My ultimate list of vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo!
Actually, this is a list of restaurants with vegetarian options, which is a lot harder to find. As a vegetarian travelling with meat-eaters, I need restaurants that cater for both of us, which is difficult in Japan. I’ve found that 100% vegetarian or vegan restaurants are quite easy to find – there are already lots of lists of them, but it’s harder to find regular restaurants that also cater to vegetarians.
In the UK it’s standard for most restaurants to have at least one vegetarian option (even if it’s something really boring, like vegetarian lasagne). In Japan, however, that’s not the case. Most restaurants have no vegetarian dishes at all. I can’t tell you how many times that we’ve walked the streets, tired and hungry, looking for somewhere to eat. So that’s why I wanted to share this list with you.
While I love spontaneity, you’ll have a much less stressful time if you do some research and go to Japan armed with a list of places where you can eat, if only as a back-up. I’ve had far better meals and enjoyed Japanese food so much more when I’ve researched places to eat. I’ve also been able to enjoy authentic Japanese food, rather than falling back on pizza and pasta as a last resort because I can’t find anything else.
The Problem: Dashi
Most dishes that look like they’re vegetarian actually contain dashi, which is fish stock. It’s a main ingredient of Japanese cooking, and will almost definitely be in any meal containing soup – that includes ramen and bowls of noodles with soup.
While it’s possible to make vegetarian dashi with konbu (seaweed) and/or mushrooms, when you’re eating out, the default is almost always dashi made with katsuoboshi, which are fish flakes, and it’s pretty hard to avoid in Japan.
Help keep the list up to date
I really hope this list helps you. It’s correct to the best of my knowledge, but please do your own research about each place and if you come across anywhere that’s not open any more or that’s changed their menu, please do let me know.
What’s not included
When you go to Japan, you want to eat Japanese food, right? So this is a list of restaurants with Japanese food. I haven’t included Italian, Indian or other types of restaurants. If you get stuck, they usually have margarita pizza, tomato pasta or vegetable curry. They’re a good back-up if you can’t find anywhere else, but I haven’t included them here.
Also, on the whole, I haven’t included 100% vegetarian or vegan restaurants. This list is for the specific niche of vegetarians and meat-eaters travelling together. It was primarily for my own reference, because I didn’t want to drag my non-veggie friends to too many vegetarian restaurants – I wanted places we could all enjoy. There are just one or two included that I couldn’t resist, and I’ve mentioned which these are. If you do want to find fully vegetarian or vegan restaurants, Happy Cow is an excellent resource.
General tips & advice
Udon are thick, white noodles – often served in a soup made of dashi, and accompanied with tempura. Tempura sets often include vegetables – if you have to, you can order a set and avoid the fish, or choose pieces individually.
Another option is zaru udon, which is cold udon served on a bamboo tray. Leave the dipping sauce (it contains dashi) and have soy sauce instead and any other table sauces, pickles or sesame seeds. You can also get zaru soba, which is the same thing but with buckwheat soba noodles instead – it’s actually really refreshing.
I had zaru udon at the Soramachi food court at the SkyTree – you can see it at 4:28 in this video – at the time I wasn’t very impressed but if you stock up on condiments and tempura it makes it into more of a meal. I prefer zaru soba (which you can see in this video from Shibamata) because the noodles have more flavour.
An udon/tempura chain with lots of branches. Look for the orange sign. Avoid any dishes with soup. The oroshi shoyu udon is vegetarian, with grated radish and soy sauce. There are some vegetable tempura items, plus sides like inari nigiri (tofu sushi), bowls of plain rice and boiled eggs.
Tendon Tenya Tempura
Another chain with lots of branches. There’s a vegetable tempura bowl on the menu.
Japanese curry is more like gravy than other curries. It’s difficult to find vegetarian Japanese curry, because it’s usually made with meat stock or has chunks of shredded meat in it. At curry chains, dishes that look vegetarian often aren’t; That’s why it’s so exciting that Coco Curry now has a vegetarian curry sauce:
Fast food curry chain. Good for a large, cheap meal! The regular curry contains meat, but about 10% of restaurants have vegetarian curry sauce. The one I went to had a green sign in the window saying “We have vegetarian curry” in English. Here’s a selection of Tokyo branches that have it:
- Akihabara Showadori
- North Akiba: Tokyo Metro Suehirocho Station Ekimae store
- (Sort of) Odaiba: Harumi Triton store
- Shimbashi/Shiodome area: By Daimon Station
- Akasaka shop
- Tokyo Metro Roppongi Station front shop
- Shinjuku Waseda
- Shinjuku Station West Exit
- Shinjuku Kabukicho
- Tobu Asakusa Station Square
- JR Gotanda Station East Exit
- Shimokitazawa Station South Exit
- Ikebukuro Sunshine City Alpa
– Full list of branches with vegetarian curry (in Japanese – copy and paste into Google Translate)
Okonomiyaki is sometimes called a Japanese pancake or pizza – but it’s not really that much like either, apart from being round and flat! It’s made of shredded cabbage with batter and toppings, with delicious dark sauce and mayonnaise. (Much better than it sounds!). Okonomiyaki is one of my favourite Japanese dishes – I can never understand why it’s not more well-known over here, because the flavours definitely appeal to a western palate.
If there isn’t a vegetarian option on the menu, most restaurants can make one if you ask nicely. I’d recommend cheese and mochi if it’s available. In the worst case, at restaurants where you make your own at the table you can choose which ingredients to pick out and which to include. Leave off the katsuoboshi (fish flakes).
Okonomiyaki at MyLord
Okonomiyaki restaurant on the restaurant floor of MyLord dept store (love that name!) in Shinjuku, right by the station. Last time I went there was veggie monjayaki on menu, and they made an okonomiyaki version when I asked for it. (Monjayaki is a runnier version of okonomiyaki that you eat from the grill with a kind of spatula). They have an english menu.
Just outside central Tokyo (10 minutes from Shibuya Station). I saw this place in Internationally Me’s YouTube video and it looks like a lovely restaurant. I’m not sure whether they have anything vegetarian on the menu, but it’s usually possible to substitute toppings.
– Details on Tabelog
– Sakurashinmachi Station (10 mins from Shibuya on the Denentoshi Line)
Unless you’re at a vegetarian restaurant, ramen is pretty much guaranteed to contain fish or meat stock, even if the toppings look vegetarian. That’s why these places are so special!
Ramen place in Harajuku, close to Takeshita Dori (the main shopping street) with a vegetarian option – as seen on Sharla in Japan.
Vegan restaurant in Shimokitazawa. Also serves curry.
Ramen chain with a vegetarian option. After I made a video about the Akihabara branch, it closed down, boo! The good news is, there’s another branch in Tokyo, in Shimokitazawa, which is an area with lots of indie shops and gig venues. There are also branches in other areas of Japan, including Osaka. Go to the “Shop List” page on their website and right-click to translate the page. They no longer serve the ramen and gyoza I tried in the video, but they now have a new veggie ramen, which I’m definitely going to try on my next trip. I really enjoyed their first version so I’m sure it’ll be good – the chef behind the chain has a Michelin star. It’s cheap and you order from a vending machine, which is always fun.
– Shop list (in Japanese)
Ramen Museum, Yokohama
Not really a museum in the traditional sense, but a collection of ramen restaurants. They serve half portions as well as full bowls, so you can try ramen from different regions of Japan. However the half portions are still pretty big! Several of them serve vegetarian ramen (clearly indicated), and they have English menus. You order from a vending machine. Lots of fun and great ramen – just make sure you’re hungry so you can take advantage of trying different types! There’s an Okinawan bar in the middle – one of the few places where you can get Orion, an Okinawan beer.
This is outside Tokyo in Yokohama but worth the trip if you’re a ramen fan!
Completely vegetarian restaurant in Tokyo Station. It’s on Keio Street, and you have to go through the ticket gates to get to it. Very well known and recommended by lots of people – I’ve never been but it’s on my list for next time!
There are 3 locations, each with a different menu. Only two of them have veggie ramen (may be to referred to as “bejisoba”), in Tokyo Station (in Ramen Street, on the B1 floor – follow signs to Ramen Street or First Avenue ), and Hirakawacho (near Hanzomon and Kojimachi subway stations). Look for a blue sign with a round logo. Like traditional ramen shops, it closes when the soup runs out! Check the opening hours on the website.
Ramen place at Roppongi Station. Not 100% sure about this one but this article on Tokyo Cheapo says it has vegetarian options (such as yuzu ramen).
More Vegetarian Ramen
– Lots more in this blog post on Ramen Beast.
It may surprise you, but sushi restaurants often have one or two veggie options. It does vary; at one place I had a meal entirely of kappamaki, which wasn’t the most exciting, but at least there was something! Most sushi places are worth looking at – these are just a few that I’ve tried, or that I know definitely have good options:
Fun conveyor belt sushi place in Shibuya where you order on a touchscreen! Popular with foreigners, so you might have to wait for a seat. Our favourite out of the cheap sushi places we’ve been to, and lots of fun. For vegetarians there’s kappamaki (cucumber), sweetcorn-mayo, natto, kanpyo, inari nigiri and several others. It’s also cheap so you can have lots (and we do!).
A sister branch of Genki Sushi, and basically the same – also in Shibuya.
Sushi place in Shibuya with interesting-looking veggie options.
A typical cheap conveyor belt sushi bar in Shinjuku. There’s an English menu and several veggie options. The name means “sunflower”.
Cheap conveyor belt sushi with veggie options including avocado (unusual in Japan – it’s not traditionally a sushi ingredient, it was introduced in the west as an alternative to fatty tuna). There are branches in Shibuya (Seibu department store, 8th floor) and Ikebukuro (Seibu department store, 8th floor).
PS: If you like sushi…
Take a look at my How to Make Sushi comic! You can learn to make delicious sushi at home (fish and veggie), along with edamame and gyoza. It’s so much fresher than shop-bought sushi and you can make it just how you want it. The comic comes as a gift set with a rolling mat and two pairs of chopsticks.
A Japanese fast food chain with lots of branches. They have an amazing range of soy burgers. The small beige icon on this page says “soy patty” and indicates which are veggie burgers: http://mos.jp/menu/category/?c_id=33
I had the teriyaki burger and it was delicious (also a novelty to have a choice, and a veggie burger that’s not just a generic “burger”!). They serve meals in baskets and have my favourite: melon soda. You can see it at 3:13 in this video from Akihabara.
Another Japanese fast food chain, which emphasises fresh food. There’s a veggie burger on the menu. I memorised the name and took a screenshot of what I wanted, which turned out to be completely unnecessary as the server spoke perfect English!
Ain Soph Ripple
Pricier than the other places I’ve mentioned. There are several Ain Soph restaurants – they’re all 100% vegan and each has a different menu. The one in Shinjuku is fast food, with burritos and burgers, etc. Sharla in Japan went there a lot in her videos.
Shabu shabu involves a hot soup and cooking your own ingredients at your table. It usually involves meat and a meat or fish stock-based soup, but this place in Shibuya has two soups that are vegetarian: tomato and spinach (horensou). You can order a split pot and have two different soups.
Yakitori place / bar where everything is 298 yen ,including the drinks (it’s gone up slightly since my video!). Really fun place, and a great place to spend the evening with friends. You order small plates of food to share. It’s mostly meat on sticks, but there are several veggie options, including potato salad (ask for it without the katsuoboshi fish flakes), “endless” cabbage salad, tomato, edamame and chips. The mochi cheese looks vegetarian but my friend thought it tasted like it’s cooked in meat stock. There’s a picture menu so it’s easy to order. There are lots of branches – look for the yellow sign. Search on Google maps for “Torikizoku” to find them. I went to one in Shinjuku.
Senjo Handmade Gyoza
A rare find! Gyoza usually contain mince. This is a very small gyoza place in Ikebukuro, on the west side of the station, with vegetarian and meat gyoza set meals with rice. I’ve not been but have read that the owner understands what vegetarian/vegan means.
Other Styles of Food
Cheap Japanese fast food chain, with branches all over Japan. There’s one veggie option: a bowl of steamed vegetables on rice. If you add side orders of cheese, kimchi or egg and free pickles on the table, it’s actually a decent meal – and cheap. You can see it (and the menu) at the start of this video.
Taco rice is an Okinawan dish of taco fillings served on rice. This place has a vegetarian option (rare) with avocado and beans. It’s in Kichijojo in Harmonica Yokocho, a collection of alleyways with lots of restaurants and bars to explore.
Quick lunch at Quina – great taco rice that passes the Okinawan Husband test and most importantly for me has a veggie option! Really recommend it if you’re in the area. pic.twitter.com/hIRn2KFrUF
— Being Tokyo – Chiara (@beingtokyo) March 14, 2018
Restaurant in Kichijoji with Japanese-style meals of rice, miso and sides. There are vegetable, fish and chicken set meals for around 1000 yen.
Serves chanko nabe, which is what sumo wrestlers eat! It’s a hotpot with soup (in this case konbu-based) and vegetables. Near Suehirocho Station (Akihabara area).
Kick Back Cafe
Slightly outside the central Tokyo area in Sengawa (near Chofu). In the evenings it’s a gig venue. There’s a meat and vegetarian menu. I’ve not been but have heard the veggie tonkotsu ramen is recommended. Check the opening times as it’s not open every day.
Shojin ryori (completely vegetarian) counter in Akihabara. Set meals with rice, miso soup and lots of small dishes. Shojin ryori is buddhist monks cuisine, usually found at temples.
T’s TanTan – Ueno Branch
A newer branch of the well-known T’s TanTan ramen restaurant. It’s in Ueno Station. The menu is slightly different from the Tokyo Station branch. There’s sesame ramen and also a deli counter with vegetarian katsu sandwiches. You can usually find meat katsu sandwiches in convenience store, but a vegetarian version is very unusual, so I’m looking forward to visiting!
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