Japanese Foods – Tablelog website or how to find any food in Japan & Vegetarian Help!

For a long time in Japan I ate by walking around and going into a place that looked good when I was hungry or word-of-mouth. That works really well in Japan. However Tablelog is a great website with tons of options on how to search for restaurants in Japan http://tabelog.com/.  It works great if you’d like to eat a certain cuisine, if you’re traveling or new to an area.

I also wrote below on the best websites for being a vegan or vegetarian in Japan. If you’re only in need of that scroll on down.

There are a lot of ways on tablelog to search up food. You can just click your location or train station and see anything that’s close-by.

Or you can narrow it down to your city (tablelog is Japanese nation-wide) then pick a cuisine.

A few those foods those who aren’t used to food in Japan may not know:

Monjya – A type of pancake similar to Okonomiyaki but with more flour batter and very flat.

Yakiniku – Also known as Korean Bar-be-que

Yakitori – Chicken on skewers, usually visited to drink as well.

Shabu Shabu – thin strips of beef or pork self-cooked in a large pot with vegetables.

Horumon – Beef or pork entrails. A manly food.

Tonkatsu – Chicken or pork breaded with panko bread crumbs often coming with similar style vegetables.

Nabe – Hotpot usually Shabu Shabu restaurants serve as well. Usually a thicker broth than Shabu Shabu.

Kushiage – Deep fried meats, vegetables on skewers as well as mochi and cheese.

Motsunabe – A nabe made with pork entrails known for its milky type broth.

Hamburg steak – Hamburger patty served usually with a sauce and rice along with stew cooked vegetables.

Izakaya – Bar has a food menu, usually one that specializes in bigger parties and all-you-can-drink

Okonomiyaki – Pancake with cabbage and pork done Osaka style or Hiroshima style.

Curry – Can mean Indian style or Japanese style.

Viking – A buffet, usually all-you-can-eat

Ryokan – An inn that serves a special set meal that is several courses and usually expensive. Meat or fish based.

You can also click on more and the pictures should help here.

Finding food around a train station

Just for kicks I typed Shimokitazawa 下北沢 into the search engine (link). It’s a hipster neighborhood near Shinjuku that I know has a lot of different types of restaurants.

It will pull up restaurants no matter the type if you search just by station by ranking.

Now of course the 10,000 yen place you are getting what you pay for so it should be amazing. Rankings are kind of skewed like that  :?: So I don’t trust the rankings much  unless I’m looking for a specific type of food and they all are the same price.

The default search is half a kilometer, you can change it to 1km – 2km.

You can also pull up a map showing all your choices and how close they are to the train station.

Finding a type of food

After I narrowed it down to Tokyo I clicked on the “see more types of food” of the above thing I translated.

I scrolled down to sweets and picked “Ices”

From here I found a place in Shimokitazawa called Shimokita Chaen Taizan しもきた茶苑大山 (tabelog link). A teahouse with traditional Japanese ices. I want to eat them now!  :alpaca:

So here’s their data, you can also view a map and have it sent to your phone.

It’s 2 minutes away from the station, it’s got 12 seats (sizes of Japanese restaurants are measured in seats or tables). Average people paid under 999 yen (less than $11.00)

People mostly went there with friends, on a date or by themselves.

You can click for more info and see it’s pretty equal who went there as friends, date or by themselves. Which is helpful in Japan since some places are notorious date spots and going alone is a foreveralone feeling.

So I just want ices, but tablelog is nice enough to show all the places to eat super close-by.

For those with no or little Japanese I really recommend using it and clicking on the menu メニュー button. Users usually have uploaded pictures of the actual menu so you can view an intimidating menu beforehand if you’ve planned a place. You also can be assured of the price so there’s no shock when you first check out the menu.  :stepup:

Tablelog is one of several food sites for Japan, but it is currently the most popular. It is super convient to use compared to the others. Gourmet Navi (site) and Tabehodai Navi (site) [specializing in all you can eat] are two other sites.

If you’re in Japan for a visit or a stay I really recommend trying out tablelog. It’s especially helpful if you’d like to try a special cuisine  :heart:

Being Vegetarian / Vegan in Japan

When I first moved to Japan I was a vegetarian and had been practicing it for several years. Being a vegetarian in America is so extremely easy that you take your choices for granted. Japan it’s a bit harder, but very doable.


Kinomama (Japanese) – Is a website dedicated to organic foods in Japan which often means vegetarian. I love it because it’s nation-wide and has a nice talk on each place. But if the restaurant has a website it links and you can check out their food. In my opinion the best starting out point for vegetarians.

Time Out Tokyo’s Top Vegetarian Restaurants (English) –  A great list in English of great places to eat in Tokyo

Vegetarian in Japan (English) – A great blog featuring beautiful pictures of homemade food and restaurant reviews.

Atashida’s Blog – Okay I’m biased because I think Atashida is a great person (we always hang out when I’m in Kansai) and she’s a rocking vegetarian. In her blog she has reviews of some vegetarian places she’s eaten. She’s the best to ask about Kansai vegetarian!




  1. January 30, 2013 / 4:00 pm

    huhu i know this is the wrong post,but do you maybe know any hair make salons in ikebukuro for suji hair/ageha style hair? >__<

    • Mitsu
      January 30, 2013 / 5:23 pm

      beautyhotpeper.jp and look for haircare although I must warn you most hairset places are set in Ginza or Kabukicho for hostesses. Those are the ones who do suji best.

  2. January 30, 2013 / 6:47 pm

    This is great! :D
    I went to Japan last year and pretty much ate everything in sight… however, I’m now gluten intolerant so eating anything with wheat makes me sick! No more okonomiyaki or takoyaki *cries* I want to go back to Japan in the next year or so, but I’m not sure how to tackle eating out/convenience store food other than just eating rice! Do you have any suggestions or am I out of luck? haha! <3

    • Mitsu
      January 30, 2013 / 9:02 pm

      Gluten free ahhh I’m so sorry to hear that!

      Have you thought of other delicious gluten free options that are traditional such as sukiyaki, shabushabu, nabe, crab restaurants (there’s a chain that’s amazing http://douraku.co.jp.e.at.hp.transer.com/ go during lunch for good but filling lunch specials that won’t break the bank), gyutan (beef tongue) and yakitori?

      Tabehodai (all you can eat) places are good too since you can choose without worrying in a menu. http://www.tabehoudai-navi.net/ Nabezo for shabushabu/sukiyaki is a personal fave.

      Did you know Asian countries they’re more likely to develop a rice allergy? Bodies are so interesting!

      I found this searching and it’s a great thing to print out http://www.celiactravel.com/cards/japanese/

      • January 30, 2013 / 10:38 pm

        Thank you so much! :D I hope I can get around all the worries and have another awesome trip! ^_^ <3

        • Mitsu
          January 31, 2013 / 1:55 am

          I didn’t know this but mochi flour is gluten free. Makes sense but eat all the mochi! I bet most traditional Japanese sweets are gluten free XD

          • Laura
            February 18, 2014 / 7:56 am

            I’m sorry, but you should be VERY careful about what you eat. No konbini food, no mochi, no onigiri, nothing, since they have wheat. Don’t ask me where you put wheat in an onigiri, but that’s how it is. Some yakionigiri or 100円 lawson ones are wheat free though. Almost every dish has some form of soy sauce, if you ask about the broth etc fro the waiter they can get really confused and even if the dashi or dish didn’t have soy, you will be told that the restaurant can’t make sure your dish is 100% wheat free. Speciality stores are rare and normal stores usually don’t have any gluten free selection. Some tips:

            – There is an organic shop called Natura house, it’s quite expensive, but has some allergy friendly products
            – Don’t eat konbini foods
            – Raw vegan restaurants and cafes are 99% gluten free (there are couple of nice juice bars, a restaurant in Mejiro and pop up restaurant every Fri in Omotesando for example). Vegetarian Brown Rice Cafe also marks in the menu gluten free foods (don’t expect a lot, but last week their chocolate cake was quite good)
            – Please pack your own snacks, order them online, buy seasonal fruits from supermarkets etc
            – In packages, look for kanji 小麦
            – People don’t often know gluten, say you have wheat allergy, ask if x is prepared with soy/shoyu
            – Sashimi is your safe food, but plain rice, sushi without dipping sauce, ochazuke too maybe
            – Zenzai, mochi, daifuku are delicious sweets and safe (but check first!!)
            – Look out for tea served in restaurants and bottled in konbini (wheat.. tea? dunno what is this English, brownish color, mugicha)
            – If you can’t speak Japanese, don’t rely on allergy sign cards, but dine in areas with more tourists :/
            – Again, bring your own snacks. Natural house has maybe couple of brands of gluten free bars or crackers

            But you can enjoy many dishes if you aren’t celiac and can tolerate small amounts, and as said – well made traditional sweets don’t usually use wheat (cheap ones do!) In Japan however, I think everyone with a ‘special’ diet (lactose, gluten intolerances, vegetarian, religious etc) – be extra careful. There’s chicken in tofu burgers and bacon in your ‘meat free’ sauces as a garnish. I still hope everyone will visit this country, since it’s the most lovely place tho the food is fantastic. Enjoy~

  3. January 30, 2013 / 9:30 pm


    I have a major gluten allergy so hopefully this will help me find some gluten free specialty places! Thanks babe!

  4. January 31, 2013 / 4:13 am

    Thank-you so much for this Mitsu! I’ve been quite worried about eating in Japan because I’m also vegetarian. This is fantastic! I will definitely check those sites out when I’m on exchange there next year. :)

  5. January 31, 2013 / 4:24 am

    Thank you for posting this! I knew about Tabelog but I haven’t had a chance to fully explore it yet. Can’t wait to go to Japan! :D

  6. Kayla
    February 5, 2013 / 4:03 pm

    Thanks so much for considering us veggie people. I’m vegetarian and I want to be vegan. But um, I can’t read. Do I have to know a certain level of Japanese to use this thing?:lolpastel:
    Oh, and I get so excited every time your blog pops up in my email. :love:

    • Mitsu
      February 6, 2013 / 2:26 pm

      I think the two English links are the best or google translate could help! But you’ll find a lot of options such as inari sushi or edamame and such in most places you go, just don’t expect to have a lot of options.

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