Vegans in Kyoto and a super tight budget
Posted by Tarasola at 08/25/2013
we are going to travel to Kyoto in a few weeks and we are on an extremely tight budget, meaning that we cannot spend more that 12 Euros per person on food every day.
We are also very worried we won't find cheap vegan food, so it would be great to get recommendations from other travelers or vegans in kyoto.
One thought we had was getting lunch at one of the cheap vegan cafes recommended here and elsewhere and have packed meals for breakfast and dinner and inbetween.
How, the main problem we have: what vegan products can you get at the convenience store or the supermarket?
We don't speak or read any Japanese, so things are naturally much more tricky.
It would really help us if, e.g. someone would point out specific snacks that are vegan to us. We could just print out pictures of it and try to find it.
And are there maybe some places in Kyoto where you find really, really cheap noodle dishes that are definitively vegan?
thanks so much in advance!
Ramen noodle shops and stands abound in Japan. If you don't speak Japanese, ask the hotel concierge or desk clerk for directions to a nearby Ramen noodle shop. Have this person write out your request for no meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs on a sheet of paper in Japanese. Take this paper with you when you go to the noodle shop. MAKE SURE THE CLERK WRITES DOWN THE REQUEST TO OMIT BONITO FLAKES (DASHI) FROM THE BROTH. Dashi is a common ingredient in Japan.
I would imagine that you could have some rather tasty Ramen noodles with a mushroom or vegetable broth with wheat noodles, vegetables, and cubes of bean curd.
Since a steady diet of ramen could be boring, here are some additional suggestions.
You could also try eating at a Buddhist Temple. Devout Buddhists are vegan. A good temple to try would be at Shigetsu in Kyoto. The Zen Buddhist monks are very friendly.
A good vegetarian friendly restaurant in Kyoto is the Mikoan.
Some vegan friendly foods to try?
Hiyayako: Chilled tofu served with scallions and ginger: NOTE - ask for hiyayako without katsuobushi (dried bonito fish flakes) and use soy sauce as a condiment.
Miso Soup:This is a simple broth made with fermented bean curd. You may order this with bean curd and vegetables. I like eating mine with a side of steamed white rice.
Nasu Dengaku: Grilled eggplant topped with miso.
Tempura Donburi: Batter Fried vegetables served on top of steamed white rice.
Tsukemono: Pickled vegetables. Order Tsukemono with steamed white rice.
Yaki Onigiri: Grilled rice balls served with pickled vegetables and cold greens.
Zaru Soba: Cold buckwheat soba noodles served with nori seaweed, green onions, wasabi, and soy sauce.
You could also try sushi. The word sushi actually refers to vinegared rice and although most people equate sushi with seafood, there are many varieties that are vegan friendly.
KAPPA (MAKI): The cucumber roll.
OSHINKO (MAKI): The Japanese pickle roll. Typical pickled vegetables include radishes, daikon turnips, or carrots.
UME (MAKI): The pickled UME (Japanese plum) roll.
NATTO (MAKI): The fermented soybeans roll. NATTO
HORENSO (MAKI): The spinach roll.
SHIITAKE (MAKI): The shiitake mushroom roll.
KAMPYO (MAKI): KAMPYO is dried gourd strip which is usually seasoned with soy sauce and sugar.
YUBA (MAKI): The YUBA (soymilk skin) roll. YUBA is good for making combination sushi with other ingredients such as shiitake (seasoned) or cucumber.
At a supermarket look for steamed rice balls. Be aware that steamed rice balls are stuffed with various ingredients including meat. Look for plum or ginger or mushrooms as a filling. The labels will be in Japanese, so you'll have to ask for help.
While at the supermarket, buy fruit, vegetable sushi rolls, and boiled sweet potatoes.
For sweets, find a Wagashi shop. These are traditional Japanese sweets made with beans, sweet glutinous rice, chestnuts, agar and sometimes seasonal fruit. Be aware that some products include eggs and dairy. Some wagashi products are sold in supermarkets.
The Japanese are very big on manners - so whenever anyone helps you, please be sure to smile and say, "Arigato gozaimas" – thank you.
'Bonito dashi' is added to nearly all soup bases except in some restaurants (i found one in Isu peninsula). Many cannot omit the soup stock. The alternative is 'kombu dashi' - you can try asking for that - it is as commonly used as vegetable stock in the West - which is perhaps not that common in places. It is still really very hard to find a ramen shop that is suitable for vegans.. I've always avoided them.
If you find a ramen shop that uses kombu dashi then you also need to ask if they use eggs in their ramen... udon should be ok...
Miso soup is also generally made with bonito dashi.
In Kyoto - it's very good for vegans. There's a Tofu Nabe shop - it does a dish cooked in tofu milk in a pot (tonyu nabe) on your table...
Look for Shojin ryori (Buddhist Style) restaurants at the temples - they are 100% vegan - but they can be expensive..
The word for vegan is 'beegan' ?????. "Watashi wa biigan desu." should help some people to know - but like everywhere - not everyone understands.
You could point at something and say "Sore wa biigan desu ka?" (pronounced: sore-ray wa beegan desska? - literally: That.. vegan is it?)
Search for vegan kyoto in Google and read some blogs... I just found a review of a place called Mikoan that looks like an experience! :-)
Also search Google Maps for 'vegan' or ????? ... and note down the results...
edit- unfortunately HappyCow forum does not correctly show Japanese characters only '?????'...
My wife and me are going to Japan this summer. Since we will be visiting many cities I'd be very grateful, if you have suggestion for other Japanese cities. (For example, there are no entries for Osaka on this site).