Japan is filled with excellent food, but one of our absolute favorites is ramen. There’s just something (possibly everything) about it that’s absolutely delicious. That said, it does present a problem for vegetarians and vegans, since even the broth uses a fairly copious amount of animal products. Now, you may not care about that, but maybe you have a few friend who do. Or maybe you’re just looking for new takes on traditional food. If so, T’s Tantan, a vegetarian ramen restaurant, is just what you’ve been looking for.
We recently sent one of our Japanese writers to check it out, and now you can read his report below and then go try it out for yourself! Or at least tell all your vegetarian friends about it. We promise they’ll love you if you do!
There are a few T’s Tantan locations, but our writer ended up at the branch located on Keiyo Street in Tokyo Station. As you can see in the photo above, there was even a line of people waiting outside, which is usually taken as an indication that the food is good in Japan.
▼ Is anyone else getting a Blade Runner vibe off this sign?
According to the sign below, “T’s Tantan does not use any ingredients that come from animal products like meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products.” We’re not sure if it can still be ramen at this point, but we are definitely curious to see what it’s like!
According to our writer, there were quite a few non-Japanese patrons dining at T’s Tantan. This isn’t particularly surprising to us as there don’t seem to be very many pure vegetarians in Japan. Of course, we don’t have any hard numbers on exactly how many vegetarians there are, but based purely on personal experience, the number seems to be much lower than places like the United States.
Our Japanese reporter didn’t share our surprise at learning you could make ramen without using any animal products, but he was surprised at just how good it was! “It was just like eating regular ramen! In fact, it was really good ramen,” he told us.
You can see his order below. It consists of soy sauce ramen and a small bowl of rice and curry. According to our reporter, “The broth smelled amazing, and just the aroma alone was excellent. And the broth was the perfect density, so I consumed it in mere minutes!” The set was quite reasonably priced too, coming in at 1,050 yen (about US$8.74).
▼ A close-up of the great-smelling ramen
As for the curry and rice, it too was vegetarian. Our reporter noted that the spices for the curry were right on the money.
▼ “Was this really made only using vegetables?” our satiated reporter wondered.
▼ Here’s a piece of “meat” made from soybeans.
Our reporter also brought a friend along, a non-Japanese woman who just happened to be a vegetarian! As you might expect, being a vegetarian, she had never had ramen before, something that is just about enough to make us cry. She ordered the set pictured below, which consisted of tantan-men and a small jaja bowl, which had eggplant, miso, and rice. Together, the dishes cost 1,100 yen (about $9.10).
So how did a real, actual vegetarian respond to her first bowl of ramen? “What is this?!” she apparently exclaimed. “The soup is a delicious mixture of peanuts and sesame, and it’s so creamy! The tantan noodles are so soft, and they have a great texture! I had no idea ramen was this delicious. I’m definitely bringing my vegetarian friends here!”
Well, that’s a glowing review if we’ve ever heard one!
▼ Here’s a close-up of the tantan-men.
▼ And here’s the jaja bowl.
▼ Again, the “meat” is all soybeans!
So, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, vegetarian ramen has now joined vegetarian udon and soba, the other members of Japan’s noodle triumvirate! It’s not only possible, it’s apparently incredibly delicious. If you get a chance, our writer says that you should definitely stop by, and we certainly intend to do just that!
T’s Tantan / T’sたんたん
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-9-1, JR Tokyo Station 1st floor (inside Yaesu South Entrance gate)
Open 7 a.m.-11 p.m.
Related: T’s Tantan
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