When it comes to traveling, I always try to search in advance for local vegan places to eat. However, sometimes it takes a lot of researching; asking friends, scrolling through HappyCow, vegan blogs, Facebook groups and basically all available resources. That’s why I thought it would be helpful to group together vegan restaurants in Kyoto based on their geographic location in the city. I would have saved both time and energy if there had been a guide like this when I moved to the city!
In part 1 I will focus on vegan places around the Nijo Castle, a beautiful 17thcentury structure that shows the richness and glory of the Tokugawa Shogunate. You can visit the wooden castle, walk on the nightingale floor, and stroll around the gardens, which are beautiful in every season. And then, after feeding your soul, you can turn to feed your stomach in these delicious cafes and restaurants:
*Unfortunately it seems like the place is permanently closed since Spring 2020. I hope it will reopen after COVID times.
One of my favorite restaurants in Kyoto can be found only a 15 minute walk from Nijo Castle. Being on the main street, you really can’t miss it. I love this place for so many reasons! It’s earth-walls and arched architectural features, the whole-wood tables, and the relaxing musicplayingin the background, which always creates a nice atmosphere. But mainly – I LOVE the food!
The menu has a lot to offer: ranging from green curry, to fish burger, ramen, and cutlets. Last time I visited I had the soy-meat burger, which filled my stomach to 110%! I really liked that the burger wasn’t too oily, and the mayonnaise was even better than its original non-vegan version. A real success! My friends had the vegan green curry and ramen, which were both great.
were really reasonable. This is made even better by the super cheap prices – only 900 yen for the burger! What more could you ask for?
Please note that Morpho Café prepares its menu daily, so it is fresh and delicious. However, if they sell out of food, you may find them closed earlier than expected. For dinner, try to be there by 18:30 – that’s what we were advised, and indeed after 19:00 the place started to get quite crowded.
One last thing: They have a vegan fish burger, too!
I’d like to call this place “The Sesame Café”, since many of the dishes are based around sesame. The menu offers a variety of sesame sauces, sesame tofu, and many more dishes that are based on this delicious ingredient. If you’re a sesame lover – this is the place for you!
You can find this place on Oike street, only a 10 minute walk from Nijo-castle. Oike street is actually one of my favorite streets in down-town Kyoto! The street is pretty wide, not too crowded, and has many new, eye-catching buildings. It might not look so appealing to someone who is used to big cities like Tokyo, but as a country-girl living in Kyoto, it gives me the “city-life” feeling 😃
The building of the restaurant is one of a kind.Plants cover the entire external wall, which immediately welcomes you to the “vegan healthy café” atmosphere. You will then find two floors: the first floor is the restaurant itself, the second is a wider space. When we visited, they held a children’s book reading event in this space. It could also be hired for workshops and various others events.
The place was relatively full when we got there around 12:00pm (Japan’s official lunch time) and the staff were very welcoming. It’s designed with wooden tables, and decorated with modern art. Regarding the music (you’ll know by now I always pay attention to it) – I enjoyed listening to the melodic piano sounds that made the eating experience even more pleasant.
My dear partner had the Yamada Curry set, this included instructions on how to eat it in the correct order to ensure maximum enjoyment. As for me, I had the brown rice and vegetables set, which was very satisfying (BUT to be completely honest… the curry looked better!). On that particular day, these were the only two available lunch options.
The prices were good. the set lunch was 1,200 yen, and they had reasonable deals for adding a drink or dessert.
I really loved that they offered a variety of vegetables and side dishes. One of the main reasons for me to eat out at restaurants is to nourish my body with ingredients that I wouldn’t normally cook at home – it enriches my diet.
Gomacro Salonalso sells vegan groceries, although NOT ALL ARE VEGAN! Ask the friendly staff for advice, as some may contain fish stock.
Overall, I’d highly recommend this as a place to eat in downtown Kyoto if you’re interested in delicious vegan food!
This colorful, organic gelateria is located in a hidden shopping arcade near Nijo castle. You can find it nestled among second-hand clothing shops and grocery stores selling local produce. Its sophisticated flavors comes with great contrast to the simple street it’s located on.
Speaking frankly, there are people who are in love with ice cream, they don’t need anything but ice cream, can put a ring on it and step together towards the sunset. Not me. I have no special feelings towards this dessert (more than I have for any other). For that reason, it’s very unusual of me to say – this ice cream was AMAZING!
One of the things that make the ice creams so good is probably the organic ingredients. They have vegan options available, and flavors free from refined-sugar made from honey** or amazake. I liked that they had really interesting Japanese-flavors, such as Okinawa organic brown sugar, Okinawa Kinako, Organic Uji Macha, Ume (plum), Zen milky fresh Yuba, and more. The amazing combination of high standards and traditional Japanese flavors is what makes this place so unique.
I had two flavors: the vegan chocolate and the baked sweet potato (which was way better than it sounds). The chocolate was kind of a banal choice, I know. I love to discover new flavors every once in a while, but the day I ate in Premarché Gelateria was somewhat depressing. Firstly, I was in the immigration office for my Japanese Visa extension, which predictably took a while. Later, I went to collect some documents I needed from the police, and after all of this bureaucratic bothersome, I went to have a blood test. They only managed to get my blood after the 3rd time injection! After all of that, I thought I definitely deserved some ice cream! And of course, after eating it things started to look much better 😃
Premarché Gelateriais the ultimate place to enjoy Japanese-flavored ice cream for both vegans and non-vegans. Trust me – you’ll enjoy it!
*This place is not 100% vegan.
**I am a honey-eating vegan. For those of you that don’t eat honey, other flavors are available, as you can see in the picture above.
That’s it for now. Next time I’ll be back with more vegan restaurants around Nijo castle, so you’ll get to know them all
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