I would like to welcome ‘Sydneysider’ foodie and passionate vegan Keren from Just One More Spoon to our blog. I can’t wait to see her soon in Indonesia next month, it would be interesting to try vegan Indonesian cuisine together! Last year Keren traveled to Tokyo for Christmas and now, here on Vegan Miam, she will share a few tips and some of her favorite vegan eats in Tokyo.
Once a mindless foodie, Keren started blogging to document her journey towards having a more mindful and purposeful diet and life. On Just One More Spoon, you can follow Keren’s transition to a plant-based diet and learn how her desire to attain optimal health and happiness motivated her to pursue this change. Along the way she discusses new food trends, new restaurants, interesting recipes, food tips and so much more.
Since Just One More Spoon documents her transition from being an omnivore, there are still remnants of her old diet intact on her site in the form of omnivore posts. She has chosen to leave these up to help encourage other foodies that they can make the transition without having to worry about throwing away their past or rebranding themselves.
Keren is currently working on an interview series with inspiring vegan and vegan-friendly businesses to see how they got started and what motivated them to get started in this particular niche. We hope you’ll join us in following her journey!
In 2020 all eyes will be on Tokyo after they won the bid to host the next Olympic Games. If you were anywhere near the city you’d probably have heard the nation’s hysterical screams as the news was announced.
Last year I had the opportunity to visit Japan during Christmas. It was a dream come true, but with an interesting twist. You see, just a few months before this trip I was a full-blown omnivorous foodie, and sashimi was one of my favourite Japanese foods. In fact, if you asked me a year ago whether I’d eat whale meat if it was presented to me at a restaurant, I’d probably reply ‘why the hell not’. But things changed for me. And though it might have been ‘easier’, as some would argue, to put my vegan transition on hold until after the New Year, I didn’t. I decided I was up for the challenge.
Being a vegan traveller in Japan is not that easy. Although Japan’s cuisine uses lots of vegetables, seaweed and other vegan-friendly products, there aren’t many vegans or vegetarians in the country.
Most Japanese people who go to vegan/vegetarian restaurants do so for health reasons rather than ethical or religious reasons. The Japanese diet is primarily based on fish, poultry and eggs, rice, and vegetables, with meat and dairy being later additions.
Veganism is not widely understood in Japan and meat-free dishes aren’t common in most restaurants. However, as I’ve discovered through my travels in Japan, you can maintain your vegan diet without having to starve yourself.
Tokyo is so amazing. It is an intense and enthralling mixture of fashion, technology, crowds and neon lights. I spent close to seven full days wandering about in Tokyo, visiting all the different districts and barely scratching the surface of what Tokyo has to offer.
There are a lot of vegan food gems if you know where to look (sometimes they are hard to find!) but here are my top 5 Vegan Eats in Tokyo:
アインソフ ギンザ【Ain Soph.Ginza】
It certainly took us a while to find this place. The first time we went it was fully booked but the second time we were lucky enough to get a table. It’s in Ginza – look for a spiral staircase and a sign with the name ‘Café Ainsoph’ above the door. It’s a nice little restaurant with a very warm atmosphere. They have a set menu and an a la carte menu. The food is a bit on the expensive side but I think it is well worth the extra few dollars.
Ain Soph has to be the best meal I had in Japan as well as one the best vegan dining experience I’ve ever had to now (and I’ve had quite a few now). All the dishes looked incredible and tasted so delicious. Even my boyfriend thought it was one of the best meals he had in Japan, and that says a lot coming from him, being the picky and irritable omnivore that he is.
We had the Christmas-themed dinner menu (5800 yen, about 60 AUD/$56 US) and a few a la carte courses for my birthday.
First up was a Salad Parfait served with walnut dip and their homemade dressing which is amazing! It is a simple yet delicious dish. I love their idea of presenting salad in a tall glass. Very cute!
Tomato soup is big in Japan. And this bowl of vegan Tomato Soup served for entrée was exceptional. It tasted fresh, clean and flavoursome.
For the first main of the set menu we had vegan Beans Benedict and Grilled Vegetables with Vegan Hollandaise Sauce– beautifully plated grilled vegetable stacked on top of bean patty, topped with delicious creamy and rich vegan hollandaise sauce along with some edible flowers. It is so good. This is the kind of dish that makes you go ‘what? This is vegan?! Damn’.
We also tried Fried Vege Meat from the a la carte menu. It tastes like real nuggets! Even my omnivore boyfriend couldn’t tell the difference.
The second a la carte dish we ordered was the Tortilla roll. Aside from the fact that you can’t eat the cling wrap, it was really delicious and filling.
Now this Glittery Rum Bud Ruby-coloured Soymilk Risotto of Brown Rice (I swear to you it was the name of the dish) was the highlight of the night. It was simply amazing. The risotto is creamy, rich and fragrant. The rice is cooked and infused with rosemary, it smells like Christmas and tastes like a dish from the North Pole – super delicious and comforting. The pomegranate pearls add lovely colour to the plate and offers a nice burst of tang. Doesn’t it look like mistletoe on a bed of snow?
We had 2 desserts; one from their a la carte menu and one from the set menu.
First up was a Vegan Chocolate Brownie. I expected it to be mind-blowingly good just because the mains were incredible, but it wasn’t as tasty as it looks. It was a bit bland and doesn’t taste chocolatey enough for me but it is not a terrible dessert: We still polished the plate clean.
The second dessert is a Raspberry and Blueberry Cheesecake. Now this is something else. It tastes like normal cheesecake but lighter. It doesn’t taste ‘cheesy’ but it still tastes creamy. I loved the snow-coloured top layer – it was rich, airy and light. I polished this off in record time.
We ended the sumptuous night with a cup of calming organic Hibiscus tea.
If you could only visit one vegan restaurant in Tokyo, my friend, then make sure it’s Ain Soph.
T’s たんたん【T’s Tantan】
There is such a thing as a vegan ramen and T’s Tantan might be the only place where you can get it in Tokyo (or Japan)! It is located inside Tokyo Station so you must have a valid train ticket to enter the station and eat at the restaurant- look for the food and shopping area known as ‘Keiyo Street’ and you will be able to find the restaurant.
It has a simple all-vegan menu, with a few varieties of ramen which can be combined with sides of rice topped with veggies and different sauces.
I cannot even begin to describe how much this place rocks. They serve authentic-tasting Japanese Ramen but made vegan.
I went here twice – once each in my first week and second week in Japan. The first time I sampled the house special, the Plain T’s Tantan which is a deliciously creamy peanut-y soup with flavoursome soybean meat.
The second time I tried the spicy Shiro Tantan topped with green onion and bean sprouts and the popular T’s Tantan Noodles with Soybean Meat and green bok choy. Both were equally delicious but if I could have my way, I’d get Shiro Tantan with topped with T’s Tantan Soybean Meat! They also have a nice Japanese Curry on the menu.
I regretted not being able to go for a third time. Next time I’ll make sure to travel through Tokyo Station every day just so I can eat there as many times as I can to cover me for years to come.
アインソフ ジャーニー【Ain Soph.Journey】
This is the Shinjuku(新宿)-located sister to Ain Soph. Ginza which we went to in the first entry above. The menu is slightly different and the restaurant is smaller and has a more casual, café –feel to it.
This is the place to go for the best vegan pancake experience of a lifetime – light and fluffy pancakes, and beautifully presented with ice cream, fresh fruit and edible flowers. Forget the fact that it’s vegan – it’s just an awesome pancake, period.
They also have a lunch set menu, which is quite nice. I had Green Curry and Rice served with green salad and Salad Parfait. It was tasty and filling. The curry has a mild Indian flavour and I love the generous serving of curry sauce. Delish!
And don’t forget to bag some vegan donuts!
Crayon House is a vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurant with a good selection of healthy, organic vegan dishes. They serve a buffet lunch which is very good value (about 1200 yen) – I never had so much vegetarian tempura, salads and soy meats in one sitting!
They also have has an organic shop on the premises that sells vegetables and a variety of vegan products. It’s a great place to go to with a non-vegan and still get healthy, clean vegan-friendly dishes which suit you both.
The Green Smoothie Bar
Though this does not technically fall under the umbrella of ‘eats’,if you’re a healthy (or thriving to be a healthy) vegan, chances are you’re into your green vegetables. This is the only spot I know where you can get a green smoothie in Tokyo.
It’s a stand on Meiji-dori, Harajuku. You won’t miss it. They do three different types of blends – Detox Beauty (mixed berries, avocado, orange and parsley), Energy Green (apple, banana, lemon and spinach) and Tropical Blend (pineapple, banana, lemon and mustard spinach).
It also serves a small selection of raw sweets, organic coffee and soy latte. We tried the Energy Green and the Detox Beauty. I found the Detox beauty to be a little on the sweet side. I loved the Energy Green though I wish they do super-ginormous size as their ‘large’ is really tiny for us oversized foreigners.
So there you have it! I hope you’ll enjoy eating out in Japan as much as I did!
About Just One More Spoon
A Sydneysider foodie girl who found herself on an incredible culinary journey, full of twists and turns. On Just One More Spoon, you find my collection of delicious vegan recipes, reviews, tips and everything I’ve learned from transitioning to a healthy, plant-based diet. I hope you’ll join me on this journey, one spoonful at time.
Have you been to Tokyo, Japan? What was your experience like with the vegan/vegetarian options?