station (for Yokohama or Tokyo) but not worth changing trains if coming from the airport.
|Set meals at Phono Cafe are excellent value at around 1000 Yen.|
Nothing especially stands out about Phono Kafe, but it's just a great restaurant in every measure: food is fresh, healthy and delicious and prices are very low for such good food, with some set meals under 1000 Yen. Its pleasant dining area includes western style tables, a small Japanese-style private dining room and bar-side seating. The long-time vegan owner is friendly and helpful, and while the menu is in Japanese, you really can't go wrong with it all being such great vegan food. Language shouldn't be a problem, and if you don't understand just order a set meal.
Hours: 11:30AM - 7:30PM, Last Order 7:00PM
Closed Tuesday - Thursday
Phone: 03 64286392
View Phono Kafe in a larger map
Food CategoriesThese categories are intended to be useful rather than 'accurate' and in reality the lines are blurred, especially between macrobiotic and western/fusion.
Authentic JapaneseThere are very few truly Japanese vegetarian restaurants, as the Japanese diet is mostly based around fish. However, this rather empty category includes food which looks and feels very authentically Japanese, from high-end sushi to ramen. These should be tried by anyone visiting Japan. The most quintessential Japanese food to try in Japan is the (expensive) shojin ryori (Buddhist temple food).
MacrobioticThe macrobiotic diet is a simple, balanced diet with emphasis on healthy grains. I'm not a big fan of it because I find the dishes sometimes quite bland, and know little about it, but I trust it's very healthy, and it is very popular in Japan. It goes back to Hippocrates, but has been practised in Japan for centuries. Many macrobiotic places are vegan, but some serve fish products. Most of their desserts are vegan, but it's always best to ask.
Western / FusionThis category includes common restaurants serving food popular with Japanese vegans (or omnivores). It generally includes some Japanese and some western-style dishes (especially salads), but is presented beautifully, Japanese-style, and is not unlike much modern Japanese food eaten all over Japan, especially by younger generations. This section does not include macrobiotic (below), though they often overlap.
Organic & RawDon't underestimate raw food, for flavour or health benefits.
The best cuisine in the world in my humble opinion, equal with Thai food. Most Indian restaurants in Japan serve North Indian food, and most will have a chef who speaks some English and may be able to make do a vegan dish, though the more I talk to vegetarian Japanese and Indians, and the more they warn me that many places use animal-based stocks in their vegetable curries, the less I trust random (non-vegetarian) Indian restaurants. But these vegetarian branches have been around for a long time, and with the exception of Govinda's Edogawa-ku, most have a good understanding of what is vegan, with items containing dairy products clearly marked on the menu.