Hello vegan friends!
Interested in going outside Japan's beaten tracks but afraid of how you're going to feed yourself?
Tsuruoka is quite vegan-friendly actually. Even though the sea products have a very strong influence in Tsuruoka's cuisine, it is safe to say that vegetables are even more present in the local food. But you still must be careful about the dishes that you would expect to be vegan-friendly.
Especially for shôjin-ryôri 精進料理, the Buddhist food that is vegan ONLY if it is served in a Buddhist Temple. In fact, there are Shintô shrines that serve the shôjin-ryôri, but this one is not vegan. Sometimes fish will be served to you, and even when there is no fish, the broth used in miso soup contains bonito.
List of vegan shôjin-ryôri places in Tsuruoka:
-Gyokusenji Temple (Mt. Haguro): on reservation only
-Zenpoji Temple (near Kamo Aquarium): on reservation only
List of non-vegan shôjin-ryôri places in Tsuruoka:
-Saikan (Mt. Haguro: top): CAN BE MADE VEGAN BUT NEED TO ASK AT LEAST 3 DAYS IN ADVANCE
-Mt. Yudono's Sanrôjo: contains fish sashimi, bonito-based miso soup.
Other than shôjin-ryôri, you can try the famous vegetable cuisine of Tsuruoka City, the only Creative City of Gastronomy in Japan as of August 2019, that protects more than 50 endemic species of fruits and vegetables for several centuries now.
The most famous restaurant is Vegetime Doyuno ベジタイム土遊農, a restaurant that grows its own vegetables and herbs in its own greenhouse. The lunch menu costs 2000 yens, and changes every day, according the season and the availability of the day. The restaurant also gives a lot of importance to the environment. To prevent rodents from attacking the plants, the owners don't use chemical products, but instead, let cats take care of the place.
To go there without a car, take the bus bound for Mt. Haguro, and get off at Ishinoyakata Sunroad 石の館サンロード, the restaurant is located 300m away from that bus stop.
OTHER RESTAURANTS THAT PROPOSE VEGAN MENUS:
Type of cuisine: Italian/Local fusion food. Chef Okuda has been named as one of the 1000 best chefs in the world, you can go there with your eyes closed! Chef Okuda wants to bring modernity to the local cuisine by enhancing the tasty flavors of the local vegetables through Italian and French ingredients, techniques or recipes.
Price range: $$$ (5000 yens for lunch)
Comments: Even though Chef Okuda is delighted to make vegan meals, the restaurant is not vegan. You need to ask them to prepare you a vegan meal prior to your visit.
TEL : +81 235-78-7230
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/alchecciano/?tn-str=k*F
Naa is a "locavore" restaurant, that grows its own vegetables in the greenhouse next to the restaurant. Even though the restaurant is not vegan, it can easily arrange vegan meals for large groups, if asked priorly. The farmer family who holds the restaurant also owns a ryokan (Omoya) and a guesthouse (Ikoi no yado), places where you can enjoy vegan food while staying too if requested.
Type of cuisine: Local, pure Japanese cuisine
Price range: $ (1500 yens for lunch)
Comments: Please don't forget to specify you are vegan before reserving.
TEL: +81 235 25 8694
pomme de terre ポムドテール
Pomme de Terre is largely influenced by Basque Cuisine, a mix of French and Spanish tastes that uses the local ingredients.
The chef, Mr. Arisaka, has already incorporated vegan meals in his menus. However, to fully enjoy his vegan cuisine, don't forget to tell him you are vegan when you enter his restaurant.
He will create custom-made vegan menus for you.
Type of cuisine: Spanish
Price range: $$ (around 4000 yens for dinner)
Comments: Tell the chef you are vegan!
TEL: +81 235-29-2533
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pommedeterre.tsuruoka/
Local dishes that are... vegan !
Let me now introduce you all the local dishes that are perfectly safe for vegans (please note that the sugar used in the recipes is not refined with animal ashes). As a reference book, I will use the recipes book Tsuruoka Ouchi Ozen 鶴岡おうち御膳, a compilation of recipes that have been directed by Tsuruoka City Office's Department for the promotion of gastronomy. See how much local vegan dishes there are?
-Môsô-Jiru 孟宗汁 (Môsô bamboo soup)
Ingredients: Môsô bamboos, abura-age (fried tofu pouch), shiitake mushrooms, sakekasu yeast, misô, black sugar, water
-Kogomi goma ae こごみ胡麻和え (Kogomi mountain vegetable topped with its sesame sauce)
Ingredients: Kogomi (mountain vegetable), sesame seeds, soy sauce, brown sugar, saké
-Udo no Kinpira うどの金平 (Udo mountain vegetable sliced thinly)
Ingredients: Udo (mountain vegetable), soy sauce, mirin, salad oil, white sesame
-Zenmai-ni ぜんまい煮 (marinated Zenmai)
Ingredients: Dried zenmai (mountain vegetable), salad oil, sugar, saké, soy sauce
-Dongoe no Itameni どんごえの炒め煮 (Grilled & marinated dongoe)
Ingredients: Salted dongoe vegetables, usuage tofu, salad oil, soy sauce, mirin, saké
-Fuki no Itameni ふきの炒め煮 (Grilled & marinated fuki)
Ingredients: Fuki (mountain vegetable), salad oil, saké, mirin, soy sauce
-Mizutataki みずたたき (Mizu purée)
Ingredients: mizu (vegetable), miso, mountain pepper leaves, sugar
-Warabi tataki わらびたたき (warabi purée)
Ingredients: warabi (mountain vegetable), mountain pepper, miso, sugar
-Daikon no Kenchin 大根のけんちん (turnip leaves salad)
Ingredients: Daikon leaves, usuage tofu, soy sauce, salad oil, mirin, sugar, salt
-Ninjin no ha no kiriae 人参葉の切り和え (carrot leaves salad)
Ingredients: Carrot leaves, miso, sugar, sesame seeds, saké
-Kibasa no Sumiso ae キバサの酢味噌和え (sticky Kibasa salad)
Ingredients: Raw kibasa plant, miso, sugar, vinegar, mirin/saké
-Mozuku to Kyûri no Sunomono モズクと胡瓜の酢の物 (slimy & sour mozuku & cucumber salad)
Ingredients: Mozuku, cucumbers, vinegar, soy sauce, salt
-Nasu no Nabeyaki なすの鍋焼き (Eggplants stew)
Ingredients: Eggplants, green shiso, salad oil, miso, sugar, salt
-Nasu no Edamame Ae なすの枝豆和え (Eggplants topped with sweet edamame)
Ingredients: Eggplants, edamame soy beans, sugar, saké, salt
-Yûgao no abura itame ゆうがおの油炒め (fried yugao calabash)
Ingredients: yugao calabash, soy sauce, mirin, green shiso, salad oil
-Shiso maki しそ巻き (shiso rolls stuffed with miso)
Ingredients: Miso, sugar, rice flour, wheat flour, sesame seeds, saké, green shiso leaves, frying oil
-Shiso no mi no tsukudani しその実の佃煮 (sweet shiso seeds)
Ingredients: Shiso seeds, salad oil, soy sauce, saké, sugar
-Karatori no goma ae からとりの胡麻和え (Karatori yam with its sesame sauce)
Ingredients: Karatori yam's stem, sesame seeds, sugar, soy sauce, mirin or saké
-Karatori no suzuke からとりの酢漬 (Karatori yam pickled in vinegar)
Ingredients: Karatori yam's stem, umeboshi (dried plum)'s tsuyu, vinegar, sugar, salt
-Ninjin no kurumi shiraae 人参のくるみ白和え (Carrots mixed in a walnut/tofu sauce)
Ingredients: Carrots, cotton tofu, walnuts, sugar, soy sauce, salt, saké, sugar
-Yurine to aburaage no nimono ゆり根と油揚げの煮物 (Marinated lily roots and tofu)
Ingredients: Lily bulbs, aburaage tofu, karatori yam's stem, soy sauce, mirin, sugar
-Kurigohan 栗ご飯 (chestnut topped rice)
Ingredients: Urushi rice, mochi rice, chestnuts, salt, soy suace, saké, sugar, water, black sesame seeds
-Nameko Oroshi Ae なめこおろし和え (slimy mushrooms and mashed daikon turnip)
Ingredients: Nameko mushrooms, daikon, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, mirin
-Nameko shôyu ni なめこ醤油煮 (slimy mushrooms in soy sauce)
Ingredients: Nameko, soy sauce, saké
-Kaki namasu 柿なます (Sour persimmons)
Ingredients: Hoshigaki, daikon turnip, vinegar, sugar, salt, saké
-Kaki no gomaae 柿の胡麻和え (Persimmons in sesame and tofu)
Ingredients: Persimmons, konjac, cotton tofu, white sesame, white miso, sugar, soy sauce, salt
-Ichijiku no kanroni いちじくの甘露煮 (steamed figs)
Ingredients: Figs, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce
TSUKEMONO (Japanese pickles)
-Nasuzuke 茄子漬 (eggplants' sour pickles)
Ingredients: Eggplants, ginger, sugar, salt, water
-Nasu no karashizuke 茄子のからし漬 (eggplants pickled in Japanese mustard)
Ingredients: Eggplants, sugar, saké, karashi, salt, saké yeast
-Nasu no kasuzuke 茄子の粕漬 (eggplants pickled in yeast)
Ingredients: Eggplants, sugar, saké yeast, salt
-Kyûri no kasuzuke 胡瓜の粕漬 (cucumbers pickled in yeast)
Ingredients: Cucumbers, saké yeast, salt, sugar
-Kyûri no karashizuke 胡瓜のからし漬 (cucumbers pickled in Japanese mustard)
Ingredients: cucumbers, powdered karashi, salt, saké, sugar
-Akakabuzuke 赤かぶ漬 (pickled red turnips)
Ingredients: Red turnips, sugar, salt, vinegar, shôchû alcohol
-Myôgazuke みょうが漬 (ginger pickles)
Ingredients: myoga, salt, vinegar, sugar
-Daikonzuke 大根漬 (pickled daikon)
Ingredients: daikon, salt, jôgen yeast, rice bran, sugar
Otsumami (little snacks)
-Imo no nikorogashi 芋の煮ころがし (Salty-sweet Little potato balls)
Ingredients: Potatoes, salad oil, sugar, mirin, miso, soy sauce, water
-Seisaizuke 精菜漬 (Pickled seisai salad)
Ingredients: Seisai, salt, soy sauce, apple vinegar, sugar, shôchû alcohol
-Benkeimeshi 弁慶飯 (onigiri wrapped in miso flavoured seisai)
Ingredients: rice, miso, seisai salad
-Ego えご (Ego plant jelly)
Ingredients: Ego leaves, water
-Tokoroten ところてん (vegan jelly)
Ingredients: Amagusa, water, vinegar
VEGAN PRODUCTS AVAILABLE AT THE STORE
-Tochimochi (chestnut-flavoured mochi)
-Kusamochi (yomogi-flavoured mochi)