Tokyo Vegetarian Restaurants – the 10 Best Vegetarian Restaurants in the Capital
It's not all meat and sushi - Tokyo has a burgeoning vegetarian food scene. Let our rundown of the ten best Tokyo vegetarian restaurants be your guide...
Vegetarianism has been practiced in Japan since the 6th century, when Buddhist monks’ philosophy of non-violence extended all the way to animals. Dishes conceived by the monks are referred to as shōjin ryōri (精進料理), translating as ‘devotional cuisine’. Shōjin ryōri is still eaten today in shrines across the nation, often featuring base ingredients such as lotus root, eggplant and tofu.
The ascetic monks are hardly representative of Japan as whole, however. The very concept of vegetarianism goes largely unconsidered and veganism is practically non-existent. In fact, the closest word to vegetarianism in Japanese is bejitarian (べじたりあん), a word borrowed from English, signalling the imported, formally alien nature of the concept. Restaurants, typically, add meat or fish to anything, and avoiding fish oil, meat stock and fish flakes can be a nightmare.
Luckily, things are starting to change. Vegetarian and vegan eateries have, in recent years, begun to pop up around Tokyo – safety zones for the capital’s herbivores. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to introduce you to the best of them, with a guide to the top ten vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo.
For more culinary options in Tokyo, take a look at some of our other guides:
1) Rainbow Raw Food
As the name suggests, this quirky restaurant specializes in raw and organically produced food. The produce is handpicked by the owner and delivered fresh daily. Vegetarians and vegans both can find dishes that appeal here, and, as an added bonus, the restaurant also offers cooking lessons and lectures on the benefits of shunning meat.
2) Tudore Tranquility
If a stroll around Yoyogi park enthuses you with a vigor for all things natural, nearby Tudore Tranquility may appeal. The chef, Mamta Reid, combines Japanese and Carribean culinary traditions to create highly original and entirely vegetarian-friendly dishes. The produce is carefully selected on a daily basis and the menu is often themed at different points in the year.
3) Milan Nataraj
A fan of Indian food? You’re in for a treat! Hindus are known for their vegetarian cuisine and this vegetarian restaurant showcases the best of it. Foreigner-friendly and conveniently central, Milan Nataraj has proven a hit with the local vegetarian community. Choose your level of spice and dive into this authentic vegetarian fare.
Address: 1-22-7, Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Opening hours: 11.30am to 11pm
4) From Earth Cafe
This small vegan cafe is perfect for lunch (the crowds are testament to this!), serving organic salads, sandwiches and soups, free from preservatives and artificial coloring. Produce is selected carefully and mostly Fair Trade, for one less thing to feel guilty about.
5) Eat More Greens
Green food is the way to go according to this restaurant! Eat More Green offers menu staples such as pizza, pasta and even burritos with a twist – they are all plant based! Devour your favorite fast food without the guilt. What’s more, with a range of gluten-free and halal options, this could just be your savior.
6) Ain Soph Journey
Curiously named Ain Soph Journey is one for those with a sweet tooth. The Heavenly Pancake Set consists of fluffy pancakes covered with liberal helpings of vegan cheese, fruit, maple syrup and vanilla. Enjoy with a cup of Moroccan tea and you’re in heaven on a chilly winter’s eve.
Address: 3-8-9, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku,Tokyo
Opening hours: 11:00am to 10pm
7) Kaemon Asakusa
What makes Kaemon Asakusa special is that it’s officially certified as halal, a rarity in Japan and a precious find for Muslims. Located in pleasant Asakusa, it could be a nice spot to fill your stomach after a spot of sightseeing.
Adress: 5-5-21, Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Opening hours: 11am to 8pm
8) T’s Restaurant
Halal, vegetarian and gourmet, T’s Restaurant draws on European and Japanese influences to create dishes that adhere to their strict ‘No meat, No fish, No egg, No dairy’ policy. Familiar dishes like hamburger steaks are given the vegetarian treatment here, and it’d take a die-hard carnivore to complain about the difference. The restaurant has such confidence in this fact that it actively encourages meat-eater to give it a try with their “smile veggie” policy, designed to bridge the void between the worlds of meat eaters and vegetarians. How harmonious.
9) Hanada Rosso
Situated in the fashionable Harajuku area, Hanada Rosso serves craving-beating comfort food and has even been hailed as serving the best vegan burgers in Tokyo. A set menu and Japanese dishes are also available should you not fancy the burger, all of which are 100% plant based and healthy. Welcome to the world of healthy junk food.
10 ) Restaurant 8ablish (Eightablish)
Restaurant 8ablish serves Mediterranean-inspired gastronomy, perfect for a special occasion. Try the feta cheese tofu as a starter, perhaps the veggie kebab as a main and round the meal off with some delicious vegan ice cream, all accompanied by excellent organic drinks. Complete with wine advice and artful presentation, this really is a high-class joint. Their egalitarian motto: “vegan for everyone”, is quite right – everyone will be satisfied after a meal at 8ablish.