info for vegetarians
| September, 2000 |
Tokyo Vegetarian-friendly
Restaurant Guide
Diary - Living in Tokyo
as a Semi-Vegan
Recommended Readings
Written in Japanese
Articles about Vegetarianism
written by Hiroko Kato
Online Vegetarian/Vegan Handouts
Shopping Guide
Good News & Good News
Links for Vegetarians
August: Healthy vegan snack, vegan peach cobbler, stray cats, and so on.
September: Vegan pizza and brownie as well as experiences at several vegan restaurants.
October: New soymilk product and vegan ramen noodle, and so on.
November: Stories about the meeting with Japan Vegetarian Society chairpersons, vegan wedding meal, and experiences in Kyoto and Vietnam.
December: Attended Japan Vegetarian Society's meeting, delicious vegetarian food in YOKOHAMA China town, wasting time and money on staling foods, and trip to Penang.
January: Experimenting some vegan breakfast recipes, receiving an e-mal from the reader, pondering bug's life, and so on
February: Tried a macrobiotic restaurant in Tokyo, and the trip to Laos.
March: Struggling to get a vegan flihgt meals at Malaysian Airline.
April: Having vegan wedding plates again, business trip to Cambodia and Vietnam, and busy days.
May: Nayonnaise discovery and some food disasters.
June: Life is going on.
February: Attended a meeting on refugee issues in Japan held by Amnesty International Japan
March: Fresh soy milk and fasionable fake leather sneakers, etc.
April A conversation with my husband over a TV show and "Meatarians vs. vegetarians."
May A trip to the U.S. for research. Had an opportunity to attend a fantastic vegan wedding of my friend's.
July A thought on eating whale meat.


I know the place I can get falafel and hummus in Tokyo. It is a kind of almost vegetarian fast food restaurant, named PITA THE GREAT, but they say that they are "fast slow food" because they make the food after getting the order so that the customers can eat fresh from the fryer. The place, AKASAKA, is one of business district where many westerners are working and it looks like that PITA doing pretty good. Not only falafel and hummus, they also have babaganouj and veggie burger, and serve the sandwiches with tahini. Today I went there, for the second time, at the lunchtime. There are always two clerks, one, who is responsible for cooking, is a tall, white guy that I can't tell where he is from by his appearance. Another is a Japanese young girl who takes orders. They may be a couple though the guy looks much older than the girl's age. I ordered spicy big pita sand with six falafels and sliced onions and tomatoes in addition to small size of grapefruit juice. It's wonderful I can choose whole wheat bread considering that the rare chances to do that when I buy sandwiches in Tokyo. It cost 600 yen or so. I waited for seven minutes at the outside eating space. There are two Japanese businessmen and two foreigners. It's good to know that Japanese people like Middle Eastern food too. Still I saw a couple of young women who work at that building coming back with the paper bag of the hotdog fast food, even though they can have healthy and delicious fast food on the way to the hotdog place. PITA THE GREAT is a little expensive for their daily lunch, perhaps.
I was really satisfied with my spicy pita sandwich and will try veggie burger next time.

I experimented to make vegan sandwich for my lunch. It was with deep-fried thin tofu (aburaage) and spinach that can be eaten raw. You need to cook aburaage so I pan-broiled it without oil. It became so crispy with full of flavor and tasted great with fresh spinach and soy mayonnaise. But now, how can I resist to my cravings for ramen noodle for the night meal?

I made vegan pizza for dinner. Yesterday I found vegan pizza crust, and today, bought tomato sauce for pizza. There is not enough stuff in the fridge, so I put only the sauce, shiitake mushrooms, and onions on the crust, then baked that in the oven. It was good but not as great as PAPA JOHN'S. Much better than DOMINO's, though.

Saw the video of "Notting Hill", starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. It was cute, lovely movie as I heard. But the funniest thing was vegetarian episodes. A girl who was the candidate for a date of Grant called herself frutarian and preached the people having dinner together that eating vegetables was equal to murder. Naturally she was dropped out of the list for that table manner. And the actress, Roberts, said she was a vegetarian in the movie. (I don't know whether Roberts herself really is.) When Grant asked his friends for advice if he was right to turn down Roberts's love, one of them, a chef, said, "Never trust vegetarians." He actually liked Roberts but tried to console Grant's decision to say so. I laughed at that phrase but do any vegetarians get upset?

I couldn't stop craving chocolate brownies and found a recipe in Ann Jackson's "Cookin' Southern, Vegetarian Style." The problems were egg replacer and soy margarine because they are almost impossible to find in Japan. Therefore, I used eggs and light olive oil to make the brownies. I've never used olive oil in baking but it worked great except it became like plain chocolate cake rather than brownies. That's because I skipped melting sugar in heated oil. Probably next time, I can try to substitute bananas for eggs, at least, and look for other workable vegan dessert recipes on Internet.

Had a lunch with friends at macrobiotic cafe. It was fashionable, natural looking and seemed to succeed to catch customers' attention well. I had curried dried tofu (koyadofu) and pumpkin with brown rice. I liked the curry but preferred more refined rice because brown rice was too strong for my tired stomach at that time. There was soy vanilla ice cream and I asked if it was dairy-free. The clerk answered proudly, "We never use dairy." So I picked it for my dessert; it was okay but I missed Tofutti's so much. Well, I can send my comment on the cafe, "Good but not excellent," to ZAGAT.

My husband, who gets back to home past midnight everyday, was able to get six days off finally. After spending four days to indulge in sleeping and watching the Olympic programs on TV, we went for KARUIZAWA, the highland resort three hours away from Tokyo. KARUIZAWA is also famous for the royal romance that Japanese emperor and empress met at the tennis court there.

Because I am now working for the book on Asian colonial hotels, I wanted to stay in famous classic hotel in KARUIZAWA, the MANPEI hotel, and we booked on the Internet the night before. The MANPEI hotel was built in 1894, the era that foreigners began to come to Japan after three hundred years of prohibiting free communication with outer worlds, then has been one of the landmarks of KARUIZAWA. I believe many celebrities stayed in the hotel but they seems to claim only John Lennon and Yoko Ono as their honored guests, exhibiting even the couple's marriage certification issued in Gibraltar, Spain.

We decided to eat dinner in the hotel. There are three choices: French, Chinese, and Japanese. My husband, who is a meat eater, suggested Japanese, saying that it would be easy because they had only courses. For him, it is always hectic to think of which is vegetarian and which is not when we eat together. Later we found that Chinese also had courses and we got a deal that he chose a course and I would pick up a couple of dishes a la carte. After sitting at the table, however, we were told that the courses were available for more than two people and we got to scrutinize the menu.

My husband took stir-fried shredded pork and green peppers, egg foo yung, spring rolls, and white rice. I selected tofu and vegetable soup, fried noodles, and shared some of egg foo yung and spring rolls. To help my husband finish the dish, I had vegetables of stir-fried shredded pork too and in return, let him eat meat in my fried noodles. I am not sure if they use chicken or fish soup stock but the soup tasted really good. Besides tofu, there were lettuce, dried shiitake mushrooms, carrots in it, and the graceful combination of the tastes made me amazed. In addition, the noodles were perfect, not so greasy as fried noodles of regular Chinese restaurants. Vegetarians can order it without meat (actually bacon) and seafood.
For breakfast, there were two choices: "American" (fresh juice, toast, eggs with bacon or ham, and coffee or tea) and "Healthy," that was served green salad with cheese and yogurt instead of eggs. My husband went for "American" and I took "Healthy," at least vegetarian if not vegan.

I wonder what the world famous vegetarian couple, John and Yoko, ate during their stay. Actually the hotel was saying that John ate their grilled sandwich that contains meat and cheese. Where is the truth?

My friend who lives in London sent a box filled with packages of shortbread and tea bags of English breakfast and Earl Grey. I can't resist tasting that fabulous shortbread, vegetarian but not vegan. Here is my question: Do English vegans, who are successful to produce a number of vegan products, have vegan shortbread?

Had lunch at a Chinese restaurant, Bodaiju (means the Bondhi tree), run by Society for the Promotion of Buddhism in Japan. They say that the restaurant is the first one that introduced Chinese Buddhist style vegan cuisine in Japan. There were some meat and fish dish items but of course they were completely vegan. I ordered pork and cabbage to taste how good the fake meat was. For me, it was satisfying enough.Like any other Chinese vegan cuisine, however, those who expect meaty taste would be disappointed.

The cost was reasonable: 850 yen (about $8) for soup, white rice, and pork and cabbage, served with free Chinese tea. The restaurant was almost full with men and women in a variety of ages and all of them seemed to enjoy their dishes. I wish if we have more place like Bodaiju in Tokyo so that I can eat Chinese dishes without fearing if they use lard or chicken soup.

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Copyright (C) 2002 Hiroko Kato, Tomoko Kinukawa(designer).All rights reserved.