Japan and cherry blossoms; Japan and the art of Zen living; Japan and politeness; and last but not the least, Japan and food. These are a few things that pop to your mind every time you think Japan. Vegetarian and vegan Japanese restaurants are not aplenty in Singapore but there are a few that stand out and even though they may not all be vegetarian-only, they have enough to make the vegetarians/vegans return. Read on to find out about our recommendations for the Best Japanese Restaurants for Vegetarians and Vegans in Singapore (in no particular order).
Teng Bespoke (Highly Vegan-Friendly)
A Zen style Japanese restaurant, Teng Bespoke serves only vegetarian food, with 90% of their menu being vegan or customizable as such. Bespoke’s philosophy is simple – healthy and authentic Japanese dining the vegetarian way. The pocket friendly prices and the wide array of dishes make it an affordable favourite of many. The Radish Salad is quite refreshing while the Shitake Mushroom is a complete winner. The Unagi Maki (S$11) is flavoured delicately and is a good representation of what the real stuff may taste like. They also serve 5 kinds of Sashimi (mock prawn, mock salmon, mock squid, mock scallop, mock tuna). Here are 5 vegetarian and vegan dishes at Teng Bespoke that we recommend.
Teng Bespoke: 91 Bencoolen Street, #01-50 Sunshine Plaza, 189652. P: +65 6337 7050
Although not a pure vegetarian Japanese restaurant, Shimbashi Soba offers a vegetarian menu, that is devoid of any dairy or eggs, and would be suitable for vegans who can consume refined sugar and rice wine. Read the full dining review of Shimbashi Soba’s Vegetarian Menu here. For appetisers (or sides), choose Vegetarian Yasai Tempura (S$11.80) & Vegetarian Avocado Salad (S$13). For mains, go for the Vegetarian Tofu Yasai Soba or the Vegetarian Salad Soba (S$17 each). For those with a sweet tooth, there are vegetarian desserts as well. Dig into the Matcha Mochi Kinako Sauce (Green tea flavoured jelly served with soya bean powder and brown sugar syrup, S$4.80) or the Mizu Manju (Japanese Jelly – filling may vary, S$5.80). The experience of eating here is worth spending just a wee bit more. Read here, A Vegetarian Japanese Treat at Shimbashi Soba.
A pure vegetarian restaurant that dishes up Japanese cuisine (apart from Western style cuisine). The dishes named after popular non-vegetarian counterparts are just as good, if not better, and some claim to be able turn carnivores into die-hard fans. Try their Unagi Maki & Avocado Maki, Tempura Udon (hot udon soup with Japanese aburaage, nameko mushroom, spinach, vegetables tempura and Japanese tsukemono) and the Vege Grill Chick’n Gyoza Bento. The entire menu uses the finest, freshest and organic ingredients.
Herbivore: Fortune Centre, 190 Middle Road, #01-13/14, Singapore 188979. P: +65 63331612
A Zen styled vegetarian restaurant, Elemen serves Japanese, Western and fusion food. They serve indulgent 5-Course and 8-Course Sets for S$26.80++ & S$32.80++ respectively. There are vegan options available for both sets, though they may not be Japanese dishes. For the 8-Course Set, the choice includes everything on the menu, plus Apple Cider, while the 5-Course Set doesn’t include Bread and Apple Cider and offers a choice between Soups and Salads. The Japanese Curry Noodles with Beancurd Roll (S$ 12.80) and Tempura Tofu with Avocado Roll (S$ 15.80) are refreshingly flavourful. Read our complete dining review of Elemen here.
Elemen: Branches at Millenia Walk, Thompson Plaza and Harbourfront Centre
A posh Japanese restaurant with excellent views, Kinki is the place to head to for a couple of drinks. The unique decor is urbane, with the DJ console covered in ANTZ (local artist) graffiti. It offers a decent range of vegetarian dishes. The Tofu Steak (S$18, Pan fried tofu sautéed mixed vegetables, garlic teriyaki sauce) makes for a good start to the meal. Also on offer is the Garlic Yaki-Meshi (S$6, Fragrant garlic fried rice). For Sashimi lovers, they offer a vegetarian Inari. They serve a variety of vegetarian Maki/ Temaki – the Avocado Maki (S$17), Kappa, Oshinko, Shiitake and Kampyo. If you are looking for an upscale Japanese restaurant for some fab vegetarian dining, Kinki is the place to head to.
If you’re looking to chomp on some fab Japanese in your PJ, Kinki delivers. Check out the Veggie Quickie from Kinki’s Box Stars – the meal box comprises of grilled organic tofu steak with garlic terriyaki sauce and sautéed vegetables such as asparagus, shitake, oshinko and kappa. the meal is served with Hokkaido steamed rice and ends with a in-house mochi or fruits.
Kinki Restaurant + Bar: 70 Collyer Quay #02-02, Customs House, Singapore 049323. P: +65 6533 3471
A waterfront restaurant, Nanjya Monjya offers amazing views with superb food. A great place for families, it even welcomes small children with its unpretentious and relaxed setting. The Chef Recommended Gobo Kara Age (Deep Fried Burdock, S$10) and Garlic Chahan (S$10) are worth a try. Nasu Dengaku (aka baked eggplant w/ bean paste) is delicious while the Potato Cheese Yaki can be done vegetarian on request, by replacing bacon by chives. The dish is sizzled on a hot plate right at your table. Other vegetarian dishes that you could try include Scallion Pancakes, Zaru Soba, Zaru Udon, Somen, Moyashi Nira Itame (aka stir-friend Beansprouts with chives) and the Salad Maki (all under S$16). For sides, you can go for Hiyayakko, Edamame, Cheese Moriawase and Kimuchi.
Nanjya Monjya: Nanjya Monjya Waterfront, 390A Havelock Road, #01-03/04/05, Waterfront Plaza, Singapore169664. P: +65 6738 7177
And Then Some
Apart from these, there are a few more Japanese restaurants that are worth mentioning in an article about vegetarian-friendly Japanese food in Singapore.
Lean Bento serves healthy, low calorie and high protein bento boxes. They offer halal certified, Vegetarian Bentos without onion or garlic. The Honey Tempeh Bento and the Mozzarella Tempeh Bento are S$11.95 each and claim to be different from boring vegetarian food.
MOF @ MY IZAKAYA is a contemporary Japanese restaurant & Izakaya. They serve healthy food without MSG or any artificial, preservatives, colourings or flavourings. Vegetarians can indulge in their signature hotstone rice but MOF is nowhere near as veg-friendly as the ones mentioned above.
Botan Japanese is a great place to catch a quick set lunch or dinner. Located in the heart of CBD, it is a hit with the office crowd. Most popular are their bentos, sashimi, maki rolls and tempura. Value for money with generous serving sizes, the staff here is very friendly as well.
All these places afford a true Japanese dining experience with a bit of twist here and there. Get your appetite worked up and hit the Japanese food circuit right here in Singapore.