It can be tough to be a vegetarian while visiting Japan. The cuisine there is known to be chock full of meat and fish, and in general the vegetarian lifestyle is not widely recognized. I’ve written about my experiences specifically at the Tokyo Disney Resort where there is 1 restaurant in each of the parks with exactly 1 dish that is vegetarian.
The rest of Japan is even harder to navigate when it comes to food. However, despite this, I was able to have quite a few meals this time around that were pretty delicious and all vegetarian. Here are some of my vegetarian meal highlights:
Lunch at the AKB48 Cafe
The AKB48 cafe is a must visit for fans of the J-Pop group AKB48. For those not in the know, AKB48 is a wildly popular group in Japan consisting of 48 girls. The cafe is something akin to dining in a movie theater as the group’s live performances and music videos play on the big screen while you eat.
Aside from the fun ambiance, I was able to find an equally fun vegetarian dish to try out (after a quick check with the waitress to make sure it didn’t contain any meat or fish).
As the drawing on the mozzarella indicates, this pasta was SPICY! In fact, it was the most spicy thing I had eaten in recent memory and that’s saying a lot for me. The sauce was delicious and the cheese was a nice touch. As a pasta lover, I was happy to find something like this to eat for lunch.
During our stay in Tokyo, we had the opportunity to dine at two separate breakfast buffets. The first was located at the Keio Plaza Hotel where we were staying and took place at Jurin All Day Dining. The restaurant was upscale and the all you can eat breakfast buffet was much nicer than your typical American buffet experience.
One of the stars of the buffet was the scrambled eggs. I don’t know what it is about the scrambled eggs in Japan, but they are extremely creamy and have a much more orange color to them than American eggs. At this buffet, they were served alongside ratatouille (delicious!). I also was able to get a side salad, potatoes and much more.
Of course, if you’re not a vegetarian, there are plenty of unique options – like this squid and shrimp marinade. D was a fan!
The second buffet was at the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel where we spent one night while exploring the Tokyo Disney Resort. This breakfast buffet was even more varied and fancy than the first with many dessert options offered as well. I also partook in a danish and a serving of mango pudding, which were very nice to round out the meal.
Rice omelettes are always a dish I’m relieved to see on a menu whenever we’re visiting cafes. This trip I had two such occasions: one at Eorza Cafe (a Final Fantasy XIV themed cafe) and the second at Maidreamin (a maid cafe). Of course, when visiting Maidreamin, the waitresses draw cute pictures on your omelette with ketchup:
But the one at Eorza Cafe was more standard:
Either way, this is a tasty dish and is at least somewhat Japanese.
Another great find was Duo Fourchettes which was billed as a French/Italian restaurant, though I found that most of the items were decidedly Italian. This was one of my favorite meals from the trip, and yes it is another pasta dish. It was filling and tasty.
It may seem like my highlights here are ignoring the traditional Japanese cuisine, and it is true that most of the meals I ate were not Japanese. This is because it’s very difficult to find any foods in that category (it is difficult while in Japan – vegetarian Japanese food in America is not that rare) that do not contain meat, fish or some kind of meat or fish stock. As this is my third trip to the country, I’ve learned to stick with what I know I can eat and on the rare occasion I do find a Japanese option with no meat, I will give it a try.
D, on the other hand, ate up a very wide variety of Japanese foods including ramen, sushi, curry, takoyaki (fried octopus dumplings) and various types of fish.
Coming soon… Stay tuned for my vegetarian meal FAILS while in the country! That’s a fun post 🙂
Have you ever traveled to Japan?
What countries are on your wish list to visit?