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  • Vegan Vegan
    ( 34 reviews )
Contact 0752312516

Nishiki-dori, 198-1 (at Nishiki Market), Kyoto, Japan,

Kyoto vegan restaurant inside the market arcade. Offers set meals. Look for the half open glass door next to the sweet shop stall, approx. 4 stalls before you reach Fuyacho -dori, at 京都府京都市中京区東魚屋町198-1, 〒604-8055. NOTE: has irregular opening hours - call ahead. Open Tue-Wed 11:30am-3:00pm, Fri-Sun 11:30am-3:00pm, Fri-Sun 6:00pm-10:00pm.

Category: Vegan, Japanese, Beer/Wine

Reviews (34)

First Review by ahimsa333

Nice ambience! - Edit

The restaurant is beautiful. Very japanese and very relaxing. We ordered a set meal. Interesting flavours and textures :) Definitly a japanese experience and worth the price.

Pros: local food, reasonable priced

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Very nice vegan bar restaurant - Edit

We had a good dinner at Hale although it was a bit difficult to find the place!
The food is japanese style with very nice dishes, plates have sufficient size.
It is a bit expensive, but it is worthwhile.

Pros: Excellent food, Friendly, Nice room (japanese-style)

Cons: A bit expensive

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Nice food - Edit

Visited for lunch. Had nearly missed it as the restaurant is on the cramped Nishiki market and the name was not directly visible, although it is written on the glass door, as the door is kept open.
You enter the door and through a short passage to the restaurant at the back. Relatively small place and can accommodate ~15 persons at a time. Limited options.
1000JPY for rice bowl with a type of vegetable broth, 1250 for the same with additional vegetables, tsukemono etc., i.e., washoku set and 1950 for extra large set (Has an additional vegetable set).

Food was delicious. Quiet place. But lighting and ambiance could have been better. Slightly expensive compared to some other places for lunch, but still, good quality.

Pros: Good food, Location

Cons: Not cheap. Moderate

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Very expensive! - Edit

My partner and I found no trouble finding the place but we're not expecting to pay so much! The food was very healthy and not quite our cup of tea. At one put we were given just steamed vegetables including a whole half of onion with the skin as well, we understand vegetables are expensive but found this a bit strange. We were expecting it to be quite cheap but for the dinner set meal itself was 2500 yen, plus a table charge (500 yen per person) plus you needed to buy a drink (650 yen) as well as tax which quickly added to a large bill! Would not go back.

Pros: very healthy food, nicely presented and cosy atmos

Cons: Very expensive, a lot of extras added to the price

1 Response

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Delicious Macrobiotic Vegan Lunches - Edit

Hale is located in a shopping alley in Kyoto behind a narrow glass door that says "Hale". Peaceful, Japanese style, small, with lots of wooden interior and traditional feel. It's only 100% vegan during lunchtime... The owners/chef is a local, sweet lady, and the food is delicious. It's Japanese style with Yuba Tofu and lots of small plates - with various okazu. Menu was in both Japanese and English. I recommend it, and I will go back again. Please only go there is you are a respectful and considerate person. This is NOT a kind of a cafe where loud obnoxious behavior would be a ok ... only mellow respectful behavior.
Updated from previous review on Monday August 31, 2015

Pros: Unique, Delicious, Organic

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INCREDIBLE restaurant! - Edit

I went to Hale when I was in Kyoto November 2013. I still tell people about this restaurant.

It's relatively hard to find -- in the fish market behind an unmarked glass door -- but the food is wonderful and very creative. I ordered the chefs menu and sat at the bar. From here I could watch the one and only person in the kitchen put together the dishes. And WOW what delicious food! All the ingredients were super fresh, and although it was a bunch of courses I wasn't too full by the end. If I'm ever in Kyoto again, I will definitely come back.

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Pretty, traditional-ish restaurant - Edit

This spot is well-located, a bit old-fashioned, and tasty. Traditional-ish Japanese food so good if you're looking for that. I went a couple of months ago, but I know they're still open - I called yesterday.

Pros: pretty, good location, beautiful presentation

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Lovely well-prepared food, sweet cosy atmosphere - Edit

Absolutely amazing food, loved the quiet environment, it's a small place perhaps seating 12 max so book in advance. Located in Nishiki market. We went for dinner and had set meal, and drinks, it was one of the more expensive meals we had but well worth it. As usual in Japan, stunning attention to detail and umami tastes!
With all respect to the other reviewer I can see why perhaps this is not a family restaurant, the environment is quite reserved and careful.
Would certainly go again.

Pros: Delicious food, Charming and happy chef, Beautiful presentation

Cons: Slightly moody waitress!, Price on the high side

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Sublime lunch; returned for dinner-open in 10/13 - Edit

Location: between Tominokoji-dori & Fuyacho-dori in Nishiki Market, on the north side of the street. There's a restaurant sign on the wall above eye-level that's easy to miss among the distractions of the busy market. Look for the glass door with the red-lettered sign Hale, next to a sweet shop vendor.

Had our first lunch in Kyoto at Hale in 2013, returned for dinner then, and came back in 2014. The lunch set meal was exquisitely prepared and well worth the price for a variety of dishes: soft tofu , picked veggies, steamed veggies, rice bowl, miso soup. The restaurant is tranquil, wood walls and floor, overlooking a small garden, tucked behind the market stalls in Nishiki arcade in a Kyoto townhouse Machiya .

Costs: as other reviewers have written ,at night there is a table charge and a required drink purchase, so it's pricier at dinner. Some of the very same dishes were included in the dinner set, and other items were deep fried--not my favorite preparation, so I recommend having lunch at Hale i(cash only). There's a choice of two different sets, and lunch is a reasonable price.

Pros: Subtle flavors, Beautiful setting, Vegan

Cons: Table charge for dinner, Required drink purchase for dinner

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No meat, no dairy... and no kids. - Edit

I'm probably being a bit mean with my scoring as I didn't even get to taste the food. I turned up with my family for lunch and was turned away at the door. Apparently, they don't serve kids under ten.

They said they had "a lot of fragile things" and "a lot of glass." I said a lot of things that weren't fragile at all.

The fish sellers opposite had some great tofu and veg sushi, and a much better manner.

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Nice restaurant in a good location - Edit

The restaurant has a nice atmosphere and a neat location in the Nishiki market area. It can be difficult to find, especially if the door marked with the name is open. If you look up at the lighted signs that line the street, it is one of the few with English lettering.
The dinner options were not inexpensive, with a table charge, a one drink minimum and the set menu running around 2400 yen. The drinks were not cheap, but they were very good. Our food was fairly good. We enjoyed mushroom rice bowls and some steamed vegetables. Our favorite dish was the fried seitan which was drizzled with a delicious sauce. It was closed when we first attempted to go there on a Monday evening and we noticed that it is also closed on Thursdays.

Pros: Nice atmosphere, Good drinks

Cons: Difficult to find, Closed often

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Excellent lunch - Edit

We had lunch here recently and it was quite good. After taking off our shoes (love that!), we were given an English menu and led to one of only 2 shared tables. It seems the prices may have changed since the last reviews. The 2 sets available were 1200 and 1900 yen each. We chose the 1200 set and it was plenty of food. We received a big bowl of rice and mushrooms, tea, and some sides of tofu, pickled and non-pickled veggies. The food was simple and healthy, yet really tasty.

Pros: healthy, delicious, vegan

Cons: limited seating, a bit pricey

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Great inexpensive lunch, dinner not so much. - Edit

I had my first Kyoto meal in Hale. In fact, I had my first meal in Japan there and fell in love with Japanese cuisine. I had their lunch set meal and was wowed by the variety of tofu textures and tastes. The restaurant offered a number of small plates with interesting varieties of pickeled vegetables, mysterious pâtés, and little pieces of tofu and fu ( wheat gluten). My set came with a container of steamed vegetables and dipping sauce, as well as a delicious miso soup and equally delicious green tea. The dining area is intimate and overlooks a beautifully tranquil Japanese garden. The staff understood my vegan needs. I found the two people working that afternoon to be friendly and helpful. Follow the instructions provided by the Happy Cow web page for the restaurant, and you should have no problem finding it, although you have to look carefully for the door with the name in red lettering. I had lunch there twice during my trip, and it was always a pleasure. Be aware, however, that the price rises significantly for dinner, and as several reviewers have complained, there is a table charge as well as a mandatory drink charge. Lunch is relatively cheap, but the dinner adds up with the extra charges. I'd save my money for a really exquisite, special shojin ryori temple meal instead.

Pros: Tasty, authentic Japanese lunch sets., Inexpensive lunch., Beautiful garden.

Cons: Expensive dinner., Mandatory dinner drink., Table fee for dinner.

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Very tasty food - Edit

After our experience in the Cafe Matsounoko, we tried to find the restaurant Hale the next day

Importing the location from the website into Google Maps on my Smartphone did not work. So I searched for "Hale Restaurant Kyoto". We then landed at a completely wrong restaurant. There seems to another Hale-Restaurant serving almost only meat, so beware! Per accident we found it.
When you are on the Shijo Dori road, there is a small side road going in between "United Colors of Benetton" and a bookstore. After about 80m there is another even smaller side road (looking like a small market road) on the right side. Enter that small market-road and you will find Hale after 50m on the left side.

We met a little bit of a grumpy middle-aged lady with very basic English skills and a friendly young man (her son?) with decent English skills.

Broad selection of vegan menues. There is one menu based on fish soup which is clearly indicated. There is only one menu-card in English (hand-written), so if there are more foreign customers, you have to wait until you get your menu-card to even start looking for what you want to order.
The food itself is absolutely delicious and if you take the menu you will probably don't have any space for desert. We went for the menu and were not disappointed.
The downside was the mandatory drink you had to order beside the water you get and there was also a 250 Yen per person charge for service (already stated in some comments here, so we were prepared).

You are not able to pay with credit cards, only cash. We saw some customers leave and come again with cash :-)

We paid about 2'400 Yen per menu including the mandatory drink

Pros: Big portions, Delicous food, [Neutral] Overall ok-friendly staff

Cons: Mandatory drink you have to order, Very, very hard to find, Only one menu-card in English

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we found it ok.... - Edit

.....but unfortunately it was shut with no explanation given on the door. So, as well as the official closed days some sporadic closed days too, tonight veing wednesday. The good news is that cafe matsuontoko is only minutes away and ready, willing and more than able to come to the rescue!

Cons: irregular openinv times

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Difficult to find, but worth a try - Edit

As other reviewers say, it's hard to find the place. It has an access from the narrow street of Nishiki market. If you come from Kawaramachi street, it's on your right side. Keep looking at the sign board hanging above. I really enjoyed their yuba tofu rice bowl along with several side dishes.
The place is an old nagaya style house with a tiny court yard renovated into a cozy restaurant. I'm sure you can enjoy the old Kyoto architecture, too :)

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We couldn't find the mythical door... - Edit

After reading so many good reviews about 'Hale', we went searching for it, but failed to find the mythical door 9or any coridor) that people have described. The area is a very busy marketplace full of tiny shops, and it is hard to walk quickly through the crowds. I would not recommend trying to find this place if you are very hungry or pressed for time.

Cons: We couldn't find it anywhere!

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Difficult to find, but worth the hunt - Edit

I spent a good chunk of time trying to locate Hale, in between tons of fish mongers and other little stalls; I only found it when I looked at the picture "clark" posted. When I did find it, I was the only gaijin in the place (not surprising, since it only has three tables). The lunch was pretty delicious. I got the 1900 yen set, which consisted of a donburi of simmered mushrooms and tofu over brown rice, lots of pickled vegetables, and a steamer filled with veggies served with a few different dipping options (salt, white sesame sauce, and ponzu). After lunch, I had a soymilk tea.
The place was lovely and quiet, with a traditional bathroom and tiny little garden. I loved finding such a healthy veg-filled lunch. Highly recommended.

Pros: Delicious food, Lunch felt very healthy, Lovely, peaceful environment

Cons: Super difficult to find

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good choice in kyoto but with caveats - Edit

We ate here once on a recent trip to Kyoto. Like other reviewers, we had a difficult time finding the restaurant. It didn't help that they were closed for a catering event on one of the days we went so I would recommend calling ahead. Note: there is no storefront. Instead look for a black glass door with Hale written on it in red lettering that that will then take you through a hallway to the actual restaurant itself.

We had their dinner course set, which consisted of a hearty 4-5 courses. It was a lot of food, even by Western standards. We had a hard time finishing it all and we've had some pretty lavish multi-course meals in the past! However, the food itself was very good with a focus on healthy dining featuring organic and primarily local produce.

However, the negative things I can say about the restaurant are the 1) table charge and 2) mandatory drink order. The table charge wasn't too surprising as we had read about it on other reviews here. However, the mandatory drink order seemed unwarranted. I normally like to take my meals with water but was told that I had to order a drink. This was in addition to the cost of the dinner course. It wasn't the money that bothered me, however, but the fact that I had to order something that I didn't want. I ended up ordering some soy milk and gave it to my wife. At least it was fresh.

Updated from previous review on Sunday February 24, 2013

Updated from previous review on Sunday February 24, 2013

Pros: good food, fresh produce, healthy

Cons: mandatory drink order, table charge, hard to find

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Hiddem Vegan Gem is Right! - Edit

This place was difficult for us to find. We asked a woman at a candy store just on the corner of the street the restaurant turned out to be on, and she had no idea where the restaurant was. It wasn't until we asked the tea proprietor one store over (who has wonderful hojicha, by the way) until someone was able to point us to the restaurant, which is in a tiny alley.

Once we reached the restaurant, we heard what sounded like Shinto chanting. We were told that everything on the menu was vegan. Yay!

Only one of the lunch sets was available, so we ordered two of those. The lunch sets they normally have are priced at 1000, 1200, and 1900 yen. We ordered two of the 1900 yen sets. The only difference I gathered between the 1200 and 1900 yen sets was that the 1900 yen set had steamed vegetables. We weren't sure if steamed vegetables would be worth 700 yen, but we were curious. I'm glad we ordered them! There was a huge piece of carrot, potato, daikon, mushrooms, and some unidentifiable, pink and green vegetable. All were delicious, especially with the three sauces the sets came with. We were also presented with a hot pepper and yuzu (Japanese citrus) condiment that was really interesting and tasty.

FYI the bathroom was outside and it was a squatty potty.

They don't take credit cards.

Pros: ALL VEGAN, Delicious

Cons: Hard to find

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Superb Food & Setting - Edit

The food here was superb and the setting tranquil. A little too tranquil since we were the only customers on a Friday evening. Service was a little frosty, one dish was not vegetarian and the table charge (for an empty restaurant) seemed ridiculous. Otherwise recommended, if its open the day you go! Don't trust the listing, since it was closed on a Thursday when we first visited.

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Hidden Gem...! - Edit

Wow... this restaurant is fantastic...!
It's not the easiest to find & the front door doesn't even look like food is being served anywhere near by, but when you get passed the initial confusion, this place really sets the bar high.
The setting is classy, very traditional yet modern decor & furniture with a Zen garden behind glass just outside. When entering, you are asked to take you're shoes off at first in Japanese, but then in clear English, before being seated in the cosy dining area.
The menu is very well written, with a clear English version available on request. The selection is incredible & it's well worth looking over the beverages options for some quirky ideas...!
When the food finally came, it was served on time & extremely fresh. The flavours were outstanding with what felt like morning-grown vegetables & delicious sauce accompaniments to match.
From start (on entering) to finish, it's difficult to fault this restaurant for both food quality & value for money.
This is a "hidden gem" & well worth the effort trying to find...!

Pros: Delicious food, Excellent value for money, Great staff

Cons: Challenge to find, but worth the effort

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A hidden gem in Koyoto - Edit

We rang ahead to ensure this place was open and once arrived found the fod to be delicious and healthy,you are sitting virtually in the owners house so it is a very intimate setting but this does not feel strange.
We had the set meal which was 2400 yen and very worth the money will be going back again.

Pros: Friendly staff, Got to try new things, Well priced for Japan

Cons: May be hard to find

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Delicious and convenient - Edit

We enjoyed our meal here so much that we went back for a second dinner the night before leaving Kyoto. They offer a delicious vegan tasting menu as well as several great a la carte items like vegetable gyoza and fried tofu skin chips. They also have a delicious sake and beer selection. The location is great, right on the NIshiki market, with two small tables that seat six each, a view to a nice little garden, and a bar with the kitchen behind it. It seems to be run by a couple and they are both extremely nice and helpful. The food is great and it's easy to just nosh a bit or eat a huge meal and enjoy the high quality ingredients and preparation. I didn't have anything there that I didn't enjoy. Price was moderate, maybe a bit over 2000 per, including drinks.

Pros: location, quality ingredients, friendly

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Best Meal on My Recent Trip - Edit

This is the kind of real Japanese place where they have a lunch menu of two items: the lunch set and the special lunch set. I got the lunch set and it was special. Consisting of a rice bowl with a delicious mushroom and unidentified vege sauced topping with divine sides. The flavours were crisp and clear and worked together beautifully. The textures were fantastic. It was a divine meal that made me awesomely happy. If it hadn't been my last day I'd have gone back daily.

Pros: Excellent Food, Beautiful Setting

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outstanding - Edit

Feb 2012: This outstanding vege. traditional Japanese rest was a delight for eyes and palate.
Run by some young Japanese, the decor and limited seating was cozy and pleasing. I got the full meal special, and everything was great (and often unfamiliar). Not inexpensive, about $40 for the full meal, it was by no means unreasonably priced for good Japanese food. Note: it's tricky to find - the doorway is small, so watch for it.

Pros: food, service, decor

Cons: none

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Good food- when it's open! - Edit

Had a wonderful set lunch there last October (2009) after failed attempt at dinner a few days prior. Inexplicably closed that night (had native speaker with me who found no posted explanation).

Tried to have dinner again tonight (a Thursday). Again inexplicably closed.

Pros: Good food

Cons: Hard to find, Unreliable hours

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Expensive dinner - Edit

Dinner set costs 2,400 yen, plus a compulsory drink, plus 250 yen table service! The place is nice and the food tastes really good, but I wouldn't repeat the experience. Besides, taking photographs is forbidden.

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Erratic hours, dinner expensive - Edit

First of all, don't count on this place being open. I went by a few times when it should have been open and it wasn't.

I finally managed to have dinner. Note you have to order a drink, which sends the bill up by ~700 yen per person. Dinner was okay. Nothing spectacular and expensive for what it was.

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Amazing experience - Edit

This was the best food we had while we were in Japan. Its location is a bit "blink and you'll miss it", tucked away as it is in Nishiki Market, but once you find it, you won't forget it. It's quite small, but there is a large tatami area for a group of friends to sit and eat, plus a couple of tables at the back and a lunch bar. There's a small garden outside, which added to the atmosphere. We had very little Japanese and the staff had little English, but they were helpful and tried to explain all the dishes to us. We had one of the set menu lunches, which was three courses - a soup, a rice dish and a selection of pickles. It was great value for money, as the food was very filling. I would definitely recommend this place to people looking for tasty, filling vegan food.

Pros: excellent food, good value, friendly staff

Cons: hard to find, small cafe

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Simple, Good Food, Great Atmosphere - Edit

This place was a bit hard to find within all the chaos of Fushimi Market. Once you find the small door, it's down a hallway. The cafe is very small, with community tables. You sit on the floor, with cushions. There is a small zen garden to view. The staff speaks very limited English, but does have an English menu. I had the lunch set. The food is simple, Japanese style, served all at once on a tray, with tea for about 10-12 US dollars. Nice feel to the place, and very quiet considering the location.

Pros: Vegan, Healthy, Nice Space

Cons: Hard to find

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