Japan is famous for its food. It was even recognized as the UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013. Yet, when it comes to vegetarian, options can seem rather scarce.
Recently we visited Kyoto and Osaka for sightseeing and had to find something we could eat, both meat-free and delicious. Vegan/vegetarian network HappyCow has been a great help in Japan, but before exploring the vegetarian locations we looked at something close to our accommodation.
A wonderful feature of, I suppose, any city in Japan is the presence of atleast one bakery in every neighborhood. Bread is not exactly like it is baked in European countries, as in Japan bread is rather a snack or dessert. While it might not be the most healthy thing to eat, it is still worth trying when an artist is involved. In Kyoto we discovered a tiny place called Bakery Litenlycka. With the name meaning “little happiness” in Swedish, the shop is very cute and the staff is friendly. They open at 8 am and have a place to sit down and eat there. We tried croissants, sweet bread and sandwiches there. Their hot and ice coffee were inexpensive and good.
Photo: Tzong-Lin Tsai on Flickr
While exploring the very appetite-increasing Nishiki market, we noticed a cafe that had a vegan burger sign and a great vibe inside. I am not vegan, but anything vegan is 100% meat free which is perfect for me. The cafe is called Matsuontoko, and their menu includes lots of vegan and vegetarian options. They were smaller portions to hungry travelers, but served very healthy and delicious food. The interior is cozy and has that vibe of a house.
Matsuontoko entrance, Kyoto.
Photo: arthethgray on Flickr
Osaka is known as Japan’s kitchen, but once again the Japanese food there is predominantly not vegetarian. It was bit shocking to see people lining up at one shop for takoyaki (fried balls of dough with an octopus pieces inside) up to midnight. Luckily, there was plenty of wonderful bakeries, such as Gammed Cafe, where our food was also heated up and brought to our table. I loved their lemon flavored water.
We hang out on the Dotonbori street pretty much every night, surrounded by delicious smells from every other vendors. Besides great Indian restaurants that always have vegetarian options (in Kyoto we found this nice Indian dining called Ganesha), we explored some places from the HappyCow.
First was Cafe Atl in Amerikamura. It has received great reviews and the location is great. Unfortunately, all their dinner items came in a set of three items, and as we were not that hungry, we chose only drinks. Unlike most vegan places, this cafe has actual alcohol beverages. I liked their plum wine very much.
Vegan Menu at Cafe Atl, Osaka.
Photo: Rain Rabbit on Flickr
Second was Paprika Shokudo Vegan. From the reviews we got an impression the place has to be somewhat gourmet. It had a bit of French cafe vibes and many customers. Staff was friendly too. Food was great. We tried their yakiniku and eel with rice. So far must be the best vegan yakiniku I’ve ever had.Bon Apetit!