When you think about foods that are trendy, sushi has to be right up there near the top of the list. Even children claim that sushi is one of their favorite foods. A popular misconception is that sushi means raw fish. In fact, the definition of sushi is “cold rice dressed with vinegar, formed into any of various shapes, and garnished with bits of raw seafood or vegetables.”
There are several types of vegan sushi, some with just vegetables and others with plant-based versions of seafood. There is maki sushi which is the most common rolls of rice, veggies, and nori (tofu). The veggies can be anything including cucumber, avocado, daikon, mushrooms, carrots, yams or soy beans. Nigiri sushi has veggies pressed into a rectangular block of rice and covered with nori. Inari sushi is rice that is stuffed in marinated tofu.
With more people looking for non-fish options at their favorite restaurants, vegan sushi is in demand. While, of course, you can make your own – see How to Reinvent Your Sushi, Vegan Style and How to Make Vegan Seafood Dishes Without the Fish – what happens when you want to dine out? More and more restaurants are offering vegan sushi on their menus. Here are 10 restaurants offering the most epic vegan sushi rolls around.
1. Beyond Sushi, New York City, NY
Beyond Sushi is a plant-based eatery with three locations in New York City founded by Chef Guy Vaknin and his wife, Tali. The culinary team at Beyond Sushi fuses fruit and vegetables with whole grains to create vegan sushi, rolls, wraps, and other dishes. They bring a modern approach to traditional sushi and create dishes that are healthy, intricate, and delicious.
Beyond Sushi offers rolls and hand rolls in addition to wraps, soups, salads, and desserts. There are eight types of sushi rolls including a special “roll of the month.” The Mighty Mushroom roll has six-grain rice, enoki, tofu, shiitake, and micro-arugula served with shiitake teriyaki dipping sauce. The Green Machine roll has six-grain rice, English cucumber, asparagus, and basil marinated veggies with a jalapeño wasabi sauce. Every sushi roll has eight pieces or you can choose from six types of individual pieces and a “piece of the month.”
2. Shizen Vegan Sushi Bar & Izakaya, San Francisco, CA
Shizen Vegan Sushi Bar & Izakaya has a fully vegan menu that combines classic shojin (a vegetarian form of cooking that has Buddhist origins) and sushi techniques with local, seasonal ingredients to create healthy and flavorful dishes. The menu clearly explains the ingredients of each item they make and which substitutions they use such as soybean curd, mountain yam, and konjac. Shizen has a full sushi bar and izakaya (a space to enjoy drinks).
The menu offers appetizers, soups, salads, and hot and cold small plates in addition to the many sushi choices. Some of the specialty rolls they make include Plot Twist, a tempura fried roll with sweet potato, smoked bean curd, mango, tomato, onion, yuzu, shiso, and jalapeño and their popular gluten-free Surprise Ending roll with kale, avocado, asparagus, shredded tofu, tapioca, yuba, beets, rice crackers, and suspense. What’s suspense? Basically one piece is spicy (has a pepper), and whoever gets it takes the shot of sake on the dish. Win-win!
3. Franchia Vegan Café, New York City, NY
Franchia Vegan Café is a serene, multi-level tea-house setting that offers creative vegan Asian fusion dishes. They describe themselves as “an oasis of calm in a turbulent world.” Franchia is a spin-off of Hangawi, the well-known Korean vegetarian “shrine” eatery. They have a tea bar and offer a full menu that includes vegan tapas and vegan sushi.
Their vegan sushi menu states that “All Chicken, Shrimp, Crab Meat, Tuna are vegetarian versions based on soy & seaweed.” Franchia offers over a dozen types of rolls including the Tropical Mango and Avocado Roll with avocado, mango, vegan crab meat, and sesame leaves; the Vegan Scallop Roll with whole vegan scallop stuffed with sushi rice and seaweed with vegan mayonnaise wasabi sauce; and the Franchia Roll with cucumber, avocado, carrot, squash, mountain greens, and vegan crab meat.
4. Vegan House, Los Angeles, CA
Located on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, Vegan House serves authentic Thai vegan cuisine. The food is fresh, healthy, and well-portioned. The restaurant has a comfortable, ambient atmosphere. They offer a full menu with a wide range of soups, salads, appetizers, rice dishes, noodle dishes, entreés, and curries. They also offer burgers, pancakes, sandwiches, and Mexican dishes.
There are seven types of sushi on the menu including rolls that use soy versions of chicken, tuna, and fish. The Grilled Vegetable Sushi contains grilled onion, eggplant, bell peppers, and zucchini. All the sushi rolls are served with carrot, lettuce, avocado, nori seaweed, wasabi, and soy sauce.
5. Shojin Organic and Natural, Los Angeles, CA
Shojin is a Japanese vegan and macrobiotic restaurant in Los Angeles that provides flavorful and naturally preserved meals using organic, gluten-free, and natural ingredients. You can see their concept story which is done in crayon illustrations on their web site. Winner of the Los Angeles Times Readers’ Choice Award for Best Japanese Restaurant, Shojin has a friendly, relaxing and soothing atmosphere. Shojin offers a full menu with soups, salads, appetizers, main dishes, and desserts.
There are well over a dozen types of sushi on their menu. One of their two newest selections is Kiss of the Spider Woman which is a “soft shell crab roll” with enoki mushroom, yuzu mayo, pumpkin tempura, asparagus, kaiware daikon radish sprouts, and avocado wrapped with soy paper and served with a chia yuzu ponzu sauce. The other new menu item is called Dynamite Burst which is a spicy tofu and avocado roll with pan-fried shiitake mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, and chili with ginger tamari sauce and is served with tempura flakes, red chili, and cranberry sauce.
6. Choice Health Bar, Lahaina, HI
During the day, Choice Health Bar in Lahaina, Hawaii serves juices, smoothies, salads, and healthy raw food. At night, Choice transforms itself into a swanky sushi bar, using healthy, local ingredients to create artful vegan sushi dishes. The regular menu offers soups, salads, entrées, and acai bowls.
The Garden Sushi menu offers gourmet vegan Japanese cuisine using local produce plus organic and non-GMO soy. The rice they use is an organic blend of brown rice, quinoa, and forbidden rice. Choice offers nigiri sushi and ushi rolls with a choice of various vegetables such as eggplant, avocado, cucumber, leek, zucchini, roasted red pepper, or roasted beets with green apple. The Dragon Roll contains seared tofu, green beans, and carrots, topped with avocado filets and black sesame miso sauce. The Aloha Roll is grilled pineapple, red pepper, and green beans rolled in a collard green leaf with macadamia nuts on top.
7. SushiLove, Portland, OR
SushiLove is a food truck in Portland, Oregon that serves totally vegan and gluten-free sushi. The truck is run by Chef Kelly McCormick who trained in one of the first authentic Japanese sushi restaurants in the United States. SushiLove offers a menu with several house specialty uramaki rolls where the sushi rice is packed around the nori rather than inside as well as simpler one-ingredient rolls with cucumber, avocado, pickled carrot or tofu.
Some of their specialty rolls are the Avalon California Roll with jackfruit “crab,” avocado, cucumber, and black sesame seeds; the Don’t Be Shellfish Roll with cucumber, avocado, broiled oyster mushroom “scallops,” and spicy vegan mayo; and the Bok Bok Roll with sweet, spicy chili sauce, braised tofu, pickled carrots, Thai basil, cucumber, and cilantro.
8. Kotobuki Japanese Restaurant, Norfolk, VA
Kotobuki Japanese Restaurant in Norfolk, Virginia is a family-owned restaurant that offers table seating, a sushi bar and a special room with Japanese seating. They serve traditional Japanese cuisine and sushi in a warm and friendly atmosphere. They offer a full menu and also have a separate vegetarian/vegan menu which features entrees as well as sushi rolls and specialty rolls.
The Buddha Roll is made with Shiitake mushrooms, kampyo, asparagus, shiso, horseradish sprouts, and is topped with avocado and vegan spicy mayo. The Hugged Rolled Salmon and Seaweed Roll has vegan salmon and avocado wrapped in a soy wrapper, covered with seaweed salad and sesame seeds. Kotobuki also offers rolls with vegan shrimp and lobster.
9. Momo Sushi Shack, Brooklyn, NY
Momo Sushi Shack in Brooklyn, NY specializes in Japanese tapasa and sushi with extensive vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options since 2010. The Michelin Guide-recommended eatery also does pop-ups in other areas – they spent a few months in Miami last summer. Momo has separate take-out and eat-in lunch and dinner menus with vegan and gluten-free items clearly marked.
Some of their vegan offerings include the Ramo sushi with tofu cream cheese, cilantro, and chopped vegetables; the Vegan Eel Bomb with shiitake and vegan eel sauce; and Inari with tofu skin, pickled vegetables, and hijiki.
10. Sushi Momo, Montreal, Canada
Sushi Momo, located in Montreal, Quebec, is a restaurant run by Chef Christian Manuel Ventura Alatorre, an acclaimed sushi chef. They specialize in creative and delicious dishes. The chef, wanting to give vegans the most vegan sushi options in all of Montreal, created an entire vegan menu with over thirty types of fish-free sushi. There are rolls made with tofu, sweet potatoes, Japanese carrots, vegan shrimp, and more.
There are also innovative dishes including “Pizza” rolls with sweet tofu, green olives, cucumber, tomato, avocado, Japanese carrot and radish and the Vegan Pearl of the Orient with panko-encrusted tofu, tempura, avocado, green onion, sweet potato, and basil sauce.
It’s great to know that if you’re craving sushi, there are more and more places offering vegan options. Did we miss your favorite vegan sushi place? Give us your recommendations in the comments.
Lead image source: Momo Shack