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Matsuontoko Cafe

  • Vegan Vegan
    ( 84 reviews )
Contact 075-251-1876

538-6 Shijyo Agaru Shinkyougoku Nakanocho Nakagyoku, Kyoto, Japan, 604-8042

Vegan restaurant at 538-6 四条上る新京極通中之町中京区 serving burgers, pizza, pasta, salads, a few Japanese dishes, plus cocktails and drinks. Open Mon-Sun 12:00am-3:00pm, Mon-Sun 6:00pm-10:00pm, Mon-Sun 11:30pm-12:00am.

Category: Vegan, American, Pizza, Japanese, Organic, Fast food, Beer/Wine, Take-out

Reviews (84)

First Review by rabbits_nom

Disappointing - Edit

I ordered the vegan burger plate which comes with fries and salad. The best part was the bun and salad dressing. The fries are frozen not fresh cut and you can taste it. The burger came with just one slice of lettuce and tomato. The burger seemed homemade but tasted strange and I can tell what it's made from. Service was fine and location good but I ate at so many better vegan places in Kyoto

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great food, shame about the service - Edit

Went for dinner and had a lovely meal but once we finished and were hoping to order dessert we were completely ignored. We sat there for over 20 minutes being looked at by the staff but avoided. In the end we just stood up, paid and left. The quickest service we got was when they took our money.

It's such a shame as the food was so good. We had plans to come back to try as much of the menu as we could but now we're not sure we'll bother.

Pros: amazing food

Cons: service

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Been there 3x on our trip! - Edit

We love the food so much! Especially their burgers are so tasty. The food quality is amazing. Even a simple plate of curry rice deserves 2 thumbs up. We were staying in gion area and this is very near us. We will def come back on our next kyoto trip.

Pros: Reasonable prices , Excellent food quality

Cons: Nothing

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Not the best option in the area - Edit

Frozen fries, slow service, ok food but there's better in the area. Most of the food I would rate as ok, but I ordered the daily cake for dessert and it was incredibly incredibly dry - I love dessert but just couldn't finish it. My husband loved the dessert pancakes, though. I would highly recommend going to Mumokuteki instead (very close to here.)

Updated from previous review on 2016-10-09

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Great cafe - Edit

I have been going to this cafe for the past 3 years (since I started living in Japan). I have always loved how much flavor they put into their food, especially their vegan burgers. Out of all the vegan restaurants I have been to in Kyoto, this place has the most flavor.

I have tried most of their vegan burgers and they are all very tasty. Their burgers are made from various ingredients, not just soy depending on the burger. For example, the avocado burger is made from konjac, Asian yam. I am not particularly a fan of konjac, since I am not used to the taste but the avocados make up for the odd flavor. I like their teriyaki fried burger the best. It is made from soy protein (soy meat) and, like all their burgers, comes with french fries and salad. The french fries are the best I have had in Japan out of all the vegan cafes I have been to. They are probably the closest to American french fries. On their mini salad they use a Japanese sesame base dressing, which is very delicious.
The portion sizes were about medium size (for Americans, they are on the smaller end of medium). Personally for me, the size is big enough, but I can see how it might be too light of a meal for some.

Inside the cafe, the atmosphere is a little dark, almost seems like a pub. Compared to three years ago, the cafe has become more foreign friendly and the staff can speak a little bit of English (compared back to three years ago, the staff could not speak ANY English at all). Also, they have recently changed their menu and added more English.

There has been a recent change in staff, which is why service has been extremely slow, especially with the growing popularity of the cafe. Most of the staff working there now, aside from the owner, is new. With how busy they are and how little English they can speak, they probably come across as cold and abrupt.
Also, because of the popularity, you may have to wait a while before getting a table during lunch time on weekends. The cafe is pretty small.

Overall, this is one of my favorite vegan cafes in Kyoto. Despite the slow service and seemingly unfriendly staff, they make excellent food. I do not recommend this place to people who are on a tight schedule or looking for a quick bite but, if you have the time, I do recommend that everyone give this cafe a try.

Updated from previous review on 2016-09-27

Pros: Excellent burgers, completely vegan

Cons: Slow service, staff can come off as standoffish , little to no English skills

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Great food, great location - Edit

All the burgers are good (but could do with being slightly bigger), the fries are equal to the best I've ever had, the seitan cutlet was tasty but too small for the price. There was anime playing on a projector, a good atmosphere, friendly service, nice decor, tasty organic beer. They were out of vegan cheese, and onion rings, but that's ok because that happens with a high food turnover. But, I was I could have tried the pizza, it looks lush! If I lived in Kyoto, I'd probably come here way too often!

Pros: Food, Burgers

Cons: Slightly small portions with menu items

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amazing veggie burgers - Edit

I'll just start off by saying this was probably this best veggie burger I've ever had. It was super flavorful although it was a bit on the small side. I really liked the atmosphere in the restaurant but it did seem like the staff were kinda indifferent to the customers and service could be slow at times. Regardless I still definitely recommend checking out this place.

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Worst vegan meal in Japan - Edit

I hate rating vegan restaurants really low, but this dining experience sucked. The restaurant was stifling hot, the server didn't bring us water (muttered a sorry when I got up to get it after 15 minutes), which could have been forgiven if the food was decent. The food was straight up bad. My partner got the meat sauce pizza (¥980) which was unpleasant tasting, and I got the ¥1500 matsuontoko dinner set which was literally a tiny pile of lettuce, brown rice, 2 cold slices of sweet potato and an oil-flavoured stir fry that was mostly raw white onion. Also a tiny cup of green soup. That's it! Crazy. I went with that option because I figured if it was the restaurants namesake it had to be good.

We got chocolate donuts for dessert, they were super dry and crumbly and the ice cream was very grainy.

Definitely would not recommend and won't be returning.

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Meh - Edit

Really mediocre. Got the soy meat dinner set and the portion was honestly a joke for the price. 4 small balls of soy meat 3 little cubes of tempura sweet potato a tiny salad half a bowl of rice. And not that tasty either you can get the same order but better tasting and more filling a five min walk away at mumokutekei

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good food worth the money - Edit

The restaurant was half full and we had wait for our lunch about 10-15 minutes so that pretty fast ! Dinner set worth every penny full dinner for two with beer and coke for 2900 yen

Pros: good taste, excellent value

Cons: hot

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Not bad - Edit

I went to Cafe Matsuontoko once, I had a burger with fries and it was pretty good! Now, its a gem for a vegan, I give massive respect to any vegan place in this country, but I would say that if you could only visit one place in that area, I'd make it Mumokuteki. As for the service people are complaining about, I didn't really get that. I just gave a little "Sumimasen" in the waitresses direction. I had a question in english and she couldn't answer it so I had to get the main guy to answer it, he looked a little annoyed but I think it had more to do with the fact that he had to hire a waitress than didn't speak any English, haha!

Pros: Location, Vegan, of course!, Some english

Cons: Ambience

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Not your best option - Edit

I have visited this cafe twice now to have dinner (once alone and once with two family members), and both times I was not impressed. Let me list the good and the bad points below.

The good points of this place are that they seem to be aware of the distinction between vegetarian and vegan, so that vegans may venture to have dinner here as well. They serve vegetarian pub food, which is a nice touch, and they have an English menu for travelers who do not speak Japanese. The food tastes quite good too.

However, to my own mind the negatives far outweigh the positives. When I was at this restaurant there were three or four people in the restaurant, one waiting tables, one or two behind the bar (where no one was seated) and one in the kitchen. They all studiously avoided every gaze directed their way unless they accidentally caught my eye, then came over with great reluctance to take orders. The second time I visited a menu item was sold out, but we were not informed of this fact until we tried to order it, and were then treated to an irritated look and the waitress flounced away again before we could say anything.

Apart from this, the portions are not always adequate. I ordered the oven-grilled vegetables, which I believe were on the main dish list of the dinner menu, but what I received was the most miserable and tiny plate of vegetables ever seen - I wish I had taken a photograph of it as proof, but I was too bewildered at the time. It was not even enough for a side-dish, let alone a main dish, and I was still very hungry when I left, despite the fact that we also ordered some side-dishes with our meal (which were served before the actual meal instead of together with it). I have tried the avocado burger before as well, and my family members ventured the pasta of the day and the burger steak meal. These portions were all hardly adequate for dinner - perhaps they would be better for lunch.

All in all, I would only recommend this restaurant if you are vegan and in dire need for something safe to eat or a place that speaks English.The service is flat-out bad, the portions are tiny and you are unlikely to leave feeling satisfied.

Pros: Flavour is good, English menu

Cons: Bad service, Tiny portions

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Just OK, super slow service. - Edit

We had lunch at Cafe Matsuontoko on a Sunday in July because of the reviews and the location. The restaurant was about half full and the service was really, really slow. Our meal was just ok, but to be fair, we did not have the veggie burger which seems to be the house specialty! I would not go out of my way to eat here.

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great lunch menu - Edit

For 900-950 you get a main plus a drink (soft drink, hot or iced coffee, tea, etc.) which is a great deal. I had lunch twice, loved the burger but preferred the curry even more.

Pros: lunch menu , great coffee, central location

Cons: nothing.

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Tasty hamburger - Edit

Went here with my family, they are not vegetarian or vegan. The avocado burger was very good. The cheese pizza was not as good, to much sesame for our taste. English friendly!

Pros: avocado burger

Cons: cheese pizza with to much sesame

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Little Jewel in Kyoto - Edit

This place has is great because it is all vegan even though it is in the middle of a sea of restaurants in Gion. The price is great. It is open till late (10pm) unlike many other food places in the area. The location is also very convenient, and there are many yummy options - even vegan pizza with great vegan cheese, which is hard to find outside the US. The ingredients are fresh, and there are many options that have special Japanese ingredients. Love it!

Pros: taste, price, location

Cons: cash only, not much English spoken but English menu

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We went back three times! - Edit

This place is brilliant! We visited three times during our four-day visit to Kyoto. One of my omni friends I took told me "I'm going to have dreams about that burger". The smoked tofu is also AMAZING! There is a laid back atmosphere and they were even playing Japanese animated films on a projector. Cocktails are good too! I hope I can go back one day!

Pros: All menu items are vegan.

Cons: Service isn't overly friendly.

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My go-to place for greasy and delicious vegan food - Edit

The pizzas, burgers and pasta are all pretty great. My favorites are the misokatsu burger, teriyaki burger, and "cheese" pizza.
The pub atmosphere is cool and a nice change from many vegan places that are often too clean and earthy. You could bring non-vegan friends here and, unless you told them, they probably wouldn't realize the food was totally veg.
They usually have Miyazaki films playing on the projector when I'm there, which is a bonus.
The wait staff can be a little listless and distant at times, but that's never bothered me much.

Pros: delicious "cheat" food, cheesy pizzas, amazing burgers

Cons: wait staff sometimes seem tired or bored

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Nothing fancy - Edit

A little confusing to find but found it via using the free Wifi in the nearby arcade. I ordered the pasta set and by partner ordered the burger set. Both were OK. For dessert, I ordered the 'fancy cake' and my partner ordered the pan cake(s). The only criticism I have about that was my partner said that he wanted the fruit sauce with his pan cakes, while he got the fruit sauce, they still included chocolate ice cream. Sigh…

Pros: Non-smoking

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Delicious vegan burgers - Edit

Cafe Matsuontoko serves delicious vegan burgers, chips and donuts. We really loved the food and it was fun to have a veggie burger whilst in Kyoto.
The service was friendly and the portion sizes were good (not too big, not too small).
Finding the place was a little challenging for us without a data card or portable wifi... we walked most of the way from our hotel thinking we were on the right track, got a little lost, then caught a cab. We zigged when we should have zagged.
Definitely visit if you find yourself in Kyoto, Cafe Matsuontoko is a winner.

Pros: Delicious vegan burgers, Vegan fries with sauce

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Delicious Burgers! - Edit

We loved it here, we went twice while in Kyoto. The first evening they were playing The Secret Life of Arriety on a projector. The burgers are quite small but very tasty- we thought the teriyaki soy meat the best as well as the doughnuts for dessert.

Pros: Cool atmosphere , Nice staff, Great comfort food

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much better than I thought! - Edit

We went here about one and a half year ago and I didn't really like the food - I had a miso burger. Found out later on that I just don't like miso, so I gave the restaurant another shot and I'm glad I did because the teriyaki-burger is really good and every other day I feel a huge craving for the vegan "cheese"-pizza with mochi and goma-sauce - quite a special combination but it really tastes cheesy!

It's a bit dark inside but it gives the place a nice vibe.

It's quite popular so it's often full - make a reservation to make sure or try to be there several minutes before it opens.

Pros: located close to Kawaramachi station, vegan, Japanese-style cheesy pizza mmm

Cons: popular so often full, smallish portions

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Last minute resort, twice... - Edit

I went here twice during my stay in Tokyo, we had some issues with a lot of the vegan places being closed... It's perfectly located in the main shopping area, got a nice looking outside although the interior could have been nicer.. But overall clean!

First night the staff was sleeping on the bar desk and seemed everything but happy that we were there, second night however there was a different waiter and she was awesome! Both nights I got the avocado burger. The bread is good, the french fries are a bit to "fried" for my taste with not a lot of actual potato in them and the burger is salty and oily but good for being fast food. The prices are reasonable but I did not get full which is why I suggest, if you go, ORDER THE PANCAKES, they are so sweet and fluffy. They're amazing.

So overall, a good place if you're close to it but for a healthy option this is not your place. I would preferbly go here for lunch!

Pros: Amazing pancakes! , Good prices! , Great area

Cons: Dull interior, A bit fatty food, Small portions

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Quick and easy food - Edit

It is essentially a fast food vegan place. The food isn't the best quality but it's cheap and quick. There is a wide selection but it's mostly junk food. It's handy if you're in the area and there's nowhere else to go. The staff don't speak much English at all but there is an English menu available. If you go there expecting gourmet food you will be disappointed but if you're just looking for a quick cheap bite to eat this place is perfect.

Pros: Cheap, Quick, Easy to find

Cons: Average food quality

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Nice spot with decent food would return - Edit

Myself and a friend were first alittle reluctant to try this place after reading mixed reviews but after walking 30 minutes in the rain to another vegan restaurant that was closed we thought we would give it a go. The service isn't bad but not quite as welcoming as we have been used to whilst in Japan but overall did not impact on our dining experience.
We ordered the Tokyo style Katsu burger & avocado burger followed by the pancakes & deep fried Yatsu Hashi. Don't be fooled by the serving size of the burgers which are smaller than most would be used to (I am a fairly big eater and was at first concerned it wouldn't be enough) the salad dressing was delicious, the burger buns and contents was tasty and quite filling (Katsu burger could have used alittle more mock chicken) pancakes were good, Yatsu Hashi was super yummy! All together just over ¥3300 and we left feeling satisfied but not over full. Would love to go back and try some other menu items.

Pros: affordable , good variety , tasty

Cons: serving size may be alittle small for big appetite

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Disappointed - Edit

After reading other reviews here we were excited and apprehensive to try the burgers here. Somehow they burnt a chip at one end, whilst being soggy at the other. The burger was super salty and service wasn't that great. Moderately priced but not worth it... If you are in the area and are desperate for junk food vegan, go here.

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good alternative to rice and miso - Edit

Went her twice while in Kyoto as we got so sick of eating rice and miso and a burger and chips sounded amazing! It was good but not amazing. Definitely worth a try if in the area though. English menu but only one chef do can be s bit of a wait if busy

Pros: English menu, easy to find

Cons: not that healthy

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Junk food! - Edit

Great burger and fries, for me like real one haha. My non vegan friend was satisfied as well even for him not like real meat.- But joucy and tasty. I was very satisfied with food, it just tool bit longer as restaurant was full and everyone was ordering burger menu

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Can't recommend :( - Edit

You are really better off spending your money on pretty much any vegan option in Kyoto. Went there twice (second time just to see if the first time was just a bad moment) and, just can't recommend. I love supporting vegan places as a vegan, but the food seriously, seriously sucks. They need to hire better chefs and possibly improve the menu... I'm not a food snob, but Matsuontoko's food was just... no. Like I regretted every flavor/texture and how I felt afterwards. The Soup of the day came out cold (like very cold) from the fridge with wet plate edges because the plastic wrap was on it. I just couldn't believe they didn't even bother to warm it up. I returned it. But everything else was also below mediocre, salad was too greasy, tartar burger texture was like dried rubber... You're better off spending the same money on any other Kyoto vegan restaurant: Hale, Morpho, Padma, Vegans Cafe and Restaurant, Choice, - everything is a much better option than this.

Cons: lousy food, loud foreigner customers, just bad food...

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Plenty of choices - Edit

After reading several positive comments, I decided to pay a visit to Matsuontoko. Greetings at the door were less stellar than usual in Japan, even though there were few customers inside. They have an extensive menu with plenty of choices and relatively fair prices. I ordered the Kyoto Miso Katsu Burger with a side order of onion rings and a housemade ginger ale. The burger tasted well with a sweet miso taste standing out. The onion rings could have been a little more fried as the dough lacked crunchiness. The ginger ale, good in taste, but extremely sweet for my tastebuds. The price for the burger was 950 Yen and came with a salad and French fries. I am interested in going back to taste some other items on the menu.

Pros: Extensive menu, Interesting interior, Good & tasty food

Cons: Grumpy staff

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Average burgers, good desserts... - Edit

We came here for lunch one day while wandering around the Kawaramachi district. After being seated in the softly lit dining area with dark-stained, we lordered burgers from the menu, which were slightly more expensive than the burgers in the lunch set, but there was a greater selection and none of the drinks available interested us. Both burgers were disappointing, with not a lot in them. My vegan burger was unexciting and the patty in my companion's teriyaki burger was rubbery in texture. However, the prices were only ¥850 and ¥950 respectively. Dessert was delicious and we enjoyed the very nice brownie with vanilla ice cream and an extra scoop of quality vegan green tea ice cream. When we returned for dinner, I chose the pasta dish and this turned out to be fairly average with not much flavour. My companion's curry had a high proportion of strongly but not interestingly flavoured curry sauce with not enough vegetables. I ordered cake for dessert and while the chocolate ice cream that accompanied it was delicious, the cake itself was not particularly soft or moist.

Pros: Good deserts, Not overpriced, Nice environment

Cons: Mediocre burgers

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try it - Edit

what a cosy little restaurant. Was there a bit late so it was nice and quiet. I first ate the "avokado burger" served with fries and a sallad its small, and then took "chocolate icecream" (only one scoop) drank the organic orange juice (expected fresh made with bits but it was filtred). then started talk whit The neibourghs and tasted "the 10 thing sallad" and was so good, som pesto and thaini dressing and the hamburger that was diffrent patty than on the avocado burger and it was much nicer :)

Pros: vegan , cosy , shows a movie

Cons: do not talk that much english (or I just wanted a

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Worth a try - Edit

I had the avocado burger. The veggie patty was a little disappointing. Flavor was okay and the texture was not great. The patty seemed to not be bonded together well. The prices and serving portions for Japan were fair. I would recommend getting something other than the veggie burger. However, I ordered the green tea parfait, and it was absolutely delicious. I would recommend coming here for that reason alone. It was a little difficult to find the location. Also, there is not a lot of seating, but that wasn't a problem for me. I wish I could have come back to try a different dish. I would rather give 3.5 stars.

Pros: Hours, Dessert

Cons: Veggie Burger

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Decent for what it is. - Edit

For about seven bucks, you get a small salad, small thing of fries, and a small avocado veggie burger. Not bad for japan prices and definitely tasty if that's what you're in the mood for. Service not so great and not many options, especially for lunch.

Pros: reasonably priced veggie burgers

Cons: not many options

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Tasty food, slow & not super friendly service... - Edit

I rarely will write a negative review of a restaurant or of servers, but I think perhaps this restaurant could stand to make some changes. First of all, it has waaaay too many tables and seats for the tiny kitchen that it has, so we had to wait quite a long time to be served and to receive our food. After finishing our meal (which was delicious, but not super filling - I wanted to order more!) we had to wait to get the servers attention - they were both downstairs washing dishes and I had to go down to order dessert. We waited for 40 minutes and then ended up leaving without eating desert because it was our last day in the city and we needed to get somewhere on time. It was disappointing!!

I think that maybe the kitchen isn't properly equipped (no dishwasher? maybe the dishwasher was broken? not enough fryers to make fries for everyone at lunch rush) and maybe this reflects in the attitude of the servers, who seemed genuinely uninterested in our presence. Or maybe they didn't have enough staff on hand? Whatever the case, I'll give 3 stars because the food that we did receive was delicious, but I wouldn't visit again.

Pros: ample vegan menu, delicious food

Cons: poor service, slow, cramped and loud

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Delicious vegan burgers - Edit

I have been here a couple of times and will be back again I am sure!

The burgers are yummy and come with chips and a side salad. I don't agree with other reviews that the portions are small - I found it to be an average-sized meal and did not feel hungry afterwards. The meal is enough to fill you but still leave room for dessert, which is lucky as their brownies are absolutely delicious and highly recommended!

The restaurant is dimly-lit and has a pub-like feel. There is a large projector screen that was showing a Studio Ghibli film the last time I went, which was quite cool.

It's in a side street off a shopping street parallel to Teramachi street. If you can't find it, WeGo (opposite) or Super Hotel (down the road) might be good reference points.

Check this out if you are vegan in Kyoto.

Pros: All food is vegan, Burgers and brownies are yummy

Cons: Not the easiest to find

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Most unusual vegan burger and ice-cream! - Edit

I loved the vegan burgers here. I had the Kyoto Miso Katsu burger and the flavours are very unique. The burgers are quite tiny but are filling and leave space for the Japanese parfait that should not be missed, especially if you are a green tea and matcha fan. It loses a star for the extremely harsh lighting that really needs toning down and the fact that the same song was played repeatedly during both visits on separate days. Despite this don't hesitate to visit this cafe if you find yourself in Ginza, unlike many vegan places in Japan it has long opening hours.
Updated from previous review on Sunday June 14, 2015

Pros: Food

Cons: Lighting and music

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Trendy & Tasty - Edit

This place makes some really nice burgers for a reasonable price (850-980¥). The menu has the names of dishes in English, which is very helpful. Some of the staff members know more English than others, but the music was so loud that my fiancé and I had trouble hearing anything our waiter said! There were a few Japanese people eating there during dinner, but this is definitely a tourist restaurant.

Pros: Delicious burgers, Names of dishes translated into English

Cons: A little difficult to find, Too many tourists

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Best Vegan Burgers - Edit

We tried to come yesterday but they were unexpectedly closed as it was two days after a public holiday.
In any case, the food is delicious. We both got the lunch burger set which included a salad and fries for 980¥.

Pros: Delicious food, Nice music, Reasonable price

Cons: Limited English

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Went for lunch...returned for dinner! - Edit

What a great find in Kyoto, a must for vegans and anyone wanting delicious food, including deserts! We stopped by for a lunch set and were so impressed we returned for dinner after a few hours of shopping!

Pros: Totally vegan menu , Delicious, Reasonably priced

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Amazing pizza, burgers and cake!! - Edit

Super surprised to come across this in Kyoto! Very good burgers, vegan cheese was amazing, we ordered almost seconds of everything. Funky little pub environment. Slightly sleepy staff, no hurry, just nice and relaxed.
Located in a fun little shopping area, look out for the second hand vintage and hat shops! Price perhaps slightly on high side, but I imagine sourcing the ingredients slightly more expensive for them so it is understandable.
Would definitely come again and support their business. Try the desserts :)

Pros: Excellent Western Food, Tasty desserts, Easy to find

Cons: Slightly sleepy staff

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The best burgers I have ever eaten - Edit

I am not a vegan, I like meat, but this restaurant seriously made me consider joining my friends on the green road. The restaurant feels like a large dining room in a small house, very cozy but not cramped. Everything on the menu is vegan and good value. If your japanese isn't great all you need is a phrase book for the hiragana and katakana its very simply written and many of the staff have enough English to help. I didn't eat meat in Kyoto once and I'm actually happy about it!

Pros: All vegan, large selection of desserts including cakes, panca, large portions

Cons: There is a lunchtime menu and dinner menu so you m

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+/- - Edit

Tucked away in a busy district but still pretty easy to find. There were plenty of options, I was even a bit overwhelmed on making a decision!
The mochi pizza, vegan pancakes and grain salad were pretty good but for something simple as baked vegetables, they really disappointing due to the small portion in comparison to the price.
Unfortantely the staff weren't very friendly and barely bothered to even smile. We didn't want to really go back because of the vibe but no other vegan restaurants were open between christmas and the new year period.

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Excellent vegan burgers - Edit

We were tipped off to this place by a friend. My girlfriend was craving a burger, and this place didn't disappoint.

The meals weren't huge, but were very reasonably priced and quite satisfying. I had an avocado burger plate, my girlfriend had a teriyaki soy-meat burger, and we shared a vegan cake for dinner.

The place has a very comfortable atmosphere, and while we had to share a table, it didn't bother us at all.

We will definitely return to this place.

Pros: Delicious food, Reasonably priced, English menu

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Cruelty-free pub food - Edit

We were staying nearby so this become our go-to for dinner. Burgers, fries and salad are all tasty. Good sized portions. Pizza is plentiful and sauce and "cheese" tangy and delicious. Surprisingly great is the smoked tofu and olives appetizer-- we were a little suspicious when a plate of canned olives and saltine crackers appeared, but the smoked tofu was creamy and smoky and actually really delicious with the olives and crackers. Staff is not super-helpful and food differs quite a lot with the different chefs.

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Great Burgers and Soups - Edit

I keep going back because the food is very good and affordable, and because they're open until late. Good list of vegan burgers, all come with salad and potatoes. They make their own ginger ale, overall the flavors are bold and the service is friendly and efficient (some of the staff speaks English). Menu is quite extensive for a pub this size, it includes various salads, a couple of mains and sides and always a different kind of soup.
The menu is English

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Nice burger set meal - Edit

Nice burger meals but for those who do not take garlic or onion, the choices are limited. Many dishes contain garlic and onion and they are not able to exclude them for non-eaters.

Pros: nice burger meal

Cons: lighting is dim

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Great Burgers! - Edit

A small pub-like cafe with an urban vibe. My friend and I ordered two different types of tofu burgers and split them, both were really good! The tofu had a great texture and some great flavours, I would definitely go again to try other things on the menu.
Updated from previous review on Wednesday November 27, 2013

Pros: Nice vibe, Good sized portions, Decent price

Cons: Drinks a bit expensive

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Two poor experiences, wouldn't return - Edit

We dined here twice (or tried to at least). The first time we weren't thrilled by the food - tasted a lot of grease, the pizza was average and there seemed to be a bit of a sameness to the burgers. The burger buns were good and the bar was good too. The staff were surly and the atmosphere wasn't friendly. Vegan/vegetarian options can be lacking in Japan of course, but there are much better places in Kyoto food-wise.

A couple of days later we were in the area with a friend who wanted western food so we decided to eat there again despite the previous experience. We opened the door, waited to be seated at the nearly empty restaurant (in the early afternoon, at a time when they claimed to be serving lunch and around the same time we had been there before). The waitress's mouth dropped and she looked in horror at our friend (who cannot walk so needs to be in a wheelchair. It's tiny, fit through the door just fine and hadn't caused problems anywhere else in Japan), spoke quickly with another staff member and then practically ran to us, nearly pushing us out the door while saying "No space, full." and staring at my friend in horror the whole time. Wow. Whether there was a problem which would have affected us but not the already seated customers, they were closing early or what I don't know, but we were left feeling very uncomfortable. There looked to be plenty of space in there from the quick look we got. Next time I'm in Kyoto I'll be giving it a wide berth.
Updated from previous review on Tuesday October 07, 2014

Pros: Vegan in a place where options are few, Good burger buns, Good bar

Cons: Atmosphere unwelcoming, Greasy food

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delicious veggie burgers!!! - Edit

Kyoto is our vegetarian restaurant mecca in Japan and Cafe Matsuontoko is on our list os stops while there. This time, we stopped and met a friend for dinner. It has a cool, pub feel to it. We didn't find it too difficult to find, but I can't remember what it was like the first time we went. Both my husband and I got veggie burgers. I chose the avocado and he the teryiaki. They are a little on the small side, but SO delicious!!!! That with a beer and fries and I was just right. We hadn't found great veggie burgers in Japan until we visited this restaurant. We'll be going back on our next trip. :D

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Lukewarm feelings - Edit

We, like others, found it hard to locate this place... it's sort of in the mall but sort of not - in a side street, a few doors from the main thoroughfare.

Once we found it we were starving and looking forward to a good veggie burger. It was ok, but nothing extraordinary and with the fries and lack of anything resembling real food it felt just a tad too junky for us. We came away feeling as though we hadn't really eaten - not hungry, but not nourished either.

Service wasn't very warm or friendly and the vibe wasn't really our cup of tea either - dark but not moody, rather a bit stale and stuffy - like an old house that's been left to sit for decades.

What we did like was that local kids seemed to be coming in to eat there. Good to see presumably non-vegans enjoying vegan fare.. even if it's not the healthy stuff, I guess it's a good start.

Pros: bustling youth oriented location

Cons: dark and stuffy, pretty unhealthy - not nutritious

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Great meal, difficult to find - Edit

To HappyCow readers: this restaurant is inside the mall (across from a WeGo store in the alley). We had some shop owners help us sort of find it and then used the mall WiFi to have Google Maps pinpoint it, but if you ask for the WeGo store, I think it'll be easier.

The food is terrific and the prices are very reasonable. We had the burgers and chocolate brownie dessert and everything was great.

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Not bad, not great - Edit

I went here for lunch one day on my last trip to Kyoto. It is located in a cool area with other restaurants and little shops--right off of Teramachi-dori. I used my phone GPS to help locate.

I had the burger set lunch which was a burger with french fries and a side salad. The burger was good, I did enjoy the texture and taste. The fries were also good and the salad was average. Overall I did enjoy it and would go back.

The place is a bit small and dimly-lit inside. One thing I didn't like was that there was hardly any ventilation, so the whole restaurant room smelled strongly of fried food--the kind that stays in your clothes after you exit the place. Not that big of a deal.

Visited Jan 2014

Pros: Good location off Teramachi dori

Cons: Strong cooking smell in dining room, Aloof and rather disinterested waitstaff

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decent, but could've been better - Edit

The fries and ketchup were great, so was the salad. As for the burger itself, it was kind of small. The patty was also strange- it was rice with black bean (or so it seemed), and the consistency was soft yet slightly textured. We also ordered the vegan meat sauce pizza. I think they put vegan mayonnaise on that, and that was just weird. Overall the meal was decent but thumbs DOWN on the vegan meat sauce pizza. I just finished it in order to not waste food. Also, the service was ok.

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Great meal - Edit

It did require Google Maps to get here, but at once I was charmed by the old-world setting. The antique clock, cozy lights and laidback atmosphere was very inviting.
And it was a relief to walk into a restaurant and not become paranoid trying to figure out if the food had meat/fish.

I had the soy meat teriyaki burger which, though slightly chewy, was great.
And the soy milk icecream to top it off was a delight.

I'd definitely recommend this place to anyone looking for a good vegetarian meal in downtown Kyoto.

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A taste of home! - Edit

My husband and I were very happy to find this place in Kyoto, it was like a taste of home! With burgers, fries, pasta, and pizza, this place was like a cafe you would find in New York or San Francisco with little Japanese twists. For example, the pizza had a tasty sesame dressing drizzled on it and I loved the dessert options like green tea ice cream and pancakes.

It's also in a nice shopping area and close to Gion if you're around there. Overall, if you're looking for a taste of American food in Kyoto--this is the place!

Pros: American food (burgers, pizza, etc), Nice atmostphere, Good area

Cons: Slow service, Not very many seats

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Very nice restaurant - Edit

We were there about a month ago. It was located right beside Shinkyogoku. We ordered burgers and drink. The food was yummy!! The environment was laid-back. And the staff was very friendly and nice. But the restaurant didn't provide the changing board to change diapers. I guess I'm just too spoiled with the convenience here. Anyway, it's still a very nice restaurant to go!!

Pros: Staff was friendly and nice, Laid-back enviroment, Yummy food

Cons: No Diaper Changing Board

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Good americanized food - Edit

For veggie burgers and fries, this was a great place. They were able to make something that my 4 year old would eat (pasta with vegan parmesan), which is always a plus. Good fries. Liked that it was totally vegan and I didn't have to worry about fish.

Pros: Vegan!!, Great for upscale burger and fries, Location

Cons: Menu is a little boring

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I agree with the comments before - Edit

I already went to this place a few times. The staff are friendly, the food is nice, but it's really expensive for a small plate. I mean. If you got already used to eat japanese size of dishes, it might be fine. You'll get hungry after 4-5 hours again, but it's not enough, if you are used to eat western sized meals.
I like the ambiance of the places, but in my opinion the place is a bit too dark.

Pros: nice burgers

Cons: expensive, small sized meals

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So-so - Edit

I was really looking forward to eating here, but after eating at a bunch of excellent vegan restaurants in Kyoto, I wasn't really impressed.

I ate here twice. First, I got the burger set and while the sauce was tasty, the burger itself was quite dry. Afterwards I got the brownie and ice cream set, which was good and fudgy, but again, very very dry. Luckily it came with amazing whipped cream which really helped.

I decided to come back again and order different things. This time I got the pizza, which frankly wasn't good at all. The crust was thinner than any I've ever seen - it was nearly a cracker. The sauce was good, but I paid an extra 500 yen to get the cheese pizza instead of just sauce pizza, and the cheese was disappointing. It was great TASTING, but it wasn't completely melted at all - there were large, thumb-sized half-melted blocks all over the pizza. Half the cheese was melted and half was still in a gooey block-form, so that I was occasionally getting huge sticky mouthfuls of vegan cheese. I would have asked it to be cooked more if I hadn't been in a rush.

That said, I would recommend everyone go here for the Fried Yatsuhashi with Ice Cream. Yatsuhashi is a popular Kyoto sweet filled with anko, and they did a great job frying it. It tasted like a funnel cake with ice cream.

So, it's worth checking out if you're hungry and in the area, but I definitely wouldn't go out of your way to eat here for lunch/dinner. But definitely stop by for the Yatsuhashi dessert!
Updated from previous review on Sunday December 01, 2013

Pros: Good location, Friendly Staff, Excellent sauces

Cons: Dry food (burger, brownie), Unmelted cheese (on pizzas), Too-thin crust (on pizzas)

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Was ok - Edit

Based on the reviews on happycow I went with my vegetarian girlfriend to this place. Only the name of the menus were in English and often not self-explanatory. The English skills of the very friendly stuff were not sufficient to start a conversation about the ingredients.

The food was ok and arrived very quickly, the portions not that big so we had plenty of room for desert. I had a vegan burger and Fried Yatsu Hashi with ice cream while my girlfriend had the vegan curry and Japanese Parfait.

Overall it was a worth a visit, but during our 5 days in Kyoto we never went there again since there were more places to check out.

Pros: Friendly Staff, Quick food delivery, Central location

Cons: Small portions, Menu names not self-explanatory, English skills of the staff

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A Cozy Vegan Retreat - Edit

The moment I walked in the door, I was thoroughly impressed. The atmosphere was quaint, and the decor rustic and cozy. The menu was actually more extensive than the menu online, which was a nice surprise. I ended up ordering the vegan cheese pizza, house-made ginger ale, and two doughnuts. My first real vegan meal in Japan! (Seriously, living off rice, tofu, fruits, and veggies is really hard for someone who loves junk food.) The pizza had a nice, subtle taste, and was just the right amount of food. The doughnuts were great too. I would recommend the earl grey flavor over the green tea one. It literally melts in your mouth. My favorite though was probably the ginger ale. It had bite to it, yet was still refreshing.

What's also great about this place is that everything is vegan, down to the soap in the bathroom. It was such a nice surprise!

As a plus, my non-vegan friends that came with me ended up raving about this place after their meals, saying that the burgers tasted just like real burgers. It made me happy to know that this place can change people's perceptions about what vegan food is really like.

The only downside was that you had to call the waitstaff over when you wanted to order or get the check, since our waitress was very absorbed in fiddling with her smartphone.

But otherwise, it was a great, first-vegan-restaurant-in-Japan experience.

I would definitely recommend it to vegans and non-vegans alike!

Pros: Delicious Food, Extensive Menu, Cozy Atmosphere

Cons: Non-attentive Staff, A Bit Pricey

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wide range of tasty vegan choices - Edit

The menu is in English and us all vegan. Staff speak English too and are friendly. There's a delicious range if choices. The portions might look small when they arrive but we both felt very full. Nice ambiance and in an interesting area. I would definitely return.

Pros: all vegan, wide range, friendly

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Vegan Pub with So-so food - Edit

This place is more a pub than a restaurant, with the bar being the dominant feature of the dining area and louder background music than most restaurants (though certainly not uncomfortably so - conversation was still easy). According to the staff and the menu the food is all vegan (to clarify from the review below - perhaps it has recently gone all vegan?). While it's great to have a vegan establishment in such a prime neighbourhood, I found the food to be not as good as other vegan restaurants in Kyoto, perhaps like the difference between a pub and restaurant anywhere else. The "cheese" pizza was very thin, and (besides the cheese) had few vegetable and lots of mochi, which sounds good but they were really just chewy and tasteless, and the fresh salad over it may have been healthy but I didn't think it really 'worked'. The burger was better, and the home-made ginger ale was quite refreshing. It's location is excellent, so close to Gion, so I would definitely recommend visiting for dinner while exploring Gion in the evening, but just don't expect it to be your best meal out in Kyoto.

Pros: great location close to Gion, perhaps recently become all vegan?

Cons: so-so food

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Good burgers - Edit

We stopped in at lunchtime for a couple of burgers which we really enjoyed (try the teriyaki burger). Would have gone back again if we'd been in the area longer.
Maybe not the cheapest or biggest servings but the food was delicious, location is convenient and a vegan restaurant in Japan is a rare find!

Pros: Good food, Good location, Vegan

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Nice place, but sometimes small size portions - Edit

If you walk into the Shinkyogoku arcade (the name is on the roof of the Arcade) it is the 3rd on your right (if you come from Shijo) and you will see the restaurant.

We had both lunch en dinner during our last stay in Kyoto.
Lunch was very good, I had a daily special, with a rice dish, soup, salad, tofu and vegetables, and my husband had a burger set.

A couple of days later, we came back to have dinner. My dish (fried wheaten cutlet) was OK and yummie, but my husband, who had the Kyoto vegetable burger set, thought the portion size was really too small. They do have some side dishes on the menu, so when choosing a burger set for dinner, it is advisable to also choose some side dishes.

During dinner time, there was a large screen which played a cartoon film, which was a bit strange.

But the restaurant is easy to find, the staff is nice and speaks some English and also the menu is in English and completely vegetarian, so I would recommend this restaurant.

Pros: Vegetarian, Easy to find, English menu

Cons: Small portions

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A welcome addition to Kyoto's veggie eateries - Edit

We ate at Cafe Matsuontoko on a Sunday at lunch time. It's a small place, so it was busy, with an interesting mix of people. There are a couple of vegan options, everything else is veggie. I had the avocado burger, my husband the Kyoto tofu burger. The accompanying salad was out of this world. If only we'd found it before our last day in Kyoto, we'd have eaten there more than once!

Pros: Tasty food, Good range of drinks, Friendly helpful staff

Cons: Small

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Delicious!!! - Edit

Have been here atleast 6 times now it is divine!! try everthing :) nb. Burgers can be ordered for takeaway.

Pros: Delicious, Great service, English names on menu

Cons: not big for a large group, can get busy, no full translation of menu items

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Good food, but no English! - Edit

Hidden in an alley way off the shopping arcade (its the fourth alley on the right as you come north up the arcade). This place did fine posh vegan food but the menu was 98% in Japanese and the most the waiter could manage was to confirm that everything was vegan. So we just ordered two meals without knowing what we would get! They were good typically Japanese restaurant small size portions and relatively expensive but tasty!

Pros: Tasty, Central

Cons: No English spoken, No English menu, Tricky to find

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worth the search - Edit

We had a little trouble finding this cafe as our hostel had given us a map which had it marked on the wrong street! once we found it though it was so worth it! The menu was quite varied and it took us a while to decide.
I went for a bowl of Ramen, it was delicious! Quite creamy with a nutty flavor and plenty of veg too! It came as a set with a bowl of yummy brown rice and pickles as well.
My boyfriend went for the burger set, this came with quite a lot! The burger itself was delicious and it also came with a taster plate of side dishes! the set also included a frozen soya ice cream which I made him share! So nice!
Well worth the 2500 yen we payed, there were cheaper options available too. We were very full, which in Japan is unusual due to their small portion sizes! Try it!

Pros: variety, healthy, portion

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Best vegan karaage in town? - Edit

Nice place in a cool part of town, right opposite to clothing store "Wego" in case you need to ask for directions. There are a couple of different vegan burgers, a random one of which is included in the burger lunch set (900) that includes fries, a small salad and a drink. Lunch lasts until five after which you have a greater selection of food. The soymeat karaage (500) is just heavenly.
In addition to parfaits and such, you can get two small pancakes (800) with chocolate sauce, whipped soy cream and two chunks of ice cream.
There are lots of great vegan eateries in the area but if you get tired of Asian food this one is highly recommended!

Pros: Great prices, Fast

Cons: Few choices before 5pm

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Lovely Surroundings, Good Food - Edit

My friend and I went to this cafe for lunch and got the vegan croquette set. The cafe is lovely utilising the raw architecture of the space. I also loved the giraffe bonsai in the toilet. The lunch was good. The croquettes very crunchy and the flavours fresh and sharp. The onion soup that came with it was especially delicious. It seemed very crowded and popular. We got the last table and the burgers we saw looked yum. Also they had an extensive dessert menu for those with a sweet tooth. But we were too full from lunch to eat any.

Pros: Atmosphere, Flavours, Freshness

Cons: Maybe busy

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Yummy gobo burgers - Edit

Located just off of the Shinkyogoku shopping arcade, this is a hip cafe for vegetarian burgers and pizzas. We ended up ordering the evening's special set meal, a gobo (burdock root) burger, fries, salad, and homemade ginger ale. The gobo burger was quite tasty, and the salad was nice to get in a city with few salad options. There isn't an English menu, though the staff tried to be helpful in translating menu items and we tried to use our limited Japanese. The set was about 1200-1500 yen.

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