Why visit Hiroshima?
Hiroshima, located in western Japan, holds a significant place in history and offers a unique blend of cultural richness and natural beauty that draws people from all over the world. One of the main reasons why people are attracted to visit Hiroshima is its historical significance as the first city to suffer the devastation of an atomic bomb during World War II. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, with its iconic Atomic Bomb Dome, serves as a solemn reminder of the past while promoting peace and nuclear disarmament. Visitors can learn about the city’s resilience and witness the moving exhibits at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Beyond its historical importance, Hiroshima also captivates travelers with its serene landscapes, including the picturesque Miyajima Island with its stunning floating torii gate, lush gardens, and scenic mountain views. With its rich history, natural beauty, and warm hospitality, Hiroshima offers a truly memorable and transformative experience for those seeking a deeper understanding of Japan’s past and a glimpse into its future.
Vegan in Hiroshima
Hiroshima may not be widely recognized as a vegan food haven, but it offers a growing array of diverse vegan and vegan-friendly options for visitors to savor. While one of the highlights is undoubtedly the chance to try vegan versions of Hiroshima’s famed specialty, Okonomiyaki, made with plant-based ingredients, the city also boasts a range of other enticing choices. From cozy cafes serving plant-based pastries and refreshing smoothie bowls to trendy restaurants offering innovative vegan sushi and hearty grain bowls, Hiroshima caters to a variety of tastes and dietary preferences. Many eateries are mindful of accommodating vegans, offering creative dishes that showcase local and seasonal produce. Exploring Hiroshima’s culinary scene allows travelers to enjoy the region’s specialties while relishing the vibrant and diverse vegan options available.
Things to know about restaurants in Hiroshima and throughout Japan
One Food, One Drink per Person: It is common for restaurants to have a policy of ordering one food item and one drink per person to ensure fair service and manage the dining experience efficiently.
Wait Time in Small Spaces: Due to limited space, small restaurants often have a long wait time, especially during peak hours. This is to accommodate as many customers as possible and maintain a comfortable dining environment.
Adding Name to a Waitlist: In crowded restaurants, patrons may need to add their names to a waitlist outside and return later when a table becomes available. This system helps manage the flow of customers and ensures fair seating.
No Reservations: Many restaurants do not accept reservations, particularly smaller establishments. This practice is to provide equal opportunity for all customers and maximize the seating capacity.
Efficient Service and Quick Turnover: The style of food served in some restaurants, along with efficient service, leads to a quick turnover of tables. This results in queues moving swiftly as diners finish their meals promptly.
Ordering via QR Code: To streamline the ordering process, some restaurants employ QR codes placed on tables. Customers can scan the code with their smartphones to access the menu, place orders, and make payments digitally.
Unique Operating Days and Rules: Restaurants may have specific operating days and their own set of rules. For instance, some establishments may require customers to place their orders before being seated or have specific guidelines regarding seating arrangements or last orders for food. One place for dinner we went to, you needed to order before 6:30pm. These rules vary from one restaurant to another and add to the distinct character of each establishment. It’s best to check!
Tips for Eating in Hiroshima:
1. Utilize Google Translate for Vegan Requests:
If you’re following a vegan diet and need to convey your dietary preferences to the restaurant staff, Google Translate can be a helpful tool. Use the app to translate key phrases or sentences into Japanese, such as “I am vegan. I do not consume meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products.” This will aid in communicating your needs and ensure a smoother dining experience.
2. Arrive Early to Minimize Waiting:
To avoid long wait times, it is advisable to visit restaurants in Hiroshima when they open. By arriving early, you increase your chances of securing a table without a significant wait. This is especially important for popular or small establishments where seating capacity may be limited.
3. Consider Reservations, if Available:
While many Hiroshima restaurants do not accept reservations, some larger or specialized establishments may offer this option. If you have a specific restaurant in mind, it is worth checking if they allow reservations. If language barriers pose a challenge, seek assistance from the hotel where you are staying. They can help you communicate your reservation request and ensure a smoother process.
Remember, it’s always a good idea to be flexible and open to exploring various dining options in Hiroshima. The city has a vibrant culinary scene with a range of eateries.
During our time in Hiroshima, we were keen to check out Nagata-Ya, an Okonomiyaki restaurant that had a buzz around its vegan offerings. We were curious to try the Hiroshima Okonomiyaki, a local specialty, and explore their vegan options.
As we settled into the cozy atmosphere, we checked out the online reviews that focused on the vegan dishes at Nagata-Ya. The reviews were overwhelmingly positive, building up our excitement.
Okonomiyaki, Hiroshima style, has its own special touch. Unlike the traditional version, Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki starts with a thin flour tortilla-like base, topped with soba noodles, cabbage, onion, corn, garlic chips, and green onion. The combination of flavors and textures creates a satisfying blend that both vegans and non-vegans can enjoy.
To quench our thirst, we ordered a refreshing Hiroshima Lemon Sour and a beer.
The highlight of our meal was the vegan Okonomiyaki. The chefs made sure to clean the hot plate thoroughly before cooking the vegan and vegetarian options. The result was a delicious creation where all the ingredients came together beautifully. The thin tortilla base provided a delicate foundation, while the soba noodles added a nice chewiness. The combination of cabbage, onion, corn, garlic chips, and green onion gave the dish a satisfying crunch and a burst of flavors.
Alongside the Okonomiyaki, we couldn’t resist trying the vegan gyoza, cabbage with salt dressing, and edamame as side dishes. These savory accompaniments complemented the main dish perfectly and were labeled clearly as vegan. Nagata-Ya also offered a fun selection of sauces, including vegan Okonomiyaki sauce, spicy vegan Okonomiyaki sauce, and a tangy lemon sauce, which showcased the local lemon specialty.
While waiting for our Okonomiyaki to arrive, we took in the unique atmosphere of Nagata-Ya. The restaurant was filled with charming objects and vintage posters, creating a nostalgic vibe. We enjoyed exploring the surroundings and discovering interesting details.
Nagata-Ya is a well-known Okonomiyaki restaurant, particularly for its vegan and vegetarian options. It’s no surprise that it’s a popular spot, so be prepared for a possible wait. The restaurant’s commitment to catering to different dietary preferences is commendable, with a separate and extensive menu section for vegans and vegetarians.
Overall, our experience at Nagata-Ya was memorable. The Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki, the tasty vegan choices, and the nostalgic ambiance all contributed to a wonderful culinary adventure. Whether you’re a vegan or simply curious about Hiroshima’s flavors, Nagata-Ya is definitely worth a visit.
Koh-Ran-En is an upscale Chinese restaurant nestled on the second floor of the Granvia hotel in Hiroshima close to the train station. The restaurant provides both vegetarian menus that can be made vegan. However, it’s important to note that booking two days in advance is required specifically for the vegetarian and vegan courses.
Our experience at Koh-Ran-En involved sampling a few dishes rather than exploring the full menu – as we had a lot of restaurants to try out.
We enjoyed a light vegetable soup, spring rolls, and fried rice. However, even upon reviewing the entire menu, it didn’t seem particularly exciting, especially considering the availability of other enticing dining options in Hiroshima.
It’s worth mentioning that the ambiance of the restaurant left something to be desired. With its dim lighting, lack of windows, and abundance of curtains, it had the typical ambiance of an older-style Chinese restaurant found within a large hotel. While Koh-Ran-En offers vegetarian and vegan options, it may not offer the same level of excitement and atmosphere as some other dining establishments in the area.
Taiko Udon is a remarkable restaurant in Hiroshima that caters to vegans with its impressive vegan menu and staff. Although it is primarily a non-vegan establishment, Taiko Udon goes above and beyond to accommodate vegan diners. We were truly delighted by our experience at this restaurant. The food was outstanding, infacte, one of our favorite meals of the trip! Moreover, the restaurant’s size was just right, creating a comfortable and inviting atmosphere, but not too cluttered or crowded.
Taiko Udon specializes in serving traditional udon and typical Japanese dishes. To assist English-speaking customers, they provide a digital menu in English. The menu offers several vegan-friendly options, including the delectable vegan grated radish udon and the savory brown seaweed udon. We personally tried their dan dan udon noodles, which featured a rich and creamy broth made with soy milk. Additionally, we savored some udon in a light and clear soup broth, as well as the udon noodles topped with delectable tempura vegetables.
Ordering is conveniently done through a website accessed via a QR code on each table, making the process effortless and user-friendly. It’s worth inquiring about items that are not explicitly marked as vegan, as we discovered some hidden vegan items by simply asking the staff.
Yuhoen Restaurant is not in Hiroshima, but if you happen to find yourself in Miyajima, the main town on the island of Itsukushima, you need to check out Yuheon, a charming vegetarian restaurant nestled within the grounds of Daishoin temple. Miyajima is a popular destination due to attractions like the Itsukushima Jinja, the Grand Otorii Gate (the large gate in the water), and the Miyajima ropeway – popular destinations for local and international tourists and the island is just a 15 minute train ride from Miyajimaguchi Station although there are other boats from Hiroshima.
Yuhoen provides a delightful culinary experience within its own walled garden, boasting a unique hexagonal shape. The restaurant offers a small but lovely menu, with a focus on vegetarian and mostly vegan options. During our visit, we each enjoyed their flavorful curry, which was accompanied by a truly delightful dessert—a pannacotta-like creation drizzled with a luscious strawberry sauce. Run by a welcoming family, Yuheon exudes a peaceful ambiance and is truly a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.