Gonpachi|Asakusa|Bad Foreigners in Japan

We’re on my way to Nikko! Which, for me, requires a stopover in Asakusa. Home of the Senso-ji Temple, the Tokyo Skytree and the giant gold poop (probably not its real name.)

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We decided to get a quick bite to eat and happened upon a cool looking place. Gonpachi at its heart is an izakaya but for me its more of a restaurant. It’s certainly not a place that I would feel comfortable getting drunk and lairy with the guys like other izakayas. This izakaya is a touch classier.

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The Edo period pictures on the wall, the open space, and the relaxing tone of the room creates a great ambiance. Upstairs overlooks the river and makes a great frame for the impressive array of buildings in the distance (and the golden poop). The food is great! The vegetarian and the meat dishes are delicious. We went with the set meal options that come with rice, miso, and soba, instead of ordering everything separately.

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I got the “Yakatori-Don” which is three types of skewered chicken, rice bowl, soba noodles, and miso. The chicken was smoky succulent, and extremely delicious! The miso was very deep and full of umami flavor and the cold soba was refreshing.

The veggie dish, believe it or not, was better! The crisp, fresh, vegetable tempura was just as good, but lighter, and a nice accompaniment for the rest of the meal.

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The staff speaks English and are exceptional. Why? Well, let me explain (bit of a rant coming). It’s in this restaurant that I encountered the worst people ever. Unfortunately, they were from England, in their 50s, and the most pretentious, arrogant, know-it-all couple that I have ever had the misfortune of dining next to. To start with, they both sounded like James William Bottomtooth from Family Guy, and nothing was good enough, if not completely wrong. The food was too small, the tea wasn’t strong enough, they were outraged that the Soba noodles that they were given (not ordered, it just comes with the meal) were, “stone cold!” and demanded that they take it back and heat it up. If you didn’t know, cold soba noodles are cold.

Look, I understand that some people are fussy, and some people don’t like certain foods. However, demanding you heat up cold Soba, kick-off about the sauce that comes with your teriyaki chicken, moan about how high and uncomfortable the bar stools are, and complain about the strength of your matcha tea, what are you actually doing in a Japanese restaurant? In fact, if they are like this for thirty minutes in a restaurant, what are they like for the rest of their time in Japan?!

Of course, the team apologized and accommodated them in every way. The thing is, Japanese restaurants don’t typically alter what’s on the menu but the customer is always right (no matter what) and any issues are handled amazingly. If it was me serving, I would’ve poured their cold soba noodles in their laps. A message to people that visit Japan and don’t like Japanese food, go eat at Mc Donald’s instead of complaining and moaning at people just doing their jobs.

All in all, the restaurant was good in every way and despite the company, I had a really good lunch and would definitely eat there again!

 

 

 

Champagne and gyoza|My Kind Of Fusion

Who would have thought it would work so well! This “French-anese,” bar-style restaurant is perfect for a quick snack, lunch or a full-on celebration. The playlist of 80s bangers is a great touch as well.

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We choose Champagne and gyoza for the name. There were loads of restaurants along this particular street in Ebisu but none of them had such an eye-catching name. So imagine how happy I was to discover that they serve vegan gyozas as well!

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Champagne And Gyoza is a relatively small place. Roughly twelve seated at the bar surrounding one (and only one) chef that caters to everyone. Talk about overworked! Surprisingly our hoast was able to cook, serve food, drinks and talk about the drinks like a fifty-year-old, French, grandmaster, wine expert to every single patron without breaking a sweat. Not to mention, he seemed like he was enjoying every minute of it. The bathroom is very bougie, bottles of champagne and little tubs of mouth wash all over the place.

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The food was delicious and not too expensive either! There are two types of gyoza on the menu, meat, and vegan with garlic variations of both (not for the faint-hearted). You are given a plater of sauces which are soy, miso, tomato, and pesto. I never thought to eat gyoza with pesto, but I don’t think I will eat them without from now on. There is also salt, pepper, chili oil, and olive oil on the table. Side note, olive oil and salt on gyoza is an amazing combination! Side note-if you plan on ordering the garlic variant of your gyoza be prepared to be a social outcast for the rest of the night. It’s seriously strong!

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I can’t really say anything bad about Champagne And Gyoza. One thing I will say is to go with friends. Dining out alone is totally normal in Japan, it’s actually cheaper than buying fresh and cooking at home believe it or not. However, nobody in the bar was unaccompanied and I can imagine why. Eating gyoza’s and drinking Champagne by your self might look a bit sad.

 

Izakaya Masaka A completely Vegan Izakaya In Shibuya!

In my never-ending pursuit to find all things vegetarian and vegan in the land of relentless meat and fish, I have come across, quite possibly, the first of its kind. A vegan izakaya in Shibuya!

Just in case you don’t know what an izakaya is. It’s a place for working guys and gals to go and have a few drinks after a hard day’s work. The difference between a pub and an izakaya, however, is that izakayas serve snacks. The “snacks” (aside from fries and cabbage) are meat.

Meat wrapped in meat, meat wrapped in cheese wrapped in more meat, tomatoes wrapped in meat, grilled meat, fried meat, boiled meat. Basically,  if you want food that isn’t bean sprouts, cabbage, and chips… you are out of luck. This is why a vegan izakaya is such a big deal!

First impressions were that Izakaya Masaka is a bit small. Business must be a bit slow. I know that there probably isn’t that much demand for a vegan izakaya in the land of meat. Of course, the target market for izakayas are predominantly for the tens of thousands of Japanese salarymen in their 40s, which is a stark contrast to the target market of a handfull of predominantly vegetarian/vegan travelers in there early 20s, but I predict that after 2020 the demand for more businesses like this will skyrocket.

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Right now there are only two mock meat dishes. Gyoza (pan-fried dumplings), and karaage (deep-fried chicken) in your choice of sauces. The rest were regular vegetable and pasta dishes. I’m very eager to see what dishes Izakaya Masaka comes out with next to replicate traditional izakaya food. Maybe when business picks up in the not so distant future.

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The “meat” that is served in Izakaya Masaka is imitation soy mix meat and honestly, if you snuck a piece onto a plate of real meat I wouldn’t be able to notice. Its thick, succulent, and has the same exact texture as the real thing. Of course, just like any other izakaya, beer, whiskey, and highballs are in full supply.

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The food was delicious, the drinks were cold, and the atmosphere was chill. However, the most mind-blowing thing had to be the fact that the imitation meat was better than the real thing! In regular izakayas you get the sense that the food is made quickly and is all about quantity. Given that, at dinner time, small izakayas can easily serve up to a hundred people depending on the venue. Izakaya Masaka is definitely more about the quality.

Put it this way. While I was there two salarymen sat at the table next to me, and throughout their whole meal, they kept ushering the woman who was serving them over and checking, re-checking, and laughing about the fact that what they were eating wasn’t meat. So there it is! Judged by Japan’s harshest critics, the no-nonsense, “I know what I like” middle-aged, grumpy Japanese salarymen couldn’t believe it wasn’t real meat.

 

 

Aoyama Flower Market Tokyo 青山フラワーマーケット A Japanese Feast For The Senses

Aoyama Flower Market Tokyo 青山フラワーマーケット Entrance
Aoyama Flower Market Tokyo 青山フラワーマーケット Entrance

I love a good picnic outside during the summer. The fresh air, the smell of fresh-cut grass, the flowers. The only real problem is bugs, wind, a sudden chill, rain, stabbings, and more rain. Unfortunately, living in the UK means you have a collective four weeks a year to eat outside.

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Flowers

Japan doesn’t have the same problems. In fact, the weather can get too nice! Rain is super accurately predicted, and Japanese people take gardening very seriously! Never have I ever walked past a Japanese garden, park, or even just an open space with grass in it and thought “ooh, that looks a bit crap”. Seriously I think gardening and herbalism are part of the curriculum here.

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Flowers

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Aoyama Flower Market Tokyo is the agoraphobic’s picnic paradise. The floor, the walls, the tables. Everywhere you look are floral masterpieces, as if each grouping of flowers were handpicked and painstakingly curated. The flowers are rotated seasonally. Rotating the flowers seasonally is a treat for the senses of regular patrons and the cafe smells exactly as you would expect a room full of beautiful flowers to smell.

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The food is delicious! Honestly, I never expected a garden salad to be so flavorful! The restaurant isn’t vegetarian but most of the dishes can be made vegetarian, The team knows what vegan and vegetarian means and are more than happy to make alterations for you.

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The range of flowery drinks is astounding! Ginger Ale’s, Lemonade’s, Mojio’s, the list goes on. If it can be made with plants they’ve got it. I highly recommend the herbal teas, the list is extensive! Not only that, they continue adding more to the menu and some change seasonally.

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One downside for me though, they can run out of ingredients on busy days. So get there early to make sure you get what you came for. However, this did not bother me on the day of my visit as what I ended up with was spot on! In fact, I could have had another one straight after! It was delish!

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It was an amazing meal and an amazing experience. It’s definitely something I will be doing again no matter what the weather is like. So If it’s rainy, sunny, or snowy. If the parks are too busy, or you would simply just like to get punched in the face by a room of allergens, come down to Aoyama Flower Market Tokyo 青山フラワーマーケット. I promise you won’t regret it!…

Unless you have allergies.

Traditional Japanese sweets you MUST TRY on your trip to Japan

So I have been in Japan for a while now and I have sampled a variety of traditional Japanese dishes. It seems like every region has its own type of food and its own special way of making it. This is especially true for Japanese sweets. Here are just a few of my favorites that I highly recommend you try on your trip to Japan.

Something to note: Red bean paste

Probably the most important ingredient in a lot of Japanese desserts. It is made by boiling and mashing Azuki beans with a little sugar. It kind of tastes a bit like sweet potato but a little earthier and sweeter.

Dango

Dango is small, slightly sweetened rice balls on a skewer and are eaten all year round. The flavor is usually seasonal but the most popular is a simple soy sauce topping (or occasionally a matcha glaze in areas like Kyoto). They can frequently be found around shrines, temples, and festivals, with street vendors selling these freshly flamed snacks on a skewer. Their rich and chewy nature means they are a satisfying snack and in my opinion, the epitome of a traditional Japanese dessert.

Dango at Meiji Shrine
Found this super fresh Dango while exploring Meiji Shrine.

Taiyaki

Taiyaki is made with waffle batter and shaped into a fish with all kinds of fillings. Cheese, custard, red bean paste, chocolate. You can find Taiyaki all over Japan but it’s best to eat it still hot and fresh from the grill from areas like Asakusa and Nihonbashiningyocho.

Shaved Ice – KAKIGORI

The first time I heard of shaved ice I initially thought “oh ice cream?” But no it isn’t. It’s actually a delicious seasonal shaved ice dessert, flavored with your choice of sauces, filling, toppings, etc. Despite the name which suggests a lack of intensity, it is actually bursting with flavor! Depending on where you try it in Japan, your experience will be different. Typically in Tokyo, you will find fluffy, thinly shaven ice topped with unique or traditional flavors like matcha, brown sugar, strawberry, and condensed milk, or a star ingredient like red bean. Elsewhere in Japan, you might be surprised to find all the flavor at the bottom! No matter where you go, however, it is the quintessential summer dessert guaranteed to keep you cool during the scorchingly hot Japanese summers.

 

 

Daifuku

Much like Dango, Daifuku is also made using glutinous rice. However, Daifuku is made using rice flour and is folded and beaten until sticky and then formed into palm-sized balls. These balls are then stuffed with your choice of filling and coated with flavoring and cornstarch to stop them from sticking to each other. They are usually filled with red bean paste but they come in many varieties.

Fun Fact! between 2006-2009 eighteen people died from eating Daifuku. some people find the sticky cake just too hard to swallow.

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This Daifuku was found at a nearby conbini. This kawaii usagi (rabbit) design celebrated a Mid-Autumn festival.

Anmitsu

Anmitsu is a bowl of agar jelly cubes, red bean paste, Gyūhi (which is a softer kind of mochi) and a varying combination of fruits that results in an interesting mix of textures and flavors unique to Japan. Anmitsu is a seasonal dish and is usually enjoyed during warm weather. However, you can usually find it in most Japanese restaurants all year round.

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This Anmitsu was found at Hatsune – a Japanese dessert restaurant that was featured on the first episode of Kantaro the Sweet Tooth Salaryman. It took us to Sweets Heaven!

KitKat

So yes KitKats are not specifically Japanese sweets. However, KitKat is arguably the most popular chocolate bar in Japan by far! It was first made in the UK in the 1930s and I had only ever had two different flavors in my entire life: milk chocolate, and dark chocolate. That is of course until my taste buds got a sudden awakening in the land of the rising sun!

In Japan, there is a new flavor every month! Lemon and sea salt, strawberry, matcha, wasabi, rum and raisin, mixed berry, ginger ale, soy sauce, sake, the list goes on, and on, and on! In fact, since the year 2000, there have been over 300 flavors and counting. It’s seen as a good luck gift typically given to kids for when exam season comes around and it’s an especially popular omiyage (souvenir) to take back to your home country.

 

 

Noodle Stand Tokyo ヌードルスタンド東京

Noodle Stand Tokyo ヌードルスタンド東京
Noodle Stand Tokyo ヌードルスタンド東京 Sign

Check out: Vegetarian in Japan

Noodle Stand Tokyo has established itself as an ethical Ramen shop. They say “you can eat delicious ramen with confidence”. All of there ingredients are locally sourced and there are no chemical ingredients.

Noodle Stand Tokyo also boasts a low carb menu with 35% less sugar. Their online menu lists where all their ingredients come from and FYI, their green smoothy made from coconut oil is delicious!

There is one main reason Noodle stand Tokyo was put on the map however, and that is their absolutely delicious vegan ramen dish! In the UK we have a restaurant called Wagamama and they make a Yasai Itame with a coconut broth and it tastes amazing. However, Noodle Stand Tokyo makes more or less the same dish but with more flavor and its made with coconut oil and is completely vegan as opposed to Wagamamas dish which is not.

Noodle Stand Tokyo ヌードルスタンド東京
Noodle Stand Tokyo Vegan Ramen with Coconut Broth

There are only two or three dishes and a lot of variants of those dishes. The Gyu-Nikomi Mazesoba which is stewed beef on noodles with no broth, the Kuroshio which is dried sardines soup noodles which you can add pork back fat and other things to, and the Coconut Miso Ramen which you can choose to be vegan.  I have tried all three and I can say without a shadow of a doubt (as a meat eater) I much prefer the vegan option!

Noodle Stand Tokyo ヌードルスタンド東京

Its located in Harajuku. Typing Noodle Stand into Google maps will pull up the location. The entrance is a little bit hidden but not impossible to find. It’s right next to this cookie monster thing. Can’t really miss it to be honest. You order your meal with this vending machine, then a really nice lady will come over and make sure you did it correctly, ask if you want any extras then show you to your seat.

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In total, I think there are about 11 seats, four to a table as soon as you enter, two more by the wall on the far side under the brightly lit “Ramen” sign, and five or so around the bar. You shouldn’t have to wait long before being seated however.  This being a fast Raman place nobody ever sticks around after they have finished eating.

If you need anymore suggestions on places to eat vegan, check out the eating vegan/vegetarian page

Kyushu Jangara Ramen 九州じゃんがら

 

Kyushu Jangara Ramen 九州じゃんがら

Kyushu Jangara Ramen specializes in Tonkotsu ramen. Tonkotsu ramen is a ramen dish that originated in Fukuoka which is on Kyushu island (hence the name) and is made by stewing pork bones and other things like onions, garlic, spring onions, ginger, pork fat in a broth for up to eight hours and served with noodles and a range of toppings like eggs, Salmon Roe, pork belly, the list goes on.

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Kyushu Jangara Ramen 九州じゃんがら Menu

There are six dishes to choose from. Regular, salt, spicy, creamy, soy, and of course vegan!

Personally, if you eat meat I would choose the Karabon. Its the spiciest one on the menu and it absolutely explodes with flavor. Not just because it’s spicy. It’s actually more of a pepper taste than a hot chilly spice taste.

Kyushu Jangara Ramen 九州じゃんがら
Karabon

Of course, if you are vegan/vegetarian there is always the vegan ramen made with vegetables, soy and yuzu (a popular Japanese citrus). It has a very rich, savory, smoky citrus taste and is absolutely delicious. Don’t take my word for it, Google it! It has been hailed by many to be the king of vegan ramen.

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Vegan Ramen

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The restaurant itself has a very strange vibe. Exposed brickwork like a 1980s New York apartment, Colourfull font all over the place, As if you were eating in a kindergarten class, complete with paintings that look like five-year-olds have made them, and the music has to be heard to believed. It’s like a bass boosted, EDM version of the “best of the 80s 90s 00s and now”. Totally unexpected for a Ramen place in Japan (love it though).

Kyushu Jangara Ramen 九州じゃんがら

There is nearly always a queue but don’t worry. No one is ever here longer than 15-20 mins and with about twenty-five seats (unless you go to the one in Akihabara which has about ten) It has a very fast turnover of patrons. They don’t speak a lick of English but that doesn’t matter because they have an English menu. Just point to what you want, pay, and sit down. No need to wait for a bill, when you’re finished just get up and leave (Harajuku). The best way to run a restaurant in my opinion.

Kyushu Jangara Ramen 九州じゃんがら
Kyushu Jangara Ramen Menu

Kyushu Jangara Ramen has several locations including Harajuku, (pictured) Ginza, and Akihabara. Although I have heard that the Akihabara one is a little difficult to find and is very small so get there early to avoid the queue.

Kyushu Jangara Ramen

Kyushu Jangara Ramen was one of the first places I ate in when I arrived in Japan and in my five months of being in Japan, I can honestly say that I have eaten here at least a dozen times since. I’m not stopping any time soon.

If anyone has any more details about Kyushu Jangara Ramen. Date established, creator, the reason for all the child drawings on the walls, music choice, etc I would greatly appreciate it if you could let me know. I haven’t been able to find any history on the establishment and would like to write more in-depth about the restaurant.

 

 

 

 

Being a Vegetarian in Japan

Ain Soph Ripple  アインソフリップル
Fully Loaded Burger from Ain-Soph 

Contrary to the title I am not a vegetarian. However, I am a bit of a health nut and while I was living in the UK I would always opt for the sweet potato pitta at Nandos or the Veggie Burger in Frankie and Benny’s. In fact, the only time I ate meat was if it was put in front of me and not wanting to seem rude by saying “I don’t want this” I would just eat it.

My typical day would be oats with honey in the morning, couscous and beetroot humous salad for lunch with a Nature Valley protein bar, a few bits of fruit here and there and a dinner consisting of some kind of Quorn dish with a Gold Standard Protein shake made with unsweetened almond milk before bed. In fact, if I didn’t eat eggs I would eat vegan.

However, moving to Japan threw my diet out the window, from the 40th floor, on to spikes, made of lava.

The thing is, Japan doesn’t really do vegetarian. In fact, I have come across one too many people that look at me like I’ve lost my goddam mind when I say things like “no meat” “vegetarian” “don’t put Bonito flakes on it!” It’s not that they don’t understand it, vegetarian in Japanese is “Bejitarian” and vegan in Japanese is “bee-gan”. No seriously. Even though there are words for it in Japanese doesn’t mean that they understand it. Every time I say vegetarian I still have to run through the list with them.

Egg? ok.

Milk? ok.

Dashi? (fish stock) not ok.

Chicken? not ok.

Eh? but… Eggs from a chicken are ok?

Its like in the majority of cases they can’t tell the difference between eating an animal and eating what comes from an animal. If you tell them outright you are a Vegan they tend to understand that you want absolutely nothing to do with an animal. However, that checklist will still probably come out. And restaurants are just the tip of the iceberg. Getting food from a Seven Eleven or a Family Mart is a minefield of meat, even the pre-made vegetarian salad has some kind of animal derivative in it for absolutely no reason. Just plain lettuce on its own in a pack has fish flakes in it. Almost all cakes have gelatine or animal Rennet in them. And if you’re a Vegan!? Good luck! Even the bread has milk in it here.

Now, I have succumbed to the fact that I can fight this every single time I eat or just go with the flow. Not wanting to be that typical foreigner with a list of dietary needs that end up slowing a kitchen down because they need to remake everything, I either eat a little meat or simply go to vegan restaurants.

But! Fear not! Vegan restaurants are popping up all the time. It would seem that more and more people are realizing the niche that is veganism in a meat-eating country. Don’t get me wrong they are few and far between but the ever-increasing rate is a good sign that Japan is heading in the right direction. I will link just a few places that I have eaten in and can personally vouch for their deliciousness for vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters alike.

It goes without saying, I am a very respectful foreigner and I would never walk into an establishment and throw demands around and kick off when I don’t get my way. I have read up on the culture and how Japan does things. I know that they are a homogenous society with a collective mindset and I am happy to assimilate. However, the vast majority of goers of the Rugby world cup and the 2020 Olympics will not care one bit.

Now, I’m sure if you are reading this and you are not from Japan, you are a very respectful, easy going person that would be more than happy to adjust your lifestyle for the two to three weeks that you stay here. You might even be reading my blog to get a bit of insight into what to do and what not to do. And if you have done a bit of research about the typical foreigner faux pas, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I fear for Japan. I have lived in other parts of the world prior to moving here and I can honestly say that Japan is not ready for the rest of the world. Smoking in public is illegal here. Well, foreigners won’t care about that. Eating and walking aren’t exactly good manners. Well, foreigners won’t care about that. I once saw a group of old ladies scowl at a man that coughed one too many times on a train and caused a disturbance. Well, get ready for carriages full of people on their phones screaming about god knows what. The one thing that Japan is going to need is to hurry up and get the right dietary requirements catered for. I’m not just talking about meat, fish, and milk. I’m talking about allergies and religious needs as well.

If you are Vegan/Vegetarian I highly recommend trying these places out.

T’s TanTan– my favorite place to eat! the hot and sour ramen is the best in my opinion.
Vegan Ramen
Ain Soph. Ripple -or any of the Ain Soph resturants to be honest but the best is Ripple. Typical American style food. Chilly Cheese Fries, Burgers, Burritos, Salads but all one hundred percent vegan.
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Nataraj Restaurant– for us Brits it’s important to know where the closest Indian restaurant is, its a safety blanket. If you’re not from the UK you wouldn’t understand. Nataraj is the place to go, trust me on this.
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Coco ichibanya– now bear with me on this one. You have to find a vegetarian one because not all establishments are, you also have to tell them you are a vegetarian to be given the secret menu and you have to be ok with certain veggies deep fried in the same oil as meat but, it is the best curry in the world!
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Noodle StandIt isn’t a vegan place but they do have a vegan option on the menu. It’s the Vegan Coconut Miso Ramen. A white Miso soup cooked with coconut oil and Ramen. And it is delicious! Reminds me a lot of Yasai Itame from Wagamamas in the UK.

Okonomiyaki zen– The one place I found that know what a vegetarian is. Okonomiyaki is a type of pancake made with veg and meat. Just tell them you’re a vegetarian or vegan and they will bend over backwards to accommodate and it’s delicious!

Kanro Shichifukujin– A traditional Japanese vegan macrobiotic sweets and bento restaurant. It’s run by the sweetest Japanese lady in the world and there is a cat. What’s not to love.

Please check out the Happy Cow App and the Veggie Map for more restaurants that are vegetarian and vegan-friendly.

Denny’s in Japan

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Anyone that has ever been to America will know Denny’s. It’s the home of free coffee refills, French Toast, and my all-time favourite diner meal “The Grand Slam”. It’s something that comes up whenever my family and I talk about the times we went to the US of A. Every morning before we walked the strip in Vegas, before we went to the parks in Florida, before we chilled out poolside or relaxed on the beach we would all go to Denny’s. I’m quite thankful I’m not American or I don’t think you would ever get me out of the place, I would probably weigh three hundred pounds.

So imagine my sheer delight when cruising down some random street in Japan I happen to come across the all too famous sign.
The realization that I now live in a country that has Denny’s hit me hard, I knew exactly what I was going to do.
I was going storm in there! Grab a seat! No need to look at the menu because I know what I want!
I want a Grand Sla- there is no Grand Slam, why is there no Grand Slam!? Where is the Grand Slam?

But of course this is Denny’s Japan, there is no Grand Slam here, and that would make sense. Japan isn’t a country affected by rampant obesity, and the thought of one meal with sausages, bacon, eggs, pancakes, hash browns, toast and a side of French Toast with syrup just doesn’t fit with the Japanese way of eating. There is pasta (made with noodles), burgers without the buns and an egg on top (optional extra), and Ramen. In fact, the most American thing on this menu is the club sandwich CALLED THE AMERICAN CLUB!

d1be7f69-dbd6-4334-8622-6378639860acNever the less like a pioneer in a strange new world I did my best to work around this strange menu and ended up just getting THE AMERICAN! With fried potato (Fries). I’ll be a bit more courageous next time I promised myself.
But then I noticed “The Drinks Bar”. Unlimited drinks! Hot and cold! It has one of those Five Guys machines, the one with every soft drink you could think of. Coke, Sprite, orange juice… if you want a coke zero with a splash of lime? You got it! Sprite with mango? No problem! Regular coke with cherry? Right here!

Looking around there are people just chilling. People who have erected offices at their tables. Laptops, workbooks, folders, people having meetings in the corner of the smoking section, large groups just sitting around drinking. And then it occurs to me, people must just use this place as a workspace with unlimited drinks. It’s what I would do so that’s what I did! I am currently writing this blog one month into my journey sat in a Denny’s. The chilled out atmosphere, the food, the unlimited drinks, I can honestly say that this is now my safe space in Japan.