Plant-Based Japan Travel – Tokyo 1

Tokyo, being the world’s largest city, is often the backdrop of various literature. My favourite manga, Akira, was set here. Tokyo excites the senses – sometimes to an extreme. Towering buildings, endless crowds and maze-like train stations can make one feel like an insignificant ant.

The best thing about a megacity is that it absorbs new ideas fast. Thus Tokyo has the most places in Japan that offers veg*n food. It was also incredibly easy to get made-in-Japan vegan dairy alternatives compared to other cities. So, your taste buds are in for a treat!

From Tokyo City View.

Notes:

  • Veg*n is a shortened, inclusive term to refer to vegans and vegetarians.
  • This article is solely based on my experiences and research, thus may not represent the whole of Tokyo.
  • Accuracy of information cannot be guaranteed as there may be changes to the eatery’s operations

Lists of food spots in Tokyo:

I recommend using HappyCow and the official Vege Japan map to cross check as those are likely the most updated. You can use our google maps to get directions on the go or make a copy to edit.

This list is written based on train stations as trains are the main mode of transport. How far you can walk from the stations depends on the weather. During our trip there was a heat wave then typhoon, so we kept our activities near the stations.

 

Narita Airport

On the airport’s website there’s a section indicating which restaurant offers what veg*n-friendly dish, plus Halal info. If you need a lot of food, get from Terminal 1 before the passport control – that area has the most vegan options. I had the not very amazing sandwich from Terminal 2. Review.

You can also get ready to eat foods like edamame, certain onigiris (check for fish sauce even if it looks vegan), macrobiotic cookies, hot sesame buns, soy milk (Marusan is my fav brand) and juice from airport konbinis like 7-11 or Lawsons. Starbucks offers soymilk option (drink quality is way better than Singapore’s but none of the food is vegan). I believe Soup Stock also has veg*n options.

 

Tokyo Station

Organised mess is one phrase to describe Tokyo Station. If you’re somewhat directionally challenged like me, head to the information counters directly. There’s an interesting mikan soft serve there too, but I didn’t try as I was tired of going through the endless crowds.

T’s Tan Tan (vegan)

  • Alliums: One allium-free option labelled
  • Alcohol: None tasted, shop sells alcohol

The most famous vegan place in Tokyo inside the gates of Tokyo Station. In Japan, there are businesses within the fare gates of big stations. There’s two outlets in central Tokyo – another in Ueno station, so you’re likely going to pass by both. I enjoyed their breakfast menu (dashi rice), tea and ice cream more than ramen, gyoza and curry. Don’t forget to grab some of the cup ramen too! Review.

It felt familiar but extremely salty. The shoyu ramen was 3 times saltier than Xuan Miao.

Soranoiro (non-veg)

  • Alliums: None tasted, recommend to check while ordering
  • Alcohol: None tasted, shop sells alcohol

Has one vegan ramen and one vegan soft serve. Likely the cheapest hot vegan dish in Tokyo Station. This is the only ramen I had which I felt the salt level was acceptable. Review.

Creamy carrot soup base – very creative!

Ekibenya Matsuri (non-veg, has one vegan bento)

  • Alliums: Contains onions
  • Alcohol: Shop sells alcohol, none inside the bento

The only vegan train bento, sold at this shop between the entrances to platforms 6 and 7. Be prepared for a huge crowd and factor in more time to buy this bento. Review.

Got this mainly for the experience – ekibens are part of Japan’s train culture!

Harajuku Station

Famous for crazy teenage street fashion (although we didn’t see any). Also the station where you get off for Meiji Shrine.

Kyushu Jangara Ramen (non-veg)

  • Alliums: Can be done without, request when ordering
  • Alcohol: None tasted, shop sells alcohol

A short walk across the street from the station. Tasty, quick and affordable. Loved the bustling open kitchen atmosphere. Review.

Still salty but more acceptable than T’s Tan Tan’s version.

Daikanyama Station

Dubbed Tokyo’s little Brooklyn, this quaint and modern neighbourhood is one of the more peaceful neighbourhoods we visited. Has a lovely bookstore and interesting indie designer shops.

Vege Holic (non-veg)

  • Alliums: Unsure, please check
  • Alcohol: Sells alcohol

Didn’t eat here but passed by and spotted this signboard. Right in front of the station. The other option in this neighbourhood is Blu Jam Cafe serving Mexican food.

1000yen for lunch is quite cheap for a cafe in central Tokyo.

Ikebukuro Station

We came here mainly to check out Sunshine City, known for its Pokemon Centre and other character shops for official Sanrio, Rilakkuma and Studio Ghibli merch.

Ain Soph Soar (vegan)

  • Alliums: Present, check while ordering
  • Alcohol: Some dishes have wine, shop sells alcohol

Another popular vegan spot, 5 minutes walk from the station. After eating here and the outlet in Kyoto, I think they do sweets and desserts much better than savoury foods. My favourites were the tiramisu, snowball cookies, gluten-free pancakes and deep fried soy meat (karaage). Review.

Best vegan pancakes ever!

Shibuya Station

We stayed in an Airbnb here. Shibuya is very well connected but it doesn’t have a lot of affordable veg*n food spots. That wasn’t an issue as we cooked 1 or 2 meals per day to stay within budget. We got groceries from Tokyu Food Show, Mega Donki and the many konbinis around.

Cocoichibanya (non-veg)

  • Alliums: Curry sauce contains it
  • Alcohol: None tasted, sells alcohol

About 5 minutes walk from station. One of the outlets that have vegetarian menu. Other outlets with veg menu here. Quick, tasty and affordable. Beside this outlet is a Thai restaurant that advertised that they have vegetarian dishes. As Singapore has good vegan Thai food, I didn’t pay much notice to what they offered. Review.

Curry sauce also for sale!

BIO Cafe Shibuya (non-veg)

  • Alliums: Contains, check when ordering
  • Alcohol: None tasted, shop sells alcohol

10 minutes walk from station. Vegan options clearly labelled. We had dinner and it was too expensive for the tiny portions, although the dishes were creative and tasty. They have different menu for lunch and dinner, with lunch being cheaper – a common practice in Japan. Breads are excellent, so grab some for breakfast. Review.

Maybe good for special occasions.

Tokyu Food Show (non-veg)

A large department grocery shop connected to Tokyo Station. Tricky to find (as with everything in Tokyo Station) so ask the train conductors beside ticket gates for directions. Carries Beyond Tofu vegan cheese. The bakery Andersen inside also have breads with allergens labelled. Review.

Tokyo has lots of dairy alternatives made with soy!

Hiroo Station

Trendy expat neighbourhood. One stop away from Roppongi station, so we dined here before heading to Roppongi. It’s not that Roppongi has no veg*n places – there’s a lot. But most spots there serve dishes that can be found in Singapore, with the exception of Afuri that does a vegan ramen.

Vegan cafe (vegan)

  • Alliums: Present, check while ordering
  • Alcohol: None

A 3-minute walk from Hiroo Station. Cute interior with a very hospitable lady boss who chatted with us (she worked in Singapore for 6 months!). My favourites were the locomocodon (Hawaiian dish with Japanese twist) and french toast. Different menu for lunch and dinner. Review.

There’s no vegan french toast sold in Singapore – I was so happy!

Beside this cafe is National Azabu, a chain grocery store selling imported foods. We spotted Sheese and Japan-made vegan margarine, plus many other labelled vegan packaged foods.

No idea what “fermented margarine” means..

Omote-sando Station

Omote-sando is an expensive, high-end neighbourhood, almost like Ginza. Lots of veg*n spots near this station.

Cori Vegan Food Stand (vegan)

  • Alliums: Present, check while ordering
  • Alcohol: None tasted, sells alcohol

Wanted to try 8tablish which has Japanese-Italian fushion food, but they were unexpectedly closed. So we walked about 8 minutes to Cori. Falafels and hummus were quite average (had better in Singapore’s Urban Bites), but the soy karaage (Japanese deep fried meat) was amazing! Likely the most affordable dinner option in this area. The food stand beside it that had lovely vegan karaage too. The fries stall had delicious ginger apple tea. Review.

This one is from the stall next door – try both!

Brown Rice by Neals’yard Remedies (vegan)

  • Alliums: Present, check while ordering
  • Alcohol: None tasted, shop sells alcohol

Was highly recommended by many but I felt a bit disappointed. The flavours were way too light even for me, plus it was very expensive. I’m someone who prefers to eat more affordably even if it’s less healthy while travelling. Review.

At least it was good for health! They have matcha parfait – maybe that’s worth trying.

Previous: Hokkaido . Next: Tokyo Part 2

 

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