I went vegan for animal-welfare reasons, not health-reasons. And yet, I've been coming to this largely healthy place for about a decade (not all of it is healthy.) I dare say it's my favorite restaurant. The biggest problem for new-comers is that people don't know what to order. You may want to ease into the unusual mountain vegetables of Japan. Here are my recommendations...
-Sake: I stick to the locally produced stuff, served hot from beautiful hand-made ceramics.
-Plum wine: A cool, sweet wine, to cool off after spicy bites of wasabi.
-Brown rice tea: Amazing, light, balanced Japanese tea made with toasted brown rice.
-Agadashi Tofu: Perfection. Large blocks of carefully fried tofu adorned with kaiware (clovers), dusted with dried red seaweed, and swimming in an amazing broth-like sauce.
-Gyoza: To a typical Northern Californian, this might taste like a variation of a good potsticker, basically.
-Cha-Ya Nabe (vegan sukiyaki): My absolute favorite soup in this world. Too sweet for some. Basically a pot of veggies with a bit of noodles on the bottom and tofu/mushrooms for protein. I especially love the kabocha squash and role of steamed spinach they put in there. The types of mushrooms they use seems to vary by season.
-Yasai(?) with tempura: This has a milder, meatier flavor profile and can be served with tempura. I don't usually get this but my date does.
-Miso: Comes with sushi combos (per menu specifications.) Vegan miso soup with delicate, melt-in-your-mouth silken tofu and moderately-sized slices of seaweed.
-Cha-Ya Roll: This is not for the health-nut. It's a delicious sushi roll battered and friend like tempura. It is then sliced and drizzled with a delectably sweet sauce, containing what almost tastes like hints of liqueur. This is a great dish if you are here to eat, drink, and be merry.
-Soba Noodles: Cold, bland, whole wheat noodles. Not for me, but some people really like it.
-Hosomaki Combo: This is a good deal, given the prices at the restaurant. You get a tiny but delicious cucumber salad, complete with sliced radish, golden raisins, seaweed, and toasted soy-nuts. I literally drink the vinaigrette when I'm done. You also get the miso soup (did I mention this place is ALL-VEGAN!) Then you get to pick three sushi roles. I recommend the following roles, in increasing adventurousness:
*Kappa: Just cucumber, pretty plain.
*Avocado: Classic vegan option done right.
*Kampyo: Sounds weird but it's shavings of a gourd originally grown in Osaka. It actually just tastes like a really yummy soft, sweet, paste.
*Shitake: A cold sliced mushroom role, meaty tasting, toothsome. Lots of "umami" flavor.
*Seaweed salad: May take some getting used to if you aren't familiar with the oceanic flavor-profile. (Good source of iodine.)
*Oshinko: A salty, bitter Japanese pickled radish.
*Natto: I didn't order this until recently when a vegan friend of mine from Japan recommended it. It's a slimy fermented soybean mixture with raw green onion. It grows on you if you like strong flavors.
-Ice-cream Sundae: Fantastic scout of vegan ice-cream covered in green tea sauce and red bean sauce. There's a side of pineapples that seems like it is from a can. It always boggles my mind that they had soaked, sweet, possibly canned pineapple chunks when the rest of the entire menu is so fresh, but they are actually a good compliment to the sundae. It's easily my favorite vegan ice-cream dish, period.
-Fried bananas: To compliment the Sundae if you are sharing.
Cons: ambiance feels a little cheap for price of food an, food comes out at different times so you could wai, they get pretty crowded and need more waiters