The Urban Housewife

Tokyo A Go Go; Part 2!

As you saw in part 1 of my Japan coverage, the options for vegan food in Tokyo aren't lacking. Of course, that was only half of the fun, so get ready for more delectable vegan dining in the Land of the Rising Sun!
Treats from Der Akkord
On a drizzly afternoon, we headed to Der Akkord bakery, home of vegan, organic breads & pastries for some carby goodness. The small bakery on a side street instantly welcomed us with the smell of fresh bread & the staff was warm & inviting, offering us samples right away. We couldn't help but order way-too-many items! We started with a steamed bun filled with beans & curry, plus a partial loaf of the soft & hearty Sesambrot, then moved on to their Fruchtebrot, at the suggestion of Mel from Veglicious.  This chewy bread with 2 types of raisins & walnuts is SO good & took me back to the days of ordering Raisin Bread from Grain D'or with my Mom. We also sampled some of the sweets available, the Apple Pie & Pumpkin Pie, which have a whole wheat biscuit-like crust that's almost savory with lightly sweetened fillings, & the Cocoa Banana Cake, which almost seemed like a raw cake made from bananas & walnuts. As if we hadn't ordered enough, the staff was kind enough to give us a free Azuki filled roll & a chewy, delicious roll raisin flecked roll called "Kurbisbrot"!

Fried Tempeh with Avocado & Lotus Root in Teriyaki SauceLater that night, we headed out intending to have a night of drinks & karaoke with Dan & Laura, but imagine our surprise when our destination was closed for a holiday! (This is far too common in Japan.) Luckily, we had a map with vegan options marked & despite the rain, we hiked along the river, where we saw the largest toad I've ever seen, & made our way to the primarily vegan Cafe 8 (honey is used in some cookies). A favorite of local veggies, with multiple cookbooks under their belts, Cafe 8 has a bit of a posh atmosphere, unlike their casual eatery, Pure Cafe. Apple Crumble at Cafe 8Still, we felt welcome at our candlelit table, as we ordered up a starter of Fried Tempeh & Avocado in Teriyaki Sauce. These little bites were delicious with their crisp tempeh, avocado slices, & lotus root in a tasty teriyaki sauce! The Seasonal Vegetables with Herbs were a little oily, but an amazing assortment of Japanese vegetables like Burdock, Green Pumpkin, Purple Yam, plus other roots & veggies I've never had before! The "Tofu Hamburg Steak" was a familar patty, this one made of tofu & tempeh, in a tomato based sauce. It was served up with a salad in Tahini sauce & a side of roasted Potatoes & smoky Mushrooms. For dessert, the Apple Crumble Cake was a nice finish to the meal with it's sweet apple pieces & crunchy crumbs with a bready cake. The Caramel Banana Pudding also delighted us with it's soft bread, sweet banana pieces, & a bit of caramel, with a side of tofu cream, that was a bit beany, but not bad. I can see why locals love Cafe 8!

Autumn Potato Salad at Eat More GreensEat More Greens is a vegetarian cafe & bakery with mainly vegan dishes, which are clearly marked on the menu. Claiming to take their cues from the cafes of the Lower East Side & East Village of New York, we expected to feel right at home, as those are two of my favorite places to be & luckily, that was the case! We started with the amazing Autumn Potato Salad which was an assortment of both crisp & soft vegetables in a creamy sauce that we loved so much, we seriously debated ordering seconds. Eat More Greens Pumpkin MoussakaNext, the Black Sesame Curry with Sweet Potatoes & Mushrooms was a hearty, Indian inspired dish with lentils, rice, & a delicious salad. The Pumpkin Moussaka was a creamy, delicious dish with pumpkin, 2 types of mushrooms, tomato, & a crisp top covered in pumpkin pieces & bread crumbs. I savored each bite!  Unfortunately, the desserts were a letdown after the excellent food. I was excited to see an Eclair on the menu, but in the end it was a dense bread roll, cut & filled with pastry cream & topped in chocolate with almond bits. Ryan likened it to a hot dog bun, yikes! The Chocolate Gateau fared better with it's dense, rich, chocolate with a raspberry compote, but the seeds from the raspberry were so distracting, I couldn't enjoy it. The star of the show is supposed to be their cinnamon roll, but they were out when we dined there. Overall, we LOVED Eat More Greens & would certainly recommend it. We found the portions to be larger than most Japanese restaurants & left very satisfied.

Chef's Special at Hanada RossoHanada Rosso is a sleek cafe hidden in a building off right off Meiji Dori, just a jump away from the famous Takeshita Dori in Harajuku. Decorated in all white with adorable accents like hot pink chopsticks, I loved the visuals of this dining spot. We opted for the Chef Special, which not only rotates daily, but only 10 are available each day. A delicious set of Katsu with teriyaki & mayo sauces over brown rice with cabbage was served up, along with a side of salad in a light, oily dressing. BEAN Parfait?! at Hanada RossoWe also had the "Vegetable Hamburger Steak", another bun-less burger, although this came with a baguette on the side. It was dressed in a tomato sauce, of course, but with very thin noodles as well, very "American". Not so American, was the side of Lotus Root & other local vegetables in a sesame dressing.  We finished with two desserts, one being the special of the day, which was described as Chocolate cake in Yuzu sauce. It wasn't very sweet & more like a zucchini bread with a chocolate sauce & soy foam. Many desserts at macrobiotic places are "healthy" & this was no exception. The parfait threw us for a loop, in addition to soy ice cream, it had 2 types of dango, soy foam, & a coffee drink poured in to it, but it also had BEANS! Yes, there were whole beans floating in my parfait. I'd like to say it was delicious, but it was more strange than anything else.

An assortment at NONWhile Portland has a vegan bar, the last place you'd expect to find a vegan drinking establishment is likely Japan. Well, NON is a vegan izakaya right in Tokyo serving up sake, beer, & a large selection of food. They don't speak a word of English, but there's an English menu to save you from playing the guessing game. The awesome Gabrielle from The Nutritional Yeast Bandwagon was in town & joined us for this meal & we all laughed as we tried to interpret exactly what we would be eating. Izakaya dining consists small dishes to be shared, so we ordered a ton of food for the 3 of us to sample! We started with a basic tofu & potato dish & a fried freeze dried tofu dish that didn't have a ton of flavor. Luckily, a tasty Miso Soup with 3 types of mushrooms & fresh vegetables came next & made our bellies happy. Freshly made Tofu at NON!The pickled vegetables left a bit to be desired, due mainly to the surplus of Konnyaku, aka Devil's Tongue, a gelatinous, flavorless strip of who-knows-what. We all agreed that we weren't fans of konnyaku, no matter where we had tried it during our travels! Ryan wanted sushi, so he opted for some rolls as well. Next up was soft, delicious, freshly made tofu with sesame & ginger! There's nothing like freshly made tofu. Gabrielle & I fawned over it for ages! We also enjoyed the Soymilk Ramen, which was creamy & well spiced with flavorful vegetables like cabbage & carrot. Soft, with crisp edges, the vegetable filled Korean Pancakes also hit the spot & we loved the sauce they came with. Finally, the Katsu was fried & covered in a thick, crunchy coating. NON is a great experience & certainly somewhere I would return!

Before heading to the airport, we intended to eat a nice meal at Brown Rice Cafe, a whole food macrobiotic cafe, frequented by ladies who lunch. Brown Rice Deli AssortmentDue to the long wait, we realized we didn't have enough time, but luckily, there's Brown Rice Deli right there as well! The deli has a selection of bento boxes & dishes, all vegan, as well as baked goods, some of which are vegan & are clearly marked. We opted for a tasty bento with brown rice, topped in tempeh & curry sauce, with a side of pickled vegetables, a vegetable sesame salad, & umeboshi plum. We also had Inari that was stuffed with brown rice & curry, which was not like the sweet Inari we're used to. They seem to like the curry at Brown Rice Deli, so we also had a bowl of the curry which was hearty with many types of beans, lentils, & chickpeas in a spiced tomato curry sauce. For a treat, we had two muffins, the so called "Tofu Muffin" which was fluffy & lightly sweetened, filled with walnuts, & topped with roasted soybeans, & the Pumpkin Muffin which was sadly underspiced, but filled with chunks of pumpkin slices & pepitas, & topped with a Oat & Pepita crumb top. Overall, Brown Rice is a good option whether you're dining in or taking out.

I have no complaints about the vegan options in Tokyo! It was nice to have a selection of places to go to in a country known for fish based dishes. In fact, we didn't even make it to all of the places recommended to us by either guidebooks or the internet! It's amazing what you can find with a bit of research. Next up, Kyoto & Nara, stay tuned!

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