Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Vegan in Tokyo!

Being back in Tokyo is throwing up so many feelings, I love it here so much that if you told me I could move here tomorrow I'd be beyond overjoyed but being here for so long with no specific purpose has me thinking hard about the different experiences you have somewhere when you're on holiday vs travelling vs settling somewhere. Last time Nick and I were here we weren't really sticking to a strict budget but this time is different, our SE Asia appropriate travel budget doesn't stretch anywhere near as far in Japan as it did in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos or Taiwan so we're having to be a little more careful than usual. When it's been cold out we've been chillaxing under a pile of blankets at the Air B&B rather than catching a movie and we're eating meals at home at least once or twice a day. Our biggest travel expense is almost always food - I can skip an expensive touristy thing like heading to the top of the highest building in favour of exploring an area on foot for a day; popping into shops, admiring the street art and just soaking in the atmosphere, but I'm never going to skip a meal! So far my favourite breakfast / lunch / dinner spot is T's Tan Tan which I mentioned last time. I love it - it's super reasonably priced and filling as well as being delicious and I love that ramen is a meal suitable for any time of day.

Ain Soph Ripple is another contender for fave' restaurant - it's a casual burger place with a small but totally excellent menu. I'm obsessed with both the cheese fries and the crispy chicken burger.


The cheese fries are made with Sheese and on my last visit I was excited to learn they they make the chicken patties themselves from shredded soy meat, wheat gluten and other yummies. They also have the best buns. You know when you get a burger and it looks like it should be great but the bun is totally inflexible making it impossible to fit in your mouth?
Well Ripple's burger buns are the polar opposite of that sad scenario. They're substantial whilst being perfectly soft and they make this burger superior to 99.9% of the other burgers in the world - I mentioned on Instagram that they're currently sharing the top spot in my mind with an Arlo's burger which is the highest possible compliment.

On Monday I met up with a whole load of lovely vegans at Ain Soph's Ripple location as one of the women who works there decided to arrange a little vegan junk food meet up before her shift started - it was so cool to meet some Japanese vegans as well as Westerners living in Japan.


As well as chatting about music, sharing food and getting some essential and super helpful Japanese language tips Nick and I were also able to get the lowdown on being vegan in Japan including discovering where to buy black salt, which brands of tonkatsu sauce (or just sauce as it's often known here) are vegan and where the best doughnuts are at. In my last post I mentioned the doughnuts from Starbucks but these might be even better! Doughnut Plant's doughnuts are epic and as of right now there are four kinds to choose from, two baked doughnuts, one soy milk and one soy caramel, and two seasonal doughnuts glazed with cranberry or soy caramel. Nick and I swung by their Shinjuku location and grabbed a seasonal soy cranberry and a seasonal soy caramel to share.



We devoured them immediately and holy yum were they good! The soy cranberry was my favourite, the glaze was tart and flavourful and I liked that the soy caramel wasn't overpowering or boarding on sickly. Last time I was in Japan doughnut plant doughnuts were eggless but there weren't any vegan options due to some supplier issues, I'm super excited that the soy milk doughnuts are back in the game and I'll definitely be grabbing these again.

In-between eating, meet up's and more eating I've been managing to fit in time for a little non-food related shopping. I was flicking through some photos from my '14 Japan trip last week and I realised that I was wearing the exact same clothes as I'd brought with me on this trip! I basically live in a black denim skirt, leggings and a black hoodie. I also realised that every single one of the 16 items of clothing in my packing cube fall within the black / grey spectrum. I'm usually cool with that, if you're going to travel with a tiny capsule wardrobe it may as well all match but I just couldn't stick with it here. Harajuku street styles have been shaping my fashion related choices (if you can call them that) ever since I first flicked through a Fruits book in Brighton as a teen and I just couldn't deal with wearing the same handful of outfits I've been wearing for almost 15 months any longer!


Last time I was in Tokyo I struggled to find any clothes that fit me, I was probably a size smaller then but clothes here are made for people with completely different body shapes to mine so I spent my time hunting for accessories which is always my fave kinda shopping. After my trip I did a little research into plus sized shopping in Japan because whilst I was there I totally saw adorably dressed women on the street who didn't fit into the narrow range of sizes sold in most stores and I was determined to find out where they were shopping. One place that came up again and again was Punyus where I bought the skirt I'm wearing in the picture. I've wanted a skirt like this since I first saw Bianca Stratford all dressed up for prom in 10 Things I Hate About You! It makes me feel fancy and yay for stores with skirts that go past mid thigh! I also finally bought a denim jacket because it's far too cold here for just a hoodie and a thin jumper to work, the day I bought this I was wearing a Herbivore vest, two t-shirts, a jumper and a hoodie as well as a scarf and a hat and I was freezing so it was a necessary purchase. Not so necessary but totally adorable is this pastel panda jumper and a selection of bracelets, hair bands and badges. Love. Love. Love.


From clothes straight back to my main love, food, despite being crazy in love with the iChoc white chocolate from my last blog post 594¥/ £3.65/ $5.22 a bar is a little unsustainable when you eat as much chocolate as I do on an ideal day. You can buy Lindt chocolate for less but it's not Food Empowerment Project certified so it's a no-go for me. I decided to look into doing an iHerb order and discovered that shipping to Japan is actually even faster and cheaper than to the UK! Nick and I dove right in and ordered a whole load of Alter Eco and Vivani bars for just 385¥/ £2.35/ $3.38 each. Much more sustainable!


We also got some Clif bars and Surf Sweets (for the junk food meet up) as well as a face mask that I should have checked the size of before purchasing. I'm gonna have to face mask pretty regularly to use all of this before flying to South Korea in June! If you live anywhere in the world and want to give iHerb a whirl you'll get $5 off of your first order if you use my code which is JOJ321. Alter Eco chocolate (get the Quinoa bar!) and Peanut Butter Clif bars aside my fave' items to order from there include Hurrah lip balms, Giovanni leave in conditioner (although for some reason it's illegal to ship this to Japan!), Dandies marshmallows and Earth Balance White Cheddar Puffs.

What else is new? My hair is now blonde with a little pink, I'm saving the purple I bought for when it's warm enough so sit around in my underwear dying my hair for two hours! My skin's already getting better after a week using LUSH's Herbalism which is a huge yay. I'm having some serious writers block when it comes to tackling the backlog of Taiwan and Hong Kong writing I have to do, I think I'm just so wrapped up in Tokyo that I don't want to write about anything else so that's what I'm going to keep doing for now. My search for Kewpie mayo continues... there are actually other brands of egg free vegan mayo but I've become a little obsessed with trying this iconic brand! As soon as I've tracked it down (or admitted defeat) I intend to whip up some okonomiyaki, I've always wanted to try it and where better to make it than in Japan where the ingredients should be easy to come by? I've been eyeing up both this recipe and this recipe (if I can work out how to replace the vegg) or perhaps this one although I don't have a blender. Let me know in the comments if you have any other recipe suggestions but keep in mind that I don't have any cookbooks or egg replacers and I can't eat chickpea flour.

See ya next time!

27 comments:

  1. Glad you're enjoying Japan! That panda bear jumper is adorable! And is that the vivani "nougat" hazelnut bar? It's sooo good. Like Vego without the whole nuts.

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    1. Thanks Emma! I'm having a tonne of fun! And no, it's just the dark bar, I'll be keeping an eye out for a nougat bar though. Sounds amazing!

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  2. I really like the panda shirt too!

    I could totally go for those cheese fries with a burger, followed by a doughnut right now. I'm hungry!

    It's always fun to read your travel blog posts. Thank you for writing them.

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    1. Thanks Babette! I'm wearing it right now!

      Thank you so much for reading <3

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  3. If you have no blender, use some kind of shaker to mix it really well!

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    1. Not a bad idea... the closest this kitchen has to a shaker would be a mug with a plate over the top which I may try but it could end in disaster. I'll report back!

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  4. You can't leave Tokyo, because I want you to stay there and blog about all of the things!!! BUT, when you do go to Korea, let me know. I have a vegan Ethiopian buddy living there, and you might be able to meet up if you want to.

    xo
    kittee

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    1. Haha! I have to leave because I'm going to spend two months at a cat shelter... I promise many cute kitty pics though! I'll hit you up nearer the time about Korea - I'll be there in June.

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  5. I really want to go back to Japan, it was so much fun, and there are many new vegan places since I was there!
    Ts Tan Tan is a favourite, of course! And I also loved Chaya... mostly I loved their strawberry shortcake which was the best!
    I really need to make some cheesy fries.
    Super cute panda jumper! I should go check the exchange rate to Japan and maybe thing about going there next. ;)

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    1. I never went to Chaya last time I was here...I'll check to see if it's still open. You should totally go to Japan next, it really is the best!

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  6. I love your posts - they are inspiring my next adventures! I've never been to Japan and was hoping to make it last year but happenings meant that got postponed....now I'm hoping to make it towards the end of the year so I will be going through all your Japan posts for ideas :)

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    1. Yay! That's exciting to hear! I'm pretty confident that you'd love it here and if you come in Autumn the maple trees are gorgeous.

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  7. That's so cool that you got to go to a local meetup and especially a vegan junk food related one! Your new outfit looks fab and thanks for the tips about iHerb. I've never ordered from there but I must check it out.

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    1. Thanks Caroline! You should definitely check out iHerb, shipping can be a little complicated but their shipping FAQ's are really thorough and if you make sure to get it under the right weight it's super cheap.

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  8. Well done on finding clothes! Your pink skirt immediately made me think of 10 Things I Hate About You, so good find. I remember when I lived in Asia it was always really depressing going into a shop and the staff calling immediately: "No plus size for you!"

    Those doughnuts look phenomenal too.

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    1. Wow, that's pretty rude!! I seem to have the opposite problem in Japan, I'll be looking at a dress or something just because it's cute and I like the pattern but because the shop assistants are so polite they rush right over saying "try it, try it" and I'm there thinking hoooow can you possibly think I'll fit in this?!

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    1. They were SO good! Definitely getting another asap!

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  10. Love the new clothes! Everything sounds so fun...and cold!

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    1. It's definitely cold hence the need to shop more. Plastic jewellery keeps you warm right?

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  11. That cranberry donut though! And that skirt! And the panda shirt! I'm super enjoying experiencing Japan vicariously through y'all. Hopefully one day we'll make it there ourselves :)

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    1. I hope you make it over here to Hannah, you'd love it!

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  12. I can see why all you want to write about is Tokyo - how much fun and tastiness all in one city. Love the skirt and the donuts!

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    1. Thanks Joey! Wearing my fancy skirt and eating doughnuts is pretty fun!

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  13. oh my gosh, what an amazing post! I love your beautiful new skirt, and I LOVE that you were able to order some goodies from iHerb. Ordering online seems like such a luxury when you are traveling! I also really love that AlterEco quinoa bar, it's so good. It's really great that you got to be a part of a vegan meetup in another country -- what a special opportunity! Terry HR has a recipe for okonomiyaki that I have made a few times in the past and loved: http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=2336&catId=11

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    1. Thanks Amey!! It really does feel like such a luxury and I think I'm going to be extra grateful when we're at the cat shelter in the middle of nowhere! I'd already made my Okonomiyaki by the time you commented but that was totally the recipe I ended up using! It had the most local ingredients and cooking with Chinese yam for the first time was super fun.

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  14. I hear you - I also tend to skip the tourist attractions and spend my money on food!

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