With the shocking news this summer that major retailer Aeon sold beef from cattle which ate feed contaminated by nuclear radiation from Fukushima, Tokyo residents could be forgiven for seeking alternative food sources when eating out.
After all, avoiding death through dining comes pretty near the top of most folks’ priorities.
And, even if you’re not a herbivore, exploring non-meat cuisine can be a rewarding challenge. Tokyo has many more veggie restaurants than it did 10 years ago, including vegan eateries, which eschew dairy and animal products altogether.
That said, it can be difficult for people who don’t eat animal products to get a decent meal if they don’t know where to look. So, if you’ve got the time and appetite to find them, here are Tokyo’s five best vegan restaurants we’ve picked out to get the meatless feast moving.
1. Pure Café
This stylish vegan café is tucked away in the Aveda holistic spa building in fashionable Minami-Aoyama. Staff put a lot of time into preparing its offerings, focusing on organic vegetables and beans.
Excellent daily lunch and dinner set meals (¥1,300-¥2,100) can include lentil soup, goya champuru (tofu, brown rice and bitter gourd), tempeh and enchiladas, as well as sandwiches, pastas and veggie pizzas.
The star attractions, though, are the vegan sweets and cakes such as apple crumble, chickpea Mont Blanc and tofu cheesecake.
5-5-21 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo, +81 (0) 3 5466 2611.
2. Loving Hut
Menu delights include the ¥500 Loving Burger, a cracking stomach-filler made of tofu and soy beans, and the Zen plate (¥1,000) which combines rice, a salad and teriyaki-style soybean and lotus root.
Soy soups, curries and vegan cheese tarts are also on offer. Loving Hut sells organic vegan bento lunches at its restaurant, as well as from trucks in Ningyocho and a few other locations. See the website for details.
2/F, 3-6-15 Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, +81 (0) 3 6807 9625.
3. Saishoku Kenbi
Nearly 30 offerings including spaghetti, salads, croquettes, dumplings, yuba and tofu are presented buffet-style (lunch ¥1,200, dinner ¥2,000). There are also individual à la carte dishes such as carrot pilaf doria (¥850).
Anything with dairy products is clearly marked. There’s also a section with take-home foods. Call ahead to reserve for dinner (served on Thursday and Friday only).
12-21-26 Hyakunin-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, +81 (0) 3 5332 3627.
4. Rainbow Bird Rendezvous
Right next to funky Mexican resto Junkadelic, Rainbow Bird is based on LOHAS principles — in addition to reiki and aromatherapy, it has a tantalizing selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Lunch and dinner sets typically feature miso, curry, organic brown rice, potato croquettes and tofu burgers. For dessert, tuck into a slice of tofu chocolate cake.
5. Vegan Healing Café
On a hill behind Tokyu Hands in the youth-oriented Shibuya district, this small eatery is dedicated to food prepared without milk, eggs, fish, meat, honey or butter, but still manages to delight the taste buds.
Mains include brown rice and range from bean stew to fried soy meat to dahl curry (all ¥900-950), which you can chase down with organic tea, coffee or beer.
For dessert, try the blueberry galette or tofu almond chocolate tart.
102 Parashion Shibuya Building, 6-20 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, +81 (0) 3 5489-5185.