The first thing that comes to mind when talking about the culinary scene in Japan is seafood, sushi in particular. That, or a hearty bowl of authentic ramen, with slurpable noodles swimming in umami (often meat or fish-based) broth. However, Japan is also home to shojin ryori, the vegetarian food of Buddhist monks. It’s a simple cuisine served without any fish, meat, or animal byproducts, though shojin-style cuisine is not commonly found on the average restaurant menu. While Japan is famous for washoku, a cuisine which uses seaweed, legumes, and lots of vegetables, it is still quite difficult to find vegan restaurants in Tokyo (let alone Japan) because most dishes include dashi, fish stock, despite being dairy or meat-free.
Thankfully, with the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, the culinary scene in Japan has been expanding to acknowledge more food restrictions and embrace diversity. One of the effects of this is the much-needed increase in vegan restaurants in Tokyo. We’ve curated this list of the 10 Best Vegan Restaurants in Tokyo to make finding your next meal a little bit easier.
1. T’s Tan Tan
T’s Tan Tan exclusively serves vegan ramen. Since there is usually a line, you may have to wait quite a long time to be seated, but their ramen is definitely worth it. They have an extensive English menu which you can browse, including their number one seller: T’s Tan Tan’s Golden Sesame Ramen. Consisting of toasted sesame seeds incorporated with peanut butter and a miso-based broth, sautéed vegetables, chewy noodles, and soy crumbles, it is definitely a fan favorite for a reason. For the fantastic flavors and reasonable prices, T’s Tan Tan is a must-try vegan ramen shop in Tokyo.
2. Nagi Shokudo
If you’re in the mood for some vegan Japanese-style eats, Nagi Shokudo in Shibuya is the place to go. Everything on the menu is strictly vegan and plant-based, as well as super fresh and flavorful. They serve meals like the Nagi A Plate, which includes soy meat karaage (“fried chicken”), brown rice, miso soup, pickled vegetables, while the Nagi Lunch Plate is a little heartier, with your choice of three side dishes (out of 13 different options).
Aside from their set meals, they also serve vegan curry (if you’re craving something slightly spicy), vegan desserts, organic coffee, and even beer. The choices are endless and all are exquisitely delicious. Besides the food, you can also enjoy the warm and welcoming atmosphere inside the restaurant, where you can feel at home.
3. AIN SOPH. Ripple
Probably one of the most popular, go-to vegan restaurants in Tokyo is AIN SOPH. Ripple in Shinjuku. AIN SOPH. Ripple is the perfect place to swing by if you’re craving a delicious and healthy burger. Many people are still skeptical when it comes to the vegan diet, assuming that the serving sizes are small or the food isn’t filling, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. If you’re not already interested in veganism for ethical or health reasons, you may be tempted to convert when you taste AIN SOPH’s satisfying, huge burgers with hefty sides.
Their bestseller is their Crispy Chicken Burger which is made by using soy meat and seitan (a meat substitute made of gluten), with a nearly authentic chicken texture. They also serve salad bowls, burritos, and desserts which are all great for sharing. It also doesn’t hurt that the place gives off that chill vibe, making it a relaxing place to unwind and grab a bite while chatting with family and friends.
Owned by the same people behind T’s Tan Tan, T’s in Jiyugaoka is another fantastic vegan restaurant in Tokyo. The menu at T’s has a wide variety of all-vegan options, including dishes such as succulent vegan gyoza, Pizza Margherita topped with melty vegan cheese, and vegan hamburg steak. Other popular dishes on their menu are their meatless hamburg hotpot and heavenly General Tso’s “chicken” stir-fry dish. End your meal with their sinful vegan crème brûlée, featuring a perfectly crackly top and a creamy center, probably one of the highlights at T’s.
5. Veganic To Go
The menu at Veganic To Go in Roppongi is 100% vegan, Halal-friendly, and made in-house without processed sugar, artificial additives, trans fats, or GMOs. This restaurant uses mainly organic ingredients, to make dishes like their aptly-named Monster Burger, a massive tartar “fish” burger, so tall that you’ll need to smash it down to get that perfect bite through all the layers. Their homemade bun is made with organic Japanese whole wheat, hemp protein, organic flaxseeds, and other nutrient-dense ingredients, while their “fish” cutlet is actually a soy patty. To ensure the high quality of the items on their menu, Veganic To Go supports farmers who produce organic, non-GMO produce. Even non-vegans will find their vegan burgers hearty and satisfying at this cozy little joint.
6. Falafel Brothers
If you want something light but filling, then you have to try Falafel Brothers. Their main business is takeout but if you want to hang around and savor every bite of your food, you can take one of the few seats they have inside the tiny falafel joint. With reasonable prices and generous portions, it’s no surprise that a lot of people go here for a quick and satisfying meal. Everything is made fresh and available for guests to order, and they have different toppings every day, so you’ll never be bored. From their falafel sandwich to falafel salad bowl, and even pizza, you’ll have a few great savory options to choose from. For you falafel enthusiasts, you can even get a few falafel balls on the side. Then, chase it down with something sweet, like a carob bar or vegan ice cream!
7. Hemp Cafe
Hemp Cafe is a new face, serving tasty dishes made from organic hemp, a superfood. Established in 2017, Hemp Cafe has been making big waves in the sea of vegan restaurants in Tokyo. They use hemp seeds, hemp protein, and hemp oil in their food and desserts. You pair their tasty tacos and nachos with their rather unusual and intriguing cannabis beer. Their menu also includes norimaki (sushi rolls), light and delicious salads, roasted vegetables, burritos, and raw cake. Hemp Cafe also has options for other dietary restrictions, with some dishes that are raw, gluten-free, and made without processed sugar. If you’re craving something sweet, they have their signature light and fluffy raw pancakes, one of their most popular items. Hemp Cafe is warm and welcoming with gentle brown hues, comfy seating, and soft lighting.
8. Restaurant 8ablish
Simultaneously sophisticated and casual, you’ll feel at home at Restaurant 8ablish. While it’s the perfect place to drop by for lunch or dinner, they also have some fantastic desserts and snacks. Offering a range of vegan sweets such as muffins with gloriously crumbly toppings, gateaux au chocolat, and cake that’s cram-jam full of figs and nuts, this restaurant also makes sure not to leave anyone out, offering gluten-free and nut-free options. They also do catering and delivery. Their lunch menu consists of simple and wholesome dishes, and their lunch set includes soup, salad, and a main dish which is always changing. Past dishes include spring-inspired gratin, enchiladas with avocado and edible blossoms, and pork-style jackfruit sandwiches. Be sure to check out their Instagram for the daily special.
Promoting an environmentally-friendly, healthy style of eating, Ballon in Nakameguro is another 100% vegan falafel restaurant offering some incredible vegan soft serve. Made entirely without eggs, dairy, or sugar, their vegan soft serve comes with 9 different topping options. At Ballon, they pride themselves on light but satisfying organic food that nourishes the body. Their falafel is light and fluffy, with a slight spiciness, and is wrapped in a pita pocket with seven kinds of vibrant, organic veggies which give a pleasing crunchiness to the sandwich.
This cozy little shop is a great place to grab a bite to eat if you’re in the area, and it’s just a short walk away from the world’s largest Starbucks, the Nakameguro Starbucks Reserve Roastery, newly opened in late February of 2019, in case you want to wash it down with a soy latte.
10. Kaemon Asakusa (CLOSED*)
Serving up a tasty vegan buffet in Tokyo, Kaemon Asakusa offers a huge range of all-organic, 100% vegan eats using the freshest vegetables, grains, nuts, and beans. This affordable yet healthy buffet-style restaurant is popular among vegans and non-vegans alike because of their fantastic selection of food and drinks, highlighting the simple and delicious flavors of whole foods like vegetables and grains. Kaemon Asakusa’s interior has clean and simple decor, white walls, quiet music, and a peaceful atmosphere, where you can relax and enjoy some filling vegan food in Tokyo.
*Update: Kaemon Asakusa is currently closed, but is being redesigned as a luxury vegan restaurant and is scheduled for a March 2019 opening.
Want to learn how to cook shojin ryori, the vegan cuisine of Japanese Buddhist monks? Check out our Shojin Ryori (Buddhist Cuisine) Cooking Class. Or, book our Vegan Ramen and Gyoza Cooking Class and gain the skills to impress your friends and family in your kitchen at home!
She’s cooking and baking for her family and friends. She finds grocery shopping therapeutic, always takes the longest time in the Asian section and debates with herself whether she needs that extra pack of instant ramen. A lover of sweets, she dreams of owning a patisserie and publishing her book but most of the time, she’s just really thinking of what to eat for breakfast the next day.