With strong Buddhist traditions and local specialties like tofu and Kyo-yasai (Kyoto vegetables), Kyoto has some excellent vegetarian restaurants. Here is useful information on vegetarian dining in Kyoto and a list of great vegetarian restaurants in Kyoto.
Kyoto is the home of most of Japan’s main Buddhist sects (which are, in theory at least, vegetarian). Kyoto is also famed for its tofu and its distinctive locally grown vegetables (known as Kyo-yasai).
Thus, Kyoto is an easy place for vegetarians. It’s worth noting, however, that if you do not eat fish or fish broth, finding good meals can be a bit more challenging. The reason for this is that a lot of Japanese cooking is based on dashi (broth made with bonito flakes). Many high-end places can usually prepare a broth made only from kombu (kelp) if you request in advance via a hotel concierge or private tour operator.
Also, pure vegetarians can eat shojin ryori (traditional Buddhist temple cuisine) without any problem and these meals are likely to be among the most elaborate and interesting vegetarian meals you’ve ever had.
The following is a list of some of my favorite vegetarian restaurants in Kyoto:
- Café Proverbs 15:17
Café Proverbs 15:17 is a great vegetarian restaurant near Kyoto University and within walking distance of Ginkaku-ji Temple and the Path of Philosophy.
Kerala is one of the best Indian restaurants in Kyoto, and its downtown location make it the perfect place to fuel up while doing some shopping.
- Falafel Garden
A great vegetarian restaurant in northern Kyoto, Falafel Garden specializes in the eponymous falafel, but there’s plenty more on the menu to keep things interesting.
Just down the hill from Ginkaku-ji Temple, Omen is one of our favorite restaurants in Kyoto. They serve some of Kyoto’s best udon noodles. The noodle broth has bonito flakes in it, but several of their a la carte dishes are pure veg.
- Yudofu Sagano
Yodofu Sagano is a great place to try that great Arashiyama Buddhist specialty: yudo (chunks of tofu simmered in broth).
Inside the grounds of Tenryu-ji Temple, Shigetsu is a great place to try traditional Japanese Buddhist cuisines, also known as shojin-ryori.
Yoshuji is the nicest place to eat in Kurama, full stop. You can choose from sets of Buddhist vegetarian cuisine or simpler bowls of noodles.
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