CLOSED: Obanzai

  • Veg-options Veg-options
    ( 12 reviews )



Oike-Dori (at /near Karasuma Oike), Kyoto, Japan

Serves meat, vegan options available. Japanese name おばんざい, address 京都府京都市中京区衣柵通御池上ル下妙覚寺199 イチイビル1F. The only meat is fish stock, which you could ask to use without. Mostly European and Japanese style vegetarian and vegan food all-you-can-eat buffet for around 2000+ yen and includes tea but not desserts. Directions: Take a taxi. Or take subway to Karasuma-Oike, walk west on Oike Dori, turn north (right) into 3rd alley called Koromonnotana Dori. If you get to the AM/PM you have gone too far. You should see a French bakery on the left hand side after 100 meters. There is kind of a patio space. Obanzi is on the right side (east) before you intersect another alley. It has a wooden sign board and 2 pop machines outside, but is easy to miss so look for it. LAST DAY MARCH 31, 2014 - then building to be demolished per Cow ambassador report. Open Mon-Sun 11:00am-2:00pm, Mon-Sun 5:00pm-8:30pm.

Category: Vegan-friendly, Japanese, Organic, Buffet, European, Non-veg

Reviews (12)

First Review by feorag

Excellent - Edit

Very very important when looking for this restaurant: both Apple Maps and Happy Cow list it in a totally wrong place. The full address is 京都府京都市中京区衣柵通御池上ル下妙覚寺199 イチイビル1F. Google Maps is your best bet for finding it. Copy and paste the full address that I just wrote into Google Maps, and it will put a marker on the right spot. The building will say "ICHII BLDG" on the side in roman letters. The street name is Koromonotana Dori, just a block north of Oike Dori. There is an 'area map' on Koromonotana Dori and the corner of Oike Dori, on the same block (and the same side as the restaurant). If you find the map, start walking north and the restaurant will be on your right hand side.

I went to Obanzai with some US friends (all vegeterian). The restaurant is still very much open, at least as of December 2013. Its names is only written in hiragana, so if you don't know how to read Japanese you'll want to write down the name and do a little pattern matching (おばんざい).

The vegeterian food here is delicious! They have fried wheat gluten, many types of tofu (Kyoto is famous for its tofu, and Obanzai is no exception), and all the things you would expect to come with a kaiseki meal: pickled vegetables, seaweed, miso soup, rice. They also have yummy cookies and soy milk-matcha tea lattes.

The restaurant operators speak enough English to get by if your Japanese is not good. They'll tell you what has fish if you say you're vegetarian. I have been there twice and there has only ever been one fish dish out: pickled herring, so it is quite obvious and easy to avoid.

Buffet dinner is 2100 Yen/person. Service is pretty limited: they'll tell you to sit anywhere you like when you come in, and leave on your own to chow down. If you want extra drinks (tea and water are free) or special food, go to the counter to order them.

Updated from previous review on Monday December 02, 2013

Pros: Great food, Lots of food (all you can eat), Friendly and generous owners

Cons: Tricky for those that don't know Japanes, A bit pricey

1 Response
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webmaster 03 Dec 2013 - Hi ReidMeFirst,
I've updated the map to match the location based on Japanese. If it's still incorrect please let us know. Thanks!  

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Still open - and great! - Edit

I have registered to let you all know that this restaurant is still there!

It's fabulous - it is a buffet and they include one fish dish but the owner is very friendly and talks you through what each dish is. This was our first meal in Japan and we loved it so much we went back the next day. There were also a number of hot dishes.

You need to walk further down the street than you think, but it's definitely worth it.

Pros: Authentic Japanese, Welcoming and helpful staff, Food is delicous!

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Missing! - Edit

This restaurant is not to be found in the given location. Another restaurant is there though, and they had never heard of the place.

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Nice place, but only cold buffet - Edit

The food was good, lots of salads, traditional japanese ingredients, some soy meat options, rice. But there was one dish with fish (let them tell you what includes 'sakana').
Unfortunately the buffet featured only cold dishes and nothing really warm (apart from the fish soup!). :( And for a cold buffet I thought that 2100 Yen was a little much.
Also: the soy chai latte was not traditional chai. It had a lot of lemongrass in it and tasted a little "unexpected". ;)
But if you're good with a cold buffet (except for the rice apparently) then it's a good place, if you can spend a bit more.

P.S.: None of the cookies were vegan, unfortunately. :(

Pros: Good taste, All you can eat, Nice staff

Cons: Only cold buffet (as I was there), No vegan cookies, A little expensive

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Delicious and Cheap Lunch - Edit

Who can resist all you can eat? Yummy salads and great potato croquettes. When we asked they clearly let us know what was vegan. Also we went back for seconds of the croquettes. So good!! All options were vegetarian for lunch.

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Excellent veggie buffet - Edit

This buffet was full of vegetably goodness! When we were there, there was one fish dish; the rest of the items (probably 2 dozen) were vegetarian. Note that there are both brown and white rice, both at the end of the buffet. Food was quite good overall- our favorites were the kabocha squash dishes, seaweed salad, and mushroom dishes- but there really was a huge variety to choose from. A bit pricey at about 2500 yen per person, though it certainly seemed reasonable given the high vegetable prices in the city.

Pros: huge variety, tasty

Cons: a bit pricey

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Large and tasty buffet selection in Obanzai - Edit

I visited Obanzai on July 2010 and all of the lunch buffet was vegetarian then, but if remember right, it was not all vegan, because I think the owner showed me which are vegan. Are you other sure that there is sometimes meat? This time there were many fake meats. And what a selection! And all japanese style foods. The lunch buffet was only 1050 yen.

Pros: large selection, mock meats, japanese vegetarian

Cons: closed between lunch and dinner, not too easy to find

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The best daily place for a vegan in Kyoto ! - Edit

1) vraiment pas cher
2) varié et different tous les jours
3) tranquille, sympa !!
4) super bon !!
Inspiré de la cuisine de temple, les ingredients sont top niveau ! On mange autant qu'on veut, les misos sont délicieuses, il y a au moins 4 marmites chaudes de légumes, plein de side-dishes (a -c'té). Vraiment bien et on ne se lasse pas d'y aller d'un jour a  l'autre. Le bémol : c'est pas ouvert tout le temps, en particulier le soir, c'est plut't un restaurant de déjeuner dans un quartier central ou les gens travaillent.

Pros: Cheap !, excellent quality and truly organic, various considering it's only vegan

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I loved this place! - Edit

Everything about Obanzai is great, from the entrance way with its curtains, to the friendly staff, even friendlier clientele and amazing value buffet. Nobody was on the till when we arrived, so another customer called for someone to serve us. We paid, and then the feasting began! An amazing choice of vegetarian dishes, of which we sampled as many as we could fit onto the plate. The tea was good, and when we took our plates back to the counter, the staff were friendly, asking if we had enjoyed the food and smiling when we tried our Japanese out on them. We got a big sayonara as we left, as well. It seems to be a place that people from the local area go to (it's located in a residential area), and I can see why. I'd definitely go back there again.

Pros: excellent food, friendly staff, happy customers

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Great buffet - Edit

The buffet has a large selection of food. Everything tasted good. I left absolutely stuffed. The lunch buffet is cheaper and a better deal than the dinner buffet. But it is still a good choice for dinner, especially if you are staying nearby.
***I wanted to give it 5 cows, but the system will only let me give it 4 because they serve some meat dishes. But, in my opinion, it is deserves 5 for the large selection of veggie food.

Pros: large selection, delicious food

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Huge variety of yummy dishes - Edit

We told the friendly proprietor that we were vegan and he went over every dish in the buffet with us to point out which ones were vegan (about 80%) and which contained fish or fish sauce. There were many, many wonderful options (at least a dozen) including salads, stir-fries, fried items like potato puffs and gluten chunks (my favorite!), hot and cold tofu dishes, soups (including a really tasty soy cream of potato soup), and fruit desserts. They had brown rice and white rice. We stuffed ourselves and were very pleased with the variety. The only disappointment was that none of the cookies available for purchase were vegan. The atmosphere was very pleasant, and we sat next to a glass window overlooking the back garden. Obanzai now does have an English sign out front, and is about halfway up a sidestreet off Oike-Dori. They open at 5pm for dinner. Highly recommend! I would give them five stars if allowed--they are extremely vegan-friendly.

Pros: Great food, Excellent variety, Friendly staff

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Friendly, mostly vegan buffet - Edit

The restaurant proved to be quite tricky to find, the front being similar to the other buildings on the street, and the restaurant name being only in hiragana (おばんざい), but once inside, we were greeted with the words "Are you vegetarian?" in English. Having confirmed my preferences, I was shown the two dishes which were not suitable - one chicken and one fish dish. These dishes were placed together in a manner clearly separate from the rest.

The food was delightful - there was some fake meat, ersatz fish cakes and chicken nuggets, and korokke, plus miso soup (hidden, not to be mistaken for the tea!), Japanese salads, vegetable dishes, many varieties of tofu, pickles and a couple of fruit based desserts.

As an added bonus, I discovered my partner likes the ubiquitous hijiki and abura-age salad, which I make for myself, but have never dared offer to him.

Pros: eat as much as you like, friendly, some English spoken

Cons: hard to find, loos even harder to find

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