I’m back with more recommendations for vegan places to eat near Kyoto University. As I told you in the last post, this area is also close to Gingaku-ji (known in English as the Silver Pavilion) and Tezukuri Ichi Market, so you just might find yourselves around this area during your travels in the city. I will also mention if there are other interesting sites around these vegan restaurants to help plan your trip better. Here it goes:
Apelila – Vegan Bakery & Café
This lovely bakery and café is 100% vegan. I stumbled upon their booth in a wine & bread festival, and I just can’t explain how excited I was to discover such a place. Not only do most of the pastries in Japan contain milk, eggs, or both, but most of the bread you find in the supermarket contains milk as well.
The woman working at the bakery explained to me that it’s better to bake without milk, butter, and eggs because it makes the taste much better, and I must say I agree 😃
The place is on Kawabata, a main road, so it’s pretty easy to find. You can stop by if you’re strolling about the river or just wandering around Kyoto University. The shop’s atmosphere is very relaxed. It’s located in a modern, minimalist style house with one floor. Inside you’ll find dried flower arrangements, wooden tables, and calming tropical guitar music played all throughout your time there.
Be ready to put on your best socks because further inside—where you can eat, drink, and enjoy a view of their tiny garden—you’ll be asked to take off your shoes before stepping onto the wooden floor.
The store offers a variety of pastries, which are sweet, salty, and mostly small. They also have a few kinds of bread. Although descriptions of the breads and pastries are all written in Japanese, the staff is very helpful and would surely love to describe each item to you in English. They have an English menu for the drinks, and breakfast and lunch sets, but please don’t expect Starbucks-level variety! They serve one type of coffee (black, though you can ask for soymilk on the side) and three kinds of tea.
One thing I particularly liked is that in summer they offer kakigori (shaved ice) with many interesting toppings: yeast syrup, soymilk chai, matcha (ok, the matcha is kind of ordinary), soymilk cream, organic dried figs, and even white millet balls!
I ate the three berries and soymilk cream pastry, which was really good, and drank black coffee that was also not bad. The prices are similar to other bakeries and maybe a little more expensive, but not more than by 50-100 yen. Hope you get the chance to try it out!
Yama Shoku On
Let’s start with this place’s name. The owner named the restaurant after the things he wished to have there:
Yama means ‘mountains’: the store sells some hiking equipment.
Shoku means ‘food,’ as you’d expect to find in a restaurant.
On is an abbreviation of ‘ongaku,’ which means music. Indeed, you’ll find music playing in the restaurant 😃
This place is a little hard to find, although it is in the heart of Kyoto. It’s on the second floor of the building, which it shares with a small language school. If you’re on the street level, you won’t find a sign indicating that the restaurant’s there, so look out for the red building in the picture below. From the second floor window, you can see the main street of Kawaramachi, and the restaurant’s not too far from Demachiyanagi Station. I really liked that there’s an open kitchen – or maybe I should say that the ‘bar’ is actually the kitchen (just like all the restaurants from last time). The place is designed as a nice urban space, with the option to sit at the bar or at a large dining table that all customers share. The hiking equipment, on the other hand, can be found near the door. Overall, the design is clean with a little personal touch (in the form of heaping piles of books, as well as sound equipment and lit-up decorations).
The concept is Indian food. Shame on me, but I didn’t know there were so many kinds of Indian food (although I havebeen to India… so embarrassing!). We went there during lunch time, and my partner and I both tried the dosa (1,000 yen) and the Vegan Indian Set meal (1,200 yen). Both were really good and had very unusual flavors made up of interesting spices. Maybe it’s just the Mediterranean in me, but I REALLY LIKE SPICES!
The portions are satisfying. I can easily tell by my partner’s fullness level: if he’s full by the end of the meal, it’s probably big enough for almost anyone.
The atmosphere was really relaxing and quiet, although there were many people. I would definitely recommend this place to any vegan or non-vegan that likes Indian food! Check it out if you’re around Kyoto University.
Natural Food Village
This hidden restaurant/bar is located near Kyoto University of Art and Design, in the North-East part of the city. Not as close to Kyoto University as the other places, but not that far either. If you happen to be at the Shugakuin Imperial Villa or went to some of the more out-of-the-way temples in the area, like the beautiful Shisen-dō, this is just the place for your lunch!
A small hippie restaurant on the second floor, it reminded me of a festival booth with its chill music, oriental decoration, and Indian patterned fabrics. The place often has live shows in the evenings and sometimes hosts various workshops, such as Macramé and traditional Chinese medicine.
The owner, Ta-chan, opened the place 17 years ago, with two purposes in mind: First, healthy food that makes a healthy body and, second, beautiful art and music that make a healthy soul. He admits not being 100% vegan, though he told me he would not want to kill any living creature as, in his words, “We are all one.”
Ta-chan is a super nice guy, and we had nice and often humorous conversations (I even accidently invited myself to his wedding… whoops). Overall, it’s a great place to spend time and nourish your body.
My friend Marin and I ate a lunch set and cutlet bowl. Both were incredibly tasty and just the right size – not too small, not too big. The lunch menu has about six options, and the price ranges between 800-1200 yen which is a great price.
The lunch set had a tempeh (fermented and processed soybeans) croquette, ostrich fern (this cute rolled vegetable) dressed in vinegar, koshiabura, taranome (or Japanese angelica tree) tempura, pickled turnip, soybean cutlet, tomato-cumin soup, a salad with special dressing, spicy carrot, and—last but not least—rice (black & brown). It was all just excellent.
This place will make you feel like a local even if you’re not one since it’s such a hole-in-the-wall – you know, that sort of wonderful place that’s somehow unknown to most. I definitely think you’ll love it.
So that’s it – my recommendations for vegan places to eat near Kyoto University. I really hope you enjoyed this series and hope even more that this information will find its way to any vegan visiting or living in Kyoto. If you know anyone who might find it useful, don’t hesitate to share the information about these great places. I’m sure they would really appreciate the support 😃