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pastryani

Vegetarian going to Tokyo - possible to find veg food?

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Hi all - I've heard it's tough to be a vegetarian in Japan.  And even more so if you're not "flexible"  enough to eat ANY fish products.  I'm ovo-lacto veg, so I can eat eggs and dairy, but cannot eat fish and am allergic to shellfish.  I may be going to Tokyo soon and I was wondering if you kind folks wouldn't mind giving me some tips and ideas to find some strictly vegetarian places to eat.  Otherwise I'm afraid I'll be on a diet of instant ramen noodles, and that would stink. ;-)  (Also, good recommendations for mochi places would be appreciated.  Thanks!)

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helenjp   

In places with lots of foreign tourists (Asakusa, Akihabara, Shinjuku, Shibuya) restaurants are likely to have encountered vegetarian (say "bejitahrian") - for example, you could try 

Ninja Akasaka

which has a ninja show and reputedly offers vegetarian dish(es)

100-0014 Tokyo, Chiyoda, Nagatacho, 2−14−3

Tel: 03-5157-3936


You will have to be patient - although Tokyo is trying to become more tourist-friendly, the majority of tourists are from other Asian countries with similar food cultures. The usual image of vegetarianism here is macrobiotics (brown rice, fish, tofu, vegetables...), so it's natural for people to assume that you may eat fish. My vegetarian (more of a cake-atarian!) friend actually started eating fish, because it was just too hard to eat out, otherwise she heads for an Indian restaurant. 

Tofu restaurants . I've eaten at Ukai, but it's a bit off the beaten track.

Because halal concerns overlap with some vegetarian requirements, halal websites are a good place to look. However, it's a niche market, so places don't always stay in business.

T's Tantan vegetarian noodle place now has a shop inside Tokyo station. Kaemon's Akihabara shop is (I think...) still in business.

Instant ramen in Japan is not very likely to be even slightly vegetarian, sorry.

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Avoiding Dashi in Japan is always going to be a challenge. You pretty much need to avoid most things that have some kind of soup/sauce component and stick to things with a few, obvious ingredients like Tempura or Vegetarian Sushi. 

 

Are you going to Japan to experience Japanese food or you're just going to be in Japan and need to survive on any kind of food? If it's the latter, there's a lot more options at places like Indian restaurants or Italian restaurants where the cuisine isn't so fundamentally rooted in seafood. There's also the distinctively Japanese tinged Yoshoku which borrows from Western influences but is unique to Japan. Curry rice, for example, if vegetarian should be completely safe and the ketchup version of omurice should be as well. 

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There are about a dozen websites devoted to this topic, the Happy Cow is pretty good wherever you are in the world. THIS GUY publishes a guide book which I have found to be useful.

 

The difficult part is that many vegetarian restaurants are small places and tend to move a lot. I liked It's Vegetable a lot, but I hear they are closed now....so sad...but they are hoping to reopen in a larger location, so, keep an eye out!

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Thanks to everyone for their suggestions (and sorry for the delayed reply).  I found veg food but didn't really have any authentic Japanese food, but then again the trip was also not primarily a foodie adventure and more of a sight-seeing thing.  Hopefully another time. :-)


Edited by pastryani (log)
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