Paprika Shokudo Vegan – Osaka
This stylish vegan restaurant near Shinsaibashi is understandably popular thanks to its welcoming atmosphere and terrific menu. They serve a variety of Japanese and western meals, with staples such as pasta and pizza alongside donburi rice bowls and dinner sets. These come with your choice of main dish—options include tempeh, tofu and soy versions of the Japanese classics karaage and yakiniku.
There’s a range of tasty offerings for dessert as well, such as cheesecake, chocolate brownie and a parfait. A wide selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks is also available. And if you’re looking for take-out food, you can get bento box versions of several of their meals—perfect to bring with you on a hike or other day trip!
Raw8 – Osaka
If you’re after a healthy vegan meal, look no further: Raw8 is the place for you! It’s a bright and airy, raw food plant-based café just north of Umeda Station. It offers a wide range of healthy versions of both Japanese and western meals such as burgers, samosas, tacos and ramen. Each dish is delicately prepared, and the portions are bigger than what you might expect from a raw food restaurant.
There’s a good selection of desserts available, too. These include a collection of raw cheesecakes, with flavors ranging from traditional chocolate and berry options to more unusual varieties such as chlorella and charcoal. The great thing about eating here is that no matter what you order, you’ll leave feeling energised and full of vitality!
Rockers Café – Okinawa
You’ll find Rockers on the seafront in American Village down in sunny Okinawa. A casual bar with a funky vibe, it’s open for food all day. Although an omnivorous restaurant, it’s apparent that they’ve put a lot of thought into the plant-based dishes they offer. They make their own vegan mayonnaise and other dressings, source vegetables locally and use organic ingredients wherever possible.
Some of the highlights on the varied menu include burgers, burritos, lasagne and a curry plate bursting with flavor. There’s also a great selection of cookies, cakes and other baked goods for dessert. With reasonable prices, generous portions and great music, it’s a must-visit for vegans, veggies and meat-eaters alike. Grab a seat on the terrace out back to enjoy your meal with an ocean view!
Vegetable Café Lyra – Sapporo
We’re heading all the way to Hokkaido for our next recommendation: Vegetable Café Lyra in Sapporo. Bright and friendly, it’s another eatery keen on using local, seasonal ingredients. Everything is freshly-made by hand, with no animal products or chemical additives used.
The menu includes a pasta set, seasonal risotto and more traditional Japanese lunch and dinner plates. These come with a main dish of your choice, plus several smaller side dishes, brown rice and miso soup. Lyra’s highlights, however, are its two signature curries: Yin and Yang. Made using a combination of 31 different herbs, spices and fresh vegetables, these purportedly immune-boosting dishes are each designed with a specific purpose in mind. Yang is a black curry intended to help you concentrate, while Yin is a red curry that is meant to help you relax. Both are served with salad and homemade soy milk yogurt.
Vegetus – Kamakura
Vegetus is the go-to place if you’re looking for a sophisticated, upmarket vegan meal. A small, intimate restaurant in the historic town of Kamakura, it serves an entirely plant-based, multi-course set menu. Each dish is prepared by the owner herself, and arrives exquisitely presented and perfectly seasoned.
Dinner begins with an amuse-bouche, followed by a selection of assorted appetizers. After this, there’s a choice between two main courses, and two pasta or rice dishes. You then finish up with tea and dessert (other drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, are available to buy separately). The menu changes with the seasons, and includes both traditional-style dishes and novel Japanese takes on western dishes.
Modernark – Kobe
Modernark is a lovely vegetarian restaurant that manages to be both spacious and cozy at the same time. The menu is extensive, and the vegan options are clearly labeled. These include curry, wraps, salads and a generously-sized seasonal platter. The latter comes with a variety of interesting side dishes, such as soy patties and potato wedges covered in a miso-based sauce, plus a soup, salad and brown rice.
For dessert you’ll have a choice of classic and limited edition cakes, cookies and other sweet treats. Modernark also has a huge list of drinks, including a matcha soy latte, lots of different teas and a selection of alcoholic beverages. In addition, by the counter there’s a small shop area where you can buy cooking ingredients and packaged foods, such as chocolate, vegan milks and baked goods.
Art Café Elk – Hiroshima
In the heart of vibrant Hiroshima lies the equally vibrant Art Café Elk. Another omnivorous eatery, it has a separate vegan menu offering plant-based version of traditional Japanese dishes. These include yaki udon (stir-fried udon noodles), tempura and karaage. The vegan dinner platters, consisting of your choice of main plus a selection of side dishes, are a fantastic choice if you’re hungry or can’t decide what to order.
Don’t miss out on dessert though! Whether you opt for the classic rich chocolate cake or the more unusual banana spring rolls—a perfect combination of crispy exterior and warm, gooey center—you’ll find Art Café Elk has surprisingly impressive vegan options for a non-vegan establishment.
Rota Café – Fukuoka
Down south in Fukuoka, Rota Café is a conveniently-located, macrobiotic vegan restaurant in the city center. As well as eschewing animal ingredients, Rota also steers clear of white sugar, preservatives and additives. This makes it a perfect choice for anyone on a health kick!
The menu includes soup, burgers and veggie hayashi rice, plus their most popular offering, the "skin beauty plate." This consists of a seasonal selection of small dishes all said to enhance your beauty! There’s also a great range of desserts available, including tofu cheesecake, amazake mousse and soft-serve ice cream. Before you leave, check out the small shop on the ground floor for a range of take-out options and packaged goods.
Website: https://rota-cafe.com/ (Japanese)
Vegans Café & Restaurant – Kyoto
In southern Kyoto, not far from Fushimi Inari shrine, is the wonderful Vegans Café & Restaurant. As the name suggests, this friendly eatery serves an entirely plant-based menu. The options are truly varied, with traditional Japanese dishes such as ramen offered alongside curry, three kinds of casserole and a wide range of pizzas.
The restaurant's specialty, however, is its charcoal-grilled deep-fried tofu bowl. The chef uses his experience as a former barbecue chef (who has since turned vegan) to create a unique and deeply satisfying flavor that you won’t find anywhere else. For dessert, opt for the most visually stunning item on the menu: the parfait. It’s a literal tower of soft serve ice cream topped with fruit, chunks of the daily cake, adorable little cookies and drizzles of your sauce of choice—unbeatable!
Ain Soph Journey – Kyoto
Ain Soph Journey is the first Kyoto branch of the Tokyo-based Ain Soph series of vegan restaurants. Tucked away on a small side street in the city center, it’s a quiet and sophisticated restaurant with excellent service and quality food to match. Dishes on offer include hayashi rice, soup, veggie paella, homemade tortillas and a mild green curry made from spinach.
The real draw of this restaurant however are its phenomenal desserts. As well as cheesecake and chocolate gateau, they have a unique vegan crème brûlée with a rich, creamy center covered in a perfect crunchy caramel glaze. The best part is, that’s not even the showstopper! For a truly exceptional dessert experience, order the matcha pancakes. With hints of white chocolate, and gold leaf for extra sparkle, it might be the best vegan dessert you ever have!