[Keith Yuen: This article was supposed to be launched during Tokyo Olympics 2020, but it has been “parking” in the draft for over two years. The aim is to stop the misconception that it’s difficult to find vegetarian food in Tokyo, Japan and to help fellow vegetarians or vegans to find their way and enjoy Japanese vegetarian food. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, I have been withholding this piece of article. After some background checks (updated in May 2022), I’m glad to share that most places remain operating except for one. Last week, the Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida announced that Japan is aiming to reopen to international tourists in June 2022. This means those who have been waiting to visit the land of the rising sun, may just need to wait for a month or so! As much as you are excited about the news, I am also eager to share this article with you.
It’s been a while since I wrote about vegetarian food you can find overseas. My last two food articles – 20 Vegetarian Food in Taiwan You Shouldn’t Miss and Vegetarian Food In Bangkok Thailand You Shouldn’t Miss, were quite well received and now finally I am going to share my third food article – 10 Vegetarian Food in Tokyo Japan You Shouldn’t Miss. To be honest, my family and I were very skeptical about whether we could eat well on our family trip to Disneyland and Tokyo Japan. A lot of people warned us about the lack of vegetarian options in Japan. Before this trip, I had been to Tokyo before and during that time I couldn’t find many vegetarian or vegan-friendly places to visit. To our surprise, this trip has exceeded our expectations as we ate so well on this trip! Perhaps the Japanese are getting ready to receive the influx of tourists from Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and have increased their vegetarian options. (Edited: sadly it has been postponed to 2021 due to the Covid19 pandemic outbreak) Anyway, be prepared to add some weight in Tokyo, because I really thought I would slim down after this trip due to the lack of food options, but ended up… oh well. You only live once! 🙂
Communicating Vegetarian Diet In the Japanese Language
Before we jump into the mouth-watering content, let me share how to communicate with the waiters/stall owners with some basic language tips.
こんにちは (Hello), 私はベジタリアンです (I am a vegetarian).
ベジタリアン用に料理を用意していただけますか？ (Is it possible to prepare food for vegetarian?)
X 食べられません (I cannot eat)
肉 (Meat), 魚とすべてのシーフード (Fish & All Seafood), かつおとアンチョビで作っただし (Dashi Made From Bonito & Anchovies), 動物からのゼラチン (Gelatin From Animals), タマネギ (Onion), ネギ (Leek), にんにく(Garlic), チャイブ (Chives), エシャロット (Shallot)
(I cannot eat any food which contains meat, fish or any animal ingredients)
○食べられます (I can eat)
卵 (Egg), チーズ (Cheese), 牛乳 (Milk)
Disclaimer: Keith Yuen is a 100% vegetarian who does not eat the 5 pungent plants (strictly no meat including fish and seafood, also onion, garlic, leek, chives, and shallot). I am NOT a vegan yet, and hence I still eat dairy products such as eggs, milk, and cheese, etc… (In Japan, this diet is classified as Oriental Vegetarian) You can read more about the 10 Misconceptions about Vegetarians to understand my choice of diet. So, please exercise due diligence and clarify with the chef according to your own vegetarian/vegan diet preference.
Nu Dish Deli & Cafe (Ginza) *Updated Closed! – May 2022 🙁
My first recommendation is somewhere in Tokyo’s upmarket shopping district- Ginza. Every tourist or traveler to Tokyo will definitely visit this wonderful shopping district that is filled with numerous luxury brands and boutiques. This beautiful vegetarian & vegan cafe is located very near to Higashi-Ginza Station. We happened to find this cafe by chance and we were so delighted that we found it.
One of our favorite dishes is the delectable Yuzu Shio (Salt-Based) Ramen! The ramen here has great texture, the softness of the noodles paired with the mouth-watering clear soup broth with a hint of Yuzu fragrance is just amazing! It was really delicious. The Shoyu (Soy-Based Flavour) Ramen and Hot & Sour Noodle are not bad either, but Yuzu is a must-try, especially if you are visiting this cafe for the first time.
This cafe also serves popular curry rice too. To my surprise, I actually do really enjoy the Massaman Curry Rice as well. Even though I am not a fan of the usual Japanese Curry, which is usually sweet, but Massaman Curry is different and is more savory than sweet. So for those who love spicy food, do give it a try. You will be surprised to find such a spicy curry fragrance in Japan.
Address: Japan, 〒104-0061 Tokyo, Chuo City, Ginza, 4 Chome−8−4 三原ビルディング 1階
Saishoku Kenbi Tokyo Vegetarian (Shinjuku)
Another popular area for shoppers, Shinjuku is at the heart of Tokyo and has the busiest train station in the world. Although it is located in the Shinjuku area, this restaurant is actually hidden away from the bustling streets and located slightly to the North of Shinjuku near Okubo Station.
This vegetarian restaurant is actually huge in terms of Japanese standards. The menu offers many products made from soy, tofu, yuba, and konjac. They have a good mix of western and eastern cuisine such as pizza, spaghetti, or Oriental vegetables rice, ramen, and curries all made without meat and pungent plants.
This restaurant is also stocked with many items you can buy as they have a corner that sells many different types of Japanese and Taiwanese vegetarian instant noodles. Yum!
Surprisingly this place is in actual fact a Maitreya Buddha (Laughing Buddha) prayer hall/temple in Tokyo Japan. Do spend a bit of time and immerse yourself in this peaceful temple/restaurant to recharge before going back into the bustling megacity.
Address: 2 Chome-21-26 Hyakunincho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 169-0073, Japan
Korinbo Vegetarian (香林坊) (Nakano)
A word of caution, this little eatery is hidden inside an old mall called Nakano Broadway near Nagano station and may not be easy to find. However, if you spend the effort to find it, you will not regret finding this hidden gem! This restaurant offers homely Taiwanese cuisine. Egg is an option so this place is good for vegans too.
The lady boss is Taiwanese but she moved to Japan for 30 years. Her Sesame Oil Noodles and the Set Rice with Mabo Tofu, Soy Mushroom Cutlet, Fried Egg, and Seaweed Clear Soup is a must-try. This shop offers a simple yet hearty meal at an affordable price. The ambiance and the scrumptious food give all visitors a homely feeling.
Address: Japan, 〒164-0001 Tokyo, Nakano City, Nakano, 5 Chome−52−15 中野ブロードウェイ 2F
Tel: +81 3-3385-7005
Tip: This is a small eatery in the Nakano Broadway building. The capacity is only 10, so make sure you cater enough time to wait or to call the lady boss to make a reservation.
Sekai Cafe (Asakusa)
Sekai Cafe is a little beautiful cafe located near the Asakusa shrine, one of the most famous Shinto Shrines in Tokyo! Although this cafe is NOT a 100% vegetarian cafe, it offers many vegetarian/vegan and even halal options. They use organic, additive-free ingredients and don’t use wheat in all their dishes, hence it is suitable for visitors with a gluten-free diet as well. These are hard to find in Tokyo, Japan.
Do try their Homemade bread or Japanese Rice with Bean Patty (Tofu, Chickpeas, Red Kidney Beans & Potato Starch) with Miso Sauce (A Japanese style Miso sauce with Miso, soy milk, tofu, 山椒 Sanshō, light brown sugar). The dish looks small, but the patty can be quite filling. The miso/tomato/shoyu sauce is the main lead in this dish, it gives a strong punch to the overall taste and enhances the flavors tofu patty with its rich essence.
Address: 1 Chome-18-8 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
Loving Hut Vegetarian Tokyo Japan (Chiyoda)
Another small and beautiful restaurant located in the royal imperial area of Chiyoda offers a mix of Japanese and Oriental style vegetarian options.
Do note that this restaurant only opens on Saturday. Yup, you did not read it wrongly, this restaurant only operates 1 day a week because the boss is now semi-retired. Some of my favorites are Vegan Skewers (like Satay), 3 colors boiled dumplings, and the Vegan Kabayaki (Vegan eel rice) which has an interesting taste, and the portion is quite huge so it may be better to have two-person share it!
Address: Japan, 〒101-0051 Tokyo, Chiyoda City, 神田神保町１丁目54 岡田ビル 2F
Tel: +81 3-5577-6880
Tip: The restaurant is small and only opens on Saturday. Better to make a reservation.
Gonpachi Shibuya is a posh and beautiful restaurant situated near the Shibuya crossing (the famous crossing that the world flocks to see in Tokyo, Japan). This restaurant is not a vegetarian/vegan restaurant but offers a vegetarian/vegan menu and many varieties from Sushi, Grilled Skewers to Sobas.
The decor of this restaurant gives a more authentic and Japanese-style dining experience. Remember to try the Gonpachi Vegan Nigiri Set, Grilled Skewers especially the Eringi Mushrooms, and the Soba. The sewers are well prepared with seasoning and the sushi is on point! Try to get the corner seats or a private room for some privacy. As this restaurant is located on the 14th floor, the view from this restaurant is truly spectacular.
Address: 3-6 Maruyamacho E Space Tower 14F, Shibuya 150-0044 Tokyo Prefecture
Kyushu Jangara Ramen (Harajuku)
Harajuku is a must-visit shopping district that offers many nice and cute little shops. Some famous shops can be found here such as Calbee (famous Japanese potato chips) store, funky apparel shops, etc… I was visiting the Hedgehogs cafe when I chanced upon this restaurant via their eye-catching advertisement.
The Kyushu Jangara Ramen is a chain that offers traditional Japanese Ramen but with only two vegan options – one is the Vegan Soy Sauce broth, and the other is the Jangara Original Japanese Vegan Salted Ramen with Yuzu flavor. Personally, I prefer the Jangara Original Japanese Vegan Salted Ramen with Yuzu flavor. Nothing wrong with the Soy Sauce Ramen if you like soy sauce with bamboo shoots! But Yuzu is a better choice for me. It is not a 100% vegetarian restaurant, but if you are hungry in Harajuku, this will work.
Address: Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 1 Chome−13−21 ２Ｆ
Tel: +81 3-3779-3660
Tokyo Disneyland & Disneysea Vegetarian Options
Sadly, there aren’t many vegetarian options in Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea. There are a couple of Indian vegetarians but many of the dishes are prepared with onion and garlic which we cannot eat. So, if Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea is in your itinerary, you gotta tweak the mindset and concentrate more on the fun activities rather than food.
There are some solutions to help tie over your hunger in the theme park. The good news is that Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea do allow tourists to bring in your own food. So you can prepare the following to bring into the theme park.
Seaweed Kombu Sushi or the Pickled Plum Sushi available at most convenience stores. Unless you like pickled plum with a sour taste, else many would prefer the Seaweed Kunbo Sushi, which is also my personal choice.
I also love Rice Stuffed Tofu Pockets. It may look small but it is filled with rice, so don’t belittle these little items, it can fill you up fast.
Street Stores Inside Disneyland and Disneysea
Little Green Dumplings
Do keep a lookout at these cute Little Green Dumplings in the shape of the Toy Story alien heads, which comes in three different flavors – Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry. Although it is called a dumpling it actually tastes more like dessert sweets. My nephews and niece loved this so much that they ate many servings of this and skipped their dinner!
Churros & Ice Creams
Churros are available everywhere, but somehow the Disneysea ones are better, especially the one near to the Alladin attraction area. Also not forgetting the Tiramisu and Japanese Ice Creams that come in many flavors like the Matcha, Red Bean, you name it, they have it! LOL
After a tiring day in Disneyland and Disneysea, a good meal could be waiting for you if you are staying on Urayasu (Disneyland Resort Island), head off to Hilton Tokyo Bay Hotel and you may find some solution to cure your hunger.
Hilton Tokyo Bay Hotel
We stayed 5 beautiful nights in Hilton Tokyo Bay Hotel, unfortunately, there isn’t any 100% vegetarian restaurant, but you can always eat at the Dynasty Chinese Restaurant and ask the chef to prepare some customized vegetarian options like the incredible Chinese fried rice, vegetables and soups (trust me, the quality of the food in Dynasty Restaurant was superb!) or some Pasta & Pizza from The Square: Accendo Mediterranean Restaurant in the hotel.
Dynasty Restaurant (Chinese Restaurant)
The Square: Accendo (Mediterranean Restaurant)
Calbee Chips (Harajuku) / Harajuku’s Giant Cotton Candy
This is not a restaurant, but as a potato fanatic, Calbee is one of my favorite brands of chips. If you ever come to Harajuku, you MUST try their fried potatoes which they actually fry on the spot! Trust me on this, it tastes very different from the packed ones that are exported to other parts of the world. The ones straight from wok melt in your mouth and your heart! Don’t forget to try the famous Harajuku’s Signature Giant Cotton Candy too! It is HUMONGOUS!
Bar Rage Haneda International Terminal Departure After Custom
Sadly, your adventure in Japan may come to the end. But just before leaving Japan and if you are catching a flight in Haneda International Terminal Airport, at the departure hall there are two vegetarian sandwich options which you can grab at Bar Rage.
Street Food Asakusa & Oshino Hakkai
Asakusa Shrine Street Alley
I love walking the vibrant street alleys in Japan and at the Asakusa Shrine, which is the busiest Shinto Shrine in Tokyo, there is a long stretch of shopping and food alley that offers many delicious items for vegetarians or vegans. From Matcha Ice Cream to traditional Japanese style Red Bean Cake, and to the weird Hot Sake (fermented rice drink – ask for 0% alcohol Sake, it is sweet), this street would not fail you.
The main attraction in Oshino Hakkai is the “eight seas” which means eight pools of water with beautiful Mount Fuji as a backdrop. This village is a hidden gem with many nice and delicious vegetarian street food options. The traditional villagers sell yummy traditional Japanese food such as Rice Cake Balls, Japanese Tofu, and Murasaki Imo (Japanese Purple Potato). Strolling and eating in the Japanese street completes your eat, stroll, shop experience in Japan.
Time is always limited especially if you have a packed schedule. We came across a few vegetarian restaurants and cafes that we did not have the chance to visit but I would like to share these locations with you for your consideration. Do post a comment below and let me know if you have tried it.
HealthyTOKYO Cafe & Shop – Haneda Airport Terminal 2
First fully vegan cafe in Haneda Airport. Let me know if you have tried their food. It looks good.
Address: 3F, 東京都大田区羽田空港3-4-2 東京国際空港第2旅客ターミナル, 4, Ota City, Tokyo 144-0041, Japan
Ain Soph. Ginza
Vegan cafe with savory food and pastries. Business must be very good cause they were full house when we were there! 🙁 Let us know if you have tried it before.
Address: 4 Chome-12-1 Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0061, Japan
As a soup and spicy food lover, I sometimes really do crave a hot bowl of soup and some spiciness in my food during my travels. It’s usually a hit and miss for most of the places I’ve been to as the taste and cuisine are different from home. But recently, I have chanced upon a portable vegetarian Mala Hot Pot which you can bring overseas with you. (Yes, my prayers were answered!) All you need to do is to pour in a little bit of water (can be cold water too) and it will work its own magic and delivers a piping hot pot of vegetarian Mala with vegetables, soy, potatoes, mushrooms, and some mock meats. It’s delicious! Check out my review below.
Check out Vegetarian World Foods for more other vegetarian products and the Self Heating Vegetarian Mala Hot Pot page: https://www.vegetarianworldfoods.com/vegan-hotpot-450g.html
Vegetarian in Tokyo, Japan is amazing! Oishi is how you say “delicious” in Japanese and I have used it numerous times during this trip. Perhaps we had a lower expectation before flying to Tokyo and were overwhelmed with the choices and varieties in Tokyo, Japan. If you find this article helpful, do drop us a comment, or you can also share with everyone here your experiences or other vegetarian places to eat in Tokyo Japan!
People eat meat and think they will become strong as an ox, tall as a giraffe, powerful as elephants, fast as a horse, forgetting that these animals eat plants too.