Japan isn’t the most friendly when it comes to accommodating vegan and vegetarian dietary needs, but several plant-based options with truly delicious menus can be found in Tokyo, Kyoto, and throughout the country.
This post covers eight of these spots, from casual chain establishments with non-vegan burgers and curry for dining in groups, to locally-run cafes and restaurants that are exclusively vegan!
1. All-Japan: MOS Burger’s Green Burger is Plant-based and Delicious!
MOS Burger is a hamburger chain with hundreds of branches throughout Japan known for using high-quality ingredients and carrying slightly healthy fast food options. The Plant-Based Green Burger (complete with a green bun infused with spinach puree) is available at all Mos locations in Japan, and is what you’ll want to order if you are looking for something vegan-friendly.
Wrapped in its vividly green, fluffy bun, Green Burger has a savory and hearty plant-based patty made from ground-up veggies and grains. There is a tomato-salsa sauce that complements the patty, lettuce, and tomato perfectly. The burger is on the smaller side, so be sure to order French fries or onion rings on the side.
The French fries and onion rings at Mos contain no animal fats or ingredients and are vegan-friendly, but due to the kitchen environment these are made in, there is a small chance of cross-contamination. Please note that are soy-based patty burgers on the menu that are vegetarian (not vegan). If you are vegan for food sensitivity or have severe allergies, do not try any food from Mos without confirming directly first.
You can enjoy MOS Burger for less than 1,000 yen (around $9~$10 USD) for a meal including the green burger, a side of fries, and a soft drink.
More on Mos Burger’s vegan-friendly option:
MOS Burger Restaurant Locator in Japanese: https://www.mos.jp/shop-service/
2. All-Japan: CoCo Ichibanya’s Veggie Curry is Vegan-Friendly!
CoCo Ichibanya, or CoCo Ichi, is another godsend when it comes to finding vegan food in Japan on the fly. A vegan curry at CoCo Ichi will cost around 1,000 to 1,500 yen, depending on the toppings and size you order.
CoCo Ichi is famous for its curry and extensive topping choices, and now serves vegan-friendly vegetarian curry as well as soy meat menchi katsu cutlets, which are also entirely plant-based at all its restaurants. Similar to Mos, this casual dining chain is famous for its curry and extensive topping choices and has hundreds of locations in the country, so no matter where you are, you’re likely never too far from a CoCo Ichi.
There will be a separate vegetarian (vegan) menu at CoCo Ichi when you visit, which includes the basic veggie (vegetarian) curry, along with recommended topping combinations, like mixed veggies (carrots, green beans, onions, and potatoes), spinach, eggplant, and the soy meat menchi katsu. Pictured above is a favorite of many: curry with mixed veggie topping and a menchi katsu (with 200g-serving of rice).
You can also customize the spiciness, sweetness, and amount of rice for your curry. As with most restaurants serving both vegan and meat, please note that there is a chance of cross-contamination in the kitchen.
CoCo Ichi Restaurant Locator (mostly Japanese): https://tenpo.ichibanya.co.jp/map/?q=loc
3. Tokyo and Narita Airport: T’s Tantan for Vegan Ramen and Dan dan Noodles
T’s Tantan is an all-vegan chain with multiple locations throughout Tokyo, inside of major JR train stations: Tokyo, Ueno, and Ikebukuro. There are also a couple of restaurants conveniently located inside of Narita Airport.
Known for their amazing dan dan noodles, T’s promises a simple but filling meal. The menu has three or more varieties of flavorful, savory, and slightly-spicy dan dan noodles, and some seasonal dishes, too.
The dan dan noodles come in a white, gold, or black sesame varieties and are a must-try for your first visit (or any visit, really). If you’re feeling especially hungry, be sure to order the delicious and juicy gyoza on the side, because they are just as tasty as the ramen.
A meal at T’s will run around 1,200 yen for a bowl of ramen, plus extra for sides.
T’s Tantan official website (Japanese, menu PDFs in English): http://ts-restaurant.jp/tantan/
4. Multiple Locations in Tokyo: The Most Flavorful Vegan Ramen at Kyushu Jangara
Kyushu Jangara is a small chain of ramen shops in Tokyo that carries a vegan option. The ramen here is simple but delicious––expect to pay less than 1,500 yen.
There may only be one or a couple of options that are plant-based, but the vegan ramen here is so hearty and satisfying that it’s definitely worth the trip: we guarantee you will be visiting again and again for more. It is recommended to double-check the restaurant’s website to check menus, but as of 2021, all locations–Harajuku, Akihabara, Akasaka, Ikebukuro, and Ginza–conveniently carry a vegan option!
The ramen selection may change seasonally or by location, but it’s always made to perfection. For anyone craving a satisfying, flavorful ramen experience, give Kyushu Jangara a try!
Kyushu Jangara official website: http://kyushujangara.co.jp/
5. Tokyo and Kyoto: AIN SOPH for Huge Vegan Burgers and Matcha Pancakes
Ain Soph (AIN SOPH) is a very small chain of vegan restaurants in Tokyo, with a location in Kyoto. Each restaurant has a slightly different theme and menu, each offering high-quality, healthy vegan food.
The Kyoto branch (AIN SOPH.journey Kyoto) and the location in Ikebukuro (AIN SOPH.soar) stand out particularly with their amazingly hearty menus, which include savory, thick vegan burgers, curries, and decadent desserts. Both are perfect for a celebratory meal with friends or a quick bite alone.
You’ll want to try a hamburger and side of fries, and maybe a parfait, too. If you are in Kyoto, save room for the matcha pancakes! The pancakes are fluffy and light, covered in delicious matcha sauce, with a side of ice cream and scoop of red bean paste to top it all off.
Many options are gluten free and made with organic ingredients, and if you have allergies or a food sensitivity just let the staff know. A meal at Ain Soph will run around 2,500 to 3,000 yen per person.
Ain Soph official website：https://www.ain-soph.jp/
6. Takadanobaba, Tokyo: Great Lakes for Juicy Vegan Burgers
Great Lakes is an all-vegan burger joint located a short walk from Takadanobaba Station, close to Shinjuku. The restaurant is tiny but the burgers, fries, and shakes here are fantastic.
The patty is the most critical part of any vegan burger, and the patties at Great Lakes are superb, containing a mix of soy meat and veggies, and grilled to perfection. Sauce, vegan cheese, onions, lettuce, and a soft bun pair deliciously with the patty for vegan burger paradise.
There are also vegan milkshakes that are just the right consistency (not too thin, not too thick), made with a soymilk base. Be sure to try one to finish off this classic meal (priced around 2,000 to 2,500 yen for a full meal with sides).
Great Lakes Twitter (Japanese): Great Lakes Twitter
7. Asakusa, Tokyo: The Farm Cafe for Vegan Food and Treats by Skytree
A friendly vegan haven in Asakusa, The Farm Cafe is just a few minutes away from Sensoji, located right by the Sumida River in front of Tokyo Skytree. This all-vegan restaurant is small and charming, offering a variety of tasty choices made with organic, local, fresh ingredients.
The menu is extensive here: you can try veggie tempura battered in chickpea flour, fried soymeat (above), sandwiches, falafel, and more. Dishes here are delicious and made with care.
If you are very hungry, be sure to get a larger size or order more sides, as the portions can be on the smaller side (but tend to be on the lighter side (be sure to order the large size for the rice bowls and the lunch plate sets)!
Budget around 2,000 yen for a full meal at The Farm Cafe.
The Farm Cafe official website (mostly Japanese): https://thefarmcafe.tokyo/
8. Kyoto Manpukuji: Vegan Buddhist Cuisine Experience
Many people may be familiar with a traditional vegetarian Buddhist cuisine known as shojin ryori. At Manpukuji, a Buddhist temple nestled between Kyoto and Uji, one can try the more colorful and perhaps flavorful counterpart of shojin ryori known as fucha ryori. Fucha ryori here is eaten at one of the dining halls of the temple (this is not technically a restaurant, but this is a unique experience worth mentioning).
Eating this spectacular vegan feast at the temple requires an advanced reservation (reserve three days in advance; prices run around 6,000 yen per person), so be sure to check the website and call ahead. Completely vegan and made with tofu, soy, wheat gluten, and plenty of vegetables, this is a one-of-a-kind meal to accompany a relaxing trip to Kyoto.
The temple itself is stunning and features Chinese-style architecture and details throughout, so also plan for a stroll through the grounds after your meal.
Manupukuji official website (Japanese): https://www.obakusan.or.jp/eat/
Vegan Options in Japan
Eating vegan or vegetarian in Japan isn’t the easiest, but with some planning and determination, it is possible to stay plant-based, and enjoy delicious eats while you’re at it! These eight veggie-friendly spots are convenient for every day and travel in the land of the rising sun.