Posts Tagged ‘restaurants’

Conveyor belt sushi in Japan

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Conveyor belt sushi, known there as ‘kaiten-zushi’ (回転寿司) is a popular way of eating sushi in Japan. These photos are from one of the Hamazushi restaurants which you can find all over Japan.

kaiten conveyor belt sushi japan 2

Above is one of the seating booths. There is a conveyor belt running by your table with many dishes rotating round. You can pick what you want off the conveyor belt.

Here is a closer view of what it looks like from your seat. Above the conveyor belt is a list of all the dishes, a touch screen for ordering items if you can’t get them off the belt, and cutlery.

kaiten conveyor belt sushi japan 1

Below the conveyor belt are some condiments, and a hot water tap. With the hot water tap you can make yourself some free powdered tea. You need a small spoon of the green powder (it is very strong so don’t take too much), then you push your cup against the black button to get the hot water.

kaiten conveyor belt sushi japan 5

When you enter you are given a card with your table number. You’ll need to give it back after your meal so they know which table you were sitting at.

kaiten conveyor belt sushi japan 3

If you go at a busy time the dishes will be plentiful and fresh from the kitchen. If you go at a quite time there might not much much of a selection, and the food which is on the belt might be a bit old. It is not just sushi on the conveyor belt; you’ll also find cartons of soft drink and desserts.

kaiten conveyor belt sushi japan 7

Don’t worry though if you can’t see what you want, as you can order anything on the menu from your own touch screen. All the dishes are numbered on the menu, so you can quickly flick through the touch screen system to select which dish you want, and how many of them you want. They will be freshly prepared for you and put onto the belt.

kaiten conveyor belt sushi japan 4

They are put onto special ‘customer order’ plates, which have some kind of sensor in them. When the plate gets near your table, your screen will start beeping. It will even flash a photo of the dish on the touch screen in case you forgot what you ordered.

kaiten conveyor belt sushi japan 6

It is therefore very important that when taking ‘non ordered’ food from the belt that you don’t take them off these ‘customer order’ plates. You’ll be stealing someone elses order if you do!

A quick note for vegetarians – there are some things you can eat but not very many. Most of the dishes are fish (obviously), but even some of the non-fish dishes have fish flakes, or fish dashi on them so you have to be very careful.

If you can speak some Japanese you can ask them what dishes might be safe (but don’t expect the staff to give you a quick answer). Asking whether a dish contains fish/fish sauce/dashi/sea food, etc, usually results in a confused look from the staff and them making a quick trip to the kitchen.

In a smaller sushi joint they’ll even be able to create custom orders for you if you can explain yourself. Vegetarian safe options at this restaurant included cucumber sushi, natto sushi, sweetcorn sushi, inari, and we were able to get them to custom make the aubergine sushi without the usual fish flakes.

kaiten conveyor belt sushi japan 8

All the plates are colour coded according to their price. Most main dishes were ¥100, with deserts being ¥150-¥200. They are only small though so you may get though a stack of plates. Even so these conveyor belt sushi restaurants are a pretty cheap way to get full.

Vegetarian friendly restaurants in Takamatsu, Japan

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Takamatsu 高松 is a city in the Kagawa prefecture 香川県 of Shikoku Island (Japan’s 4th island). It is always hard to find vegetarian food in Japan, but it gets more difficult the more off the usual tourist trail you are.

If you should find yourself in Takamatsu (高松) here are some restaurants where you will be able to find a few vegetarian dishes. A map showing where the restaurants are is at the bottom of this post.

Thali Spice – Nepali and Indian Restaurant

Thali Spice is located in the long covered shopping arcade. The entrance is on the ground floor and the restaurant is on the floor above. As the main restaurant is upstairs you’ll have to be careful not to walk straight past it.

thali spice indian restaurant takamatsu

They serve plenty of vegetarian Indian and Nepalese cuisine including set thalis, and chana masala. They do a set lunch which is really good value for money, and if you can get one of their discount cards you’ll save even more.

The staff are always friendly, and there is a good atmosphere in the restaurant. A good place to go for a cheap lunch, or a proper filling meal.

There is also a Thali Spice counter in the food court of the Youme Town shopping centre.

Dear – Italian

There are two Dear Italian restaurants in Takamatsu. There is a small one in the Tenmaya department store, but the main larger one is in the Sunport Tower. I’m reviewing the larger Sunport Tower restaurant.

Italian cuisine in Japan isn’t as good as Indian for vegetarian options, but is still much safer than the native Japanese food! In Dear you’ll be able to get some fairly plain pizzas that are safe for you to eat. Unfortunately though all the pastas are made with chicken stock so you won’t be able to eat these (and when we asked they said they were unable to make the pastas without the stock).

dear italian restaurant takamatsu

The Sunport Tower ‘Dear’ does have an English menu but if you don’t get it then you’ll find it useful to be able to read Katakana so you can see which pizzas you can eat. They have a margarita, and a few of the other pizzas can be ordered without their meat if you can speak Japanese.

Spacca Napoli – Italian restaurant

Spacca Napoli is a Naples style Italian restaurant. It is down a small street just North from Tenmaya. A Japanese guy who trained in Naples runs the restaurant. That combined with the proper wood burning oven makes this the most authentic Italian in Takamatsu. It is not as authentic as the real thing (they use tinned mushrooms), but they do use other real Italian ingredients such as mozzarella.

spacca napoli italian restaurant takamatsu

It is very small and popular so you might have to wait to get a table but if you want a tasty pizza then this is a good bet.

For vegetarians the best thing to do is to order a plain margarita and then add extra vegetable topping to make the pizza more interesting.

Sri Balaji – South Indian

Update 27th November 2011: Sri Balaji Takamatsu has now closed.

Wherever you are in the world one of your safest bets for getting vegetarian food will always be an Indian restaurant.

Sri Balaji, located in the Sunport Symbol Tower by the harbour in Takamatsu serves genuine South Indian dishes. You will be able to find masala dosa, mutter paneer and naans amongst many other dishes.

Sri Balaji south indian restaurant takamatsu

They cook the dishes with authentic Indian spices such as curry leaves and mustard seeds – these aren’t easy to get in Japan if you are into your Indian cooking!

The food is delicious and Sri Balaji became one of my regular restaurants whilst I was in Takamatsu. If you are a regular they have a stamp card which will get you money off a meal if you get enough stamps.

Vegetable buffet restaurant

I don’t know what this place is called (it has a Japanese name that I can’t fully read), but you can easily find it above the Franc Franc to the South of the large dome which is by the Mitsukoshi department store.

vegetable restaurant above franc franc takamatsu

They do a really good (mainly vegetable) buffet for lunch, although there is also meat, fish, udon and rice as well. As well as the pre-prepared food you can also choose some raw vegetables, and they will turn them into tempura for you.

vegetable restaurant above franc franc food takamatsu

They do put fish dashi and other animal extracts in some of the vegetable dishes, so if you can speak Japanese ask one of the staff to tell you which plates are safe.

Udon

Kagawa is famous for its Sanuki udon (a bit like thick spaghetti – usually served as a soup) so it would be a shame to miss out. In the covered shopping arcade are a few udon places that do yudame. Yudame is udon served in water soup rather than fish soup as many other udon dishes are.

The udon restaurant I recommend is located in the long covered shopping street on the East side. I’m afraid I don’t know the name of the restaurant as I can’t read the Japanese but there is a photo of the front below.

udon restaurant takamatsu kagawa

This is a canteen style restaurant so you’ll need to get a tray and ask for yudame udon. You can then get other items to put on top or on the side. The marinated tofu and inari sushi (tofu pouch filled with rice) are vegetarian.

After you have paid you can add a few extra toppings such as soy sauce and spring onions for flavour.

You will get a small container of fish sauce with your Udon – just don’t use it!

Sibayo

Sibayo is an old fashioned looking restaurant just outside the shotengai area. It is opposite the NHK building. See the map for its precise location. You’ll need to take your shoes off before coming in, and once inside there are two vegetarian dishes that you can order for lunch. The menu is on a black board written in Katakana / Kanji, but the ones to look out for are the Mame Mame bean curry (in the photo below), and the vegetable plate. If you want the Mame Mame bean curry get there early as it can sell out quickly.

sibayo restaurant takamatsu

Za-Watami

If you want a more authentic Japanese eating experience than Indian and Italian, then try Za-Watami. You’ll find it in the covered shopping arcade. It is one of those places where you’ll have to take your shoes off to go in – they have lockers for your shoes.

za watami restaurant takamatsu

Be warned though you may need to speak some Japanese to customise your order. Most of the food is not vegetarian! They have a pizza with bacon – if you are able to ask for it to be made without bacon (bacon nashi), and verify that the staff have properly understood you, then you’ll have a basic margarita pizza. You can also order onion rings, chips, and some vegetables, plenty for a meal.

Za-Watami is more expensive then the other options I’ve given but if you want to feel more like you are in Japan when you are eating, then give it a go.

Ramjham – Indian and Nepalese

Ramjham is located a short distance from Thali Spice just out of the West side of the covered shopping arcade. Plenty of tasty vegetarian options.

Freshness Burger

It isn’t easy to find a vegetarian burger in Japan, but at Freshness Burger in the Sunport building you can find two! It is on the floor below Dear and Sri Balaji.

freshness burger takamatsu

You can get a tofu burger, and a bean/vegetable burger. Both are good but I’d recommend the bean/vegetable burger. Order from the counter, and five minutes later they’ll bring the burger to your table. You can also order chips for the complete burger experience. This is a good place to come if you want a quick vegetarian lunch.

Takamatsu vegetarian restaurant map

Here is a map showing where in Takamatsu the restaurants are. I’ve tried to position the pins as accurately as I can but I apologise if there are slight inaccuracies.


View Takamatsu 高松: Vegetarian friendly restaurants in a larger map

You can read more about Takamatsu in my Takamatsu ‘what to do there’ guide.

Best Vegetarian restaurants in London

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Here is a list of my favourite places in London to get Vegetarian food. The first group are actual vegetarian restaurants. The second group are restaurants that just happen to have good vegetarian options. They are presented in no particular order.

Vegetarian restaurants

Tibbits

Tibits is a vegetarian buffet restaurant that started in Switzerland and has now come over to London. They have both hot and cold food. The food is of very high quality. They have pastas, lasagnes, vegetables and salads.

When you go in you get a plate and fill it up with whatever you want. At the till they weigh the plate and you simply pay for the mass of food that you have bought. You get a bread roll with your food as well.

Price: About £10 for a plate depending on the weight of the food
Address: 12-14 Heddon Street, off Regent Street, London, W1B 4DA
Web: http://www.tibits.co.uk/

tibits

Sagar Restaurant

Sagar is a restaurant serving vegetarian Indian food. There is one in Hammersmith and this one in central London. You can get food such as dosa and thalis. There is a range of deserts and drinks such as lassi.

The interior is clean and the food is tasty.

Price: Less than £10
Address: 17a Percy Street, London W1T 1DU

Red Veg – Sadly closed now :(

A lot of vegetarian restaurants can have a bit of a ‘hippy’ atmosphere with pan pipe music and many plants inside. It is nice to have something different in the form of Red Veg. It is a fast food outlet which serves burgers, hot dogs, wraps and chips. It is very tiny – there are a few seats but not enough to guarantee you a seat. This is more a place to buy fast food to take out.

Update: Since I originally wrote this Red Veg has closed. But check out their website for the location of their Brighton location.
Price: Less than £10
Address: 95 Dean Street, London, W1D 3TB
Web: http://www.redveg.com/

red veg

Maoz

Maoz is a falafel restaurant. They’ll make your falafel to order and they have a wide range of salad to eat. They have side orders such as chips. You can either eat in or take out.

A good option if you want some quick vegetarian food.

Price: Less than £10
Address: 43 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 6HG
Web: http://www.maozusa.com/

maoz vegetarian

Mildreds

Mildreds is a great vegetarian restaurant in Soho. You can get pasta, tofu, burgers and a tofu stir fry. On the day I went I had a mushroom and ale pie! They have a selection of deserts including a tofu cheese cake.

Mildreds also run a cake shop on the same road at number 53 called Mrs Marengo’s.

Price: £10-£15
Address: 45 Lexington Street, London, W1F 9AN
Web: http://www.mildreds.co.uk/

mildreds inside

Woodlands Restaurant

Woodlands is a smart looking vegetarian restaurant near to Leicester Square. They have the usual vegetarian options of dosa, thali, and rice dishes.

Price: £10
Address: 37 Panton Street, London, SW1Y 4EA
Web: http://www.woodlandsrestaurant.co.uk/

woodlands restaurant

Sakonis Vegetarian Restaurant

The restaurants above are all in the West end of London. Sakonis is a lot further out in Harrow, but if you want very cheap authentic vegetarian Indian food then it is worth a visit. At lunch times they do a great buffet with dosas, chill paneer, bhel poori, and a variety of curries. You can eat as much as you like. Plain and strawberry ice cream is included in the price.

Price: Less than £10
Address: 5-8 Dominion Parade, Station Road, Harrow, HA1 2TR
Web: http://www.sakonis.co.uk/

Standard restaurants with good Vegetarian options

Pizza Express

Pizza Express is a big chain and is a safe bet if you want a tasy pizza or pasta. There is a good selection of meat free dishes here. The funghi, margarita and giardiniera pizzas are of course vegi, but if you want something different you can ask them to put whatever vegetable toppings you like onto your pizza. Just don’t let them put parmesan cheese on your pizza as this is made with animal rennet.

Price: £10-£15
Address: 7-9 Charlotte Street Marylebone, London, W1T 1RG
Web: http://www.pizzaexpress.com/

Thai Cottage

Thai Cottage is a small Thai restaurant in Soho with a family feel. They have many tasty and sometimes quite spicy Thai dishes. I particuarly like their stir fried tofu. A vegetarian green curry is also available.

Price: £10
Address: 34 D’arblay St, London, W1F 8EX

thai cottage

Nandos

Nandos is a chain and their restaurants are all over London. They are known as being a chicken restaurant but don’t let this put you off. They have a number of very tasty vegetarian options (which can be as spicy or not depending on which marinade you order).

When you arrive you are allocated a table number, you then order from the till and sit down. Your food will be brought to you. Good vegi options include the veggie, bean or portobello bugers and the pittas which are especially tasty with the spicy marinade. On the side you can order peri peri chips, salad, rice and corn on the cob.

Price: £10 each
Address: 57-59 Goodge Street, London, W1T 1TH
Web: http://www.nandos.co.uk/

Thai Square

There are many Thai Square restaurants around London but the best one is in Trafalgar Square.

If you are looking for a ‘posh’ looking restaurant with good vegetarian options you may find it difficult. There are countless expensive restaurants in London but most of the pricier ones have really bad vegetarian options. Often they have a token option such as spaghetti pomodoro – hardly very imaginative. The Thai Square in Trafalgar Square fills a niche here. The decor inside is nice enough to take a vegetarian on a special occasion, and there are many good vegetarian options.

Price: £20 each
Address: 21-24 Cockspur Street, Trafalgar Square, London, SW1Y 5BL
Web: http://www.thaisquare.net/

Map

This is a map of all the central London restaurants (only Sakonis which is in Harrow is excluded!). Fully vegetarian restaurants are shown in green and other restaurants with good vegetarian options are shown in yellow.


View Best Vegetarian restaurants in London in a larger map

Other tips

If you are going to a Thai or Chineese restaurant watch out for restaurants putting fish or oyster sauce on your food. Ask for no oyster sauce but you can tell them that soy sauce is fine.

Realistically if you go to a restaurant that also serves meat there is a good chance that there may be a small amount of contamination from shared food utensils or shared grills. The situation here in London is much better than in other European cities. If the idea of any potential mixing of utensils is too much for you then you are better off sticking with pure vegetarian restaurants.