Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Hold the Kimchi! More Vegan Eats in Seoul.

The thing that I was most worried about when I was planning my trip to Korea was the food. I was told that being vegan in Korea can be a real challenge, especially if you don't speak the language, but what if you're vegan and allergic to peppers? And yep, that means chilli! It hasn't been plain sailing by any stretch of the imagination but I was excited to discover some Korean eats in Seoul that aren't spicy and I'm going to share them with you today alongside some tips for where to eat that'll satisfy the spice fiend within. One of the first traditional spots Nick and I ventured to was Oh Se Gae Hyang which is located down a cute alleyway in Seoul's bustling and super touristy AnGuk district. 

After spotting that this place is a secret Loving Hut I immediately honed in on the sesame soup as the most promising non spicy option. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Vegan in Seoul: Five of My Fave' Eateries.

Seoul was an interesting place for me, it was so different to how I expected it would be. Anywhere I landed immediately after Tokyo was going to struggle to win an immediate place in my heart and it was warmer and more humid than I'd expected which is never my favourite combo. It was more reminiscent of some of the Taiwanese cities I visited, or maybe even Bangkok, than Tokyo, which wasn't where my preconceptions put it. These aren't bad things at all but it took me a little while to readjust my expectations. As well as some fun parks, art districts with interesting street art, traditional villages, and interesting shopping streets (more on those in a later blog post) Seoul has a tonne of amazing 100% vegan eateries and if anythings going to get me pumped about a new city it's discovering fun food. 

The Bread Blue is a cool spot because they sell a great mix of Western baked goods like croissants and baguettes as well as bean paste filled buns and sweet potato bread - things I've never seen in a bakery outside of Asia. 

I'm a total breakfast person, I can't comprehend how someone can cruise through the first few hours of their day on coffee and air alone, so Nick and I hit the baked goods hard every time we visited in the AM. 

My regular orders were the chocolate croissants (OMG!) and the ham and vegetable danish (once I'd picked off the bell peppers). Nick was into the garlic bread but I wasn't a huge fan as the bread itself tasted slightly sweet to me. Those croissants though? Wow! They were seriously good, they had layers and everything. Let's take another look.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

5 Best Vegan Desserts in Tokyo

I tend to find travelling the world as a vegan pretty easy. Whilst there are sometimes downsides; not always being able to grab a bite to eat at that cafe right next to the sight you're visiting for example, the upsides, like exploring off of the beaten path neighbourhoods, and meeting like minded compassionate people, far outweigh them. 

In Japan there was one thing that made vegan travel that little bit harder for me - there were cute desserts everywhere! If you know me you know that I love desserts and I find cute (or kawaii) things hard to resist. Desserts in Japan aren't just a picture on a menu, oh no! There are giant signs advertising sundaes outside restaurants, plastic replicas of honey toast platters in glass cases outside cafes, and giant neon lights signposting the way to the nearest creperie. Honestly, it can be a little much hence why I decided to put together this list of the top five vegan desserts in Tokyo. From Harajuku crepes to konbini dorayaki, if I wasn't so committed to researching, locating, and eating the best vegan desserts around, the city could have been a challenging place for this sugar fiend.

Super delicate, fruity, layered, cream filled cakes are the treats most likely to make my pulse race. On more than one occasion I've talked about moving to Tokyo to start a vegan dessert cafe specialising in these specific treats but now I may not have to. The Strawberry Shortcake from Chaya Macrobiotics is one of the most delightful desserts I've ever had the pleasure of eating and I am a tiny but upset that I only had the chance to eat it once.

This dessert is a showstopper, a delight for all of the senses. It's light and creamy with the perfect cake to cream ratio and the freshest berries. I am determined to recreate this when I have some spare time and an oven because I'm convinced that it's the perfect dessert. Chaya is located ontop of the iSetan building by Shinjuku station and I would highly recommend making it one of your first stops in Tokyo.

If you can avert your eyes from the striking strawberry shortcake in the foreground of my photo to the more inconspicuous Lemon and Apricot Pound Cake lurking in the back then you're in for a treat because that's dessert number two on my list!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Volunteering at Japan Cat Network

Oh Japan, it's only been a week but I miss you already. A little over a year ago when I was working out how to get back to my favourite place in the world I realised that my ideal volunteer gig would be in Japan (duh!) and would involve cats - a quick google search later and I discovered Japan Cat Network. I'd never heard of Inawashiro but I knew that I'd be able to live in Japan for free surrounded by cats - what could be better?

Japan Cat Network existed as an organisation prior to the Fukushima disaster but the Fukushima shelter itself was formed in 2011 after the Tohoku area of Japan was devastated by the Tsunami and ensuing nuclear disaster. One of Japan Cat Network's founders began rescuing animals who were left behind in the area as well as fostering cats for evacuees who were unable to take their animals with them. Japan Cat Network are a true no-kill shelter and whilst they don't take in many new animals right now they do assist local people if they find that they need to re-home an animal.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Vegan in Inawashiro, Japan

Not a single person who I've mentioned Inawashiro to has known where it is so this probably isn't going to be my most searched for or most shared blog post but it'll be relevant for any vegans coming to volunteer at Japan Cat Network, ski on Mount Bandai or to take in a slice of rural Japan. If it can help even one person then I'll feel like I'm doing my travel blogging job right.

Before coming up here I had no idea whether eating vegan would be a challenge or plain sailing. I suspected it'd learn towards the tougher end of the spectrum so I arrived with two tote bags filled with snacks, burger mixes, vegan mayo, chocolate, and margarine collected from various health food stores in Tokyo. Despite there being no veg friendly restaurants in the vicinity eating here hasn't been difficult at all. Luckily the Japan Cat Network kitchen is tooled up with gas burners, a microwave, an oven and two kinds of blender as well as some more unusual items like a takoyaki pan, and Japanese supermarkets always, always, always have tofu, rice, and exciting veggies so I was never gonna starve.

There's actually a 7/Eleven just across the road from the shelter so I've been able to find inari sushi, plain onigiri, ume onigiri, ume and sakura onigiri, Chipstar crisps, plum crisps, sweet sugared sweet potatoes, edamame, and tofu very easily. If you're planning a trip to Japan check out my Pictorial Vegan Convenience Store Guide to find out what you can eat at 7/Eleven, Lawson and Family Mart stores all over the country. A couple of weeks ago these vegan Soy Joy bars appeared on the shelves of 7/Eleven which was pretty exciting. Despite the name the majority of Soy Joy products aren't vegan but these are and whilst I didn't love the pink wrapped bar, it tasted really artificial, I was very into the one in the white wrapper which reminded me a little of shortbread.

There are two supermarkets in Inawashiro and York Benimaru is the better of the two. It's always well stocked and has a great produce department as well as must have items like soy milk, Kewpie egg free mayo, nori, potato starch, pasta, noodles, and almond meal.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

A Short Break in Hong Kong

After exploring Taiwan and before travelling onwards to Japan Nick and I spent a long weekend in Hong Kong. It wasn't a city that had ever piqued my interest enough to book a trip there but it seemed like a somewhat logical stop between Taipei and Tokyo thanks to some cheap air mile flights so we decided to go for it.

We arrived bright and early and after catching the bus into town to our hotel in North Point we headed to our second stop, Manna Fast Slow Food. Manna are a healthy wrap, salad and juice spot located right in the swanky downtown area of Hong Kong. I was craving something carby and I'd heard great things about their wraps so it seemed like the perfect first stop. 

After perusing their menu for a few minutes, you can choose either a wrap or a salad with four fillings for HK$90 / £8 / $11.60, and wishing that the prices weren't so ridiculous when compared to Taiwan, I decided on a tofu and hummus wrap with avocado and rocket. When ordering you need to keep in mind that you can get any 4 toppings for your money, tofu, fries, hummus and falafel are in the same price bracket as lettuce, tomatoes, mint and sprouts!! That seems a little strange to me, who would choose sprouts instead of hummus when they cost the same?!