Tokyo is one of the foodie capitals of the world, but it doesn’t have the best reputation for vegetarians. It’s true that if you wander into a random restaurant you’ll struggle to avoid meat and fish, but with a little planning you can find amazing vegetarian food in Tokyo. The food was a highlight of our stay and the quality was outstanding from high-end restaurants to simple ramen shops.
Most guides to vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo focus on westernised places serving veggies burgers, salads, and smoothies. We didn’t come to Japan to eat burgers, and with only a few weeks in the country, we wanted to make the most of the delicious national cuisine. I made it our mission to find the best vegetarian-friendly Japanese food in Tokyo whether that was at places that are entirely vegetarian or vegan or at traditional Japanese restaurants that specialise in one type of cuisine.
The vegetarian scene has grown since our last visit six years ago and I was delighted to discover that there are many tasty veggie eats in Tokyo if you know where to look.
- Vegetarian Ramen in Tokyo
- Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in Tokyo
- Vegetarian-Friendly Japanese Restaurants in Tokyo
- Vegetarian Tokyo Map
- Tips for Vegetarians in Tokyo
The current exchange rate is approximately 1 USD = 113 yen and 1 GBP = 148 yen.
Vegetarian Ramen in Tokyo
Ramen in Japan is almost always made with pork or fish broth so we didn’t have any on our last visit. Happily, there are now a few options for vegan ramen in Tokyo and it was fantastic being able to try this classic dish which makes a tasty, inexpensive, and quick meal.
T’s Tantan is an entirely vegan ramen restaurant in Tokyo Station! This is so convenient if you are passing through the massive station where many of the city’s local trains and bullet trains around the country depart.
There are many different ramen choices including sesame, shoyu (soy sauce), and two spicy options which we went for—Simon had the “hot” Midori Tantan and I had the “very hot” Shiro Tantan. Both were full of flavour and the noodles were the best we tried. My spice level was manageable until it came to sip the broth! All the ramen contain soy meat, which we’re not fans of, but they are small, rather innocuous chunks. There wasn’t much veg, so next time I’d pay extra to add some. Our side of dumplings was good too.
We bought some pots of their instant ramen to take away for a cheap, easy meal on another day.
Cost for a Main Dish: 900 yen.
Details: Keiyo Street food hall in JR Tokyo Station. Follow signs for the Keiyo line. 7 am – 10.30 pm every day (limited menu before 11 am).
Website: Happy Cow listing.
Shinjuku Gyoen Ramen Ouka
Shinjuku Gyoen Ramen Ouka is a typical small ramen restaurant with counter seating where you order and pay at the vending machine by the door (it’s in English) then hand your ticket to the chef behind the counter. It’s a halal restaurant that also offers a vegan ramen—spicy or normal in regular, large, or extra large size. The staff spoke good English and were very friendly, so don’t worry if you’re not sure how it all works.
Although we preferred T’s Tantan’s softer noodles, we loved the spicy broth here (level 3 was really spicy!) and the chunks of broccoli, peppers, courgette, and corn. They also gave us some cold peach tea when we were finished. The regular size was plenty for me but Simon polished off his large.
It was quiet when we visited on a Saturday lunchtime, but it can get very busy so try to arrive early to avoid queuing. To make a reservation via their Facebook page you have to book the 2500 yen set menu including drink and dessert.
There are many great veggie-friendly places to eat in this neighbourhood, which is one of the reasons why we think Shinjuku is the best area to stay in Tokyo.
Cost for a Main Dish: From 1100 yen for a regular vegan ramen.
Details: 東京都新宿区新宿1–11–7. Near Shinjuku Gyoen Gardens. 2 – 10 pm on weekdays, from 5 pm on Fridays and 12.30 pm on weekends.
Website: Facebook page.
Afuri is a ramen chain that offers a vegan ramen packed with seasonal vegetables. You buy a ticket from the vending machine then take a seat at the counter. Our ramen looked beautiful and the noodles were good, but the vegetables were undercooked and the soy broth wasn’t very flavourful.
Despite being our least favourite ramen, it’s still a decent option if there’s nothing else around as there are many branches all over Tokyo.
Cost for a Main Dish: 1350 yen for vegan ramen.
Details: Various branches including Shinjuku, Ebisu, Harajuku, and Roppongi.
Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in Tokyo
There are many vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo. Many of them serve Western dishes so we focused on ones with Japanese cuisine, often a set lunch including multiple dishes, rice, miso soup, and pickles. It’s usually much cheaper to eat at lunch than at dinner.
Another place that sounded good but we ran out of time for was Sougo, which serves modern shojin ryori in Roppongi.
Bon was by far our favourite vegetarian restaurant in Tokyo—it’s an experience as much as a meal. They specialise in fucha ryori, a version of shojin ryori (Zen Buddhist vegan cuisine), which I think every vegetarian in Japan should try at least once.
Bon is a beautiful, tranquil space with miniature gardens, fountains, and a cobbled stone corridor leading to eight private tatami mat rooms with sliding paper doors. We ate on low chairs in a room decorated simply with a scroll, flower arrangement, and window onto a little garden of plants, pagoda, and rocks.
We had the lunch menu which consisted of 12 courses using seasonal ingredients, so in autumn we had lots of mushrooms, chestnuts, and pumpkin. They gave us a leaflet in English with the concept and courses to expect and then explained each dish as they brought it to us.
It was an incredible meal. Every dish was exquisite with delicate flavours and a remarkable attention to detail. Nothing is placed on the plate by chance—it all has a purpose and meaning.
Ingredients are unusual and some dishes are odd if you aren’t used to shojin ryori, but it’s all part of the adventure. Our meal began with chrysanthemum tea and included a chestnut covered in crunchy macha noodles, various soups, pumpkin dumplings (representing the moon), chilled sesame tofu, and tempura, including a delicate somen noodle tempura that was like a work of art.
The most intriguing dish was the shun kan or “decoratively presented vegetables” (see top photo), a beautiful plate featuring a chestnut, konnyaku (a plant-based jelly), mushrooms, fried dumpling, pink pickled ginger root stick, and some delicious but unidentifiable bits.
Bon is not cheap—our lunch menu was 5000 yen each plus 15% tax and service—but it is totally worth it for a unique Japanese experience.
Cost for a Main Dish: 3450 or 5000 yen for lunch and from 6000 yen for dinner.
Details: 1–2–11 Ryusen Taito-ku. Lunch and dinner every day except Wednesday. Phone reservations in advance are essential. Our Airbnb host booked for us but they do speak some English. It’s out of the way on a quiet residential street, but you could combine it with a visit to Sensoji temple or Ueno Park, which are fairly close.
Website: Fucha Bon.
Milk Land is a cute little vegetarian restaurant near Shinjuku Station. It’s great value and the food is more traditional than many of the veggie places. There’s no menu, just a vegetarian lunch set with six vegetable and tofu dishes plus rice and miso soup—all you have to do is choose white or brown rice. They spoke some English and could make it vegan.
Milk Land is in the New State Manor Building—walk around the outside of the building to the right and look for the cow outside. Lima, a more westernised vegan restaurant and health food shop, is in the same building.
Cost for a Main Dish: 900 yen for lunch set.
Details: 2–23–1 Yoyogi, New State Manor Building 1F. 11.30 am – 6 pm Monday to Friday.
Website: Happy Cow listing.
Nagi Shokudo is a vegan restaurant in Shibuya with a mix of Japanese and international cuisine. At lunch you can choose from three set menus—fried soy meat, curry with rice and a deli item, and the lunch plate where you choose three of their changing deli items with brown rice, miso soup and pickles. They also have vegan cakes and cookies.
Simon enjoyed the curry and I liked my tofu in chile miso sauce, dal wada (fried lentil ball), and potato salad. It’s a good option for an affordable lunch.
Cost for a Main Dish: 900 yen for lunch set.
Details: Uguisudanicho 15–10, Royal Palace Shibuya 103. 12 – 4 pm and 6 – 11 pm Monday to Saturday. It’s a 10-minute walk from Shibuya Station south exit next door to Pinosalice Trattoria and Wine Bar.
Website: Happy Cow listing.
Brown Rice Cafe
Brown Rice Cafe is a stylish organic vegetarian restaurant in Harajuku, an upmarket area near Shibuya. They serve traditional Japanese set lunches and you can choose from curry, steamed vegetables, and the seasonal set menu. I enjoyed the day’s dish of grilled miso tofu with two vegetable dishes, pickles, brown rice, and miso soup, and as always, Simon had the curry. Everything is vegan except for honey in some drinks.
The food was tasty and healthy, and I recommend it if you are in the area (we preferred it to nearby Mominoki House), but it’s a lot more expensive than other lunch sets.
Cost for a Main Dish: 1700 yen for lunch set plus an extra 500 yen on weekends.
Details: 5–1–8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku (part of Neal’s Yard Remedies). 11.30 am – 6 pm every day.
Website: Neal’s Yard.
Vegetarian-Friendly Japanese Restaurants in Tokyo
One of the reasons why restaurants in Japan are so good is that many chefs specialise in just one type of food and perfect it over a lifetime. We had some of our best meals in non-vegetarian Japanese restaurants. While it can be more challenging explaining your dietary requirements, all these places can cater for vegetarians, and we preferred eating in traditional Japanese environments without other tourists.
Curry House CoCo Ichibanya (Japanese Curry)
Curry is a popular comfort food in Japan, and while Japanese curry is different from Indian curry, it’s just as delicious. Many curry places offer a vegetable curry, but it’s likely the roux contains meat.
Happily, Coco Ichibanya, Japan’s largest curry chain, now offers a vegan curry at some of its branches. You need to look out for the special green vegetarian menu where you’ll find many options including vegetable and eggplant (my favourite), spinach, mushroom, and asparagus and tomato.
Before you order have a look at the normal English menu for customisation options. You can add toppings, choose the amount of rice (standard is quite a lot), and select your spice level from mild to 10 (3 was definitely spicy).
As Coco Ichibanya has branches all over Japan this is a fantastic option for a cheap, quick, and tasty meal while travelling the country.
Cost for a Main Dish: From 673 yen.
Details: Many branches but the vegetarian menu is not available everywhere (check Google Maps or Trip Advisor reviews to check if they do). We went to the Shinjuku Station West Exit branch on Memory Lane and to one near Shibuya Station.
Website: CoCo Ichibanya vegetarian curry details with a link to branches that have it (in Japanese only).
Tsunahachi is a famous tempura restaurant founded in 1923. There are a number of branches in Tokyo and we went to the one on the 13th floor of the Takashimaya department store in Shinjuku.
The menu is in Japanese but one of the staff members spoke some English and explained that we had a choice of various set lunches. We chose the most basic option, said we were vegetarian and asked to have it with just vegetables, which was no problem. We sat at the counter and watched the chef frying our vegetables and passing them to us straight out of the pan, two at a time. The batter was light and crispy and the vegetables perfectly cooked. They kept on coming and we ended up with nine pieces of tempura, which was more than enough.
Our lunch set also included rice, pickles, grated daikon, miso soup, and tentsuyu dipping sauce. The soup and sauce are most likely made with dashi (fish broth), so we skipped them and used the four excellent salts (plain, konbu, wasabi, and red perilla) for seasoning instead. Tsunahachi has a handy English guide to eating tempura.
Cost for a Main Dish: 1700 yen for lunch set. More expensive at dinner.
Details: Various branches in Tokyo plus Kyoto and Hokkaido. The main branch is in Shinjuku.
Okonomiyaki is a kind of cabbage pancake that usually contains meat or seafood but can be made vegetarian. Zen is the perfect option for vegetarians in Shinjuku as they have an English menu with a vegetarian section at the back which explains the ingredients of the many types of okonomiyaki. We chose the less traditional tomato special with tomato, cheese and Japanese basil and also ordered grilled vegetables. As we ordered we showed the waiter our vegetarian card that stated what we can’t eat in Japanese. He then asked the chef to make ours without dashi, so it’s a good idea to check on this.
Zen has a cover charge of 220 yen but they do bring you a small appetiser—we munched on our potato salad while we watched the chef make our okonomiyaki on the counter grill. He started with some batter and then added a heaping pile of cabbage plus other ingredients. As the cabbage cooks it reduces in size and becomes a thick pancake. Ours was served topped with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. It was crispy and gooey and utterly delicious.
I don’t think it’s possible to make okonomiyaki without egg, so it’s not a good option for vegans, although Zen does offer grilled vegetables, which we enjoyed.
Cost for a Main Dish: 870 yen for a basic okonomiyaki, 1300 yen for tomato special.
Details: 東京都新宿区新宿５–10–9花政ビル1F, Shinjuku. 5 – 12 pm every day.
For a special meal without a huge price tag, Sorano in Shibuya is a great option. It specialises in tofu, but in Japan that doesn’t mean everything is vegetarian. At Sorano there are plenty of vegetarian options marked on the English menu.
It’s a classy, traditional restaurant with a fish pond and fountain at the entrance and a pebble corridor leading to private tatami areas and counter seating. As we hadn’t booked we sat at the counter.
We ordered most of our dishes from the appetiser section and shared tapas style. The tofu comes in so many different forms from crispy deep fried tofu with miso (so good!), chilled avocado tofu, and grilled eggplant and vegetables rolled in tofu skin. Sorano’s special tofu is made at your table—it’s velvety smooth, but be aware that the soy sauce accompaniment contains dashi. Tempura is also available.
Even if you don’t think you like tofu, give Sorano a try as Japanese tofu is far better than anywhere else.
Cost for a Main Dish: Small dishes from 700 yen.
Details: 4, Sakuragaokacho 17, Shibuya. 5 – 11 pm every day (and possibly open for lunch too).
Website: Trip Advisor listing.
Itasoba Kaoriya (Soba)
Soba (buckwheat) noodles are often served cold and are a good option for vegetarians as noodle broth will usually contain dashi. Itasoba Kaoriya is a soba restaurant in Ebisu, just one train stop from Shibuya. It’s a beautiful minimalist space with large shared wooden tables.
They have an English menu and you can choose from thick or thin soba with soy or sesame dipping sauces and add vegetable tempura. The soy dipping sauce likely contains dashi and we just hoped the sesame sauce didn’t. The thick noodles were chewy and nutty and the sesame sauce was the perfect accompaniment.
Cost for a Main Dish: From 800 yen.
Details: 4–3–10 Ebisu, Shibuya. 11 am – 3.30 pm and 5 – 11 pm.
Website: Trip Advisor listing.
Vegetarian Tokyo Map
We stayed in Tokyo twice on our latest trip, first in Shinjuku and later in Shibuya. We preferred the vegetarian restaurants in Shinjuku and it felt quieter, cheaper, and more traditional than Shibuya. The vegetarian restaurants in Shibuya and Harajuku were more westernised. We stayed in Airbnb apartments which we found to be cheaper than hotels and gave us the option of cooking for ourselves (although the most we managed was instant ramen).
Tips for Vegetarians in Tokyo
- Search on the Happy Cow app or website to find the nearest vegetarian or vegan restaurant—there are plenty in Tokyo.
- It’s also worth searching on TripAdvisor and ticking the “Vegetarian-Friendly” or “Vegan Options” filter to find Japanese places that can cater for vegetarians. This can be hit or miss, so check the reviews.
- Tabelog is the Japanese equivalent of TripAdvisor and you can search for places that have a vegetarian menu, but there’s not much information or reviews in English.
- Print off some vegetarian or vegan cards from Just Hungry with exactly what you can’t eat written in Japanese. It made things much easier and helped us avoid dashi.
- Make sure your phone is unlocked and buy a data SIM card when you arrive in Japan. We bought one from the Umobile vending machine at Narita airport. This will make it so much easier to find restaurants using Google Maps or look up your nearest veggie option on Happy Cow.
- Japanese restaurants often stop serving 30–60 minutes before closing time.
- At most restaurants you are given the bill and go up to the counter to pay. Credit cards are rarely accepted so stock up on cash—7–Eleven is the best option for international cards.
- See my vegetarian Japan guide for more survival tips and veggie-friendly Japanese dishes to try.
- Check out our favourite cool things to do in Tokyo from the quirky to the traditional.
- Read our detailed Japan itinerary for where we went and what we ate during the rest of our trip around the country.
With a little planning we ate so well in Tokyo and we can’t wait to return to the city and eat some more! What are your favourite Japanese vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo?
If you enjoyed this post, pin it!
Are you planning your travels for 2018? See our Travel Resources page for our favourite tools and gear to help you plan the perfect trip.