Sunday, 28 February 2021

Tokyo's Best Vegan Restaurants in 2021

Updated in March, 2021. The nation remains closed to foreign tourists. While I am endeavouring to keep this up-to-date for the benefit of expatriate residents and anyone who must visit Japan, I strongly recommend as little travel in Japan as possible while it overcomes the pandemic. 


Japan is, more than anywhere else in Asia, somewhere that it's worth making the extra effort to visit wholly vegan restaurants, and even to plan a day sightseeing around meals, and the purpose of my guidebook (please see opposite) is to make this as easy as possible for travellers. Staff at most 'ordinary' Japanese restaurants won't have any understanding of veganism, and most restaurant owners are reluctant to adapt dishes to suit vegans.

Furthermore, for many vegan restaurants in Japan, foreigners make up a significant proportion of customers, and given that few new vegan restaurants in Tokyo survive longer than two years, that extra time you spend may just make a difference to a restaurant staying in business or not. It's tragic how many former vegans start making "compromises" or become "flexible" in Japan, and I hope this page (and my guidebook) will make it that bit easier not to.

Tokyo Outings

In this post I follow these four itineraries from my guidebook. The areas described are not official city districts but simply definitions which are intended to be useful to foreign tourists, because dividing up the city this way allows travellers to see Tokyo's main attractions in about four days.







Harajuku, Shibuya, Omotesando, Yebisu & Roppongi

This itinerary covers Tokyo's youth fashion and shopping districts, the more upmarket Omotesando district (for older shoppers), the business and nightclub capital of Roppongi, Yoyogi Park (Tokyo's 'backyard'), and the Yebisu neighbourhood, which is famous for its namesake beer which used to be made there but is now popular as an interesting old neighbourhood which features some of the capital's best-value vegan restaurants. Eat well on this itinerary.

Omotesando (表参道)


Omotesando is a shopping fashion centre for Tokyoites -- and tourists -- in their thirties and fourties. If you're too old for Harajuku, and too young -- or just too poor -- for Ginza, then you may find yourself at home here in Omotesando. 

Brown Rice Canteen ($$, Macrobiotic, Organic, 🌱)

Mon-Fri: 12:00-17:00; Sat-Sun: 11:30-18:00 (last order one hour before closing).

One minute’s walk from Omotesando Station, Exit 1. Take the first left into a small alleyway, and it will be on your right.

150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前5-1-8 1F
5-1-8 jingumae, Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-0001

Directions

website, Happycow

03-5778-5416

Delicious, healthy, beautifully presented macrobiotic meals.
Moderately expensive, but excellent value given the food, interior and location.

Update this listing.




This trendy, healthy, macrobiotic café was one of the earliest vegan cafes in Tokyo, and it has stood the test of time to become famous among vegans and health-conscious Tokyoites. It’s now connected to Neals Yard, a large, UK-based supplier of healthy and organic foods, and goes by that name and also the Brown Rice Café.

Like most Japanese macrobiotic restaurants, it turns brown rice and seasonal vegetables into delicious, satisfying and (of course) beautifully presented meal sets, starting at around ¥2,000. This is a slight premium over similar restaurants around Tokyo and Japan, but perfectly reasonable for such quality food at a famous restaurant, in one of Japan’s most upmarket shopping districts. I wouldn’t make a special trip here as this type of food can be found all over Japan, but while in Omotesando or Shibuya it’s well worth a visit for what may be one of your best Japanese meals outside of Kyoto.
Compared with other good macrobiotic restaurants in Tokyo, Nezu No Ya (near Ueno) serves much simpler meals for about half the price, while Ain Soph Ginza (Tokyo’s most upmarket vegan restaurant) serves much more elaborate sets for around double the price. I consider all three to be of equal value, given their food, service, interior and location.

Compared with other good macrobiotic restaurants in Tokyo, Nezu No Ya (see below) serves much simpler meals for about half the price, while Ain Soph Ginza (Tokyo’s most upmarket vegan restaurant -- see below) serves much more elaborate sets for around double the price. I consider all three to be of equal value, given their food, service, interior and location.

Organic Table by Lapaz ($$, Fusion, 🌱)

Temporarily closed during the state of emergency. 

150-0001 東京都渋谷区 神宮前3丁目3811 原宿ニューロイヤルビル
Shibuya-ku, Jingu-mae, Harajuku 3-38-11, New Royal Building (1st Floor)

03-6438-9624

Quality, inexpensive food in a spacious, sunny interior.  
Real deer head on the wall (unless the vegan community has persuaded them to remove it).

Happycow, Facebook, website

Directions

Update this restaurant.



 This stylish, organic vegan restaurant has also stood the test of time, probably for its balance of healthy food, its large, sunny interior, and especially its surprisingly inexpensive meal sets, starting from around ¥1200 for a South-Indian meal. But you’ll probably be tempted by some of the best desserts in Tokyo (from around ¥700) and perhaps some take-out goods, which they also sell online.
Unfortunately, there is a deer head in the dining area, showing that (like at so many good restaurants in Japan) the owners are not motivated by a concern for animals.


Restaurant 8ablish ($$, Fusion, 🌱)

Mon, Wed-Sat: 11:30-20:00; closed Tue
Two minutes’ walk from Omotesando Station, Exit B1.
Twenty minutes’ walk from Harajuku Station and the entrances to Yoyogi Park and Meiji Jingu Shrine.   
107-0062 東京都港区南青山5丁目10−17
5 Chome-10-17 Minamiaoyama, Minato City, Tokyo 107-0062
03-6805-0597
A pioneer of vegan food in Tokyo. Pleasant vegan interior and great food. Open for dinner.
A little expensive for the portion sizes. 


On my first visit to Tokyo almost a decade ago, high on my restaurant list was the famous Café 8, which at that time was a class ahead of anything else in Japan, if not in much of the world. Its owners never gave up the tough battle to keep vegan restaurants alive in Tokyo, and this is their latest venture after the sad closure of Café Eight and its sister cafe, the even more famous Pure Café. They also own a couple of small vegan bakeries. I personally find their food a little overpriced compared with other options in Tokyo, but it offers the same quality fusion food that its owners have been serving up for many years, and its string of great reviews confirms that its loyal customers are happy with the food and the dining experience.

Olu Olu Café ($$, Hawaiian, 🌱, ❓)

Temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Please check their Facebook page for updates. 
12 minutes’ walk from Sangejaya Station on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line, two stops southwest of Shibuya Station. It’s also on the Tokyu Setagaya Line.
Wed-Sun: 10:00-17:00; closed Mon-Tue. 
154-0001 東京都世田谷区池尻1丁目11−1
1 Chome-11-1 Ikejiri, Setagaya, Tokyo 154-0001
03-3795-6060 (staff speak English). 
Great Hawaiian food at surprisingly low prices, served in a relaxed and welcoming store by vegan hosts. 
A little bit off the tourist route, but well worth the trip on the subway. 


This vegan restaurant has been one of my favourites for many years. The friendly couple who run it wanted to run a vegan restaurant for all the right reasons, and they felt that Hawaiian food and culture has a happy, welcoming vibe, which would make customers feel good about their food and about veganism. And their formula has clearly worked. If you would like a unique (for Asia), vegan meal without spending a fortune, then it’s well worth the short subway trip to get here. Their recently introduced burgers are very popular.

Shibuya (渋谷) 

Peace Café Hawaii ($, Western, 🌱)

Mon-Sat: 11:00-21:00.

Inside the B2 food court of the Shibuya Scramble Building, five minutes’ walk southeast of Shibuya Crossing. Peace Café is just beside the information counter at the far right-hand corner of the building if coming down the escalators from the building’s main entrance. 

東京都渋谷区渋谷2-24-12 渋谷スクランブルスクエア

Tokyu Food Show Edge B2F, 2 Chome-24-12 Shibuya, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0002

Healthy, inexpensive vegan deli.
Only standing room for eating (but excellent for take-out meals). 


This new deli, which came to Japan from Hawaii in late 2019, offers a large array of vegan salads, proteins and other light dishes, as well as smoothies and ice cream. The best deal is the lunch set, which for around ¥1,000 includes a main dish (options include fried tempeh, soy meat and other proteins), a side dish and two salads, all of which are colour coded to make selection easier. These take-out meals are a good alternative to ones from T’s Tantan or Ekiben (both inside Tokyo Station -- see below) if you are staying closer to Shibuya Station than Tokyo Station. This is the most convenient option for a quick meal in Shibuya.
Some customers complain that dishes here are served cold. Just around the corner from Peace Café (in the middle of the food court) are some standing tables where customers can eat, and beside them are two microwave ovens which customers are free to use. Meals could also be taken to the nearby Yoyogi Park for a picnic.


Nagi Shokudo ($$, Macrobiotic, 🌱, ❓)

Temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Please check their Facebook page for updates. 
Five minutes’ walk uphill from Shibuya Station, South Exit. It can be very difficult to find without Google Maps.
150-0032東京都渋谷区鶯谷町15-10
15-10 Uguisudanicho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0032
Good, big, Japanese meal for a reasonable price.
Crowded, run-down interior.

Kuppuro Setto (Couples’ Set): ¥4,500


Nagi is one of Tokyo’s oldest and most famous vegan restaurants. Despite being operated out of a dingy and usually overcrowded basement, its loyal following of both local and expatriate Shibuyites eat here for its generously sized portions, and especially their set meals. Nagi serves typical macrobiotic fusion cuisine, but because most vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo serve burgers, falafel, Indian and Taiwanese food, Nagi is one of the most authentic Japanese restaurants between Kyoto and Sapporo. If you need a large, satisfying Japanese meal in Shibuya, especially if you’re out late, then this is the place to come.
While this may change before you read this, at the time of research the Singles Set is only available to people who enter the restaurant on their own; two people who visit together cannot order two single sets, nor can one of them order a Single Set and another order something different. The food is similar but probably slightly better, and certainly more international, at Meu Nota (see below). The atmosphere there is also more pleasant, but it requires reservations in advance for dinner. But both are restaurants which I would only advise dining at if you are in the area (or, for Meu Nota, if you know that you will be ahead of time), because there’s nothing unique enough about either to make them worth a special trip to.

Kuumba Du Falafel ($$, Middle Eastern,  🌱)

Tue-Sat: 11:30-14:30, 5:30-21:00; Sun: 11:30-19:00; closed Mon 
Fifteen minutes’ walk west (uphill) from Shibuya Station, Exit 3
150-0045 東京都渋谷区神泉町23
ME Building.1F 23-1 Shinsen-chou, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0045
Large, inexpensive meal sets with great falafel. 
Long walk uphill; little seating in or near the café; unfriendly staff. 


This inexpensive Middle Eastern café has been serving up the same delicious falafel plates for several years. It’s always had a bit of a strange vibe, it’s a long uphill walk from Shibuya Station, and it has limited seating, so customers often need to wait, or purchase takeaway meals without anywhere to eat them nearby. And its staff are unfriendly at best and often quite rude. But its delicious meals, which start at around ¥1,000, make up for all of that.

Ebisu (恵比寿)

Ebisu is best known for its namesake beer, which is why most people visit, especially for the beer museum which is housed in the former berwery. But its Ebisu Garden place is an interesting old district to explore even for people who don't drink like myself. The large pedestrian-only area often hosts festivals during weekends, and sometimes free film viewings on evenings during the warmer months. It's also home to some of Tokyo's healthiest and best-value mid-range vegan restaurants. 

Rainbow Raw Food / Hemp Café ($$$, Raw, Hemp,  🌱, ❓)

Rainbow Raw Food Café
Temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Please check their Facebook page for updates. 
Tue-Sat Lunch: 11:00-14:30 (L.O. 14:30); Café: 14:30-17:00

Hemp Café
Mon: 17:00-23:00; Tue-Sat: 11:30-14:30, 18:00-22:00; closed Sun. 

For Both Cafes
150-0011 東京都渋谷区東3-17-14-8F
3-17-14-8F, Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Japan 150-0011
Healthy raw food.
Small, expensive portions (but prices are fair for raw food). 


This schizophrenic restaurant serves healthy raw food by day, and then morphs into a Hemp Cafe at night, when similar dishes have Hemp products added, and the prices increase. It also features a unique Hawaiian surf theme. The Google (and Happycow) locations are correct, but it’s better known as Rainbow Raw Food than the Hemp Café, and finding it can be confusing if you don’t know in advance that they are the same place.

Ko-So Café ($$, Western, Fusion, 🌱)

Thu-Tue: 11:00-20:00; closed Wednesday. 
Three minutes’ north of Ebisu Station, West Exit. Follow the road around to the right and under the overhead train tracks. Then take the second left, and Ko-So is on the ground floor of the third building on the right, and is well-signposted in green (and in English).
(Ko-So is actually on the east side of the train tracks, but due to the layout of the roads it’s faster to get there from the West Exit).  
150-0011, 3-25-3 ライオンズプラザ恵比寿
3-25-3 Higashi | Lions Plaza Ebisu 1F, Shibuya 150-0011, Tokyo
Best-value Western restaurant in Tokyo; gluten free options. 

Ko-So probably serves Tokyo's best salads.

Ko-So cafe is, on balance of cost, nutritional value, location and dining experience, one of Tokyo’s best vegan cafes. It offers simple, healthy cuisine, mostly Western comfort foods, with basic sets like pasta (with a choice of delicious sauces) starting from around ¥1,000. Gluten free options are available, including the pasta. It also serves a good range of desserts, with daily options from around ¥500. While food at the nearby Rainbow Raw Food / Hemp Café is probably healthier, Ko-So Café serves the best salad I’ve found in Tokyo.

Ballon Tokyo ($$, Falafel, Ice Cream,  🌱)

Mon-Fri: 12:00-16:00, 18:00-22:00; Sat-Sun: 12:00-18:00. 
5 minutes’ walk from Nakameguro Station, two stops south of Shibuya Station on the Tōkyū Tōyoko Line which connects Tokyo and Yokohama, and one stop southwest of Ebisu Station on the Hibiya Line. 
153-0061 東京都目黒区中目黒3丁目2−19 ラミアール中目黒
153-0061 Tōkyō-to, Meguro City, Nakameguro, 3-chōme−2−19 Ramiaru, Nakameguro 153-0061
Falafel and Ice Cream make an unusual but palatable combination, especially during summer.
It’s a convenient stop on the way to Yokohama, and close to the famous Meguro River cherry blossom promenade.
Limited choice compared with other falafel joints in Tokyo. 




Tokyo’s fourth vegan falafel joint is unique in that it also serves soy-based ice cream. There is only a choice of two falafel pitas: with or without coriander, so the menu is much less tailored to individual taste than are the other three falafel stores. The soy ice creams are somewhat small for ¥500, but delicious nonetheless, especially on a hot summer’s day. I never like seeing places offering bribes for Happycow reviews, as this place does (or did): add a review to their long list and you’ll receive your scoop of ice cream for free. They appear to have discontinued this policy, but I can see that the reviews they bought (with ice cream) have earned them “Top rated restaurant in Tokyo” status. 

Roppongi (六本木)

Mention Roppongi to anyone in Tokyo, and they’ll think booze & nightclubs. If you’re ‘going out’ in Tokyo, chances are it will be here in Roppongi. But many tourists also visit for the gaudy and old but ever-popular Tokyo Tower, and the city-in-a-district Roppongi Hills tower.

Falafel Brothers Roppongi (ファラフェルブラザーズ, $, Takeout Only, 🌱)

Mon-Fri: 11:00-20:30; Sat: 11:00-20:00; closed Sun.
3 minutes’ walk from Roppongi Station, Exit 5. Turn right as you exit (to walk down Roppongi Dori Ave), and then take the first right down Imoarai Zaka Street (芋洗坂), a small one-way street which comes off at the intersection with the busy Gaien Higashi Dori Ave. Fafafel Brothers is well signposted at the end of Imoarai Zaka Street (about 100 metres).
東京都港区六本木5-1-10
1F, 5-1-10, Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 106-0032
03-6459-2844
Great falafel.
Often nowhere to eat it.


Nothing really stands out about this falafel shop, but nothing needs to: they just serve good vegan falafel, mostly to foreigners out and about in Roppongi. The only problem is that there’s very little space to eat inside, and no good nearby place to eat, so you may end up committing the faux pas in Japan of eating on the street. 

Akihabara (秋葉原), Ueno (上野) & Asakusa (浅草) 

This itinerary covers many of Tokyo's most popular tourist districts. In my guidebook I recommend visiting on a weekend, as Ueno and Akihabara are more interesting at these times. While it's likely to be slightly busier during weekends, Asakusa is always busy with tourists (except during the Coronovirus outbreak!) so it doesn't really matter when you visit. 

Komaki Shokudou Kamakura Fushikian ($$, Japanese, こまきしょくどう 鎌倉不識庵, 🌱)

11:00-20:00
Inside the Chabara Building (grocery store) underneath the Yamanote Line tracks just north of Akihabara Station
Walk out the main exit of JR Akihabara Station into a large courtyard. On your right you should see the Yamanote Line tracks running north-south, and steps leading up to a raised walkway to the left. Walk north, just to the right of the raised (Yamanote Line) railway tracks, cross one road, and the Chabara store will be on your right underneath the train tracks. 
101-0022 東京都千代田区神田練塀町8-2 CHABARA
Chiyoda-ku, Neribeicho, 8-2 Kanda 101-0022
Shojin-ryori (Buddhist temple cuisine) is healthy, and not easy to find in central Tokyo.
It’s not nearly as good as shojin ryori served in temples; it’s expensive; rules about minimum purchases.  


This budget shojin ryori (Buddhist temple cuisine) café has a string of bad reviews on Happycow from foreigners who are not familiar with Japan. It serves some delicious shojin cuisine, with plates starting from around ¥1,000 on weekdays during the lunch period (11:00-15:00), and increasing to about ¥2,000 on weekends, when customers are expected to order a drink – not an uncommon expectation in Japan. Many foreign customers expect shojin ryori to be high-end dining, as it usually is at Buddhist temples. But shojin ryori literally means ‘devotion cuisine’, the diet of Buddhists who must have been devoted to follow it before Emperor Meiji dissolved the requirement for Buddhist monks to be vegetarian in the 1860s. So shojin is defined by being free of animal products, onions and garlic, not by its elegance or price tag. This is certainly at the cheaper end of the spectrum (especially compared with offerings in Kyoto, where most tourists experience shojin ryori) but it’s still the real deal – just a cheaper, mass-produced deal. ‘Fake shojin’ is served at restaurants which also serve animal products, but not here.

They also serve some healthy desserts for a little under ¥1,000, but (needless to say) they can only be ordered with a main meal, not as a meal.

Don’t make a special trip to Akihabara just for this – it’s not great food or great value, but if you’re here, you’re hungry, and don’t balk at the price, then it’s a decent lunch option, especially on weekdays. Fans of Indian cuisine (especially South Indian) should head north to Vege Herb Saga or the Veg Kitchen instead (see below). 

Taiwan Shokudo ($, Taiwanese, 🥛, ❓)

Hours are uncertain due to the pandemic; please call first. 
Three minutes’ walk southwest (towards the river) of Ryōgoku Station on the JR Chūō-Sōbu Line (from Akihabara Station). 
Eleven minutes’ walk northeast (and across the river) from Higashi-Nihombashi Station on the Asakusa Line (from Asakusa Station).
A pleasant half-hour walk south along (and also across) the Sumida River.
130-0026 東京都墨田区両国1丁目14−6
1 Chome-14-6 Ryōgoku, Sumida City, Tokyo 130-0026
- Veggie House in Sumida, near the Tokyo Skytree (see below) has a more extensive Taiwanese menu, and a more pleasant interior.



This casual Taiwanese restaurant offers the most inexpensive meal in this day’s itinerary, with large meals at under ¥1,000. It serves typical Taiwanese favourites, and (as always) I recommend Ma po tofu, or any other dish which doesn’t use fake meat (see my article on fake meat in Taiwan).
Taiwan Shokudo recently moved into this new store about 1.5 kilometres east of Akihabara and a little further south of Asakusa, so I’ve moved the listing to Akihabara, partly because it’s slightly closer to there and partly because it’s a good alternative to Kamakura Fushikian (see above), while there are more options around Asakusa. It’s not so easy to reach from Ueno, which requires a subway transfer or a short walk to Okachimachi Station.  Taiwan Shokudo was previously located in a windowless second story room, and it doesn’t sound like the new branch is much different. But the staff are welcoming, the meals are hearty and generously sized, and it can’t be beaten on price.

Ueno (上野)

Ueno is one of Tokyo's oldest, poorest and most characteristic suburbs. It's famous for its cheap clothing stores which sell discounted old or seconds stock under the railway tracks. It's also home to a large Jain (Indian vegetarian) community, many of whom work in the diamond trade. Ueno Park is one of the best spots in Tokyo for cherry blossoms, and the adjacent Tokyo National Museum is one of the country's best art museums.  

Nezu no Ya ($$, Japanese, Macrobiotic,  , 根津の谷, 🌱)

Mon-Tue, Thu-Sat: 11:30-21:00; closed Wed, Sun.
Ten minutes’ walk north of Ueno Park (Bentendo Temple); fifteen minutes from Starbucks in the centre of the park.
Beside Nezu Station on the Chiyoda (subway) Line (from Tokyo Station). 
113-0031 東京都 文京区根津1丁目114
1-1-14 Nezu, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
Tokyo’s most inexpensive macrobiotic restaurant, and one of the best-value in the city.
The attached organic shop sells animal products.



This vegan gem serves up delicious, healthy macrobiotic meals for a little under ¥1500, including a Japanese curry and a daily set (which I recommend). On the balance of price, location, décor (simple, but very pleasant) and food quality, this is one of the best value restaurants in Tokyo. The menu in the café is all vegan, but, unfortunately, the attached organic store sells animal products. 

Vege Herb Saga ($$, Indian, ヴェジハーブサーガ, 🥛)

11:15-15:00, 17:15-23:00; last order half an hour before closing time. 
Two minutes’ walk southeast of Okachimachi Station, South Exit 2 (for the JR Yamanote and Keihen/Tohoku lines) and one minute’s walk west of Naka-Okachimachi Station, Exit 2 (for the Hibiya subway line). 
110-0005 東京都台東区上野5丁目22 地下1 東鈴ビル
5-22-1, Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo
03-5818-4154
It’s like being in India.
It’s like being in India.
Hours can be irregular; it sometimes closes for long periods of time when the staff return to India. If closed, I recommend the nearby Veg Kitchen (see below).

The best dosa in Tokyo. A dosa is a thin crispy pancake made from fermented grains. I recommend the Masala dosa, which is filled with a spicy potato filling. But be sure to tell the waiter “No butter or ghee,” as Indian chefs often smear it over the dosa before adding the filling out of habit, although I’ve never had it happen at this restaurant, where staff are careful to ensure that the dietary requirements of vegans and Jains are met.

My favourite restaurant in Tokyo, this is a little piece of India, so passports should be stamped – and expectations left behind – at the door. The owner, a devout Jain (the world’s oldest religion of non-violence, which arose around the same time in India as Buddhism, and out of the same Hindu roots) is a diamond trader, and he started this restaurant as a tiny, cramped, underground kitchen for himself, his family, and his visiting friends and business associates, who as Jains have a stricter set of dietary rules than vegans. (They eat dairy products, but not root vegetables, because their harvesting causes harm to insect life underground and the plants themselves.)

The restaurant has since moved from its first premises into a larger underground basement, but it’s still far from elegant. But Saga’s loyal following (including myself) come for the delicious, authentic Indian food, including south Indian specialties like masala dosas (shown in the photo above) and idlis, which are difficult to find elsewhere in Tokyo or Japan. The owner regularly imports spices from India and roasts them in store; this is (in my opinion) why his food tastes so much better than at other Indian restaurants in Japan. Several years ago, it ranked in the top few Indian restaurants in Tokyo on a Japanese TV show, despite being vegetarian, and it has been famous among Japanese fans of Indian food ever since. 

One possible issue for some Western diners here is that many of the staff come straight from India and are thus not accustomed to Western, or especially Japanese, levels of personal distance. It’s also not uncommon for them to rearrange food on the customer’s plate in front of them to make it look perfect – a common practice in India but not in the West and certainly not in Japan, where diners usually don’t even touch their own food. But, cultural differences aside, the long-term chef at Saga is among the most kind and warm-hearted people I have ever met, and it’s disappointing to see cultural differences put people off such good food. 

If you would like a more conventional Western or Japanese dining experience, a Japanese-Indian fusion meal can be had at Gopinatha in Nakano. Or, if you really need a Japanese dining experience with a token Indian twist (if we can even call it that), try any of the Nataraj branches, such as this one in Harajuku. 

Veg Kitchen ($$, Indian, ベジキッチン, 🥛)

11:00-15:00, 17:00-23:00
A few minutes’ walk east of Naka-Okachimachi Station (for the Hibiya subway line) and Okachimachi Station (for the JR Yamanote and Keihen/Tohoku lines).
110-0016 東京都台東区台東3丁目44−8
3 Chome-44-8 Taito, Taitō, Tokyo 110-0016
03-5817-8165
The décor and dining experience are ‘better’ (or at least more predictable) than at Veggie Herb Saga.
Food is not as authentic (or, in my opinion, as good) as at Veggie Herb Saga.
Unlike Veggie Herb Saga, the Veg Kitchen serves alcohol, and sometimes allows diners to smoke at their tables.



Momo are a Tibetan specialty, but here they come with an Indian twist.
Up the road from Veggie Herb Saga is the Veg Kitchen, a rival vegetarian restaurant run by its former chef. It’s disappointing that he chose to open his restaurant in the same district and serve much the same food, when he could have found his own niche elsewhere in such a large city; however, both restaurants seem to be doing just fine. Compared with Veggie Herb Saga, the Veg Kitchen serves similar food for similar prices, although it also serves Indian Chinese food, which I can’t recommend to anyone who likes Indian or Chinese food.

Both restaurants have their own followers of Indians, Japanese and Westerners, but to me the Veg Kitchen feels less ‘special’ than the Jain-motivated Saga, being run with a profit motive (not that there is anything wrong with that) rather than to promote vegetarianism and support vegetarians in the area. It also serves alcohol and allows customers to smoke at their tables, which may be a drawcard for some travellers, but certainly isn’t for me. The Veg Kitchen’s food is certainly good, and probably among the best in Japan. But, in my experience, it just doesn’t quite have the edge that Veggie Herb Saga does.

Asakusa (浅草)

Asakusa offers a glimpse of what Tokyo (or at least its wealthier districts) looked like during the Edo Period (1603-1868), when Japan was ruled by the very strict Tokugawa Shogunate. Asakusa developed as an entertainment district which mostly served the wealthy owners of rice storehouses in neighbouring Kuramae district. While Asakusa certainly an enjoyable experience (at least to anyone not adverse to large crowds of tourists) and I recommend visiting for the new Vegan Store (see immediately below), in my Vegan Travel Guide to Japan I recommend visiting the nearby old town of Kawagoe for Edo history instead, because it has many authentic Edo-era buidings, whereas most of Asakusa was reconstructed after it was destroyed by bombing during World War II. Kawagoe also makes a great day trip when combined with the nearby (all vegetarian) Alishan Organic Cafe.


VEGAN STORE ($$, Convenience Store / Cafe, 🌱)

Wed-Sun: 12:00-19:00; closed Mon, Tue.
If a Monday falls on a public holiday the convenience store will open and will close the following Tuesday. 
150 metres west of Tsukuba Express Asakusa Station.
10 minutes’ walk (700 metres) northwest of the main Asakusa (subway) Station.
Six minutes’ walk west of Sensoji Temple and the tourist district. 
東京都台東区西浅草2-25-9
2 Chome-25-9 Nishiasakusa, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0035
080-6512-1333
A vegan café and convenience store near the heart of Asakusa.  




Japan’s first vegan convenience store opened in December 2019 amid much fanfare in the vegan community. The store sells a range of grocery items which are perfect for travellers, including snack foods, drinks, toiletries, and a few grocery items suitable for self-catering. Freshly brewed kombucha is available ‘on-tap’. On my research visit a group of Taiwanese travellers came in and bought about a dozen packets of instant noodles. The store’s manager, who is passionate about promoting veganism in Japan and other good causes, already has plans to open more restaurants and cafes around the country. She is passionate about supporting small, ethically run businesses like her own, and this is reflected in the range of products on the shelves.




At the time of my research visit (in late January 2020) the café served simple bowls of rice, vegetables and soy meat products; these can also be taken out as bentos (Japanese lunchboxes). The owner has plans to expand the range of offerings significantly in the near future, so by the time you read this there will probably be a more extensive menu. All food in the café is allium free (made without onion, garlic or other of the “five pungents”, suitable for followers of the Oriental Vegan diet) and grocery items are marked as to whether or not they contain these ingredients.
The opening of this store is an exciting step for the growth of veganism in Japan, and I highly recommend dropping by the Vegan Store while you are in in Asakusa. 

PQ's ($, Fusion, 🌱)

Tue, Thu-Sat: 11:00-13:30; closed Mon, Wed, Sun.
10-15 minutes’ walk north of Asakusa Station (depending on which line) or Senso-ji Temple.
Tue, Wed, Thu, Sat: 11:00-17:00; closed Sun-Mon.
On Friday the café serves gourmet feasts, but these must be reserved in advance.
4 Chome-38-7 Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo 111-0032
07-3154-8285 (staff speak English)
Great cause supporting marginalised people.  


This friendly vegan café was set up with the purpose of supporting all marginalised groups in Japan, especially the LGBTQ+ community, which faces more discrimination here than in other comparably developed countries. The staff’s eyes lit up when I said that I lived in Taiwan, which they quickly identified as one of the most progressive countries in Asia (that was before the recent passing of Asia’s first marriage equality bill in May 2019). Unlike most ‘gay bars’, which mostly serve as a social space, PQ’s has much more of an activist foundation, and anyone with a background in anarchism or other forms of grassroots activism will appreciate this place very much.

But you don’t need to have any political background to appreciate their honest good food. PQ’s offers a set menu of pasta, curry and bagels, with meals starting from ¥1,000. They also serve good drinks, making this a great place to hang out after visiting Asakusa.


Sasaya Café ($$, Japanese, Indian, Fusion,  , ササヤカフェ, 🍯)

10:00-18:00
Fifteen minutes’ walk from the Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Skytree Station, Kinshicho Station, Honjo-Azumabashi Station and Oshiage Station.
130-0003, 1丁目-1-10 横川 墨田区 東京都
1-1-10 Yokokawa, Sumida, Tokyo
Great Japanese/Indian/Western fusion food.
Close to Skytree and Asakusa.

Tempeh curry set. 

Sasaya is one of Tokyo’s best cafes: It serves delicious, large meals, with hearty sets going for around ¥1,000-¥1,500. Like Gopinatha, it serves Indian-inspired dishes with a Japanese twist. I recommend Sasaya’s Tempeh cutlets and South Indian sambar (shown in the photo above); the two complement each other surprisingly well. Its interior is warm and spacious, and it overlooks a small park which follows a stream almost all the way to the Tokyo Skytree. If you don’t take my advice to go up Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building instead of the Skytree, then I recommend coming here while you wait for your turn to queue up, or (if you get the Fast Ticket) any time before or after your visit there.
But it’s worth considering coming here even if you don’t go to the Skytree, especially if you have PC work (or reading) to get done, as it’s only one stop on the Asakusa Line (¥180) and a pleasant ten-minute walk from Asakusa Station. Despite being so close to the Skytree, most of Sasaya’s clientele are local Japanese, many of whom come to bring their children to the park outside. The menu is vegan except for honey in some items (please ask).

Veggie House ($$, Taiwanese, ベジハウス 東京台湾素食,  🥛)

Tue-Sun: 11:30-14:50, 17:00-20:00; closed Mon, Tue
Eight minutes’ walk north of Kinshicho Station on the JR Sobu Main Line (from Tokyo Station) and Hanzomon Line (from Oshiage Station, which is beside the Skytree Station).
130-0012 東京都墨田区太平4丁目7
4 Chome-7 Taihei, Sumida-ku, Tōkyō-to 130-0012
Best Taiwanese food in Tokyo.
Not all vegan.




Veggie House is arguably Tokyo’s best Taiwanese restaurant. It’s also one of the oldest, if we include its previous life as It’s Vegetable, before it moved into this much more pleasant, two-storey building and changed its name. The main drawcard is the Taiwanese-style buffet; however, to anyone who lives in or has travelled to Taiwan that’s nothing special. Their a la carte dishes are also good value (starting at around ¥1,000) and come with a slight Japanese twist, including (of course) in their presentation.

Unlike managers of many vegetarian buffet restaurants in Taiwan, these friendly, English-speaking staff have an excellent understanding of veganism. With all Taiwanese food except from Loving Huts, however, I recommend avoiding fake meat, because it often contains dairy and egg products (and occasionally even real meat) and staff at Taiwanese restaurants are often unaware of this. As a general rule, problems come most often with fake meat which is designed to resemble a specific type of meat, not the small pieces of soy protein found in Ma po tofu (shown in the photo above) or dumplings. (I discuss this problem briefly in my listing for Taiwanese restaurants.)

Ginza & Chiyoda

Ginza is Tokyo's most famous upmarket shopping district,and is home to the original Ain Soph restaurant (which has since become a small empire, including several branches in Tokyo and one in Kyoto). Chiyoda includes Tokyo Station, the Imperial Palace East Gardens, and the famous but controversial Yasakuni Shrine, which is dedicated to Japan's war dead. This itinerary culminates nicely in a trip to the Japan's only Loving Hut (see below). 

Ginza (銀座)

Ain Soph Ginza ($$, Japanese, 🌱)

11:30-16:00, 18:00-21:00
Beside Higashi-Ginza Station, Exit A7 on the Hibiya (subway) Line and the Toei Asakusa (subway) Line.
Seven minutes’ walk from Ginza Station and the Ginza shopping district.
104-0061 東京都中央区銀座4丁目12−1
4 Chome-12-1 Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0061
One of Tokyo’s best Japanese meals.
Great price given the location.
Still expensive.



This branch of the large Ain Soph chain is a fittingly posh restaurant for Ginza, and the perfect place to finish off your Ginza shopping spree, with sets in the ¥2,000-¥4,000 range. Their pancakes are especially popular. The food is certainly good, but the value is better at the ‘Journey’ branches, including the Shinjuku branch and Kyoto branch.

Chiyoda (千代田) 

Food Inside Tokyo Station

This article is covered in my Vegan Food inside Tokyo Station page. It has more photos but the same practical details. 

T’s Tantan ($, Japanese Noodles, T's たんたん 東京駅京葉ストリート店, 🌱)

11:00-19:45 (reduced hours during state of emergency)
Keiyo Food Street, inside the Japan Rail ticket gates of Tokyo Station, but not inside the shinkansen ticket gates. If arriving by subway, it’s necessary to leave the subway system and enter the JR (Japan Railway) system by any one of its ticket gates (which is free with a Japan Rail Pass). If you arrive by shinkansen (the high-speed train) then leave the shinkansen gates but not the final JR gates.
From within the JR ticket gates, follow signs to the Keio Line, and then to the Keio (underground) “Street”. Walk down Keio Street almost to the end. Starbucks will be on your left. T’s Tantan is well signposted (in green) on your right, shortly after Starbucks, just before the end of the ‘street’. There is usually a long queue, but it moves fast. 
Facebook, Happycow, Website (some English)
Directions (probably won’t work inside Tokyo Station without GPS)
Great Japanese food, inexpensive, with fast and efficient service. 
Tokyo’s most famous vegan restaurant, popular even among non-vegetarians.
Inexpensive take-outs available, although the bentos (lunchboxes – see below) are more practical.
This is fast food, so it’s important to eat and move on reasonably quickly.



T’s Tantan is undoubtedly Japan’s most popular and most famous vegan business, and is the only eatery at which virtually all vegan (and vegetarian) visitors to Japan dine at least once and usually several times. After the owner’s oldest child left home, she decided to open a restaurant (T’s Jiyugaoka, which I recommend visiting on the way to Yokohama) to serve the kind of healthy food that she liked to eat herself and cook for her family. It was so successful (despite being in an underground basement well off the tourist trail) that when a special health-focussed food “alley” (the underground Keio Street) opened inside Tokyo Station she was invited to open a store. She came up with the idea of a fast, healthy, inexpensive but still very Japanese menu, and it was such a success that what started out as a retirement project has now become the career she never planned, having spent most of her adult life raising a family. She has since opened branches in Ueno Station (recommended in that itinerary) and also one at Narita Airport, Tokyo’s main international airport. She also sells packaged ramen (available in the stores) and bento boxes at Haneda International Airport.
While the focus is its namesake tantan (a type of thin noodle, commonly confused by foreigners with ramen) the menu has expanded to include a (seasonal) Thai Masaman curry, and more recently sandwiches. There is a limited breakfast menu until 11:00. If you are passing through the station and don’t know where you’ll eat in your itinerary (which hopefully won’t happen with this guide) then eat well here and take out a sandwich or two. It’s especially important for this itinerary, because it involves a lot of walking, and there is nowhere good to eat around the Imperial Gardens.

Ekibenya Matsuri ($, Lunchboxes, 駅弁屋 祭)

5:30-23:00
Inside the JR Ticket gate of Tokyo Station (but not inside the shinkansen ticket gate), in the Central Passage between tracks 6 and 7. The location has recently moved (in late 2019).
This large passageway is in between the Yaesu Central Exit and the Marunouchi Central Exit. The Keio Line (for T’s Tantan – see above) comes off the South passageway. All three passageways have stairs leading up to the main (JR) train tracks.
If in doubt I suggest asking at one of the information counters for directions to the Ekiben Matsuri (駅弁屋 ) store and showing the photo (below).
Great option for take-out meals.  
See below for directions.
These bentos also appear from time to time at other small kiosks inside Tokyo Station.



Bentos (便當) are single-portion Japanese lunchboxes. They traditionally include rice (or noodles), fish (and/or meat) and pickled vegetables. Bentos are a way of life in Japan, and many people (especially office workers) eat them several times per week, especially at work.
Ekiben (駅弁) (Eki=station, ben for bentos) are special bentos made for train journeys, often using local ingredients or cuisine styles which the store or the region is famous for. The packaging can then become a souvenir. 




Needless to say, in Japan they are virtually never vegan, but this store sells a vegan version. 


Please show this photo to an information counter and they should point you in the right direction. Alternatively, follow directions to the Yaesu Central Exit or the Marunouchi Central Exit and walk down the main passage between them, from which stairs and escalators lead up to the tracks. Ekiben Matsuri is between tracks 6 and 7.


Loving Hut Tokyo ($, Japanese, Taiwanese,  , ラビングハット, 🌱)

Fri-Sat: 11:00-18:00; currently closed Sun-Thu during the state of emergency
Five minutes’ walk from Jimbocho Station (Toei Shinjuku Line, Toei Mita Line, Tokyo Metro Hanzomo Line), Exit 5
Twenty minutes’walk from Yasakuni Shrine, or one stop on the Shinjuku Line (Kudanshita Station to Jimbocho Station).
101-0051 東京都千代田区 神田神保町1丁目54 岡田ビル 2F
Okada Bldg 2F, 1-54, Kandajinbocho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0051
03-5577-6880 (Staff speak English and Chinese.)
Great-value all-vegan buffet. 
Update this restaurant.

The Saturday buffet is Japan's only regular vegan buffet, and the best-value buffet meal in the country.
Unfortunately, it is suspended due to the pandemic.  

The Loving Hut is the world’s largest vegan restaurant chain. The Taiwanese owners of this branch have kept this pioneer vegan restaurant open against all odds, but, unfortunately, it’s now only open on Saturdays. It serves a delicious mix of Taiwanese and Japanese dishes, including its weekly buffet, which is the best-value meal in Tokyo (even if Nataraj’s buffet is slightly cheaper).
Loving Huts don’t serve alcohol, in fitting with the spiritual teachings of the chain’s founder, international humanitarian and spiritual teacher Supreme Master Ching Hai. This must make running the restaurant so much harder, because the standard business model in Japan is to give away food at little over cost price and to make profit from alcoholic drinks, and this model sets the prices which people expect to pay for food. 
The peaceful atmosphere inside the Loving Hut, and the noble work of the organisation behind it, makes for a welcome contrast with the horrors of World War II when visited after Yasakuni Shrine.

Shinjuku, Nakano & Koenji

Shinjuku is the home of the sarariiman (salaryman, or male office workers), although the Japanese business world is now slowly becoming more open to women. Nakano is home to Japan's largest mall selling manga (comic book) and other related paraphernalia, and also the city's best Japanese-Indian food and its only vegan pub. Koenji is the home of the underground music and cultural scene, and features a lot of used clothing stores. All have some good vegan restaurants.

Shinjuku (新宿)

SOJO Esperanto-Vegana Kafejo ($, Fusion, 🌱)

Wed-Fri 17:00-21:00; Sat-Sun: 15:00-21:00; closed Mon-Tue.
Five minutes’ walk north of Waseda Station, Exit 1 on the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line.
From Shinjuku, take the JR Yamanote (loop) Line or JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line or Saikyo Line north to Takadanobaba Station, and then change to the Tozai (subway) Line east towards NishFunabashi. Waseda Station is the first stop.
111 Wasedatsurumakicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo 162-0041
162-0041 東京都新宿区早稲田鶴巻町111
03-6302-1639 (owner speaks English and Japanese if you can’t speak the preferred Esperanto)
Hearty, inexpensive meal sets.
A chance to learn about Esperanto from a friendly, multi-lingual owner.
A short trip on the subway from Shinjuku’s attractions, but well worth the trip.



SOJO is one of Tokyo’s most unique and best-value dining opportunities, so I highly recommend a visit to anyone who can make it to Waseda, which is twenty-five minutes by subway from Shinjuku Station, and home to Waseda University, one of Japan’s most prestigious academic institutions.
SOJO means Soy in Esperanto, the world’s most widely spoken constructed language. Esperanto was developed by a Polish Jew in the late nineteenth century, while he was still in high school. He was motivated by a dream of a world in which everyone could communicate with each other, and the peace and understanding which he believed this would foster. As a constructed language, Esperanto has none of the difficulties inherent in languages which evolved over time, such as irregular verbs and tenses, so to reach the same standard in German, English and Esperanto takes 2000, 1500 and 150 hours respectively. Most nouns come from Germanic languages (and many are recognisable from English) and the grammar is mostly from Slavic languages – chosen of course to be as simple to learn and use as possible. Studies have shown that teaching Esperanto to young children makes learning other languages easier in the future.

While many people believe that English has become the world’s language, and Google Translate now makes instant communication possible among almost anyone, the talented owner and chef of SOJO, who is quite a linguist himself, passionately believes that there is still a place for an international language which puts everyone on an equal footing, and while discussions about Esperanto are not compulsory, the restaurant’s décor and trilingual menu (Esperanto, Japanese and English) can’t help but inspire one to at least ponder the merits of everyone in the world speaking one universal language (as well as their own mother tongue).

The menu includes a changing daily dish (for regular visitors from the university), and a few other hearty meals, including a chick-pea curry. The set meals are especially good value; a meal, drink and delicious banana-based ice cream come to around ¥1,200.

Nakano (中野)

This small ward, officially called Nakano City in English, is famous for its manga centre (below) but is also worth visiting for a cluster of vegan and vegetarian restaurants, especially since it’s so easily accessible from Shinjuku.

Gopinatha ($, Vegetarian, Indian/Japanese Fusion, 🥛 , やさい食堂 ゴピナータ)

Wed-Sun: 12:00-14:30, 18:00-20:00; closed Mon-Tue.
Five minutes’ walk east of Nakano Station, a few small blocks north of the railway line. Take the North Exit, and then use Google Maps (directions link below) as it’s located in a small alleyway and somewhat difficult to find otherwise. 
164-0001 東京都中野区中野5丁目17−10
Nakano 5-Chome, 17-10
Excellent value meal sets, including both Indian and Japanese fusion food.
Difficult to find without Google Maps.



Gopinatha serves Japan’s best Japanese Indian fusion food. This is no easy feat, because Indian cuisine is based on aromatic spices, while the elegance of Japanese cooking lies in its simplicity, and how its delicate preparation brings out natural flavours. While fans of authentic Indian food may be more satisfied at Veggie Herb Saga (or the neighbouring Veg Kitchen) in Ueno, fans of Japanese and Indian food are likely to enjoy Gopinathas more, as the talented chef here somehow captures the essence of both cuisines. I especially like their Pakoras and the aromatic tomato sauce which comes with them. It’s also great value, with satisfying set meals starting at around ¥1,000.
Sasaya Café (in Asakusa, near the Tokyo Skytree) also serves great Indian Japanese fusion food. Overall Gopinatha’s menu is more Indian and Sasaya’s is more Japanese, but both are very good.

Koenji (高円寺)

Koenji is the centre of Japan’s alternative (underground) culture, and is home to many live houses (pubs which host live bands) and used clothing and record stores, mostly on the south side of Koenji Station. Despite being so close to the hub of Shinjuku, Koenji escaped most of building boom during the 1980s bubble, so it preserves an older Tokyo vibe, with smaller houses and restaurants, in stark contrast to the usual skyscrapers which dominate Shinjuku (and almost everywhere else in Tokyo). This led to cheaper rents, which encouraged artists and musicians, who over the decades have given Koenji its unique character.


Meu Nota ($, Macrobiotic, Fusion, 🌱)

Wed: 17:30-21:30; Thu-Sun: 12:00-14:30, 17:30-21:30; closed Mon-Tue.
Five minutes’ walk from Kōenji Station, South Exit.
166-0003 東京都杉並区高円寺南3丁目45−11
Koenji South 3-Chome, 45-11
03-5929-9422
Variety of delicious vegan fusion cuisine in a cosy atmosphere. 
Reservations required for dinner.



Meu Nota has stood the test of time and become one of Tokyo’s more popular vegan restaurants. Its focus is on healthy grains, but it serves a much wider range of cuisines than most macrobiotic restaurants, including Middle Eastern and Indian options. Lunch sets are excellent value at under ¥1,000, and this is when I recommend visiting. Dinner courses must be reserved in advance (by phone or Facebook) and are either ¥2,500 or ¥3,000, but customers are also expected to order a drink (around ¥500). These prices are reasonable, and the food is good (but not exceptional), so it’s worth considering if you know you’ll be in the area and will be hungry at the time, but I wouldn’t go to Koenji just for dinner (or lunch).

The menu at Meu Nota is not unlike Nagi Shokudo in Shibuya (where most visitors to Koenji are also likely to spend some time) but its prices are lower and its interior is more pleasant, perhaps because rents are cheaper. 

Key

Price

Prices include a drink and dessert if it would be normal to have one at such a meal.

$ = inexpensive ( <¥1000)

$$ = midrange (¥1,000-$2,000)

$$$ = expensive (>¥5000)


Veg Status

For practical reasons I categorise restaurants by the ‘worst’ ingredients used.
🌱 = fully vegan restaurant. 
🥛 = uses dairy, but not egg or meat. 
(In my guidebooks I also have symbols for egg and meat, but I don't recommend any restaurants in these categories in Tokyo except for ones inside Tokyo Disneyland. 
❓ = temporarily closed due to the pandemic or has an uncertain future. 

General Advice for Being Vegan in Tokyo

Use HappyCow

Happycow (Android App) is great for finding nearby restaurants. I recommend keeping it set to vegan, as these restaurants are generally the best (even for vegetarians or inspiring vegetarians). As a nation Japanese are probably the most honest in the world, and it's rare to find vegan restaurants serving animal products, but of course it's always a good idea to keep an idea out for animal ingredients, especially fish products, because occasionally foreign travellers misunderstand that a restaurant is vegan (especially tofu and/or vegetable-based restaurants) and then add them to Happycow.

However, I suggest two cautions with Happycow. Firstly, take reviews with a grain of salt. In Japan standards of food (and everything) are very high, and portions are very small. So almost every restaurant has had a few foreign diners turn up hungry having just arrived in Japan -- or having been travelling rural Japan where there are no vegan restaurants) and be so delighted with their meal that they consider it the best of their life, go back to their room and write it a glowing review. Likewise, many restaurants have had a foreign tourist horrified by the 'Japanese' (small) size of the meal and go and write a bitter review on how they spent ¥2,000 on what was like a snack.

Happycow is much more useful in Tokyo than in Kyoto. Here's why: in Tokyo most restaurants serve either macrobiotic food, falafel, or Indian food, and while I have a few favourites (like Vege Herb Saga and the Loving Hut) there are few-standouts, while Tokyo's tourist attractions are very widely spread out, so I suggest planning your day around attractions and eating at whatever restaurants you can find nearby on Happycow.

Kyoto, by comparison, has a huge range of vegan restaurants, from 'cheap & cheerful' tourist traps to high-end shojin ryori (vegan Buddhist) cuisine. Also, the city is much smaller, so with careful planning (which I do for my readers in my guidebook) it's possible to go visit your chosen tourist attractions (which are mostly on a few well-trodden temple hopping paths) and restaurants, wherever you decide to eat. It's therefore very important to choose your Kyoto restaurants carefully. While Happycow is certainly invaluable, the downside is that most reviews are written by people who are not familiar with Japanese cuisine and only dine at a small number of restaurants, so comparing restaurants by their Happycow reviews can be misleading.


16 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to do this.
    This is the second time I come to Japan, around the Tokyo area, and even though I've been using the Happy Cow listing I still have a hard time finding places to eat out.
    I'm also looking for some sort of store where I can get vegan food, and actually be sure that is vegan!
    I'll keep this post for future reference, and again, thank you!

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    1. Thank you ToraKo! I'm sorry for such a late reply - probably too late to help you. But in case you come back the best I can recommend is National Azabu (lots of foreign products with ingredients in English, but expensive) or other places in my 'groceries' post, or if possible ordering from Tengu Natural Foods (all vegetarian, many vegan) - for that please see my post on Outings --> Alishan Cafe. Otherwise it's nuts from a convenience store, but watch out for fish in them! :(

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  3. Thanks so much for this helpful guide Jesse. My wife and I were in Tokyo a couple of weeks ago and tried so many of the places that you have listed in your article. So handy to have them listed by area... We had a great trip!

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  4. You're welcome Neil! Thanks for the feedback!

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  5. Thank you!!! I'm a brazilian girl going to Japan for the first time, and I'll use all your recomendations!

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  6. There is one missing in the list, I think.
    My favorite restaurant Devadeva Cafe in Kichijoji.

    http://www.devadevacafe.com/
    http://www.timeout.jp/en/tokyo/venue/2693/Deva-Deva-Cafe

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  7. Hi Jesse,
    This is a great resource to have. Thanks!
    I am an Indian and my husband has been given an option to relocate to Tokyo for 15 months. We are vegetarians (no eggs, fish and meat) and have plenty such options here to eat out and buy products from a supermarket. My 14 month old daughter has an allergic constitution and reacts badly to eggs. Can you please share with me how easy it is to get 'pure veg' food from stores there? I would like to have the option of buying some ready made snacks from a super market there.
    Thanks

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  8. Veda
    Thank you! I totally agree. I loved DevaDeva when I first came to Tokyo for a holiday, and then I just never made it back out to Kichijoji when I was living in Tokyo, but I always intended to. I'll add it to the list - thank you. Please let me know if you think any others are missing.
    Cheers
    Jesse

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  9. Hi Vaishali
    Congrats on your family being offered a position in Tokyo. I highly recommend it for many reasons, but to be honest availability of pure veg food isn't one of them. But I think you will find enough to get by. Food wise, I recommend the restaurants in my post on Indian food, as none of them should serve any egg at all. In Japan people are becoming more aware of allergies (including egg), so you can probably ask about egg sometimes, but it's not nearly as easy as in India (or Taiwan) where pure veg food (and vegan food in Taiwan) are clearly labelled. And it's very hard to know about other meat by-products which aren't labelled. For snack food, I recommend ordering food from Alishan online or visiting their cafe (see my post under Outings) or buying imported food (including Indian foods I think) from the (expensive) imported foods supermarket National Azabu (see my post on groceries). Many Japanese snack foods (especially traditional snacks which are usually rice based) are actually pure veg (vegan) however Japanese food has so many additives, mostly of unknown origin, that it's very difficult to know what's veg and what isn't, and I doubt companies would know or be willing to help with the origin of their ingredients, especially since they tend to change. But I think you'll be find with snacks from Alishan and National Azabu. I hope you have a great time in Tokyo!

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  10. I enjoyed your article.
    If you have not tried the following restaurants, I do recommend to go there;

    Syunkokusyunsai Cafe (Hamamatsucyo)
    Hi,Mizu,Tsuchi (Shintomicyo)
    Genki-Tei (Ryogoku)
    Meunota (Asagaya)
    Bakurocho Art+Eat (Bakurocho)

    You can be amazing experience.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I've been to Meunota, and need to add it. I'll go to the other ones next time I'm in Tokyo. Please feel free to suggest any more. I try to keep this page updated but it's more difficult now that I no longer live in Tokyo.

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  11. wow..its amazing.. Vegan diet does not allow any meat, no matter what kind it is.

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  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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