Famous for its many temples and shrines, Kyoto has a lot to offer on Japan’s traditional culture.
But what about vegan food?
Don’t worry, Kyoto is one of Japan’s best destinations for vegans. Its strong Buddist background and the surge of healthy eating help Kyoto to be a great place for vegan travellers. From traditional Japanese ramen to vegan cheese pizza, you’ll not run out of places to eat, and they are all pretty delicious.
One thing to keep in mind is that some restaurants have pretty short opening times, and some may close unexpectedly. It’s always good to check their social media before going.
Here are my favourite places for vegan food in Kyoto:
Vegans Cafe and Restaurant
Plain and simple, if you visit Kyoto, you need to go to this cafe.
Pizza, ramen, parfait, tofu that tastes like grilled meat are only some of the items that they serve. This cafe is a little bit outside the city centre, but by train, it would only take about half an hour to arrive.
A must try here is the grilled meat-like tofu. The tofu is marinated and grilled with teriyaki sauce. The result is aromatic, flavourful, and memorable.
You will find a variety of pizzas here. They use vegan cheese on top. You can choose a thin or thick crust to your liking.
The soft serve ice cream smoothie is also great. I like the matcha and the sesame flavours especially.
One thing to keep in mind is that they close at 5 (last order at 4:30) except Saturday. And Wednesday is closed.
4-88 Fukakusa Nishiuracho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, 612-0029, Japan
11:30am - 5pm (L.O. 4:30pm)
Closed on Wednesday (and sometimes other days, see their Facebook for announcements)
Ain Soph Journey Kyoto
Originally from Tokyo, Ain Soph opened their first shop in Kyoto in 2018. The menu consists of some of the most popular items from the Tokyo shops and some exclusive dishes.
This all vegan eatery is famous for its heavenly pancakes. I love this matcha flavour, which is exclusive to the Kyoto shop. The pancakes are thick, moist and fluffy. The thick matcha sauce on top with gold flakes are unmistakably Japan. It also comes with airy whipped cream, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, red bean paste, berries and edible flowers. You need to try this if you are in Kyoto.
Another amazing dish is the teriyaki katsu burger. The katsu is chewy and meaty. And it also comes with a slightly tangy teriyaki sauce and mayo. Although the fries are a bit plain, the burger more than makes up for them.
Another dessert that is great is this chocolate cake. It may not be the most fancy looking, but it’s dense, fudgy, and bursting with chocolate flavour.
Other dishes are great as well. The 3 times that I visited this place, none of the dishes disappoint.
One thing is that Ain Soph is a little bit more pricey, but the quality of food is very high.
通四条上ル中之町, 新京極, 538-6 Nakanocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8042, Japan
12 - 5pm (L.O. 4pm), 6 - 10pm (L.O. 9pm)
(They sometimes close on irregular dates, check their facebook before going)
Vegan Ramen Towzen
Came for the ramen, wow’ed by the sushi.
This place is tucked in the middle of two buildings, but the colourful entrance is easy to find. After walking through a garden path, you take off your shoes before entering the restaurant.
The setting is quite traditional with tatami floors. Some chair seats and some floor seats. They have a no photo policy for the place except the food.
The ramen is very customisable to your liking, including the type (traditional musashi or tantan), the size, the spiciness, etc. Also, they have other rice, snacks, drinks and desserts.
Both the ramen and sushi are great, but this eggplant sushi takes the spotlight. They use both the flesh and some skin of the eggplant to mimic the texture of eel. The thinly sliced eggplant covered the sushi rice. The mouthfeel and the taste are spot on.
The musashi ramen has a rich creamy soup base. With mushroom, nori, and sprouts, it is a great vegan take on the traditional Japanese cuisine. The medium sized is not very big. If you plan to just order the ramen, make sure you get the large one.
The ice cream, although a bit icy, the taste is good. This flavour has black syrup on top.
13-4 Shimogamo Higashitakagicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-0865, Japan
11:30am - 3pm (L.O. 2:30pm), 6 - 10pm (L.O. 9:30pm)
Closed on Thursday
If you love sesame, this vegan cafe is heaven for you.
The name Gomacro comes from the Japanese for sesame (goma) and the word macrobiotic. This cafe has a small selection of well made and delicious food that uses sesame. Although there are only two sets, each of them features a very good selection of small dishes.
This beautifully plated white curry uses sesame oil and almond. It comes with a generous amount of sweet white curry sauce. The taste is amazing with its aromatic sesame flavour.
The side include a sesame sauce dressed salad and 3 side dishes, all of which are different in texture and tastes.
Of course the ice cream parfait is also sesame themed. The ice cream has a mild but noticeable sesame taste. With the soft tofu mousse, red bean paste, rice mochi, granola and more, this is a great end to this lunch.
One thing to note is that, although the food and drinks in the cafe are all vegan, a small number of items in the shop aren't. So be careful when you buy from the shop. I would recommend the tahini and the barbecue sauce, both of which are delicious.
Japan, 〒604-8207 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Nakagyō-ku, Shinmeichō, ６７−3
11am - 7pm
Closed on Monday
Facing the popular Kamo River that runs through downtown Kyoto, Veg Out is a vegan cafe that serves delicious plates and more. And the view of the river is amazing.
The assorted plate is great for trying a bit of everything. The dishes change from time to time, and the set comes with rice, salad and soup. The highlight is their fried soy meat with vegan mayo which is well seasoned and flavourful.
They have a bigger menu in the evening, including appetisers, rice and pasta that are not available during lunch time.
One thing to keep in mind is their opening times. They list out their opening times on their website, which changes slightly every month.
Japan, 〒600-8133 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, 七条通加茂川筋西入ル稲荷町448 鴨川ビル1F
8 - 11am, 12 - 5pm, 6-9pm (L.O. 8pm)
(Irregular opening times, check their Facebook or Instagram before going)
Premarché Pizzeria and Alternative Junk
Premarche Gelateria serves great vegan ice cream, and they have a shop in Tokyo. This particular branch in Kyoto also serves pizza and burgers. Although this is not a vegetarian place (serves meat), the staff understand request for vegan and the menu is marked clearly.
The Kitchen Barbarian burger scared me a little when I took the first bite, as the texture of the deep fried meat reminds me of chicken skin! But don’t worry as it’s vegan. Mixed with vegan cheese (yes, they have vegan cheese as well), tartar sauce and a sweet and sour date sauce, it is a delicious burger. The burger set also comes with a side of salad and fries.
You can ask for soy milk for coffee.
Of course you would need to have their ice cream. The have 3 types of ice cream, vegan, bee-gan (with honey), and milk base. Read the labels carefully and let the staff knows your requirements. The cone they use is vegan.
Japan, 〒603-8054 Kyoto, Kita Ward, Kamigamo Sakuraicho, 77 ノースウェーブ北山1F
11:30am - 8pm (L.O. 7:30pm)
Closed on Wednesday
11:30am - 3pm (L.O. 2:30pm) on the second and third Tuesday
The same brand as the previous restaurant, this vegan friendly ice cream shop in Sanjo shopping street is a must go if you love desserts. And it's pretty close to the Nijo castle as well.
They have a good selection of vegan flavours. More than half the flavours are vegan. And the rest are bee-gan (with honey but no milk) and milk based ice cream.
Some of my favourite flavours are the 'high grade' and 'finest' ones. Both the finest Sicilian pistachio and the high grade chocolate are amazing. Other flavours are also great, like the matcha and Okinawa brown sugar.
The cone is vegan as well.
There are quite a few seats in the shop and a shop selling some groceries, but keep in mind that not all the products are vegan.
Japan, 〒604-8331 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, 三条通猪熊西入御供町308 1F
April - November
Mon, Tue, Thu: 12 - 6pm
Fri - Sun: 12 - 8pm
Closed on Wednesday
December - March
12 - 6pm
Closed on Wednesday
This vegan-friendly cafe has a great selection of Japanese and Western items, including ramen, burgers, and parfait. The vegan items, which is most of them) are marked with a V.
This strawberry parfait is amazing. It looks exactly the same as the photo. The soft serve ice cream is covered with berry sauce and covered with mixed berries. Some mixed nuts in the middle, and on the bottom are sponge cake cubes to soak up the melted ice cream.
The sesame miso soy ramen is good, but not amazing. The soup base is made with white sesame paste, white miso and soy milk, but the flavours are a bit on the mild side. The toppings include fried lotus root, mushrooms, corn and sprouts.
Japan, 〒604-8061 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Shikibucho, 261 ヒューマンフォーラム本社ビル2F
11:30am - 9pm (L.O. 8pm)
Closed on Wednesday
Apelila is an all vegan bakery a few minutes from Demachiyanagi station. Other than bread, they also sell simple plates of bread, soup, yogurt, etc. There are some seats behind the bakery.
The selection of bread is good. I would recommend the bread with cream (soy cream and choco cream are great) and the melon buns. They also sells cookies and scones. The baked goods are a bit on the healthier side.
Special mention of the soy cocoa drink, which is very delicious! And 100 yen discount if you bring your own cup.
Please note that it’s only open Wednesday to Saturday, and every other Sunday, from 10am to 4pm.
Japan, 〒606-8101 Kyoto, Sakyo Ward, 京都市左京区高野蓼原町３６−３
10am - 4pm
Closed on Monday and Tuesday
Organic House Salute
This vegan restaurant is conveniently located near Kyoto station. The best way is to exit the JR central gate exit. It’s in one of the small alleyways a few minutes from the station. Keep reading for the direction.
The restaurant has traditional Japanese decor, and you are required to take off your shoes before entering.
The daily plate comes with a selection of food, all of which are prepared differently and well made. The katsu cutlet with mayo is my favourite. The set also include rice and soup.
They have a few cakes available every day (5 on the day of visit), and I chose this berry cheesecake. Although the size is not big, the texture and taste are great.
600-31 Higashishiokojicho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8216, Japan
11:30am - 3:30pm (L.O. 2:30)
2 - 4:30pm (- 5pm for Sat, Sun, Holiday)
5 - 7:30pm (- 6:30pm for Sat, Sun, Holiday)
Closed on Wednesday and Thursday
Choice cafe near Sanjo station is a relaxing spot to enjoy vegan food. The menu is all vegan and gluten free, and it’s one of the few places that serve vegan breakfast. The location is also quite convenient, only a few minutes from the Kawaramachi Sanjo shopping area.
Choice is famous for their Choice Fromage cheese, which you can try the dishes using it or buy the packaged one to go.
Japan, 〒605-0009 Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, 大橋町８９−１ 鈴木形成外科ビル 1F
8:30am - 9pm (L.O. 8:30pm)
Vege Deli Kanna
This place inside the Kyoto Tower food court serves all vegan food, including ramen, curry rice and curry noodles. The menu is pretty simple with only a few main dishes, some snacks and some drinks.
The soy sauce (shoyu) ramen is quite simple with a few toppings: A nori sheet, some kombu, a slice of tomato, some sprouts and the bamboo shoots. The soup base is also nothing fancy.
The good thing about this place is that it’s very conveniently located and the opening time is one of the longest in the city for vegan food.
The Kyoto Tower food court is very busy especially during peak hours.
Japan, 〒600-8216 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, 七条下る東塩小路町 721-1 京都タワーサンド地下１階 Karasuma Dori
(The Kyoto Tower food court is connected to the underground passage from the JR Underground East Gate and Subway Karasuma Line’s North ticket gate. Walk North until you see the sign for Kyoto Tower on your left.
11am - 11pm