Skip the meat and fish and delight your tastebuds with vegetarian ramen. Getting hungry? Discover some of Toronto’s most mouthwatering veggie options.
How does vegetarianism fit in with Japanese culture? You may be surprised to learn that it’s a profound component of Japan’s culinary and cultural history. The word vegetarian (ベジ タリアン) has been influencing Japan since the Meiji period (late 19th century), but Japanese have been sustaining plant-based diets as early as the Asuka period (5th century) when Buddhism was introduced. Buddhist cuisine (精進料理, しょうじんりょうり), a diet excluding meat, fish and any by-products, became very common in Japan at this time. Historically, a Buddhist Japanese meal could look something like one soup, one dish (一汁一菜, いちじゅうい っさい), which is comprised of a soup, pickled vegetables and a bowl of white rice. These days, vegetarian cuisine is less influenced by Buddhism. Instead, people may choose to eat vegetarian (whether it’s for a single meal or a lifetime) for a number of reasons, including health, ethics—or just because there are so many delicious options. There’s a wide and diverse range of both traditional and modern Japanese vegetarian dishes—including ramen!
Whether you’re a devoted vegan for ethical reasons or just participate in Meatless Mondays to add more veggies to your life, Toronto is an awesome place to enjoy vegetarian and vegan food. Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, and this diversity is reflected in its cuisine. Since many cultures have traditional vegetarian dishes in their cuisine, the city offers a plethora of delicious meatless options. There are over 100 exclusively vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the GTA, and countless more if you include restaurants with several vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. Don’t see these options on the menu? Many chefs are happy to modify or prepare a new dish to suit your needs (even at a steakhouse). In the past, a vegetarian menu item may have been an afterthought, but as this way of eating becomes more popular, more chefs are making efforts to wow their customers with delicious meatless dishes.
Toronto is also home to many Japanese restaurants and Japanese cuisine is a favourite among many—likely including the readers of this magazine! Although Toronto’s ramen boom may have hit its peak a few years ago, it’s clear that a perfect bowl of ramen is no fad. Looking for a vegetarian or vegan option? Many of Toronto’s most beloved ramen shops serve up hearty, filling and flavourful veggie-based ramen. Whether you are in the mood for something traditional or craving something more innovative, you won’t miss the meat or fish when you try these mouthwatering options.
Many of Toronto’s most beloved ramen shops serve up hearty, filling and flavourful veggie-based ramen.
Vegan Vegans do not consume or use any animal products. This term is often used by those who take an ethical stance.
What’s inside a bowl of vegetarian ramen?
Ramen culture is still growing in Toronto, and the variations and possibilities are endless. The dish’s vegetarian and vegan offerings are no exception. Here are some of the most common ingredients used in vegetarian ramen.
Soup broth is the heart and soul of any ramen, and traditional flavours include miso, shio (salt) and shoyu (soy sauce). When it comes to plant-based options, ingredients such as miso, soybean paste, mushrooms, vegetable broth and sesame can provide a deep, rich flavour or a smooth and creamy texture.
Ramen noodles usually contain eggs, which aren’t vegan-friendly. However, substitutions are often readily available upon request. Tasty egg-free alternatives include noodles made from rice, spinach or konnyaku (konjac root). Or change up your ramen experience and enjoy your hearty soup with a bowl of rice.
Toppings complement the broth and noodles and bring the whole dish together. Mixing and matching different vegetables can provide an abundant source of flavour and texture. Poached eggs are a popular vegetarian protein source, while tofu, bean curd and ground soy are all vegan-friendly options.
Get your daily serving of vegetables with this bowl, which features a light and delicate broth, thin noodles and heaps of vegetables, including mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and baby leaf lettuce.
Vegan option: Spinach noodles +$2.00
399 Church St., Toronto | jinya-ramenbar.com | OPEN: Daily 11 am–11 pm
Have a classic bowl of ramen with a veggie twist. This bowl is the perfect balance of flavour and texture, with a kombu (kelp) and mushroom broth, thin noodles and inariage bean curd.
Ryus Noodle Bar
33 Baldwin St., Toronto | ryusnoodlebar.com
OPEN: Mon–Sat 11 am–10:30 pm • Sun 11 am–10 pm
This bowl is the ultimate comfort food. With a deliciously salty broth, thick noodles and deep-fried tofu furai, you will satisfy your cravings for something warm and cosy.
KINTON RAMEN 2
668 Bloor St. W., Toronto | kintonramen.com
OPEN: Sun–Thurs 12 pm–10:30 pm • Fri–Sat 12 pm–11:30 pm
You won’t miss the meat with this plant-based dish. Chili and sesame are the bold, dominant flavours, complemented by savoury soybean paste, green onion and bok choy.
3 Gerrard St. E., Toronto | zakkushi.com/raijin
OPEN: Sun–Thurs 11:30 am–11 pm • Fri–Sat 11:30 am–11:30 pm
421 College St., Toronto | ramenisshin.com
OPEN: Sun–Thurs 11:30 am–10 pm • Fri–Sat 11:30 am–11 pm