Tokyo is a great place for foodies, with high-quality restaurants serving every dish imaginable. But add special dietary needs to your criteria and you will likely face some trouble finding a place to eat. Unless you are in Shimokitazawa, the hip and eco-conscious neighbourhood of Tokyo. Apart from being one of the few places in town where you can easily find things like soy-meat or tahini, it is also sensitive to the needs of vegetarians, pescatarians, vegans and others. A number of restaurants have items on their menu that will make even the strictest vegan happy -and that is no small accomplishment. What’s more, a number of small delis and cafes in the area will offer to make you something according to your needs, for no extra charge. All you have to do is ask!
Chabuzen is a ramen restaurant serving oriental vegetarian and vegan dishes alongside the usual meaty ones. The owner will make a point of knowing exactly what your dietary needs are when you first enter the place: Are you vegetarian? Vegan? Pescatarian? Then he will point to the right items on the menu and if asked, will make a suggestion. There are ramen and curry dishes, the latter ones on a flexible scale of spiciness to accommodate every taste. Chabuzen is small and tucked away in a residential part of Shimokita but it is worth the effort.
More centrally located, Noumin Cafe doesn’t really have vegetarian options although they may be able to accommodate special requests, just like a number of other restaurants and cafes in the area. It is a great place to enjoy organic vegetables and lacto-ovo pescatarian dishes, with small rooms and low tables that give guests the sense of being in a very traditional ryokan.
Next in line is Nan Station, a pretty self-explanatory name. This little curry joint serves curry (vege/seafood/meat) with naan or rice, nasi goreng and gapao. They used to have lunch sets that started at 500yen but even without them the prices are low for the amount of food you get. It is very centrally located and popular with expats. The colourful decorations make the place look extra warm and friendly, even by Shimokita standards.
Finally there is Chabuton (not to be confused with Chabuzen), a ramen restaurant chain created by Michelin-decorated chef Yasuji Morizumi. Try their vegetable ramen with spirulina (840 yen) and veggie dumplings (320 yen), you will not be disappointed. The best part about the noodle dish is that it is not trying to resemble its meaty counterparts; instead it offers a brand new take on what ramen may taste like. The casual setting and proximity to the station make this a favourite with local vegetarians.
One thing you need to be aware of before you visit any of these places is that they cater to all, so there will be meat on the menu. For some this may be a downside while for others it will make visiting with omnivorous friends easier. If you do decide to go, enjoy your healthy, tasty and cheap meal with a clear conscience. Itadakimasu!
For more information→ http://www.odakyu.jp/english/traffic/timetable/