Whatever plan you have in Kyoto, you’ll probably pass by downtown, roughly around the Sanjō and Shijō bridge. I really like this area, since it combines the busyness of the city with the quietness of the river. Well, judging by the high number of vegan restaurants and cafés here, I suppose I’m not the only one who likes this place. In this post and the next, I present all the vegan restaurants around Kawaramachi. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it a lot!
Whatever diet you’re on—vegan, plant-based, gluten-free, sugar-free, mushroom-free—this place is for you. A cozy café on Sanjō street, just a few feet from the Kamo River, it offers a variety of delicious vegan food, drinks, and desserts, while selling organic vegetables (sometimes) and vegan cheese (all the time).
The café is on the first floor, right on the main street, so you can’t miss it. It has a chic atmosphere and houses a beautiful interior decorated with plants and chandeliers. You’ll most likely be sitting on a comfortable sofa, which one could easily mistake as someone’s living room. The food is not traditional Japanese, but rather international with mostly Western cuisine.
The staff told me that the owner had health issues before opening this café. Once she did her research and learned about the benefits of a plant-based, gluten-free diet, she wanted to share it with everyone else (sounds familiar, right? Yes, you did read the same story for Ukushima Garden).
You probably won’t find a “pure” Japanese dish on the menu (the closest is the matcha cheesecake), but you will find pasta, risotto, hamburger, a vegan cheese plate, curry, onion cheese soup, and other interesting vegan interpretations of foods we all love. The portions are Japanese-sized, so if you go there super hungry, you’d better order a starter, main dish, and dessert.
My partner and I had the vegan burger (we had really felt like having a decent burger for a while), which was made of quinoa in gluten-free bread with a small salad on the side. We also had the smoky cheese soup as a starter, and I loved that it tasted like real cheese.
The prices are not cheap, but I wouldn’t call it expensive either. We paid 1,500 yen for the burger, and I think this was one of the most expensive dishes on the menu (but don’t forget that in Japan you, thankfully, don’t need to leave a tip).
This place is highly recommended if you’re in the downtown area, and especially if you want to avoid gluten.
This is a place I found out about only recently, though it has been operating for four years. Super cozy and warm, this café is located in the local neighborhood of Niomon-Dōri (between Nijō and Sanjō), and its shelves are filled with books in Japanese, English, and French. The interior has very cool decorations, while the owners are incredibly kind. Every customer receives special attention and a chat (in Japanese though). I love these kinds of places.
They serve two kinds of main dishes. One is the vegetables curry and the other is a set comprising rice, miso soup, and seasonal vegetables. They make all the food by themselves, which might be the reason it is so delicious. Some of the vegetables were topped with miso, some pickled, and others were served in ways I can’t even describe (you have to experience it by yourself).
The prices are very good: 1,000 yen for the rice-miso-vegetables set and 900 yen for the curry. You can order coffee/tea and dessert too. The portions are Japanese-sized. The food was really enough for me, but if you feel really hungry (like you can eat a whole pizza by yourself) it may not be enough for you. Still, it is one of my favorite vegan restaurants around Kawaramachi.
Please pay attention to opening times. They open only on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday between 10:00 and 18:00. Food is served from 11:00 and when it’s gone—it’s gone!
ONE MORE IMPORTANT THING: sometimes the owners participate in events on the weekend, and the shop may be closed. So, you’d better call them if you plan to go. If you know Japanese or someone who can translate, the owners post their opening and closing days for the month on their Instagram page.
I think two places are enough for today (actually it used to be three places, but unfortunately one closed down so I changed the post). Next time, I’ll introduce three more vegan restaurants around Kawaramachi. See you in the next post!
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