One of the best-kept secrets of Asian restaurants is their wealth of plant-based options. From stir-fry to sushi, and everything in between, these are some of my favorite places to eat. They’re very refreshing, too, if you’re from a BBQ town where everyone typically slaps an ordered-in frozen veggie burger on the menu and call themselves ‘veggie-friendly.’
But despite the plethora of options in these sushi joints, I’m just sticking to the rolls, which are often light and fresh, and purely cruelty-free!
3. Sekisui Pacific Rim, 4724 Poplar Ave
Definitely for the late-night crowd, Pacific Rim offers a modern touch to this Japanese food tradition. With a mixture of popular and electronic music, and bright neon lamps, it hints more at a lounge atmosphere than typical restaurant.
Regular menu aside, much of the sushi menu comprises of large, artistically-plated rolls that sound very interesting, but obviously contain fish. On the back of the menu, there is a small section near the bottom of around 10 plant based rolls. Most of these are vegan, but a few have spicy mayo or some vegetarian ingredient. These rolls are very inexpensive, averaging $3-5 each!
My personal favorites are the Kanpyo (sweet squash) and the Oshinko (pickled radish). Both of these are ‘maki’ style rolls, which means the seaweed is outside of the rice. As for flavor, the Kanpyo is strong and sweet, but the Oshinko has a light sweetness that’s backed with a little spicy kick from the bright yellow radish center. The Gandhi is also another great choice, and has several veggies wrapped inside.
However, I feel compelled to mention that as far as service, if you sit at the sushi bar, the sushi chefs are very nice and helpful, and you receive your orders and drinks fairly quickly. Unfortunately, if you sit at a table, it can take much longer for things to reach you, especially during the weekend and later in the evening, . I mean, aggravatingly long. While part of this can be attributed to too many customers, many times my poor experiences were when the the place was only half-full, and the waitstaff was preoccupied with partying back by the aquariums.
Nonetheless, this place does have great food, and I’m happy as long as I get a seat at the bar.
2. Sakura, 4840 Poplar Ave
I’ve been going to the Sakura in Germantown for years, but the new location on Poplar Ave is closer to where I live, so I go there now. There are a few familiar faces behind the bar, and the staff is always pleasant. The restaurant itself is dimly-lit, quiet, and comfy.
As far as strictly veggie sushi, it’s just the basics, but what they lack in variety, they make up for in inexpensive drinks and atmosphere. The house wine is actually Gen5, one of my favorite brands, and they also have Blackstone and Oak Vineyards for $5-6 per glass. Sake is also BOGO 1/2 off most of the time.
Parking here is difficult sometimes, as the center is shared with other businesses, like the liquor store and a spa, so you might have to wait or try parking by by the Verizon and Hollywood Feed if they’re closed.
1. Tokyo Grill, 4978 Park Ave
By far, the best example of quick, cheap, delicious Japanese food. They’ve been around for a few years, and now have 4 locations, but I always go to the one on Park Ave. The owner, Aaron, is super energetic and hilarious, and has explained his standards to me many times. He’s very open about his unwillingness to compromise his food with unhealthy additives and low quality ingredients. It definitely shows.
The sushi here is the freshest I’ve had anywhere. My favorite combo is the Cucumber Roll and the Veggie Roll (avo, cucumber, wasabi) with a side of house ginger dressing. Yummy! Another good choice is the Pickled Roll, which again is pickled daikon radish. I also love the Garlic Broccoli appetizer, which is a large broccoli head steamed with a tasty light sauce. You can also bring in your own wine, as well!
Honorable Mention: Fresh Market Midtown
Although I prefer to stay away from chains, if you need a quick fix that’s fresh and tastes good, the Fresh Market on Union Ave has some great stuff at the sushi counter for about $5-6 each. They have veggie rolls with white or brown rice, and they also have Avocado Inari, which is a thin fried sweet tofu pocket filled with rice, sauces, and avocado. While the Vegetable Roll is actually vegan, the Avocado Inari comes with spicy mayo, but you can just request that they make you one without it! You can also grab some edamame, seaweed salad, or a spring roll. Pop over to the drink aisle and grab a cold green tea, and your lunch is complete!
So what’s your favorite Japanese food, or place to eat? Comment below, or on my Instagram!