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Vegetarian? Here's What to Order at a Japanese Restaurant

Contrary to popular belief that it is simply difficult to find yummy vegetarian dishes in an authentic Japanese cuisine restaurant menu, there are actually a lot of popular Japanese offerings suitable for vegetarians and vegans, that is, people who follow a strictly plant-based diet.

Listed below are a couple of them:

1. Salad Bowl

The Japanese people love their salads, too, and a lot of restaurants offer them.

In fact, most Japanese hotel buffets always provide salads to guests – even for breakfast. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that Japanese restaurants offer a vast selection of salad bowls with some that are free of any meat and other animal products.

Fruit and/or vegetable salads consist of seasonal produce as well as nuts and legumes. They are seasoned with everything from rice vinegar, to miso (that’s not fermented with fish), Japanese mustard, soy sauce, and mirin (sweet rice wine).

If you want something a little out of the ordinary, try the famous avocado bowl which is popular in Japan. This has different leafy greens and thick slices of avocado which is blow-torched to mimic the appearance of unagi or eel.

2. Miso Soup

Most meals in Japan will not be complete without a bowl of miso soup. Therefore, you can be sure that it’s available in any Japanese restaurant.

The original recipe does not have any meat or seafood in it, and only features silken tofu, wakame (seaweed), miso paste, and vegetable stock.

Miso soup is a staple in Japanese diets and it is the most accessible comfort food for everyone.

3. Steamed Bamboo Basket Veggies

Color is a must for Japanese meals, which is why they eat a lot of vegetables.

Pickled veggies are meal staples but you can get different ones at Japanese restaurants such as steamed bamboo basket veggies. It features a selection of colorful and seasonal veggies that have been steamed to perfection.

These veggies come with different dipping sauces. They are perfect to eat with rice seasoned with soy sauce and topped with nori flakes.

4. Vegetable Curry

The Japanese are masters of curry dishes and they can make vegetable curry that is completely vegan yet quite tasty. It has carrots, taro, tofu, and zucchini.

This vegetable curry is paired with rice and is sometimes made even more delicious with fried mushrooms and garlic. This curry is not stodgy at all and is quite filling.

Different restaurants like to mix the vegetables up quite often. They make sure to add seasonal vegetables because they are known to be the best at providing high amounts of protein, minerals and vitamins.

5. Vegan Ramen

Ramen is another offering that authentic Japanese restaurants offer. It is hearty and considered a complete meal on its own.

There are so many varieties of ramen to delight diners, and vegetarians definitely will not miss out on this versatile noodle soup. It has miso, onions, bean sprouts, chili peppers, corn, bok choi, radish, parsley, rice or buckwheat noodles and, at times, even kimchi.

6. Vegetable Tempura

This is the perfect vegetarian option if you are looking for something crispy for your meal.

Vegetable tempura is simply batter-covered vegetables fried to a lovely crisp. The vegetables often used are eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, pumpkin, carrots and zucchini. However, other vegetables can also be used.

You dip this dish in a special dipping sauce made of rice vinegar, a bit of sugar, soy sauce, mirin, scallions and ginger.

7. Deep Fried Tofu and Mushrooms

This vegetarian dish comes straight from the Zen Buddhism temples all over Japan.

It combines silken tofu and different kinds of mushrooms, and is prepared in ginger sauce. Some restaurants place this dish on top of hot steaming rice for a full meal in a bowl.

8. Cold Soba

Buckwheat noodles set on a bamboo mat and topped with strips of nori is another popular vegetarian option. The dipping sauce is often made with dashi (a stock made from fish and kelp – but can be made without the fish for vegetarians), soy sauce, mirin, scallions and wasabi.

This dish offers subtle flavors so you can focus on the delightful texture of the buckwheat noodles. It is important to mention that cold soba, as simple as it is, can be quite heavy.

If you have a full day ahead of you, treating yourself to this dish can give you enough energy to charge through the day.

Enjoy your veggies the Japanese way here at Koi

These are not the only vegetarian options for you.

Japanese chefs are always coming up with new recipes to effectively cater to unique dining requirements and different tastes.

Come and visit us here at Koi to experience our unique menu offerings.

We are the top destination for high-quality Japanese food in Abu Dhabi.

Even if you are strictly vegetarian, you can be sure to find several things in our menu that will suit your special requirements and discriminating taste buds.

Our own chefs here at Koi Restaurant always take innovative approaches to traditional Japanese dishes. Therefore, everybody — yes, even vegetarians and vegans — can appreciate lovely Japanese flavors here at Koi.