Hiroshima, famous to the world as the a-bombed city of World War 2, alongside Nagasaki.
Today it is a city of peace and tolerance, welcoming people from all over the world with open arms. The city’s culture is rich, both contemporary and reflective. It’s known best for it’s ‘Deer Island’ Miyajima, it’s powerful A-Bomb Dome, Atomic Bomb Museum, contemplative Peace Park and it’s jaw-dropping food.
The region is famous all across Japan for amazing dishes- sweet and savoury. Perfect for the autumn season are the ‘momiji manju’ or maple-leaf cakes. Wandering round the city you have plenty of opportunities to try these and the other Hiroshima specialities, oysters and okonomiyaki.
Finding difficulty settling back into life in Japan after returning from the UK, I decided to solo trip. Recalling fondly the heart-warming memories made during my last trip I decided on the recent three-day weekend to visit Hiroshima for the second time. Turns out it was the same three-day weekend as the last time I was there!
While I was there I did my usual animal-loving hunt for veggie and vegan venues and I didn’t have to look far. Hiroshima is a herby, healthy heaven for non-meat eaters and they have the Hiroshima Vegetarian Guide to prove it!
The 5 main places I visited during my most recent time in Hiroshima are listed below, but I’m sure I’ll be bullet-training my way back again, so if anyone has any other recommendations- let me know in the comments!
1. Kissa Saeki
My first meal in Hiroshima was at this organic vegan/veggie paradise. I tried to eat here on my last visit to the city but it was closed. You can find it nearby the Peace Park, which makes it really convenient.
They have an accessible English menu to help you choose the right veggie/vegan or with-meat meal. They have a few shelves of goods near the till too so you can buy some really cute organic products. They were also selling fresh produce outside which just made this venue all the more enticing.
I went with the salad, veggie-friendly miso soup, roasted veggies and rice set. You get to add a main of your choice to the set and I added lentil patties. It was a good call.
Every part of the meal was amazing, seasoned to perfection and full of flavour. I also sated my desire for homemade lemonade that has been burning ever since my trip to Yakushima, so bonus points for that.
This place has been on my list since my last visit too and I’m glad I got to visit this time round. Otis is a little café-style eatery serving tex-mex style food and some good smelling coffee. As someone who hates coffee, I have to admit even I was tempted.
Walking in, I instantly felt welcome. The guy, presumably the owner, wore a beige knitted hat, pink tee and a waistcoat. He just oozed character. He was super friendly and even though he seemed to nervous to use English he did.
The aesthetic was that of comfortable chaos and, maybe because I’ve recently been reading the Lord of the Rings, but I couldn’t help relate this place to a hobbit hole, with every nook and cranny filled with a quirky story or memory.
I was happy to learn that they hold a lot of music events here, the walls were plastered with dates and memos of upcoming gigs and messages from previous performers. Speaking of music, I loved the tracks playing. Smooth jazz oozed out of the speakers before the words of the drunken poet himself- Tom Waits.
I ordered the veggie chilli with rice and because I wanted to stay a little longer, I added the apple pie for dessert! I forgot how much I like apple pie and this one came with an awesome splodge of caramel ice cream.
3. Roti Bakery
I saw this bakery on the way to my hostel and knew I had to try it. It looked really cute and bakeries in Japan are one of the few venues open before 10am. Given the choice between bakery or konbini breakfast, you can guess which I went with.
As a veggie who doesn’t like anko (red bean paste) I have to say the choice was a little bit limited, but I was able to choose from a few different options. After contemplatively clicking my tongues for a couple of minutes I chose the maple apple Danish and it was really good. I ate it on the boat to Miyajima and even though I got the syrup all over me, I enjoyed eating!
Lunch after Miyajima came in the form of Nagataya. I found this place in the Hiroshima guide, but I would have noticed it anyway- right near the Peace Park, with a big queue outside. They offer Hiroshima style okonomiyaki, a Japanese style savoury pancake cooked on a hotplate consisting of soba/udon noodles, cabbage, meat/ fish (if you want it) spring onion, egg and the delicious okonomiyaki sauce!
I waited in line for about 45 minutes to get in but it was definitely worth the wait. I was sat at the counter and got to watch the army of 6-8 chefs, hair tied back with white towels, layering up those ingredients. It was awesome to see the process.
I got the veggie one (obviously) and it was amazing. My okonomiyaki sat on a thin pancake, with the shredded cabbage, spring onions, garlic flakes and what I can only describe as rice crispies- which did wonders for the texture- piled on top. After cutting a square straight from the hot plate, I drizzled with veggie okonomiyaki sauce and ate until I was way too full.
It was well worth the price to eat delicious Hiroshima food in this hustling, Showa-style hub. The restaurant is pretty famous in Hiroshima, read more about it here! Interesting fact- okonomiyaki translates to ‘cooked as you like’ which makes it a little easier to arrange a veggie option when you’re ordering at most okonomiyaki places!
5. Kanak Indian Cuisine
I came here on Sunday night, my last supper in Hiroshima so to speak and it was a good choice. I ordered the Kanak Healthy Dinner set, adorned with salad, samosa, veg curry and naan. For curry, I usually find myself in Nepalese restaurants in Japan, for some reason they’re really popular so it was a nice change to eat at an Indian restaurant.
The staff were really welcoming, the food came out timed to perfection and the whole experience was relaxed.
I ate a LOT in my short visit to Hiroshima, but my stomach and Google Maps still want more! Below I’ve listed some bonus places I still want to try out either for food or for the vibe of venue. I’d love to hear what you think about the places listed, or hear any recommendations, let me know in the comments!
3Tree– An American style eatery with some pretty complimentary reviews.
SocialBookCafe– A rustic café, offering some decent looking lunch options and events such as ‘Talk with A-bomb Survivors in English’ (6th October).
Croissant Marche– I walked past this place to get to my hostel and I soooo wanted to try it! An organic food store that does lunch. They also do veggie bento options!
Organ-Za– A quirky café and bar ‘about having rice, having tea, drinking alcohol, watching live performances, reading books, puzzling, fortune-tellings, sweets, talking etc. It’s that kind of shop’. Need I say more? For info on events; have a gander at their website!