Kyoto & Osaka
Because of its old traditional buildings, natural beauty, and great shopping options, this incredible region is a must-visit for many travelers. In this blog, we bring you a few vegan places we had the pleasure to try during our recent trip to Kyoto and Osaka.
Location: 〒604-8061 261 Shikibu-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Human Forum Building 2F
This place is a beautiful bistro-style casual cafe, located on the second floor of an equally beautiful antique store. The restaurant has a modern rustic chic vibe, with a lot of wood all around, and plenty of natural light. There is plenty of seating space, and English menus are available. Service is very fast. They offer an all vegan menu with healthy options, such as their Gozen sets, which are a number of small dishes that accompany a main protein, specially crafted to provide a well-balanced meal. Their flavors are mild and refreshing, which makes this a great choice if you need a light meal. Bonus: they also have a nice variety of dessert options, including a very epic-looking tiramisu parfait.
Location: 287, Minamikurumayacho Nakagyo, Kyoto, Japan, 604-8022
Specialty: Vegan Izakaya
When in Japan, one of the most iconic experiences is the Izakaya, which is a bar that serves a variety of drinks and bite sized dishes. Nijiya is an all-vegan izakaya, which is not easy to find, but this means you don’t have to miss out on this experience. The restaurant is very small and intimate; it only sits 6 people at a time, side by side in a long bar. We recommend you arrive early, or make a reservation. They have a small menu, but very varied: you can sample yakitori, onigiri, dumplings, chazuke (green tea over cooked rice), and a nice selection of vegan sake, wine and other alcoholic drinks. The food is very fresh, traditional Japanese fare.
Location: 1-9-9 Shinmachi, Nishiku, Osaka, Japan, 550-0013
Very nice vegan cafe, located in a quiet district; it’s a bit far from the tourist areas, but worth the visit. The ambience is casual, rustic and homely. Apart from being a restaurant, they also have a lot of vegan products for sale, like a vegan mini bodega. Their menu is extensive and varied. They offer great value with a wide range of set meals. They also have vegan burgers, pizzas and salads. For dessert, we recommend the baked (tofu) cheesecake. The food is beautifully presented, fresh, and served piping-hot.
Location: 1 Chome-13-9 Higashishinsaibashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Japan
Specialty: Vegan takoyaki
If you are not familiar with takoyaki, it is an iconic Japanese street food that you cannot miss. It is a grilled ball of light dough, traditionally filled with octopus and topped with delicious sauces. In OKO, you can experience this delicious snack, minus the animal cruelty. Plus, because they use soybean flour, their takoyaki is also gluten-free! Bonus: this restaurant used to sell vegan okonomiyaki, but they had to relocate because they could no longer serve the huge crowds. If you want to try vegan okonomiyaki, stop here at OKOTAKO first and get your takoyaki to go, and you will be able to skip the line at OKO, their vegan okonomiyaki restaurant! Their location is a close walk, at 1-chōme-15-24 Higashishinsaibashi, Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan, 542-0083.
Location: 3-11-6 Sotokanda, Chiyoda 101-0021 Tokyo Prefecture
This is a little ramen shop, with limited seating. This location is close to Akihabara station, which makes it an ideal stop if you’re in the area to see all the cool vintage games and toy shops around, and the many other attractions of the area. There can be a bit of a wait, so try to visit outside of rush hours. This restaurant specializes in ramen, so it’s not fully vegan, but they have a few completely vegan ramen dishes on the menu. We had the vege ramen with soy sauce soup, which was incredibly satisfying and tasty; the amount of noodles was generous and they were perfectly cooked. If you pay a little more, you can get more protein in your bowl. Each seat has access to condiments like pickled ginger, vinegar, and grated sesame seeds, so you can jazz up your ramen if you feel inclined to.
Komaki Shokudo Kamakura Fushikian
Location: 8-2 Kanda Neribeicho Chiyoda-ku (at Chabara Complex), Tokyo, Japan, 101-0022
Specialty: casual Japanese food
A shokudo is a casual restaurant that serves affordable cafe-style food. This is a very nice cafe inside a store that sells artisanal and gourmet groceries; they specialize in vegetarian buddhist cuisine. Compared to other places, they have plenty of seating, and service is fast. Their menu is small but varied, and they have an English version. The food is fresh, tasty, and comforting, and the portions are satisfying. You can get Japanese staples like udon, karaage and curry. Since we stayed in Akihabara, we ate at this restaurant at least 4 different times. They are open for lunch and dinner.
Location: 1-9-1 Ramen Street, Marunouchi, Chiyoda 100-0005 Tokyo Prefecture
Located at the popular Tokyo Ramen Street inside Tokyo station, this place is a bit hard to find, but worth it. It’s very popular, so you will probably find a line outside, but they have plenty of seating so it moves very fast. You order your food from a vending machine outside the restaurant; you can get help from one of the servers if you need it, but be aware you can only pay with cash or IC card. They have communal tables, but the seats are comfortable, the place is clean, and the food comes reasonably quick. The vegan ramen is a delight: it’s a big bowl of flavorful broth, with plenty of vegetables, and a generous dose of chili oil. We also recommend you get the dumplings; they are juicy and delicious!
Location: 15-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya PARCO (at basement level), Tokyo, Japan
Located in the basement of the beautiful PARCO shopping center in Shibuya, this is a fully vegan Izakaya that is open for lunch and dinner. We particularly recommend you try the karaage and gyozas. The food is very affordable, and the space is no-frills but cozy. For drinks, don’t miss the izakaya classic “Lemon Sour,” as well as more common options like whiskey and beer.
Rosy Sustainable Kitchen
Location: 11 Kanda Kita Jomonocho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0036
Specialty: casual bistro food
This is a very inviting restaurant, catering to organic, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan customers. Their concept is one of sustainability and ethical practices, greatly influenced by the culture of Portland, OR, USA. Within their menu options, you will find more international dishes like pastas, quiches, hummus and french fries. The food is incredibly fresh, free from pesticides and ethically sourced. We recommend the white curry, and the hummus plate.
Ome Farm Kitchen
Location: Tokyo Chiyoda City Kanda Sudacho 2-chome−８−１９
Specialty: farm to table food
Ome farm kitchen elevates the freshest produce from local farms, and serves clean, organic, pesticide-free dishes that are simple but elegant. The portions are a bit small, but this means you can sample many of the menu items. It’s a bit more expensive than any of the other options of this blog, but it’s a nice way to treat yourself to a higher level of cuisine. The food is plated beautifully, and service is quite relaxed and a bit slow since the restaurant is run by a single person.
T’s Tan Tan
Location: Taito, JR Ueno 7-1, 3F, Tokyo, Japan, 110-0005
Another ramen restaurant! But oh, so good. This place has a couple of locations in Tokyo; we visited the one in Ueno, conveniently located inside Ueno station (near the Park exit, and next to a NewsDay konbini). We really recommend you try this one instead of the one in Tokyo station, because it’s very easy to find, and the area near the station is incredible to explore, with a gorgeous park, shrines, several museums, and the zoo nearby (where you can see twin pandas!). The restaurant has a great atmosphere, and food is served fast. We recommend the golden sesame ramen, which you can order with extra gyozas if you are feeling hungry. For something different but equally delicious, try the tan tan rice bowl.
Bonus: MAZ - Michelin starred vegetarian meal
Location: Tokyo Garden Terrace Kioicho 3F, 1-3 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0094
Specialty: contemporary Peruvian cuisine
Note: this restaurant offers a vegetarian course meal (Vegetable Vertical World), which we tried; dairy-free substitutions are available. Perhaps you’d think it unusual to include Peruvian cuisine on this list, but if you did not know, there is a strong cultural link between Peru and Japan. Maz is a concept restaurant created by chef Virgilio Martinez of Lima’s Central (currently the best restaurant in the world). The meal takes you on a journey through Peru’s different altitudes, but what makes Maz special is that 90% of ingredients used are from Japan, thus this cuisine elevates the highest quality of products Japan has to offer. It is truly an exceptional dining experience, and the vibrant, explosive flavors of Peruvian cuisine are a welcome contrast to the delicate flavors of Japanese cuisine.
As we conclude this gastronomic journey through Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, we hope our guide has sparked your enthusiasm for exploring the vibrant world of vegan dining in Japan.
Your plant-based adventure through Japan awaits, promising not just delicious bites but a journey into the heart of each city's unique culinary scene.
Arigatou gozaimasu for joining us on this flavorful expedition!