A vegan meal in downtown Kyoto has never been easier to find. Just head to Ain Soph Journey right off Shinkyogoku Shopping Arcade. The food is decent, but their desserts are even better – we recommend the pancakes and chocolate gateau.
The entrance to Ain Soph Journey Kyoto. – image © Florentyna Leow
For vegans and vegetarians travelling abroad, having a list of restaurants where you’re guaranteed a ‘safe,’ animal-free meal is crucial. This is all the more true in Japan, where vegan options are still fairly limited. With very decent food and excellent desserts, Ain Soph Journey in downtown Kyoto is a great addition to your list.
A page from the menu. – image © Florentyna Leow
Ain Soph Journey is a place you head to for vegan versions of Western – primarily American – dishes. Think cheeseburgers made with coconut cheese and soy and seitan ‘chicken,’ Spanish tofu omelettes, or fried ‘chicken’ – all of which are somewhat convincing meat substitutes. You’ll know it’s not the Real McCoy, but they’re reasonably tasty versions of their animal counterparts.
Hayashi rice with brown rice. – image © Florentyna Leow
Luckily, this place also caters to those who don’t particularly care for burgers. They serve a green spinach curry – their own take on saag paneer, replacing the cheese with hunks of tofu – and a mushroom-and-tomato hayashi rice. The hayashi sauce is savoury with a sweet edge, and hearty. In this case, it pairs perfectly with the brown rice, and makes for a much more substantial meal than might otherwise be the case.
Who knew you could get vegan cream sodas? – image © Florentyna Leow
Where Ain Soph Journey excels though, is probably in the dessert category. Their vegan pancakes in particular are beloved by regulars, and it’s easy to see why. Light, fluffy, and generously apportioned, the whole affair is substantial enough that you could easily have pancakes for your main meal. Having plenty of soy ice cream and soy whipped cream on top doesn’t hurt either.
The chocolate gateau. – image © Florentyna Leow
Out of all their desserts – including an astonishingly passable creme brulee and New York cheesecake – our personal favourite has to be the chocolate gateau. It’s astoundingly dense and fudge-like, all the more so considering its lack of dairy. The phrase ‘chocolate brick’ comes to mind. We especially love the cloud-like dollop of soy cream on top. Whether you avoid meat or not, you’ll probably have a “I can’t believe it’s vegan” moment while eating this.
The ground floor of Ain Soph Journey Kyoto. – image © Florentyna Leow
All things considered, Ain Soph Journey is a very decent vegan restaurant. The Kyoto branch is cozy and warmly lit, and the staff are friendly, which can’t always be said for restaurants in this town. It’s a good place to relax and read a book or catch up with a friend, too.
For more vegan and vegetarian choices, see our Best Vegan and Vegetarian in Kyoto page.
Name in English:
AIN SOPH. Journey Kyoto
Name in Japanese:
アインソフ ジャーニー 京都店
538-6 Nakano-cho, Shinkyogoku-dori-Shijo-agaru, Nakagyo-ku
Non-smoking area: Completely Non-Smoking
2min walk from Kawaramachi Station Exit 9, Hankyu line
Official site (Japanese)
More Restaurant Suggestions:
See my list of Kyoto’s Best Restaurants for more eating inspiration. The list covers all cuisines and price ranges.
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
- Get travel insurance for Japan - World Nomads is well-regarded (and here's why)