Vegan Food in Tokyo

For those of us who are vegetarian or vegan inclined, the prospect of finding anything to eat in Tokyo can be particularly daunting. In a country where dashi (, fish stock) is ubiquitous and where the concept of vegetarianism is still relatively unfamiliar, never mind explaining the stricter diets of vegans, it may seem like an impossible task trying to eat out at a nice restaurant. Fast food? Forget it. A bowl of ramen after a night out? No can do.

Well, fear no more. While being vegan in Tokyo is still somewhat of a chore, it is easier than ever before, with a wide range of vege-friendly restaurants all over the city, many with vegan options. Here, however, I would like to introduce two vegan restaurants which offer an experience of Japanese food that would normally be out of bounds: bento () and ramen ().

Pop down to Jimbocho for lunch this week and nestled behind the main thoroughfare, recognizable by its bright yellow placard, you will find Loving Hut.

Don’t worry, the establishment is not nearly so seedy as the name would make it appear. This vegan cafe and bento restaurant has you covered for lunches and meals in the evening, although it is prone to irregular holidays, and may sell out of bento at lunch time. This is because it is run by a lovely team of people who are dedicated to their mission of healthy, eco-friendly vegan food. And you can’t really fault that. Open, provisionally, from 11:30am to 3:00pm for “eco bento”, then from 5:30pm till 9:00pm for dinner, you can also find them selling bento from the Loving Hut van around Ningyocho.

The bento changes per day, and you can expect to find things like vegan katsu, curry rice, Chinese stir fry, and hamburgers and hot dogs. For the health conscious, or for those who want to eat green, pun intended, it offers a great place for lunch or maybe a snack after work.

Okada Bldg 2F, 1-54, Kandajinbocho, Chiyoda-ku
5 min. walk from Exit 5 at Jimbocho Station
Website: Loving Hut
Loving Hut
If you’re dying for some ramen but can’t stand the thought of thick soups made of pig bones or copious amounts of dashi, head over to Tokyo station for T’s TanTan. A vegan ramen shop. Yes. A vegan ramen shop. Here they specialize in a Chinese style of ramen called tantanmen () where the soup broth is based on sesame and chilli for a fiery yet savoury kick. Also on the menu is vegan kara-age (fried chicken) and vegan versions of standard ramen shop fare such as miso and soy sauce ramen. Perfect for those who are dying to embrace the salaryman lifestyle but are suffering from the lack of a vegetarian option, you will have to go inside the ticket gates to get here. But for those who can navigate the labyrinth of Tokyo station, T’s TanTan is well worth the journey.
1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
Keiyo Street, inside the ticket gates of Tokyo Station (Yaezu Exit side, near the Keiyo Lines platform)
Website: T's TanTan
T's TanTan

The world of bento and ramen is longer out of bounds for vegetarians or vegans in Tokyo, but more importantly, for all of us who are looking to eat healthier, or even just eat in a more eco-conscious manner, there are tons of restaurants popping up all over the city. So vegetarians and vegans rejoice, meat-eaters try something different, and the health-conscious indulge.

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