Being a vegetarian in Japan is challenging but not impossible. Worried you won’t be able to chow down on some veggie ramen or katsu? Fear no more! Check out my post Veggie in… JAPAN for general tips on ordering yourself some truly tasty AND Japanese food. You’ll find the rest of my posts on travelling in Japan here.
Kyoto is famous for it’s excellent traditional cuisine, most particularly the quality of it’s vegetables!
Omen – Udon Dipping Noodles
Omen was probably my favourite restaurant I visited while in Japan. The restaurant it completely based around dipping noodles – cold noodles served alongside a warm or cold broth and raw pickles and vegetables. The idea is that you dip the noodles and veg into the broth, then enjoy! I had the option of choosing a vegetarian broth to go with my noodles and also ordered a plate of tasty vegetable tempura (just ask them to leave out the prawns). As you can see in the photo below we had a serious feast. The setting was also really nice, traditional tatami mats and low tables with a modern feel. There is more than one Omen in Kyoto, check out their website and click translate for other locations.
Useful information and map.
Ippudo – Ramen Restaurant
Ippudo have several branches around Japan and the rest of the world but the one in Kyoto is a little special. As I mentioned in my Veggie in… TOKYO post, in most Ippudo you have to make-shift a veggie dish from the menu contents, which totally works. At Ippudo Nishikikoji, Kyoto I was offered real vegetarian ramen in vegetarian broth made specially by the chef!!!! I nearly fell off my bench with excitement. I’m not sure if this is standard practice or if I just got lucky but the ramen was awesome. Check out the top photo for evidence. All Ippudo open late and there are plenty of them around Japan (see their website below and click translate) so make sure you pay one of them a visit.
Ippudo website (translate to English) and map.
Falafel Garden is a standard falafel restaurant of excellent quality. It’s the first time I’ve had falafel to rival that of Rue des Rosiers in Paris. The vegetables, pita and falafel are all astoundingly fresh. If it’s dinner time don’t let the waitress (with the best of intentions) tell you you don’t want 12 falafel balls. You most definitely do! It’s worth noting that FG moved locations recently so the Lonely Planet guide and possibly some other sources have an incorrect location mapped. Check out their website below for their current location.
Falafel garden are so awesome that they even have an English website!
Biotei is hardcore. Maybe a little too hardcore for me, there was a lot of seaweed. That being said the food was really wholesome and excellent. I’m not usually one to eat a tofu steak but I have to say it was very tasty here. There is also guaranteed veggie miso soup which is an opportunity not to be missed in Japan. Don’t panic like me and order a set meal, you most likely won’t need that much food. The price is mid-range and the atmosphere is cosy. It’s not a completely vegetarian restaurant so make sure you specify when ordering. You’ll find it up a little winding stairs that’s a little difficult to spot at first so keep your eyes peeled!
Useful information and map.
While you’re hopping around Kyoto’s many temples and shrines you’re bound to come across Dango (pictured above). These little rice dumplings are covered in a sweet syrup made from soy sauce, have a texture similar to mochi, and regularly come served with green tea. Perfect for veggie snacking.
You’ll stumble across Boulangerie Marche (pictured above) en route from the JR Arashiyama station to the main hub of Arashiyama (that being said I literally couldn’t direct anyone back to it!). Great for grabbing a few rolls/pastries to keep you going for the day.
Travelling to Tokyo? Check out my Veggie in… TOKYO post too ^_^
The Happy Cow is generally a great website for finding veggie and veggie-friendly eateries worldwide!