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Good news for herbivores: There’s been a boom in vegan-friendly restaurants in Tokyo over the past 5 years. And since dairy was never a major part of Japanese cuisine, vegetarian restaurants are usually also fully vegan. Most are casual, cafe-style eateries targeting health-conscious young women, though some offer gastronomic multi-course meals.
At the luxury end, the shojin ryori restaurants offer rarified zen-influenced cuisine. Itosho in Azabu Juban is the best place to try it. Many guidebooks also mention the Michelin-starred Daigo, but beware: the chefs there use fish stock.
Fucha ryori is a similar style of dining, but with a stronger Chinese influence. You can find that in the photogenic Bon restaurant in Iriya, northeast Tokyo.
Tokyo Station is home to T’s Tantan, a restaurant that specializes in a spicy vegan ramen with mock meat.
In the Omotesando region, both Brown Rice Cafe and Pure Cafe are fully vegan. The former serves Japanese-style meals, the latter offers multi-ethnic soups, salads and tapas. The Eat More Greens cafe in Azabu Juban is a spacious vegan cafe with a terrace that makes it ideal for summer evenings.
Falafel stores have been popping up recently. The best of the bunch is Kuumba du Falafel, near Shibuya, though Los Barbados in the same district also makes a great meze with falafel and vegan kibbeh (and offers about a dozen other vegan dishes, clearly marked with a green leaf).
And if you’re elsewhere, check www.vege-navi.jp for a comprehensive guide.