The Tokyo Vegan Guide has already covered the 10 Best Vegan Restaurants in Tokyo, and we've written about Where to Try Shojin Ryori, Japan's Vegan Buddhist Cuisine. Now we're back to show our vegetarian friends some love with this list of vegetarian-friendly and vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo, where you can find the most iconic Japanese foods, from crunchy tempura to that steaming bowl of ramen.
Every year, millions of tourists visit Tokyo, and not all of them are meat-eaters. While many don't have to think twice before tucking into some ramen or Japanese curry, vegetarians in Tokyo have the extra hassle of sussing out those pesky invisible ingredients like katsuobushi fish flakes, which are used to flavor many Japanese-style broths.
Though Japan is abundant with high-quality (and admittedly, expensive) fruits and vegetables, the vegetarian lifestyle is still uncommon here. In the past, vegetarians in Japan have found it difficult to find a diverse range of nourishing, wholesome foods. However, in the recent years, vegetarian restaurants have sprouted in every corner of Tokyo, making it easier for vegetarians to get access to veggies and plant proteins in the form of vegetable-based okonomiyaki, fried tofu, veggie tempura, and even vegetarian ramen.
Here are some fantastic vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo for different classic Japanese foods.
1. Vegetarian Ramen in Tokyo
2. Vegetarian Tofu in Tokyo
3. Vegetarian Tempura in Tokyo
4. Vegetarian Okonomiyaki in Tokyo
5. Vegetarian Sushi in Tokyo
6. Vegetarian Curry in Tokyo
It can be challenging finding a vegetarian ramen restaurant in Tokyo that serves pure plant-based ramen dishes, as ramen broth often contains dashi, a type of fish stock that isn’t exactly fit for a vegan and vegetarian lifestyle. However, in the past couple of years, vegetarian and vegan ramen restaurants in Tokyo have gained popularity.
A special vegan ramen restaurant in Tokyo called T’s Tan Tan has a 100% vegan ramen menu that has been receiving rave reviews from vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores alike. Their Golden Sesame Ramen, with a savory, umami miso-based broth made with peanut butter and sesame, is a fan favorite. It’s located inside Tokyo Station, so hungry passengers can drop by and enjoy a delicious bowl of ramen before speeding off on the train to their next destination.
Another option is Kyushu Jangara Ramen, with locations in Akihabara, Nihonbashi, Omotesando, and Ginza, which has two types of vegan ramen, a shoyu soy sauce-based broth, and a shio salt-based broth with fresh and light toppings like tofu, nori (seaweed paper), menma (seasoned bamboo shoots), and green onions. They also have meat options, if you are bringing some omnivore friends, and vegetarians can top their vegan ramen off with an egg for more protein.
Tofu is a versatile ingredient that can be prepared fried, stir-fried, steamed, or in soup. You can easily add it to other dishes and will absorb the flavors. Japanese are experts when it comes to preparing tofu dishes so vegetarians are in good hands. This protein-rich bean curd is also the perfect plant-based protein.
Milk Land in Shibuya is a 100% vegetarian establishment on this list of Vegetarian-Friendly and Vegetarian Restaurants in Tokyo. They serve classic Japanese fare in small dishes, like their vegetarian lunch set which includes six veggie and tofu dishes, accompanied by white or brown rice and miso soup, for 900 yen. You'll leave full and happy, for sure.
For homemade tofu ice cream, check out Brown Rice by Neal's Yard Remedies. This vegetarian restaurant in Tokyo dreams up dishes that are complementary to Japan's stunning four seasons. Comprised of simple and wholesome dishes, like brown rice, miso soup, and a variety of seasonal local vegetables, the food here will be the perfect way to cleanse your body after a bar-hopping experience.
With over 100 years of history, Tofu no Futaba is a homey little vegetarian-friendly restaurant in Tokyo specializing in tofu, serving up hearty portions of tofu prepared in different styles alongside fresh vegetable dishes. While Tofu no Futaba is not a completely vegetarian restaurant, they offer options for those who do not consume meat. If you're craving a little protein-packed sweet treat, they even offer tofu donuts, which are freshly made and super light on the stomach.
Tempura is a versatile dish, usually consisting of battered and deep-fried seafood and vegetables, with a light, crisp, and crunchy outer coating. It is easy to make all-veggie tempura and incorporate different vegetables, bringing attention to the natural sweetness of produce such as sweet potato. Tasty tempura is fantastic alongside soba noodles or served in a tendon (tempura donburi).
A popular chain restaurant in Japan called Tenya, approved by pop music royalty like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, serves an affordable vegetable tempura donburi (rice bowl) consisting of maitake mushrooms, sweet potato, lotus root, baby corn, pumpkin, and okra atop a bed of rice. But unless you're pescatarian, ask for sōsu nashi (ソースなし）or "no sauce," as their Tenya's sauce contains fish. Tenya's vegetable tempura rice bowls are consistently cheap and delicious, and there's an English menu available, making it a very accessible restaurant, with locations all over Tokyo, such as Ginza, Akasaka, and Shinjuku.
If you fancy a more upscale vegetarian-friendly restaurant, try Tempura Kondo in Ginza, a modern Japanese restaurant boasting two Michelin stars, with an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs at work. Tempura Kondo is a gem of the Tokyo restaurant scene, using only carefully selected vegetables and seafood. And yes, while they aren't exclusively a vegetarian restaurant, pescatarians will find themselves very at home here, and vegetarians still can still enjoy some high-quality, crispy vegetable tempura.
Okonomiyaki is a savory cabbage pancake that is super customizable. You can toss in any types of veggies into the batter and voilà, you'll be in okonomiyaki heaven! If you’re craving something steaming hot, cooked up right in front of you, okonomiyaki is the way to go.
Tsuchiya in Nishishinjuku, an okonomiyaki restaurant which does not use katsuo dashi (a type of fish stock) in its batter, serves some of the best okonomiyaki in Tokyo. It’s made right before your eyes and can always ask for other vegetable ingredients to be added to your okonomiyaki dish, or additional ingredients like mochi.
Though searching for a vegetarian sushi restaurant in Tokyo can be challenging, it’s not impossible to find one. At most sushi restaurants, you can ask for vegetarian alternatives, but a few staple vegetable-based sushi dishes are kappa-maki (seaweed sushi roll with fresh cucumber) and takuan-maki (pickled daikon roll).
Itamae Sushi Edo is a vegetarian-friendly restaurant in Akasaka, where you can indulge yourself in some vegetarian sushi, such as shiitake mushroom sushi and avocado sushi, and they have vegan options as well. Their sushi rice is perfectly seasoned, fragrant with sushi vinegar, and in between bites of delicious vegetarian sushi you can take sips of their warm and comforting miso soup. The decor is minimalist and undistracting, with a long wooden counter from which you can watch the sushi chefs at work, as well as tables in the main floor space where you can provide your full attention to your family or friends.
At Gonpachi, a vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurant with locations in Shibuya and Nishiazabu, you'll be in good hands. While they serve meat, they are very accommodating and offer vegan sushi like avocado sushi. Just be sure to ask for a vegetarian sauce, as their soy sauce contains fish. They have a vegetarian set lunch menu and a vegan dinner course for 5000 yen. This establishment also serves some fantastic vegan tempura.
If you want to support a vegan establishment, check out Nagi Shokudo in Shibuya. This vegan restaurant in Tokyo offers an entirely plant-based menu, which also includes vegan curry! They serve affordable lunch set meals including dishes like soy meat karaage (fried "chicken") and miso soup.
Many Japanese restaurants offer vegetable curry, but don't be fooled, it may not be vegetarian. Like katsuobushi fish flakes, another invisible non-vegetarian ingredient could be concealed in the curry roux, which is often made with meat. Thankfully, Japan’s largest and most popular curry chain, Coco Ichibanya (also known as CoCo Curry), serves vegetarian curry at some select stores. The branches of Coco Ichibanya offering a vegetarian menu include Kichijoji, Shinjuku Waseda, and Shimokitazawa, to name a few.
Check out the Ultimate Vegan Guide for tips for plant-based travelers in Japan and guides to eating as a vegan in Japan's major cities!