While preparing for our 2013 trip to Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka, I was pleased to see a review of a new vegan restaurant in Kyoto on the Deep Kyoto blog. We’ve found that Kyoto is the easiest place to eat in Japan when you’re a vegetarian, but I was still happy to know that our options had broadened again.
Café Matsuontoko is located on one of the side alleys that run between the covered shopping arcades of Teramachi Dori and Shinkyogoku Dori.
Look for the branch of fashion store We Go on Teramachi Dori, and head down the alleyway opposite. There’s a clothes shop across the alley from Matsuontoko which had a startling array of baseball caps when we visited!
I’m not usually a fan of burgers. I rarely crave them, and typically only eat them at a Barbecue or when there are no other options available. The Deep Kyoto review and the café’s own website looked good, though, and I liked the ethos of the café owner, who wanted to set up an environmentally friendly, healthy, fun place to eat.
We went on a Sunday, after a morning spent exploring Chion-In. The place was pretty busy, and we got the last available table for lunch. The clientele was a mixture of friends in their early 20s and families with young children. We sat down and I was given a basket to put my bag in, then we perused the menu. Because of my allergy to mushrooms, I wanted to make sure that the burger patties didn’t include mushrooms among the ingredients, so I called over a waitress and trotted out my stock phrase: “キノコのアレルギーがあります。キノコの入ったバーガーですか?” The waitress assured me that none of the burgers contained mushrooms, so we went ahead and ordered.
Not only do they not contain mushrooms, the burgers are all made from soy meat with no dairy products involved at all. I chose the Avocado Burger, which came with fries, ketchup and an incredibly tasty side salad that my body wanted more of.
I’d eaten a fair bit of it before I remembered to take a photograph! Mr. Hicks had the teriyaki burger and reported that it, too, was delicious. Both of us quenched our thirst with a glass of cranberry juice.
The portions might not seem huge to someone used to the burgers from places like McDonalds and Burger King, but because all of the ingredients are fresh and reasonably healthy, they are better at satisfying the appetite. We certainly felt full after we’d eaten, and didn’t have room for a dessert.
There are other options available if you dine there later in the day, including a curry dish, a pizza, a whimsical pasta dish (I think it’s based on whatever mood the chef is in on the day), and a cutlet made from fried wheat gluten. We didn’t eat there in the evening, but we strolled past one night and it certainly sounded lively inside.
The prices were okay. It was less than 1000円 for a burger with fries and salad, which is about £6 or £7. More than you would pay in a fast food place, but again I’d argue that you’re paying for the freshness of the ingredients. If you want cheap, you should head to the nearest Freshness Burger and have their bean burger at half the price. It’s tasty, but you’ll feel hungry more quickly afterwards, is my experience.
I’d recommend it if you’re in the Teramachi/Shinkyogoku area and fancy something different to the other veggie and vegan options on offer in Kyoto.