If you’re into healthy food trends, you're likely to come across the current craze for Buddha bowls. So what exactly is a Buddha bowl? These pretty one-dish meals are essentially colourful salad bowls filled with various vegetables and high-protein toppings such as grains, avocados and chickpeas; they are then finished off with a flavourful sauce like tahini dressing.
One of the most photogenic ways to get your daily intake of veggies, Buddha bowls became a big hit on social media over the last few years where the hashtag #buddhabowl soared to the top of Instagram feeds. If you’re curious to try one for yourself, follow our guide to the healthiest spots in town...
Eat your veggies
Located in a building near the west exit of Ebisu Station, you'll find this healthy vegan restaurant which is only open during lunch time on weekdays. Specialising in Buddha bowls and vegan muffins, this one-woman business is run by health-concious owner Mari Maeda. The weekly menu changes depending on the seasonal vegetables that are freshly delivered by an organic grocer, but eager diners can look forward to sampling a range of unique veggies like edible chrysanthemum and Chinese cabbage during winter or fresh bitter melon and cucumber in summer. These ingredients are marinated, roasted or boiled, and then served up on big plates.
When you think of New York chain Sarabeth’s, delightful eggs benedict and fluffy pancakes come to your mind – but did you know they serve colourful salads and Buddha bowls as well? Although the restaurant is known for their breakfasts, Sarabeth’s salads are also healthy, tasty and beautifully presented.
Available after 5pm, these Buddha bowls are a colourful combination of kale, avocado, falafel, marinated aubergine, zucchini and pickled beets. You’ll also find some hearty grains like quinoa or brown rice hidden underneath all the veg. If you’re aiming to join the #buddhabowl Instagram movement, this is a great place to start. You’ll never look at normal salads the same way again.
Head over to The Good Life Factory in Nishi Azabu for their salad bar, where you can choose from a large variety of salads filled with rich superfoods, vitamins, proteins and herbs.
One of the highly recommended options is their vegan salad bowl that's filled with a hefty portion of fermented brown rice, carrots, lotus root, beets, roasted tofu and soybean meatballs, which pair perfectly with a sweet and sour dressing (choose either the shiso-plum or the sesame). This combo contains four different types of grains that are boiled overnight and kept warm for about two days. This time-consuming process results in a rice mixture that's soft and sticky while retaining the grain's nutrients. Unlike most Buddha bowls, this one is served warm, making it perfect for those cooler days.
Pioneers in all things green and healthy, Crisp Salad Works is known for their delicious salads and healthy bowls. A must-try here is their ‘Earthy Nutty Crunchy’ bowl made from romaine lettuce, roasted tofu, black beans, grilled corn, red cabbage, walnuts and sunflower seeds. Each ingredient is chopped into bite-sized pieces, so you'll get a medley of flavours in just one mouthful. The refreshing dressing is made from sesame and tahini, and finished with a dash of tangy lemon. If you need something more filling, you can add on extras such as avocado, grilled chicken or even feta cheese.
More healthy eats
Tokyo can be a tough city for vegans, but not quite as unforgiving as it used to be, with the selection of exclusively vegan restaurants growing slowly but steadily.
Tokyo now has a handful of ramen shops with mouth-watering mixtures – none of which have seen any animals harmed in the noodle-making process.