Being a vegetarian (or vegan) isn’t that easy in Tokyo.
In a country which basically is raised on… well, a lot of meat, from konbini-fried chicken and nikuman to more traditional favorites like pork-based ramen and sushi, you might begin to feel there’s nothing to eat besides egg sandwiches. These sandwiches are delicious, but you can only live off just eggs for so long — trust me.
Well-meaning restaurant staff also still often are confused with the concept of vegetarianism and veganism. You’ll probably get used to checking (and, if you’re like me, double- or even triple-checking) to see if there’s katsuobushi flakes on a piece of tofu.
However, life for long-misunderstood herbivores in Japan’s capital is beginning to change and more places than ever are now offering meat-free options.
So, with that being said, here’s a guide to must-try restaurants in the megacity. If you know where to look, Tokyo can be a foodie paradise for both vegetarians and vegans too.
Blu Jam Cafe
If you salivate over the idea of all-day brunch, Blu Jam Cafe in Daikanyama is definitely worth checking out. While not exclusively vegetarian/vegan, this West Coast breakfast-centric transplant in the middle of Tokyo has plenty of meat-free offerings. Located just a minute’s walk from Daikanyama Station, Blu Jam Cafe has a warm interior with exposed bricks, high ceilings, modern art, wifi, and even Edison bulbs. The staff are kind, accommodating and pretty much everyone speaks English.
Taking advantage of the opportunity to have breakfast anytime between 11:00–21:00, the signature cornflake-crusted crunchy French toast served with a vanilla bean sauce isn’t a bad way to start. Blu Jam Café has other breakfast staples like pancakes and omelets.
For vegetarians, the Florentine Benedict with poached eggs, baby spinach, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, mozzarella, and hollandaise sauce atop lightly toasted English muffins is a food experience you cannot miss.
Vegan options include a spicy Tex-Mex tofu hash, veggie sandwich and an Instaworthy vegan burger. The kitchen staff also are more than happy to make other dishes vegan or gluten-free, if possible.
Find more information at our Concierge listing: hyperurl.co/TWblujamcafe
Hemp Cafe Tokyo & Rainbow Raw Foods
Hands-down, the best vegan tacos in Tokyo! At least, that’s what you get from Hemp Cafe Tokyo, which shares a space with the equally impressive Rainbow Raw Foods. Think of it like a black and white cookie, two flavors coming together and making something…well, special. That’s what you’ll get with these restaurants.
Rainbow Raw Food is a true rarity in Tokyo, offering 100% vegan raw food at reasonable prices.
For those who don’t know, “raw foodism” is a diet consisting of unprocessed foods—typically vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes — which are prepared under 48 C (about 118 F, for my friends using the Imperial system) to maintain healthy enzymes. Aside from being raw, all ingredients here are free of additives and other chemicals.
Honestly, it’s a good place for veteran raw foodists and newbies to bite into some interesting dishes — being a Chicagoan, I had to give the “raw pizza” a try! Rainbow Raw Food also hosts cooking classes and, if you’re just looking for a snack, has some pretty killer bagels.
Hemp Cafe Tokyo, aside from those incredible tacos with a rich vegan chili, offers nachos, bowls, salad, vegan nori, brownies and Cannabia beer – made from hemp. Located just a few minutes from Ebisu Station, both restaurants are definitely worth checking out when you’re in the area.
Find more information at our Concierge listing: hyperurl.co/HempCafeTokyo
A newcomer among Tokyo’s growing meat-free eateries, this honestly named café is a hidden gem.
Located near National Azabu — a large Western supermarket with plenty of vegetarian and vegan offerings from Tofurkey and Amy’s Kitchen to freshly-made vegan bento boxes with tempeh — Vegan Cafe boasts an incredible burger, which you typically could only get from TERRA FOODS’ kitchen car in the Aoyama Farmer’s Market.
Of course, for those seeking an Instagenic meal, the 30cm-long baguette with slices of Terra pate and soy-based ham or vegan sushi are options to consider as well.
The cafe also has a more than satisfying quinoa-rice bowl — the Sunny Loco Moco — curry, salad and pasta. Freshly squeezed juices, lemonade, organic teas and coffee can be purchased with your meal.
There’s desserts too, including soy ice cream!
For those wanting vegan food at home, this location is available on Uber Eats, but make sure to check your location.
Find more information at our Concierge listing: hyperurl.co/TWvegancafe
Easily one of Shibuya’s best vegan restaurants, this place can be relatively tricky to find— admittedly, that pairs nicely with its hipster-esque aesthetic. Tucked away on an obscure backstreet, about five minutes-walk from the station, Nagi Shokudo has a cool Bohemian vibe, complete with micro-brews and indie rock. Seating about 20 people, it’s pretty small. However, there is a raised tatami area where you can sprawl out.
The restaurant is best known for its vegan karaage (Japanese fried chicken), made from in-house soy meat and served with either sweet chili sauce or grated yam. On that note, all items from the deli counter and desserts are vegan as well.
Speaking from personal experience, I haven’t brought a single friend here—including a few self-proclaimed “meatatarians,” those who run away from the sight of anything green and leafy—who hasn’t been unexpectedly been satisfied with their meal.
Besides the incredible karaage, Nagi Shokudo has vegan curry and stew available on a seasonal, rotating basis.
Find more information at our Concierge listing: hyperurl.co/NagiShokudo
Since opening in 2015, this entirely vegan burger joint has become very popular, with tourists even making a detour to give Ripple’s incredible cheese burger a try.
Just reiterating, the chain is 100% vegan.
So, that burger is made with a veggie patty, vegan cheese, topped with avocado and creamy (but dairy-free) aurora sauce.
This, without question, is what Ripple does best: burgers! The patty is made from a combination of mushrooms, soy meat, and konnyaku (potato starch), which creates a tongue-pleasing meaty chewiness. There’s a crispy soy chicken and falafel burger on the menu too.
Of course, if you’re having a burger, you need fries—I mean, is that really even an option. These can be loaded with vegan cheese and (occasionally) chili sauce.
For those wanting less of a carbo-load, Ripple has salad bowls and pretty legit burritos. If you’re like me and crave some comfort food—I mean, aside from the burger with melty cheese dripping onto your plate—give in to temptation and order a side of vegan macaroni and cheese.
Ripple also invites traveling chefs like Proof’s Place, a London-based recipe developer with a large following on Instagram, who hosted a NY-style pizza night (with lasagna, jungle fries, doughnuts, special cocktails, and more). Everything was completely vegan!
Find more information at our Concierge listing: hyperurl.co/TWRipple