Plant Based Eating in Tokyo, Japan: a Culinary Adventure in the Far East
August 31, 2019 / Molly Patrick /
By Molly Patrick
Aug 31, 2019
Exploring Tokyo by foot is so much fun. We literally just started walking with no particular destination in mind. We went where the streets took us. The first thing I noticed was how pristine the city was. There were so many people (approx. 10 million), so many cars, so many buildings, so many trains – and yet there was no litter, it was really clean and it was also surprisingly quiet.
Tokyo is filled with old and new. In the middle of a modern busy area you will find an old cemetery or an old park or really old statues. It all lives together in harmony.
I don’t drink anymore, but if I did, I would definitely be happy to know that I could drink here in the daytime if needed (because let’s cut the crap, if you’re day drinking, chances are high that it’s more of a need and less of a want).
This does bring up a good point though (apart from defining my past drinking struggles). Not all restaurants have English menus. So, if you’re plant based this can be tricky because it’s not like you can go into any ol’ restaurant and point to something on the menu. You can only do this if it is a fully plant based restaurant – if that’s the case, point away! For this reason, it’s best to stick to vegan only restaurants and to pack plenty of snacks in your backpack or purse.
People in Japan struck me as having a lot of pride. They take their jobs seriously, regardless of what they do, and they make sure they look good while doing it. The traffic patrol people (above), cab drivers, corner store clerks, construction people – they were all so put together and professional.
This is a plant based friendly restaurant called Chaya at the Isetan shopping mall in Shinjuku that I found on Happy Cow. Make sure you download the Happy Cow app before you leave for your trip (to anywhere you go).
I referred to that app so many times. It is awesome for finding vegan options near you.
The menu was in Japanese and our server did not speak english. I used Google Translate to ask him what items were vegan on the menu. He pointed to three dishes and I randomly picked one based on the picture.
It really helps to not be picky in these types of situations. As long as it’s vegan, I’m good. When I get home I can go back to oil free and nutrient dense.
Lunch was a delicious success! It included an amazing veggie soup, brown rice, fresh salad, and vegan karaage (traditional karaage is fried chicken, the vegan version is made from soy). I forget what the white stuff in the bowl was but I remember that it was tasty.
This was a fried potato dumpling of sorts, how can one go wrong?
Heads up about finding restaurants in Tokyo. It can be frustrating. This restaurant above for example took us about an hour and a half to find. It was on the seventh floor of a shopping mall. We found the shopping mall, we went to the 7th floor – easy right?
NO! The shopping mall had like 4 different 7th floors. I don’t even understand how that works and I was there, making my way through multiple layers of seventh floors. It was like being in a labyrinth. The Shining came to mind at one point and I started to get panicky. We persevered, and luckily, we found the restaurant not long after Jack Nicholson’s face splattered across my brain. Bottom line, don’t start looking for a restaurant when you are already hungry. Start your search an hour after breakfast and you should be eating by lunchtime.
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