Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Being a vegan in Tokyo

Hey everyone!

Finally I found the time to write another blogpost about my Japan trip. This time I'll be showing you all the vegan restaurants I've been to including some extra tips! 

But first of all... What is it like, being a vegan in Tokyo??

Well, when I first planned to go to Tokyo, I was vegetarian. In the summer before my trip, I finally turned fully vegan and had to inform myself about restaurants and stuff. My friend sent me a link to an article which said, it's IMPOSSIBLE to be vegan in Tokyo, because there's so much meat and fish and eggs and blah blah blah. Too bad, I already knew it better because I've downloaded "Happy Cow". That's an app where you can search for 100% vegan, vegetarian or vegetarian friendly restaurants. You either search them by typing the city, or it looks for places around you. This app was probably my life saver, haha. It's free for Android but not free of charge for iPhone. But it's totally worth it! 

By using Happy Cow, I found a lot of vegan restaurants in Tokyo. There was one in every part of Tokyo I wanted to visit, so I could make a plan on which restaurants I wanted to visit. 

What about regular restaurants?

It's difficult. I didn't went into a random restaurant and requested a vegan dish. Most of the dishes contain meat or fish, so you have to inform yourself beforehand whether the restaurant offers vegan/vegetarian dishes or not. Most Japanese aren't flexible enough to create you a made-to-order dish. ;D So if you're out with omnivore friends, you should order plain rice or french fries. But be careful with the last one; some fries are fried in animal fat! One example is McDonalds. So, no vegan fries at McDonalds in Japan, sorry! 

And supermarkets???

Here in Germany, more and more vegan/vegetarian products are signed with the v-label, so you definitely know that the product is vegan/vegetarian. This doesn't exist in Japan unless you visit an international supermarket such as Anzabu near the Hiro-o Station.  
In the evening of my first day in Tokyo I went to a Konbini and tried to find vegan cup noodles. Or at least noodles in a cup where I can throw away the sauce. It's a struggle. It really is. I scanned all the ingredients to find out what's inside, but in EVERY SINGLE cup or bag of instant noodles was meat or fish. Seriously. One looked like vegetables, so I took it with me. Then I asked a shop assistant for non-meat/fish noodles and he also didn't find any. He suggested me buying the most simple noodles and throw away the bag. I bought them in the end and later I found out, that it tastes awfully without any flavoring. Thank god I found a small package of vegetable stock in my baggage which I lost in there after a con. Yay. :D
Another surprise: The vegetable noodles I bought were made of meat. Like, not just meat added to the noodles, no the noodles itself already contained meat! There was another Kanji so I didn't read that. I had to give it away, hahaha. But seriously... noodles made of meat. Nice try, Japan.

But what else can you get at supermarkets??? 

One day I got plain rice from Family Mart. Family Mart is almost everywhere and when there's none, there's 7Eleven or some other supermarket. It was pretty cheap and I sadly don't have a picture but it's a bowl with rice and salt. The supermarket staff would also put it into a microwave so you can eat warm, plain rice. More over I found a cute raw and vegan chocolate bar called "soy joy".
But my favorite food which I miss so so so SO badly are the ume onigiri!!! My love, my husbando and my waifu all together. Here's a photo. Only the ume/plum one and the read bean one is vegan.
 The rest is meat or fish. At least I didn't find anything else.
Another sweet sushi food is Inarizushi. That's tofu with rice. Also nice. :D
Not my photo, since I didn't take one :( But they look like this. 

Moreover there are salads and fruit chips and such stuff, but these aren't made for lunch or dinner. I also bought bananas twice, because I needed fruits since I eat fruits daily. Pretty expensive in Japan but at least you'll have a banana. 
Soy milk is also available in nearly every supermarket and konbini. They either have the 1 liter ones or small packages. I saw them as pure soy, chocolate, vanilla and banana. Banana is heaven. 
That's the vanilla one. 

Of course there are vegetables sold everywhere, even pieces of melon on a chopstick (really refreshing after a day with 80% humidity and 29°C) but the prices are kinda high.
Both in Shinjuku

Let's talk about the restaurants, please??

Okay, restaurants are way more satisfying. Really. One good thing: They always give you a free glass of water which you can refill to every meal. This means, you never need to order an expensive drink unless you want a fancy juice. 

Now, let's go through my collection of Restaurants!!

Re:Nature ended up being my fave restaurant. It's almost at the opposite of Takeshita Dori, Harajuku and has a small menu. I've chosen the meal of the day twice, which costs 1000 Yen (around 9€).

There's more than one Ain Soph restaurant in Tokyo. This one is in Ikebukuro near Sunshine City while the others are in Shinjuku and the Ginza district. I decided for vegan pancakes with fried soy cuts and the sauce of the day. It was so much (it doesn't seem like it's much, does it?) that I couldn't finish it sadly. This dish was about 1500 Yen as far as I remember.

Italian Tomato

Italian Tomato hasn't been mentioned on Happy Cow so far. It's a restaurant chain with a lot of restaurants in Tokyo and I found out it had one vegan dish. Simple Italian pasta with vegetables and oil as a sauce. So if you have omnivore friends who like noodles, go there and be happy! :D It was about 600 Yen.
I visited the branch in Harajuku and Shibuya.

Lima Cafe seemed a bit hidden from the busy main streets of Shinjuku but it was worth the extra walk. Next to the cafe was the organic and vegan supermarket where I've seen tons of nice stuff. I didn't use the kitchen in my Airbnb so I didn't buy anything. Still, it's a nice possibility to buy stuff to cook in your apartment later on. This time I decided to eat a veggie burger, which was 900 Yen. And the sauce!! So delicious!! 

A must-go for every ramen fan! Their menu is huge and you can also chose from different add-ons. When I went there, I haven had to wait to be seated since it was so full! T's Tantan is inside Tokyo station, in Keio Street, so it's useful to go there, when you need to get to that station anyway, because you need at least a platform ticket. I decided for a ramen with soy meat and green veggies on top. It was around 1050 Yen.

This cute Buddhist style restaurant is located in a kinda supermarket hall in Akihabara. I went there with my friend and at first it looked like it was not enough food, but in the end, it was. Don't underestimate Buddhist food. You could chose from different bowls and create your dish. Mine was again about 1000 Yen.

In Asakusa I actually wanted to visit the restaurant "Little Saebejae". But when I arrived - around 3:30pm because I got distracted by the shrine and all those souvenirs - there was a sign on the door, that said today it had only opened until 2pm. Too bad, because I was super hungry! Luckily, there was another vegan restaurant just a few steps farer... actually on the same small road! But it didn't open until 5pm! I had to starve and walk around Asakusa once more. I found a little supermarket and bought soy milk and bananas there so I didn't have to starve that much. 
Then I could finally enter Kaemon Asakusa. A kinda luxury restaurant. But the staff was so friendly! They spoke great English and talked to me, asked me where I was wrong and explained me the menu. There was a buffet for the starters where you could eat as much as you want except for the soup. Then they served the main dish and I could chose between three desserts. 
It was really delicious and my first real sweets/pie in Japan, haha. Thank you for the cake!!
The three course menu was 2000 Yen. Expensive, as I said. But worth it!

Brooks Cafe Harajuku

Since I'm a member of the facebook group "Tokyo vegetarian/vegan friends club" I got a notification that someone found a vegan burger at a normal cafe in Harajuku. The next day I went there and tried their burger. It was around 400 Yen, so pretty affordable and the taste was okay. Kinda a snack I would say. :D

Any more vegan foods to show us?

Hehe yes, what about my flight meals? I've chosen Emirates and their food was excellent. As perfect as in an 5* Restaurant. You have to chose "Asian Vegetarian VGML" for vegan food. 
So, enjoy my photos... 

Frankfurt to Dubai

Dubai to Tokyo

Dubai to Tokyo

Tokyo to Dubai

Tokyo to Dubai

Since my transfer time in Dubai was over 4 hours, I received a meal voucher from Emirates. That's why I had breakfast at an indian restaurant. Also vegan. :D

Dubai to Frankfurt

Dubai to Frankfurt

Soooo, that's all for today. I hope I could save you a little bit and that you got inspired. If you know any other great restaurants in Tokyo which offer vegan dishes, tell me! I'm also very happy if you know something about vegan stuff at Family Mart of 7Eleven! You could save a life with your knowledge. 

Thank you so much for reading! ♥
Stay hungry, haha. <3

Kanon <3