Hi everyone, or should I say Kon’nichiwa! As you may know I went to Japan a few weeks ago and travelled around Tokyo and Kyoto for my spring break and of course ate some delicious food along the way. If you haven’t already, I made a blog post talking all about solo travelling and my tips for all you explorers out there. Please take a read after you’re done with this article, but I promised in that post that I would tell you about the places I ate and I take my promises very seriously! Japan is not the most vegan friendly country in the world, so I made sure to do my research well in advance of all the vegan spots I needed to hit up.
Tokyo was definitely a lot easier for me to find vegan options, it being the most populated city in the world sitting at 37,833,000 people, I knew that there had to places that accommodated to my fellow Tokyo vegans! On my first day in Tokyo, I found myself wandering through the streets of Asakusa, a part of the city where you can find various food stalls and the Meiji Shrine. Doing all that walking and vlogging, I turned to Google to find me a vegan restaurant close to me. I found myself at かえもん浅草本店, sadly I’m not sure what that translates into exactly. However for arguments sake lets say that this translates into “delicious organic vegan food which is needed after an 8 hour flight”. This restaurant is buffet style, but throw away all those bad memories of Mandarin, because it was nothing like that. I tried their salad covered in a creamy sesame dressing, stir fried cabbage with soy meat, and I scooped myself a generous amount of brown rice. The food was simple and clean, but most importantly it was tasty. Sometimes you need a fresh and light meal and put a hold on the fried food. Besides the food, what made this place memorable was the service. One thing to know before going to Japan, is Japanese hospitality is on a whole other level. After my meal, the hostess gave me a card with the name and map of a vegan cafe located near by. Even though I didn’t have time to go, I really appreciated the gesture, that’s the Japanese for ya.
I knew I couldn’t leave Japan before I tried an authentic bowl of Japanese curry. Currently it’s still winter in Japan, so the cold was a bit of a shock since I’ve been living in Singapore for the past two months. After spending the day mostly outside, I headed to Curry House CoCo for some veggie curry. Unlike your typical Indian curry, Japanese curry is slightly sweeter and a little less heavy on the spices. I got myself the vegetable curry with roasted eggplant and I was over the moon. This Japanese curry felt like my imaginary Japanese grandmother was giving me a big warm hug. There were green beans, carrots, and potatoes, and everything was covered in the silky and flavourful sauce. There was a perfect amount of spice (you can tell the cooks how hot you want your curry) and it was exactly the kind of food you want to eat on a cold day in Tokyo.
You never went to Japan unless you try sushi. After doing extensive research I heard good things about Sushi ZanMai, located in Tsukiji, which is where the famous Tsukiji Fish Market is. I may not eat fish but I knew it had to be food sushi if it’s where all the good fish is. Sushi Zan Mai is your classic convertor belt sushi joint, where the chefs are constantly putting out a variety of rolls and small dishes to eat. They had a few veggie options, I got the pickled radish maki, a seaweed roll, and a cucumber roll. The seaweed roll was definitely the most interesting piece of sushi I have ever eaten. When I took my first bite, there was a seaweed explosion. Is it weird to use the term “juicy” when explaining sushi? Yes, but I guess it’s a Japanese thing? Not sure how I felt about it, but I ordered multiple plates of it, so clearly it wasn’t bad! This is a great place to go for authentic sushi and if you’re on a budget. I paid just over 1000 JPY for 7 plates of sushi, so it was around 14 CAD , very reasonable! It’s also nice to go to if you’re with non vegans since they serve mostly fish sushi.
My favourite meal that I had in Tokyo was hands down at T’s TanTan, a small vegan ramen joint located in Tokyo Station. You have to put this on your list of places to eat if you go to Tokyo, I ate there twice while in Tokyo and it seems to be a popular joint for all the travellers and busy business people who come through this station. You do need a subway ticket to access this restaurant since it’s located past the gates, but it is 100% worth it. Ramen is usually a bit too salty for my tastebuds, but at T’s TanTan, they manage to keep the rich flavour and hold off on the excessive amount of salt. I got the golden sesame ramen when I went there which had peanut butter, pickled veggies, greens, and of courses plenty of sesame seeds. Fun fact, in Japan it’s encouraged that you slurp your noodles so I was sure to be loud and proud when I got my food! The ramen was so comforting and flavourful, and the peanut butter adds a rich creaminess to the broth. I clearly enjoyed myself, because by the end my hair had ramen in it. Out of all the places I mentioned, this should be at the top of your list to eat at. Vegans and non vegans from all over gather at this place so be prepared to wait in line.
In Kyoto it was slightly harder to find places to eat at that were vegan. Lucky for me my hostel was a 5 minute walk from Cafe Matsuontoko, a vegan restaurant that serves some killer burgers. Like a lot of the Japanese menus I came across, this one only had a few options but sometimes simplicity is best. I got the vegan burger with a side of fries and salad and got a matcha ice cream to finish it off. The burger was surprisingly juicy and reminded me of the texture of chicken. The fries tasted exactly like the ones at McDonalds which I was very happy about. The matcha ice cream at the end was a great way to finish the meal, it was creamy and packed a matcha punch. I didn’t know this but matcha is a really big thing in Kyoto, there are so many little shops where you can get matcha tea, matcha cakes, matcha mochi, the list goes on! If you need a break from the Japanese cuisine, check out Cafe Matsuontoko! Also it’s located by the Nishiki Market, which is a must visit if in Kyoto.
The food scene in Japan is like no other. The Japanese take a lot of pride when it comes to food, and you can taste the love in every bite. There is so much to see and eat in this beautiful country so I know I will be back in the future to explore every inch of it. A part of me that is still back in that ramen restaurant slurping on noodles, Japan has truly captured my heart and I know it will do the same if you ever decide to visit. Please be sure to check back in a couple of weeks for a new blog post, and there is a new video out today on my channel where I take you around Kyoto with me. As always, follow me on my social media linked in the sidebar, and I will see you all soon!