Falafel in Tokyo

While Japan must be one of the most difficult countries in the world to be vegan, Tokyo is blessed by a wide variety of quality, affordable vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants, many of them humble a-la-carte establishments run by a talented chef, serving up a range of fusion dishes but cooked and presented to high Japanese standards.  Like Indian, however, Middle Eastern food is a staple comfort food familiar for vegans all over the world, and one I crave from time to time. Also, while donor kebab stalls are fairly common in Japan, most of them don't offer falafel, so there are three good choices for a safe pita pocket, all vegan. While falafel is sometimes offered as a dish in a-la-carte restaurants (such as Nagi Shokudo) I'm not aware of any other restaurants specialising in falafel anywhere in Japan.

Pita the Great

Pita the Great is run by an eccentric Israeli man, who's been serving up delicious falafel from the same shop in Akasaka for decades. While he's quite an institution in Tokyo, and his food is truly amazing if you can get hold of it, he seems to have moved his business priorities to producing wholesale products, and appears to care little for walk-in customers any more. He keeps irregular hours, so much so that I haven't managed to make it for so long I don't have any photos of it, but I remember it well enough to say it was very good indeed. I've heard third hand that he always opens from 12:00 to 1:00, but I can't confirm this. On my last visit I found him asleep on the floor, and decided not to wake him (and from his recent reviews on Happycow, am glad I did!).  So if you can get a falafel pita bread (or other Israeli specialties) you're in luck, but I wouldn't make it a priority. It's take-out or outdoor dining only, so not so pleasant during summer, winter or when it's raining.

Pita the Great is on the second floor of the ATT Building, with steps up from the ground level behind the building. It's well posted, and a short walk from Tameiko Sanmo Station, exit 12 (beware the station can be very confusing).
Phone 03 55630851
Address: 東京都港区赤坂2-11-7
Hours: vary a lot - call first! Maybe 12:00 - 1:00 daily?

Vespera's Falafel

Vespera's Falafel (my page, website, happycow) is my favourite falafel establishment in the Tokyo metropolis. It's run by a friendly vegetarian chef, who's passionate about social issues and providing affordable vegan food to as many people as possible. It also serves an evolving range of Japanese and international delicious dishes, including even Pad Thai. And, in keeping with the intention of the owner, prices are incredibly low, starting at 650 Yen for a delicious falafel pita bread. And unlike Pita the Great, it has a pleasant dining area, and is located in Koenji, the centre of youth alternative culture in Japan and a worthwhile area for an explore, even if you are only spending a few days in Tokyo. If you will visit one Falafel shop in Japan I recommend making it this one.

It's difficult to do justice to this falafel sandwich from Verpera's, but please take my word that it was fresh and delicious.

Address: 杉並区高円寺南2-15-18 汐沢ビル2F
Hours: Wed- Sun 11AM - 11PM
Phone: 03 5929 8998

Kuumba Du Falafel

Kuumba Du Falafel was one of my favourite places to go when it first opened, and it's still a decent option for a filling meal in Shibuya. However over my half-dozen odd visits during the last couple of years I've found that the quality of the falafel has deteriorated somewhat, though I may have just been unlucky in my more recent visits. Its menu is mostly limited to lentil soup and falafel dishes, there are only a few seats (so you may need to wait or take out during the lunch period) and it's a long (~ 15 minutes) and not-so-interesting walk from Shibuya Station. On the upside they serve Phoenix drinks, one of New Zealand's few good exports, being unfortunately an agricultural-based economy. If you're in the mood for falafel while in Shibuya this is definitely the place to go, but I wouldn't recommend fitting it into a busy Tokyo itinerary. 

Address: 2-45-6 TOMIGAYA SHIBUYA-KU TOKYO JAPAN 151-0063
Phone: :03-5452-1698

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