In the past few years, vegan and vegetarian restaurants have been increasing throughout Japan. In Tokyo there are plenty of restaurants, including old pioneers that have been in the business for more than years to newbies just arriving on the scene. Here are 5 of them to check out.
1. Restaurant 8ablish
Restaurant 8ablish is a restaurant that just opened in June. It's a fully vegan restaurant with the concept of "a place where you can be healthy and happy without thinking about it." They offer Italian and Mediterranean-style food that will make you feel cheerful just by looking at the bright colors of the ingredients. The recommendation is the lunch menu, which has 4 items on it. There's the Daily Stew with Small Salad (1,200 JPY) for which you can choose brown rice or bread a side. The stew will always be made with plenty of ingredients, mostly vegetables, so you can be satisfied with its warmth even in the summer. There's also the Vegan Soft-Serve Ice Cream (700 JPY) made with liquor, amazake (sweet, low-to-non-alcoholic rice wine), and soy beans that is perfect for the upcoming summer. It's in a great location in Omotesando, so you can recharge here with some healthy food when you're tired of walking and shopping.
2. CHAYA macrobiotics
CHAYA macrobiotics offers a vegan menu of course, but also a full gluten-free menu too. With items such as spaghetti made from brown rice and stews made with rice flour, the meals are lower calorie and gentler on the digestive system than spaghetti and stew made with wheat flour. Their gluten-free menu has gained lots of popularity among people who like health food. Also, the head chef of this restaurant used to work as the head chef of a well-established French restaurant here in Japan, so of course it's very delicious. The French-style course menu Healthy and Beauty course (2,980 JPY (incl. tax), dinner only) is so delicious that people who normally don't eat vegan have given it high praise for the food being delicious yet healthy. The course comes with an appetizer, salad, soup, brown rice or bread, and a main dish that you can choose from 3 options. It also comes with dessert and a drink for a filling meal. This restaurant is great for people who want to enjoy a slightly luxurious vegan meal.
3. LIMA CAFE Macrobiotic
LIMA CAFE is a cafe created by Ohsawa Japan, a company based on the philosophy of George Ohsawa, the man who created the Japanese health food lifestyle called macrobiotic, a diet mostly centered around grains. It has a natural foods supermarket called LIMA in-store. In the café, the menu does not use meat, fish, dairy, eggs, white sugar, or chemically-made seasonings, so it's entirely vegan. Their most popular menu is the original plate (900 JPY (incl. tax)) that has a main dish, two side dishes, soup, and brown rice. Also, the special baked cheesecake (500 JPY (incl. tax)), made using tofu instead of cheese, and the gateau chocolate cake made using soba flour and moderately-sweet but extremely rich dried yam (500 JPY (incl. tax) are popular sweets. For people who are total vegans, this is a perfect place not just to eat but also to buy food products.
4. MOMINOKI HOUSE
MOMINOKI HOUSE is the first health food restaurant in Japan, opened in 1976. Thanks to the wishes of the chef they have been able to offer food that is both really delicious as well as pleasing to the eye. All of their meals are grown using natural farming (a Japanese technique where only the very basic of human intervention is used in farming) or organic farming techniques, and they use ionized water. They open in the mornings from 8:00 am to 11:00 am on Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and during those hours you can taste Japanese vegan food in their Ichijuu Sansai ("one soup, three veggies") set meal for 750 JPY. Also, lunch is mainly set meals that come with brown rice and miso soup (980 - 1,980 JPY (incl. tax)), while you can enjoy a course meal for dinner (3,500 - 4,000 JPY (incl. tax)). The tofu steak, which can be enjoyed both for lunch and dinner, comes with a rich sauce that will satisfy you so much you won't believe it's tofu! This is a great place for people who want to come to Japan and eat Japanese-style vegan food.
5. Tamana Shokudo
Tamana Shokudo is a restaurant that has worked hard to offer domestic organic and pesticide-free brown rice, carefully selected vegetables, and fermented food like natto and miso. Their Ichijuu Sansai set (1,350 JPY (incl. tax)), only available for lunch on weekdays, has a main dish of soybean meat or fried tofu, three kinds of side dishes, brown rice, miso soup, and a drink. Also the dinner has plenty of course sets available, and among them the most popular one is the detox beauty course (5,400 JPY (incl. tax)). In the 6 dishes that are part of the set, they use assorted grains like chia seeds and quinoa and vegetables that have a lot of enzymes to make your digestive system work better so your entire body works to detox itself. The beautiful arrangement of these dishes have grabbed the hearts of women who want to be beautiful. Also, people who come alone can order the Ohitori-sama dinner course (3,300 JPY (incl. tax)). You can choose a main dish from two options, and it comes with an appetizer, rice or bread, dessert, and a drink. This restaurant is great for people who are walking around alone and have tired themselves out, as well as those who want to eat fermented Japanese food.
There's a tendency to think of vegan and vegetarian food as boring, but there's no worry about that in Tokyo, a city known to be picky over the quality of its food. Even if you're not vegetarian but just feel like you're in the mood for a healthy meal, please try these restaurants as well.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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