28 Dec 2013

Long recognized as a vegetarian food goldmine, it is no surprise that Kyoto is now also teeming with vegan cafés and restaurants. Here are a few of my picks in the city:

Café Matsuontoko


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A rustic, pub-like restaurant equipped with wooden furniture, the first word that comes to mind when you walk into Café Matsuontoko is homey. The restaurant serves curry, pastas, pizzas and a vast selection of vegan burgers. I opted for the Kyoto style veggie burger, which was enjoyable due to the grilled veggies and chewy bun reminiscent of mocha, or rice cake. As always is the case in Japan, the set menus offer great value: the burger set is served with a side dish of salad, fries and an organic wine of your choice from a substantial list of world wines.

Menu: Lunch menu start from 780 yen; dinner menu start from 700 yen
Hours: 10:00 am to 12:00 am
Payment: Cash Only
Address: 538-6 Shijyo Agaru Shinkyougoku Nakanocho Nakagyoku (Shijo) Kyoto, Japan 604-8042
Tel: 075-251-1876
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Ryoanji Yudofu – Seigenin


1470023_10101390609673997_689215750_nAlthough this restaurant may be bit of a haul from the center of the city, your extra efforts to get to there will be well worth it. The restaurant itself is nestled in a small garden in the Ryoanji temple area, so you can even get a bit of sightseeing in before or after your meal. Not only is the traditional-style dining room spectacular, but you have the added benefit of sitting next to the sliding doors where you can enjoy the scenery of any of the four Japanese seasons whilst enjoying your meal. The famous dish at this restaurant is ‘Yudofu’: freshly prepared tofu with vegetables and six herb varieties in a boiling pot, accompanied by a ponzu dipping sauce. The meal itself is light, healthy and meant to be savored, and it epitomizes the Japanese vegetarian gourmet experience. If you are looking a heavier and heartier meal, a visit to Ryoanji Yudofu should be kept for another day.

Address: 13 Goryonoshita-machi, Ryoanji, Ukyo-ku (off Shimei Dori Rdi, near Gold Pavillion), Kyoto, Japan
Tel: 075-4624742, 075-4622216
Hours: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (last order at 4:30 pm
Payment: Cash Only
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Choice Café

Choice Café is exceptionally particular about the ingredients and preparation methods of their meals. At Choice Café, only locally grown pesticide-free vegetables are utilized, their dishes are free of refined sugars, oils and grains, and the cooking methods avoid frying and pressure cooking to retain maximum nutrition. The café menu is incredibly wallet-friendly, serving meal sets all under 1000 yen. The menu boasts a delicious and healthy selection of oil-free curry rice, sprouted rice bowls and a salad plate with soup and bread/sprouted brown rice.

Menu: Choice Menu: sprouted rice bowl with hijiki seaweed - 950yen; non-oil curry rice - 950yen; Vegan cakes - 600yen
Address: 89-1 Ohashi-cho, Higashiyama-ku (Sanjo, Kawabata), Kyoto, Japan 605-0009
Tel: 075-762-1233
Hours: 10:30 am to 6:00 pm
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Hale

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Known as a hidden vegan gem in Kyoto, this is a perfect pit stop during a stroll around the famed Nishiki food market. The fully organic and vegan lunch sets are around JPY1000-1800 yen, with dinners on the pricier side. Some dishes you will find here are donburi of simmered mushrooms and tofu over brown rice, steamed seasonal vegetables, and soft tofu. The place has only a few seats, so you should expect to wait if you have not called in advance to reserve a spot. For a traditional-style healthy Japanese meal, Kale is the perfect quaint shop.

Address: Nishiki-dori, 198-1 (inside Nishiki Market), Kyoto, Japan
Tel:075-231-2516
Payment: Cash Only
Hours: Tue-Wed 11:30am-3pm, Fri-Sun 11:30am-3pm, 6-10pm.
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