Eating Vegan & Vegetarian in Kyoto
Japanese food can have a lot more meat in it than you might expect! For pescatarians, navigating Japanese menus might come without too much of a headache, but strict vegetarians and vegans may find themselves in a bit of a minefield. Not to worry, though - Kyoto has many vegetarian cafes and restaurants to try! Keep reading to see a selection of Kyoto’s vegetarian restaurants below.
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Mar 12 2020 (Nov 19 2020)
Tofu and yudofu (hot tofu) are traditional dishes in Kyoto, and have roots with the Zen priests in Kyoto’s temples, such as Nanzen-ji Temple. Since tofu is made from soybeans, it’s a popular dish with vegetarians, but you’ve never tried tofu like this. Tousuiro offers tofu kaiseki (traditional Japanese course cuisine) sets in beautiful, traditional displays. Vegan and vegetarian dining options are available at Tousuiro’s Gion location in downtown Kyoto.
Mumokuteki Cafe & Foods
This popular vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurant is located centrally along Kyoto’s Teramachi Shopping Street, and serves a fusion of Western and Japanese-style dishes. They serve vegetarian dishes, and the menus will indicate when a dish contains fish. Be sure to come in advance or make a reservation, though, as there is often a line to get a seat.
Just because you don’t eat meat, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on some delicious Japanese ramen while you’re in Kyoto! TowZen serves vegetarian ramen in a style that is traditionally Kyoto: with a soymilk broth. Side dishes include other vegetarian food from Kyoto, such as yuba (tofu skin - the thick skin that forms on boiled soymilk).
Vegans Cafe and Restaurant
This vegan restaurant is located not far from Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine in southern Kyoto and serves more Western dishes like pizza, as well as Japanese fare, like miso ramen. The cafe also strives to serve organic vegetables as much as possible.
CHOICE, in Kyoto’s central Sanjo area, serves only gluten-free, vegan dishes. The menu is mostly Western, including vegetarian burgers and vegan cheeses.
This vegan Kyoto cafe is located close to Kyoto Station on the banks of the Kamogawa River, and offers mostly Western vegan options.
Sujata’s is a vegan and vegetarian restaurant close to Kyoto University and Ginkaku-ji Temple, serving both Japanese and Indian cuisine.
Organic house Salute
Shojin ryori, or shojin cuisine, is a type of Zen Buddhist vegetarian cuisine that was originally created in accordance with Buddhist principles respecting all forms of life. It is prepared with no meat or seafood, and instead uses vegetables, beans, tofu, and yuba. Some temples in Kyoto offer their own original varieties of shojin cuisine for tourists to enjoy, such as Shigetsu, a vegetarian shojin restaurant located right in the gardens of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Tenryu-ji Temple". Guests must also pay the 500 yen garden entrance fee, but will be treated to its lovely views while dining on a variety of Zen vegetarian sets. It has also been designated a Bib Gourmand in the 2018 Michelin Guide, which indicates a restaurant that serves “exceptionally good food at moderate prices.”
One of the biggest highlights when traveling is being able to eat delicious food. Although Kyoto still has a very limited amount of restaurants offering vegan and vegetarian meals, hopefully this article has introduced some spots for you to check out while you're visiting this area! Each of these restaurants offer unique and creative dishes, and are sure to provide you with great memories during your trip to Kyoto.
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.