There are many reasons why people choose to be vegan (health, environment, world hunger/starvation relief, just to name a few), but since our love of animals was the impetus for our personal decision to vegan, we do feel an extra special connection with fellow animal-lovers. When you walk into Vegans Café and Restaurant in Kyoto, Japan, you know you are among others who also feel compassion towards all animals.
On a table near the entrance there were brochures from various welfare organizations, including one called "Animals Have Rights!" published by the Animal Rights Center Japan and another one titled "Meat Free Monday!" from an organization called Hope For Animals.
As with many vegans passionate about spreading awareness about veganism and animal compassion, the owners and chefs of Vegans Café and Restaurant extend that same passion to their food. It's clear they put a lot of effort into their dishes, and they have succeeded in making them accessible and appealing to vegans as well as non-vegans. Their menu was extensive, and although we weren't able to try everything we wanted, we still ordered way too much food and left extremely happy and satisfied.
Their vegan pizza deserves special mention. We ordered the Soy-White Pizza on a bread-dough style crust (the other option was a thin, crispy crust, but I'm so happy we picked this one). I'm pretty picky about pizza crust, and I have to say, they nailed it. The dough was flavorful, crispy on the edges, nicely browned on the bottom, well-cooked all the way through with just the right amount of chew. The toppings of roasted potatoes, grilled squash, a creamy white sauce, tons of fresh herbs and vegan soy cheese made this a top-notch pizza...highly recommended. We also ordered a Tomato Sauce Pasta with Enoki Mushrooms and Eggplant, along with a Organic Green Salad, both of which were beautifully presented and absolutely delicious.
Fresh fruits and veggies were on sale on a table in the middle of the dining area, and we saw the locals stock up on produce after their meals. I'm seriously considering renting a place with a kitchen next trip so I can take advantage of all this goodness and do some cooking.
We were stuffed after all that yummy food, but I couldn't resist ordering the Soy Soft Cream Parfait. Earlier I had spotted two people sharing a small sundae with strawberry sauce at another table, and thought that's what I ordered. But apparently the thing I pointed to on the menu was something completely different...this dessert was HUGE!
It was topped with strawberry sauce and came with a whole banana muffin split into four pieces, plus some kiwi. The soft-serve soy ice cream was delicious...so rich and creamy. Surprisingly, we managed to finish this off (everything except the muffin, which we took back to the hotel and enjoyed for breakfast the following morning) with our chai tea.
As we were leaving, we noticed there were more things on display toward the back of the restaurant, including packaged vegan food items as well as several shelves worth of books. There were also more items for animal lovers, including pendants by vegan pottery artist Nao Aoki and Anti-Fur message buttons.
Vegans Café and Restaurant is located at 4-88 Fukakusa Nishi Uramachi, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan, on the corner of two small, quiet streets just a short walk from the Fujinomori train station. There is no building signage, so look for a white building with translucent walls, and their name on a sandwich board sign on the sidewalk. It is currently open Monday through Saturday from 11:30am to 2:30am (last order 2pm) and from 5:30pm to 9:30pm (last order 9pm). They are closed on Sunday. It's worth looking at the Concept and Hope link on their website, which explains in both Japanese and English, how the owner came to be vegan and decided to open a vegan restaurant.
For links to more restaurant reviews from our July 2014 trip, please see our post "The Vegan Community in Japan is Alive and Well!".
Thanks for reading. Peace and love to all who live.