When people think of Japanese food, they typically think of either sushi or rice. It’s understandable since both are practically foodie mascots of the country. But believe it or not, Japan has a wealth of different cuisine, including vegetarian. You wouldn’t think to look for these dishes, but they exist. Everything ranging from appetizers to main course, to desserts. It’s all there to be found and sampled. Plus, they’re also to die for. Here are the best vegetarian japanese food dishes that will utterly blow your mind, indulging in the food here is one of the must do things in Japan!
The Best Vegetarian Japanese Food to Try
If you can dream it, they can skewer it. Kushimono is literally just skewered food which is then
roasted or fried while on the stick and eaten straight off of it. This method can include just about
any vegetables you might desire making it the perfect vegetarian japanese food to try. Everything from lotus root to peppers and okra can be cooked this way. The combinations are as delectable as they are numerous. Kushimono originated from Osaka and some have taken it so far as to open niche restaurants dedicated to this cooking technique. If you know where to stay in Osaka, then it would be pretty easy to find Kushimono restaurants in downtown.
Dashi is a very simple soup with a stock made from katsuobushi, shiitake mushrooms, and kombu. The latter of those is most commonly found in vegetarian soups throughout Japan. Of course, you may have to do some hunting around, since the dashi is often unique to each establishment it’s served in, some are vegetarian friendly while some are not. But once you find a vegetarian dashi, you’ll love the unique local flavour.
Rice and Vegetables With Tofu
This food is uniquely tied to Japan’s history in that at one point, it was used as currency in place of money. Rice is considered a traditional and sacred staple to the country. It goes without saying that there are probably thousands of ways to eat it. It goes with just about anything, meat or vegetables. Rice is usually considered the main dish, served with small side dishes. If you’re looking for vegetarian “companions of rice”, green onion mixed with miso paste is delicious and a common ingredient to replace meat or fish in Japan is Tofu which is one of the best vegetarian Japanese food types to try.
Sushi is one of the best known Japanese dishes and is popular the world over. It might be associated with raw fish but in fact there are many different varieties to try and lots of them are vegetarian. Most of the main sushi bars, especially in the most modern areas of cities will have at least some veggie options and if you do your research you will also find specialist vegetarian Sushi bars too.
Udon is a thick, chewy type of noodle with an extremely versatile nature. You can cook it up in stir fry, or boil it in a soup. It also goes well with many dishes, particularly vegetable based choices. Kitsune Udon in particular means ‘fox wheat noodles’, and it comes with aburaage on top, a type of tofu. Best of all, the tofu served with this dish is firmer than usual, making it easier to eat and one of our favourite vegetarian Japanese food styles. We love Udon and the food one of the 10 things we love about Japan!
Tempura is typically battered and deep fried fresh fish, however just like sushi this more well known Japanese dish is often also available as vegetarian meal. Served with soy sauce the crispy fried batter can be found wrapped around all sorts of veggie options, commonly mushrooms, tofu, courgettes, onions and anything else you can think of. Tempura has to be one of our favourite types Vegetarian food from Japan and luckily it is one of the easiest to find in vegetarian options as many places already provide them as a staple variety anyway usually as a side dish to fish.
Miso soup is a meal staple found all across Japan. It’s usually just dashi and miso mixed together for a flavorful soup broth. But it can also contain a wide variety of ingredients ranging from tofu to fish to veggies, so be sure to check the ingredients out with the restaurant before you order. Some restaurants in Japan serve vegetarian friendly miso soup. The goal of miso is to achieve a perfect balance of ingredients that both float and sink. Since tofu and veggies best achieve this end, they’re the most common of additives. And because they’re a staple, you’re bound to be served a bowl at nearly any meal you have almost anywhere. It’s nearly on the same level as rice when it comes to popularity. It’s the perfect vegetarian Japanese food to try if you are after a really local dish.
If you’re fortunate enough to visit Japan in the wintertime, then this is an absolute must dish for you. Kabocha is boiled or steamed winter squash that commonly takes up space in bento boxes, and for good reason as this stuff is tasty! A common side dish, you’ll find its sweet and filling nature perfect for those cold, blustery months.
Dessert time! These little guys may look fishy, but they’re absolutely delicious. Taiyaki are fish- shaped cakes that come with a scrumptious variety of fillings. Anko paste, chocolate, custard, cheese or even sweet potato, you’re bound to find the perfect flavour for you. Commonly found at festivals, you can get them warm off the fire and settle the burning question; do you start with the head or the tail? Which is correct? The debate rages on, but what isn’t up for debate is that this is the most fun vegetarian Japanese food to try! Japanese sweets are also the ideal accompaniment to Matcha Green Tea, which is also a staple of Japanese culture.
What is Your Favourite Vegetarian Japanese Food to Try?
Japan is a vegetarian heaven wrapped up in a vegetarian hell. So much goes into the meat and seafood section of the culture that finding vegetarian fare can be hard. But buckle down and work diligently. Your efforts will pay off and they will be more than worth it. Do a little research before you leave on your trip. The chances are you’ll find plenty of vegetarian places you might not expect. Just be sure to mark where they are and you’ll have no problems.
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