As one of the premier wards in Tokyo, Shinjuku is a world unto itself. The sights and sounds of this part of the city create its own culture that’s unique to other districts. The gritty streets of Kabukicho contrast with the majesty of Mosaic Street, where couples walk hand in hand under decorative lights. Whatever you’re looking for, Shinjuku has it. This article will focus on some of the culinary options available. Better yet, these places are for those looking to engorge on vegetarian cuisine. As covered in some previous articles, the amount of healthy fare in Shinjuku is vast. One cannot explore the area in its entirety on an empty stomach, so let’s cover some of the best vegetarian/vegan restaurants you’ll find on your journey.
1. Vege Stand
Located in the basement level of the Marui Department Store (look for the building labeled as “OIOI”) this quaint cafe offers a healthy reprieve for those looking to take a lunch break in the middle of their shopping. From leafy green salads with a tangy mango dressing and walnuts to roasted mushroom sandwiches with finely sliced bell pepper, bean sprouts, and vegan mayonnaise, you have several options at your disposal. Although some parts of the menu are not meat-free, with a vast selection, you won’t miss a beat!
One of their signature items is the “7-Days Superfoods Smoothie” that come in a variety of benefits and flavors. Partnered with the +Medi company, an organization designed to help people eat a healthy diet, Vege Stand ensures that their food will always remain fresh, nutritious and affordable.
2. Mr. Farmer
Found on the popular Mosaic Street near Shinjuku Station, Mr. Farmer is a restaurant that prides itself on wholesome, organic cuisine. With an assortment of soups, salads, and sandwiches, there is something for everyone at the establishment. The central theme of the restaurant itself is the source of the vegetables. When you enter the place for the first time, you’ll see names of different farmers across Japan and the particular greenery provided. The concept behind such an ordeal is to put a name to conjure up an “image conscious” healthy environment, which promotes the power of all-natural lifestyle choices.
Some of the signature aspects of Mr. Farmer isn’t only the cuisine. The place also provides a “water bar” which gives the customer the opportunity to try different produce infused blends. From cucumber and lime to a berry blend, these flavored water options are quite the rage for patrons. One of the more popular dishes is the vegan green curry, prepared with a creamy organic, coconut milk, lime leaves, and chunks of fresh cauliflower. This warm blend of excellence accompanies with roasted cherry tomatoes, spinach steamed in garlic, fried tofu cubes, and multi-grain brown rice. Like Vege Stand, there are meat options, but the amount of vegetarian and vegan fare is enough to keep you coming back for more.
Located in the Isetan Department Store in downtown Shinjuku, this picturesque shop strives on perfecting the Japanese bento. With an array of choices, Masumoto focuses on the theme of “macrobiotic” eating, which seeks to create a diet around eating in balance with nature. The bento sold here are proportionally sound in a way that reflects the overall concept of healthy eating and balancing the set meals with an equal amount of nutrients.
Although Masumoto centers on macrobiotic cooking, there are several vegan options to choose from, which often feature roasted mushrooms, steamed roots, and vegetables, as well as sekihan, which is a type of rice prepared with adzuki beans. Bento prices vary between ¥800-¥1600 yen, so don’t worry too much about breaking the bank.
4. Chaya Macrobiotics
If you’re looking to upgrade your healthy experience, then look no further than Chaya Macrobiotics. Also located in Isetan, this restaurant features exquisite entrees and chef-prepared cuisine that leave customers feeling satiated and nourished all at once. Adhering to macrobiotic standards, Chaya seeks to cultivate a lifestyle of wholesome gastronomy in balance with nature. Therefore, the restaurant takes extra precautions, such as using only domestically grown brown rice and selecting an exclusive group of organic farmers to procure their produce. These painstaking methods make their restaurant stand head and shoulders above many others seeking to promote healthy eating.
The cuisine changes depending on the time of the day. If you’re looking for a light lunch, you have the option of crafting your garden fresh salad with several combinations of homemade dressings. One of their signature meals is their vegetable soup set, containing a full-flavored tomato basil soup, small green salad and gluten-free bread covered in melted soy-cheese. This option is popular with customers of a vegan persuasion. While the restaurant prides itself on providing high-quality chefs to prepare the meals, make sure you bring some extra yen with, as many of the dishes are ¥1500 and up. Despite the price tag, the tastes, ambiance, and wholesome disposition are well worth it.
5. Lima Cafe
Off in a quiet corner of bustling Shinjuku, Lima Cafe is another macrobiotic treasure that offers a gang of choices to accommodate your meatless needs. Focusing on high-quality food for rock-bottom prices, the cafe seeks to promote a lifestyle around wholesomeness inside and out. From set meals and veggie burgers to soft-serve dairy-free ice cream, vegans should have no problem finding something that tickles their culinary fancy.
One of the signature dishes of Lima Cafe is the “Original Plate Lunch” with fresh leafy greens, steaming hot brown rice with cracked black pepper and sesame seeds, mixed vegetables, and a side of lightly flavored vegetable broth. You can have this healthy delight for less than ¥1000 yen, so it’s a great lunchtime option. The cafe usually closes around 6:30, so be sure to get there early. Lima Cafe is an excellent choice for a midday meal that’s delicious and affordable.
Shinjuku offers an array of vegetarian and vegan options for those looking to adventure deep into the concrete jungle. If you’re looking for some quality places to gorge on healthy cuisine, this list can help you get started on your journey. Just be sure to pat yourself on the back for going against the grain and deciding to eat the veggies instead!