Monday, April 15, 2024
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Craft Beer & Vegan

by BeerTengoku Writer
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We know that not all of our readers are carnivores. Japan has a long history of vegetarianism – in fact before the 18th century, the country was largely vegetarian; both the Buddhist and Shinto religions omitted meat and dairy for ethical reasons. Of course, that has changed but the vegan movement is growing in Japan and there are plenty of choices out there. One area though that could do with seeing some improvement is craft beer. I know that while chips do come from potatoes, they are not the balanced meal that people need. In this article, we’re going to try to list some of our favourite places that have a plethora of options for vegetarians, and perhaps even some choices for vegans too.

There are some conditions to this:

  • While a restaurant might not be fully vegan / vegetarian, there should be enough options for someone to be full up.
  • Craft beer has to be on tap and not in bottles – we have no problem with the latter; however, there is no difference then in making your own vegan food and buying your own bottles for consumption at home.
  • Must be in the Kanto area – we’ve extended the area out now as there are some good choices outside of the Yamanote line.
  • Must have Japanese craft beer on tap – else it would just be a vegan listing with beer.

Beach Muffin (Zushi / Kanagawa)

If we’re going to write about places that offer up vegetarian options then we have to include Beach Muffin – one of the best places to sit and relax at with a couple of beers, and has some delicious food too. Beach Muffin comes highly recommended by beer drinkers alike for its homely atmosphere and freshly cooked food on site. The owners can often be found lurking around cooking in the kitchen or out on the floor but time and time again, Beach Muffin has found me coming back for its food. There are some staples of chips, but the vegan chilli and also the bean burger are pretty darned good and go well with the Yorocco Beer on tap.

On the right is an example of their delicious vegan taco with pinto beans and a glass of Zesty Saison. It’s so good that whenever I am in the area cycling, then I will try my damndest to find a route that gets me going via Beach Muffin for a refuel. Moreover, in January they host a vegan chili cook off – always a fun time there with chili and craft beer.

Beach Muffin Information

Beach Muffin writeup

Beach Muffin Food 2

Brunton’s (Yokohama / Kanagawa)

It’s been awhile since I’ve been here – so much so that in fact they went and packed up and found a new branch, but the ethos remains the same – sourcing out organic, locally sourced vegetables and pairing this with some excellent domestic craft beer. It might not be the cheapest place to eat and drink but you do know where all the ingredients are sourced from. The staples of hummus and salads are on the menu, but there are heartier options in the form of a tofu burger and pasta for those wanting to fill up on something more.

The hummus on the right comes with so much oil that there are hints that America has eyes on it, but it’s luxuriously silky texture, with the warm pita breads go down a treat. It’s very moorish but also light enough not to fill you up.

Brunt’s Information

Brunton’s writeup (old bar)

Brunton's Food 2・ブラントンズフード2

Uchida Biyori (Yokohama / Kanagawa)

We’re not deliberately picking places just in Kanagawa but it does seem to be leading the way – perhaps with the large amount of locally grown vegetables and a healthy minded community spirit the further south you go. Uchida Biyori was at first, a surprise for me as I thought it would be focussed on nihonshu and fried foods – how wrong I was! With a heavy focus on vegetables and food from the Yokohama area, Uchida Biyori really does want the produce to shine and it does it so well. The portion sizes could be a bit bigger for the price you pay, but they do pack a serious amount of flavour.

The tofu and avocado salad is fantastic in both texture and flavour. The creamy avocado offsets the crunch of the tofu nicely.

Uchida Biyori Information

Uchida Biyori writeup

Uchida Biyori Food 1

Carvaan Brewery & Restaurant (Sanno / Saitama)

Now this one combines two of my favourite things – middle eastern food and nature – though it is a bit of a trek to get here! Carvaan is located in Hanno, which is in the deepest part of Saitama; however the fantastic views as you sit out on the deck, drinking a beer, and eating some of the best mezze food you can find is worth the price of travel alone. The portion sizes are large and filling for a group of people but, if you’re like me, you might find that in fact, you do not want to share with anyone.

If you can’t get out to Sanno then you’ve also got a branch in – you’ve guess it – Yokohama’s Sakuragicho district that also offers up some fantastic views across the bay at night time. Moreover, there is also a branch in Shibuya that, at the time of writing, we’re yet to get to but we’re told it’s the same food as the other branches.

Carvaan Locations

Carvaan Brewery & Restaurant Food 2

LaLa Chai (Hatagaya / Shibuya / Tokyo)

It was back in 2020, when Covid-19 was in its original swing through Japan, that I found out about LaLaChai as it came recommended to me on Instagram from Samson the Craft Beer Dog. LaLa Chai has Thai food (result!) and craft beer (bonus!) and combines the two with some vegetarian and vegan options – and it’s not just some dishes like mixed nuts. There are some fantastic salad plates that will leave you full up and your mouth on fire, with the staff also being accommodating and helping to remove items that were not wanted.

I had some simple vegetarian dish with lots of delicious side dishes on the day and ended up licking the plate clean. The spice levels were comfortable and, in all honesty, I’d have liked it a bit spicier.

LaLa Chai Information

LaLaChai writeup

LaLaChai Food 4

Do you agree with these choices above? Do you have some other places you’d recommend?

Let us know in the comments below and we’ll add to this article.

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