Roots Cafe

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 8 reviews )

4377 Happo, Kokusai Lodge, Hakuba, Japan, 399-9301

Seasonal cafe on the slopes of the Happo-One ski resort, near the start of the Kokusai 1 lift. Provides quick meals that are mostly vegan, including Mexican and falafel and hummus wraps, pasta, basic Chinese stir fry and rice meals, Indian-style curry, nachos, and other snack food. Uses organic and locally-grown ingredients. Note that the burger buns (bought from outside) contain dairy, and some sauces contain honey. Address is 長野県北安曇郡白馬村北城 4377. Note: kitchen may stop serving 30-60 minutes prior to closing, check ahead. Open Mon-Sun 12:30am-5:00pm.

Categories: Vegan-friendly, International, Western, Fast food, Juice bar, Beer/Wine, Take-out, Honey

8 Reviews

First Review by rebeccalw21

Great cafe - Edit

Uploaded a few photos of the menu etc for this season. Enjoyed a Great coffee, non dairy milk options available. food looked good. Cool vibe and nice place to hang out and warm up.

Pros: lots of vegan options

Cons: none

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good food, inconsistent service - Edit

Went on a Tuesday and it was great. Really good falafel wrap, great service.

Returned the next day, not so good. Had the shanti lunch, but the soup was cold, twice.

Waitress on the Wednesday was snooty and matter-of-factly told a group next to us that it's ok to eat meat as it's already dead anyway and that as long as you 'give thanks' to it by saying 'itadakimasu' there's no problem.

Pros: Tuesday food and service

Cons: Wednesday service

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Great for non vegans too - Edit

I always return back to Roots cafe when I go to Hakuba. It's junk food vegan, but even great for non vegans and if you're skiing you deserve some junk food. Their vegan deserts are bound too impress!

Pros: coffee and deserts

Cons: a lot of soy based products on the menu

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Vegan and Gluten Free rare gem! - Edit

This year they appear to have much more choice, especially the baked goods. All vegan too I believe. The soy Karage is excellent, and the brownie is one of the best I've had. Always friendly staff and usually hard to find a seat which says it all!

Pros: Vegan, Gluten Free, good coffee

Cons: a bit expensive, hard to find seating sometimes

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Not very impressed - Edit

I had a rasta wrap at Roots last week. All was good until I noticed one of the chefs (the woman who had made my wrap) who was eating while preparing the food. She tasted loads of different things and licked and sucked her fingers the whole time......and continued making customers' food.
I was really put off..... I don't want to see the staff pigging out in the kitchen and especially having their hands constantly in their mouths while making my food. I think hygiene may be a problem.

Pros: Attractive friendly staff, Great choices of food

Cons: Staff not observing hygiene rules

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good but limited food -- need a stronger staff - Edit

i agree with reviews below me - would be a great place but theyre really lacking the knowledgeable staff necessary to run a vegan cafe -- i ordered a smoothie and they had to look up what was in it (theres only maybe 3-4 smoothies on menu). they had a bunch of items listed on the wall as the menu but when i went to order they were only offering 3-4 options -- i also am allergic to gluten and asked what id be able to eat -- no one knew for sure what had gluten - not even the 'chefs' -- everyone was very kind and the place is really cozy but ive been in Hakuba for 7 days and I only went here once -- i understand its seasonal staff but at least educate them enough to be able to make all the menu items and know the drink list

Pros: only all vegan place for 30miles

1 Response
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Dave Enright 18 Jan 2016 - Hello Meow,

Thank you for visiting Roots Cafe and for your review. All reviews assist me to continue to improve Roots Cafe so that everyone may have a great experience.

I am sorry that your experience was not 'Totally Awesome', as I would wished it was. Yes, we are a seasonally run operation and had only been open for 4 days on the day that you visited us. The mostly new staff had trained for the previous week but last minute changes were I believe the cause of much confusion during the first week of operation. I am very happy that my drinks staff looked up the drink that you ordered to make sure that you received the smoothie as created by myself many years ago. We were running a very reduced menu as you mentioned as our professional vegan chef and masters in Nutritional Heath was indeed re-working much of the menu on a much needed overall. I wish you could see us now...This years food has got to be the best we have ever put out with amazing all vegan sweets, all vegan sauces and locally sourced produce. The coffee and organic draft beers are also the best we have ever produced. I do apologize if with the hectic start of the season we didn't have everything totally dailed for you. I hope that what you did have was delicious and made fresh with love. I also hope that you will make it back for what I think is the best vegan food you will find on a ski resort any where...Love and Light, Dave  

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Vegan Oasis in the Ski World - Edit

I originally added Roots cafe to Happycow, and have been going to Hakuba every season for three years, mostly because of it. However because of that I feel I need to update this to say that something went very badly wrong this season (2014-15).

Staff at a seasonal cafe like this will always be using it as a ticket to travel abroad, and perhaps have little experience in the food industry, so one can't expect the same standards as a cafe run by its owner elsewhere. But this season I found some things quite disturbing, with the worst being when I bought a muesli bar and later (on the gondola) found that it was mouldy! I guess it would take several days if not weeks for a dry item like this to go mouldy in the sub-zero conditions of Hakuba in January. The staff member behind the till didn't seem surprised, and just ordered someone to throw them all out immediately. I wasn't even offered a refund (just "grab something else if you want" - and they seemed surprised that I did!).

Please don't let this put you off coming to Roots or Hakuba as it's still a (mostly) vegan cafe, serving decent food, and a great resort, but just don't expect much more than that, for now at least. Hopefully something is amiss this season (manager away?) and it will improve next season!

On the upside they have built a great new wood-fired pizza oven, though like everything the quality of the pizzas varied a lot.

Roots makes skiing in Japan so much better: no longer is it necessary to carry snack bars in your ski suit or force down white rice and hot chips when hunger calls. Roots cafe is attached to the Evergreen Outdoor Centre (both have the same vegan owner) and is easy to get to - just head to the Kokusai area (Happo One) and it's near the base of the Kokusai 1 lift. The baked items are good for snacks elsewhere on the mountain. It's great how it serves vegan food to so many non-vegans. The main meals are available until 2:30, so I usually go as early as possible (say around 10-11), ski during the busy lunch hour, and then go back for another meal just before 2:30. Note that as the listing says, it's a seasonal cafe, so between the ski and summer seasons be sure to check the website to see when it's open. This cafe makes Hakuba and Happo One the place to ski in Japan.
Updated from previous review on Saturday April 27, 2013

Updated from previous review on Friday February 20, 2015

Pros: right on the ski slopes, all veg and mostly vegan, fast, delicious, healthy food

Cons: service and food standards very variable

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Heaven in a ski resort - Edit

I lived and worked in Hakuba for 3 and a half months, and without roots I don't know what I would have done. Sounds a bit dramatic, but being a vegetarien in Japan is difficult enough, never mind in a ski resort where the vegi options are limited. Roots is open everyday and is right on the ski slope on the Happo-one resort. The lunch meals (which are the best) stop at 2:30ish so make sure you get there before. I went to this cafe many times with other vegetarians and meat-eaters and both loved this place. A favourite was the 'rasta-wrap' which was braised tofu with spicy rice in a wrap. Other favourites were the vegi burger and the hummus. A great vegan restaurant and a reasonable price! Just under 1000yen for any meal, and it is filling. Also a great idea to try the vegan chocolate brownie and hot chocolate. I highly recommend this place if in the area.

Pros: Fantastic good, Organic and vegan, Inexpensive

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