Written by Jasmine O
5 Must-Try Vegan Sweets In Kyoto! From Matcha Pancakes To Chocolates
Kyoto is known for its wagashi, or traditional sweets, and also offers a lot of delicious vegan desserts. From decadent matcha pancakes to raw chocolate and creamy gelato, there is much to satisfy those with a sweet tooth.
Where to Eat Vegan Sweets and Snacks in Kyoto
Kyoto, considered by many the cultural capital of Japan, is also famous for its traditional and contemporary, cutting-edge sweets. Some of these delicacies are also plant-based and friendly for vegans. From classic wagashi paired with matcha or green tea to rich chocolate treats and silky-smooth gelato, there are many dairy and egg-free options in Kyoto to savor.
This article covers five sweet vegan options in Kyoto and where to enjoy them. They make the perfect snack or dessert to enjoy in the capital of tradition and culture.
1. Vegan Matcha Pancakes at AIN SOPH. Journey KYOTO
Picture from Vegan Food And Sweets In Kyoto! Dining At AIN SOPH. Journey KYOTO
AIN SOPH. Journey KYOTO is famous for its all-vegan dishes that taste as great as they look. The location in Kyoto, nestled on a side street off of the Shinkyogoku shopping arcade close to Nishiki Market, offers decadent matcha pancakes that are gluten-free in addition to being vegan. The AIN SOPH. restaurant group has pancakes at its other locations in Tokyo, but the matcha selection is only in Kyoto.
The matcha pancakes (1,800 yen before tax) are gorgeously presented on a plate with berry sauce, whipped cream, ice cream, and red bean paste. The delicate flowers are edible. A delicious, silky-smooth white chocolate and matcha sauce covers the fluffy matcha-flavored pancakes. Try the gluten-free pancakes by themselves first and then add on the other toppings to enjoy a variety of flavors.
Crunchy granola on the side adds a tasty textural contrast to this ultimate dessert. The pancakes appear to be on the smaller side upon first glance, but the entire plate is quite satisfying. Make sure you are hungry enough or have a dining partner to share with.
Diners in the mood for something else can choose from an extensive menu of desserts and sweet drinks. Try seasonal parfaits––another Kyoto exclusive dessert option––or one of the rich, flavorful cakes. There are even cream sodas to try.
2. Raw Vegan Chocolate by Cacao Magic
Cacao Magic is a raw vegan chocolate specialty shop close to the World Heritage-designated Ginkakuji Temple. As its name suggests, the delicious chocolates here are spectacular.
All of the chocolate at Cacao Magic is organic and free of dairy ingredients, preservatives, and emulsifiers. Being raw, heat of more than 48℃ (118℉) is not used. Some nutrients are thought to be lost when food is heated past this temperature, so keeping the chocolate raw may provide a way to intake the healthful nutrition in chocolate, like antioxidant-containing polyphenols.
At the storefront, visitors can purchase chocolates to take home. Pictured above (right) is the Tablet Magic chocolate bar in a milk flavor (1,500 yen with tax) and a one-of-a-kind box of dark chocolates (left), infused with coal and hemp, shaped like Buddha heads (1,620 yen with tax). The milk chocolate is rich and soft, with just the right amount of sweetness. The boxed chocolate has a strong cacao flavor that pairs deliciously with coffee.
A variety of single-portion chocolates and other boxed chocolates are also on display and available for purchase. A cafe and eat-in space in the back is open irregularly. Guests can enjoy chocolate desserts, from rich cakes to hot chocolate (menu subject to change). Be sure to check on the official website to see when the cafe is operating, and stop by for a relaxing time with these chocolatey treats!
To get to Cacao Magic, take the bus from Kyoto Station headed for Ginkakuji. For those riding the Kyoto City bus No. 100, get off at Ginkakuji-mae and walk for about 3 minutes. For those on the No. 17, 5, 32, 203, or 204, get off at Ginkakuji michi and walk five minutes. The shop is located just off the main road.
3. Authentic Gelato from PreMarche Gelateria
A cone of vegan gelato at PreMarche Gelateria in Tokyo. Picture from Premarche Gelateria Nakameguro - 40 Flavors Of Delicious Frozen Treats
It's hard to resist the craving for something cool and sweet, like gelato. PreMarche Gelateria is a well-known shop serving up scoops of delicious, authentic gelato. Located in Kyoto's Sanjo area, many flavors are vegan. Another branch is located in Tokyo.
Picture from Premarche Gelateria Nakameguro - 40 Flavors Of Delicious Frozen Treats
The frozen treats here are made with high-quality, often organic ingredients and contain no synthetic emulsifiers. The gelato is also gluten-free, and there are gluten-free cone options, too. Flavors range from traditional Japanese choices, like matcha, kinako (soybean flour), and rice milk, to classic pistachio and creamy chocolate. You can taste test a few flavors before ordering!
PreMarche Gelateria in Kyoto is located in the Sanjo area along a traditional shopping street. It is walkable from Nijo Castle, making it ideal for stopping into after sightseeing for something sweet.
4. Matcha Chiffon Cake at Ippuku Cafe
Ippuku Cafe is a charming cafe serving plant-based and gluten-free cakes, treats, and organic coffee. Guests will fall in love with the bright decor and second-floor seating. This is the ideal rest spot for taking a break in between sightseeing.
The matcha chiffon cake and coffee set (800 yen with tax) is a great choice. Light and fluffy, the cake is very tasty and not overly sweet. Fragrant matcha sauce and flavoring make this special dessert perfect for tea lovers.
A small vegan cookie comes on the side of the organic coffee. Other menu choices include a strawberry chiffon cake and a decadent chocolate cake, as well as vegan-friendly lattes and other beverages.
Located near AIN SOPH. mentioned previously, this is an accessible cafe great for a relaxing break in Kyoto.
5. Creative and Traditional Japanese Sweets by Yuiko Yoshimura
Coconut sugar and coconut milk are what make the wagashi by Yuiko Yoshimura, a patisserie chef, completely vegan-friendly. Two varieties of the treats sold at Kameya Yoshinaga, a famous Japanese confectionery in Kyoto, are suitable for those on a plant-based diet.
The mikamo dama, a red bean treat, pictured above (upper-right) is sweet and contains creamy, rich coconut flavors (6 for 810 yen after tax). It is filled with red bean paste and covered in a thin, glossy layer. It would pair deliciously with matcha or green tea. The second choice is a coconut cookie (bottom left, 3 for 324 yen after tax), which is crispy and light. Sweetened with a combination of maple syrup and wasanbon (a type of Japanese sugar), the powdered sweetener and the fragrant coconut is irresistible.
Please note that these treats are only available for sale at the main branch, located around a 5-minute walk from Hankyu Omiya Station or 10 minutes from the Kyoto City Subway Karasuma Shijo Station.
Kyoto's Vegan Desserts are Satisfying for All Sweet Tooths
Kyoto is brimming with delicious sweets––even to those on a vegan diet. Please note that, in addition to the treats listed above, certain Japanese desserts, including yatsuhashi and warabi mochi, two famous traditional sweets in Kyoto, can also be suitable for vegans. Please be sure to check directly with the business you are at to find out if something contains animal-derived products.
Enjoy snacking in the ancient capital!