It’s no secret that following a plant-based diet in Japan isn’t easy. Compared to other major international cities, with a vegan or trendy health food restaurant seemingly at every turn, Tokyo’s vegan options are few and far between. Of course, simply having options is the bare minimum. We want delectable, worth-every-yen options that pack a punch. And sometimes all you want on a given afternoon is a perfect burger, and one that’s not just good “for a vegan burger,” but is seriously good.
To help you on your plant-based journey in Japan, we’ve compiled a 2023 list of Tokyo’s best vegan burger restaurants that’ll make your environmentally conscious heart and burger-loving belly happy. Even if you don’t strictly follow a vegan diet, you’re sure to love the burgers we’ve put together for their hearty servings and innovative flavor combinations, often with a Japanese twist.
Wayback Burgers is one of the latest vegan-friendly offerings to hit Tokyo. Conveniently positioned a short walk from Omotesando station, the chic and spacious burger joint is the first to open in Japan for the 30-year-old American company. As part of a collab with Japanese company Next Meats, the Next Burger is a plant-based (soy and pea) burger that closely resembles the look and taste of a beef patty sandwiched between green buns. When ordered as a set, the burger comes with Next Meats’ vegan tuna salad and Next Milk, Next Meats’ signature oat milk. Continuing the store’s focus on sustainability, the store utilizes plant-based straws and cutlery in order to minimalize its carbon footprint. Replete with spacious booths and free wifi, Wayback Burgers is also a great place for a lunchtime meeting or to catch up on some emails away from the office.
Based on looks alone, Mr. Farmer’s burdock root vegan burger may well win the prize for “frilliest sandwich in Tokyo.” But once you look beyond the curly twists of fried burdock, you’ll still have a pretty impressive burger at this West Coast-inspired restaurant. Each bite has a proper balance of hefty soy meat and cheese, but the total effect is still light enough to avoid feeling bloated. If you are looking for a truly gourmet experience, opt for the decadent Vegan Cheese Burger with Truffles. Most of the veggies served in the restaurant are grown in Japan, so you can beef up your vitamin intake for the day with their Veggie Full Smoothies while supporting local farmers. You can find branches of Mr. Farmer in several locations, including Shinjuku, Roppongi and Komazawa, all of which offer take-out menus and fresh juices to go.
Have trouble choosing between sweet and savory? Well, Hatena has it all. Located in Daikanyamacho, a hip, Brooklyn-like neighborhood, Hatena serves a series of sweet and savory plant-based burgers with an extensive menu of mouth-watering items. Distinguishing themselves from other burger joints, they’ve swapped out ordinary burger buns with doughnuts and bagels. Their sweet burgers can be found as doughnuts, stuffed with a vast list of fillings. One is azuki beans and matcha cream, topped with matcha powder. In the same vein, their savory burgers come in a bagel, served up with soy meat, glazed in teriyaki sauce or spicy chilli mayo. Whether you’re vegan or not, this quirky burger joint is definitely worth a visit.
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Terra Burger & Bowl
Kicking off as a food truck in 2016, Terra Burger & Bowl has grown to be a popular vegan burger and Buddha bowl joint located in Daikanyama. Their menu offers solid burger classics, like their Cheezy Burger, with a generous helping of creamy soy cheese on their signature patty, or their Terra Teri Burger, which sports a mountain of crisp cabbage and a drizzle of mayo to balance out their sweet teriyaki sauce. Since they also specialize in Buddha bowls, Terra Burger & Bowl is worth a couple of trips to try out their other specialty as well.
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A little corner in Shimokitazawa boasts this branch of a New York City favorite. Its menu offers various vegan burgers, from their signature chickpea and lentil-based burger to their Japanese yuba (tofu skin) sandwich. With a trendy-retro exterior and an adventurous menu, this classic burger joint provides vegan fare with New York flair.
Vegeater is a relatively new addition to Tokyo’s vegan repertoire, having opened in Shibuya just March of last year. This vegan restaurant provides a multitude of burger options, each encased within a bun branded with Vegeater’s logo. Try “The Burger” with tomato jam and garlic aioli, or opt for the “Angry Burger” with avocado and a spicy sauce that explains its name. If you have a hankering for barbecue, Vegeater offers a pulled jackfruit sandwich reminiscent of traditional BBQ flavors.
Tucked away in Ebisu, Hemp Cafe is most known for its focus on hemp-based and CBD products. If CBD isn’t quite your speed, you might prefer their all-vegan menu – but don’t delay, its vegan BBQ burger is available only on the lunch menu. Featuring a pea patty, this burger is smothered with fig and onion jam and house barbecue sauce. For an extra ¥600, you can add another patty and make it a generous double. With decor that’s as plant-based as their menu, Hemp Cafe will nourish your body and spirit.
This burger joint takes its inspiration from the lakes for which each of its menu items is named. Its “Superior Burger” – not to be confused with the aforementioned Superiority Burger – is their signature: a double-decker cheeseburger as large as Lake Superior itself. Their Michigan burger is doused with caramelized onions and cheese sauce, and the Ontario burger mimics the flavor and dressings of the California classic In-N-Out. Make it a set with a side of fries and a Budweiser for the authentic American experience. Wash it down with their milkshake, made with homemade vegan cashew ice cream, and you can’t go wrong.
Specializing in organic dishes, Bio Cafe prides itself on serving food that is completely pesticide and fertilizer free. The cafe’s menu highlights gluten-free and superfood-filled offerings, including a gluten-free burger with a plant-based patty. This vegan burger is topped with avocado and classic burger fixings. The vegan burger is one of Bio Cafe’s selection of vegan plates, alongside various pasta dishes and artisanal taco rice. In the heart of Shibuya, this is an organic outlet to escape the city, with an impressive selection of vegan choices.
Although Cori. might not look like much from the outside, don’t let this fool you. As you step through their elusive door, you’re immediately in store for their mouth-watering soy-based vegan burgers, along with homemade sauces that perfectly complement their soft wheat buns. Owned by a couple, Cori. holds an extensive vegan menu accompanied by craft beers and homemade drinks. This is the perfect little hideaway for customers to enjoy a cozy meal and will probably become the secret spot you tell all your friends about.
Original Article by Chiara Terzuolo