I have been living in Japan for almost a year now and I wanted to share my experiences with other vegetarians who are either already in Japan or are planning to visit. In short, there’s nothing to worry about. There are plenty of options you get, they may not suit your taste or preferences of cuisines but you won’t be restricted to eating bread & butter.
Below I am going to share a few learnings that I had along the way and they may help you in finding a restaurant or a takeaway food joint to take of the belly needs.
This is probably one of my most appreciated ideas of a website and app for finding restaurants and convenience stores who are happy to cater to dietary restrictions. You can find places that are Vegan, Vegetarian or provide Veg-options and filter results by distance, rating, type of outlet, etc.
Find Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurants Near Me — HappyCow
Best Vegan Restaurants in Tel Aviv Top 5 Vegan Restaurants in Toronto Vegan Life Festival Athens Top Ambassadors Become…
Here is how a typical search looks like:
Google has been investing decades worth of engineering and intelligence practices to serve the needs of different kinds. One of those needs it serves well is the location-based “Near me” search. A simple “Vegetarian Restaurants near me” or “Vegetarian Restaurants near Tokyo” usually spits out multiple results in the area for you to choose from. The results can be then filtered by rating, distance, etc. My personal experience includes major business hubs (i.e. Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka) and the tourist destinations (e.g. Sapporo, Izu) but I am sure it would do great in many areas.
Find local businesses, view maps and get driving directions in Google Maps.
A simple search would look like:
If you are in Japan, if you don’t go to a Japanese restaurant for at least one meal then you haven’t tried the best of their cuisine. I always stereotyped Japanese food cuisine to be unfit for Vegetarians but to my surprise, I was very very wrong. There are many Japanese restaurants that cater to the needs of Vegetarians (and even Vegans) but you may not find those restaurants in the searches from Google or HappyCow. While there would be many such restaurants, I will list down a few (in no specific order) that I have been to and have had one of the nicest experiences of Japanese Perfection in the Art of Food.
Coco Curry is a highly optimized and mechanical food chain that has a lot of outlets throughout Japan. I and my wife have become quite fond of the taste and use Coco Curry as the defacto option when we don’t have any other option available. It’s fast and you can rely on taste across any of their outlets owing to other mechanized nature. But, the disadvantage is it can very soon outgrow your tastebuds.
Two important things to keeping mind:
- Special Menu — specifically ask for the Vegetarian Menu in English. It’s also available on their website → Vegetarian Menu.
- Spicy Levels — Be mindful of spicy levels. You may be from India, Mexico, Middle East or China (esp from Sichuan province), here spicy level means levels of Chilliness you can handle and they mean business. I am an Indian (from Northern part) and I am content with Spicy Level 2 (the max I went to was Level 4 which made me literally cry and gave a runny nose) and my friend who is a Canadian is content with the regular level.
CURRY HOUSE CoCo ICHIBANYA, Japanese-style Curry Specialty Shop
CURRY HOUSE CoCo ICHIBANYA Official Website] Japanese-style curry rice speciality shop. Introducing the menu, how to…
Okonomiyaki in literal terms means Japanese equivalent of Pancakes. Although the origins are from Hiroshima & Kansai region, their outlets are widely available across Japan as well. They have multiple vegetarian options and you can even ask them to take out some non-vegetarian toppings from the non-vegetarians dishes to have more options.
Important: It’s always good to remind the waiter, that you don’t eat any meat, pork, beef, fish, eggs, etc. Although the Mayonnaise does contain eggs, however, the image below is so satisfying.
When you think about Japanese cuisine, one of the first things that come to the mind is Sushi. From what I have heard, going by the definition of the Japanese Chefs, a Sushi cannot be Vegetarian. Nevertheless, there are a few Vegetarian versions available that contain Cucumber, Carrot, Avocado, Capsicum, etc. The sides include Wasabi, Ginger, Vinegar, etc. Not to mention, if you really want to try the best Wasabi, you can only do so in Japan.
So, where do you go to eat Vegetarian Sushi? Enter a tourist attraction, a “Conveyor Belt Sushi Restaurant”. While these places are not very fancy, they are usually loaded with people and there can be a waiting time associated, however, they are quite fast and the queue gets shortened in no time esp. if you are alone or as a group, you are fine in sitting not together.
安くて美味しい回転寿司なら回し寿司 活美登利（SUSHI KATSUMIDORI）
There are usually 2 conveyor belts and a tablet. The lower conveyor belt keeps on moving and has samplers for all the dishes (no, you don’t pick from that belt and eat them because they are probably made of plastic). If you like what you see, go to the tablet and order it from there, the good news is, the tablet supports multiple languages and it’s easy to figure out what’s Vegetarian and what’s not. Once the order is placed, a small train-like holder comes to you on the upper belt. Don’t worry you can order multiple times/quantities and settle the bill once at the end.
Vegetarian / Vegan Ramen
Ramen is perhaps another one of the most consumed dishes in Japanese cuisine at least in Japan. It’s one of the most common go-to delicacies for the Japanese working class for lunch, of course after a bento.
My favourite place to go for the Vegan Rame is the Loving Hut. The name may sound shady, but it’s one of the nice & cosy places to have a meal. As claimed by the restaurant, all the dishes are fit for Vegans / Vegetarians.
Fine Dining Restaurants
There are many fine dining places that take care of Vegetarians Dietary restrictions. Some of them, that I prefer over others are:
- Nobu (https://www.noburestaurants.com)
- Tokyo Shiba Toufuya Ukai (https://www.ukai.co.jp/shiba/)
- Ritz Carlton (http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/japan/tokyo/dining/towers)
If you cannot speak Japanese, here’s a flash card that I got made and refined by the help of many Japanese friends and acquaintances. You may find it funny and it does contain some redundant information but till this date, I haven’t found any other ways to improve it. That being said, you can always tweak to add more details.
More restaurants & cuisines
There are several restaurants that serve Indian (or similar), Italian, Mexican and Meditteranean cuisines. However, writing about those places in the same post won’t be fair to what they offer. I will write a post for each to cover in detail my experiences of going to those restaurants and how fellow Vegetarians (and in some cases Vegans) can enjoy their meals over there.
Until next time, Happy Eating!