5 Vegan Sushi Restaurants to Try This Month

Everybody likes to indulge on sushi, but for people with dietary restrictions it can be difficult to find a restaurant that has enough satisfying options to choose from. This is especially true for vegans and vegetarians, whose animal-free diets might make them think that they have to give up on the cuisine forever. Though that might once have been true, now some restaurants work hard to guarantee that all their customers, regardless of limitations, have a range of options to fit their palate.

How can they make sushi without fish? Well, for vegans as well as vegetarians who don’t eat seafood,  there are veggie-based options to choose from instead and that list is only expanding as the idea gets more popular and restaurants continually innovate. Sushi fans can enjoy seaweed salads, edamame- and other soybean-based dishes, avocado rolls, veggie tempura, cucumber rolls, fried rice, inari sushi and more at select vegan restaurants.

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Here are five vegetarian and vegan sushi restaurants that Californians can try out this month:

1. The Yasai

San Diego’s first vegan Japanese restaurant launched last year, right in the heart of Kearny Mesa on Convoy Street—an area known for its Asian grocery stores and restaurants. Chef Junya Watanabe developed the concept which he calls the “vegan Japanese experience” after visiting multiple cities around the world, dining with talented chefs and ultimately getting the inspiration for his next big idea.

The Yasai isn’t his first experience with launching a vegan restaurant, and he has the talent and aptitude to grow the idea well. After designing all the recipes, the sit-down restaurant initially opened at fifty-person capacity, though of course the recent developments with COVID-19 has forced them to rely on pick-up orders. The entirely plant-based menu is suitable for a restaurant whose name means “vegetables,” and diners can enjoy an abundance of dishes including sushi rolls, nigiri, ramen, tempura, sliders, snacks, salads and more, all completely vegan-friendly.

2. Woodblock

In San Francisco, chef Matthew Kenney developed a vegan sushi concept with the help of his partners, Kyle and Tracy Vogt, who run and own an animal farm sanctuary together. The pop-up sushi concept puts their own, vegan spin on traditional dishes and will begin offering takeout and delivery soon via phone or online order, as well as limited dine-in services with the sanitation measures they’ve put in place (which are detailed on their website).

With vegetables, bowls, sushi rolls and more, Woodblock makes traditional recipes with new ingredients that transform them into tasty and sustainable vegan alternatives. The owner has experience making amazing, vegan recipes because he owns other vegan eateries including Plant Food + Wine in Venice; Hungry Angelina with locations in Brooklyn, NY and Long Beach, CA; Double Zero, which has locations in Venice Beach, New York City and Providence, with plans to expand to Boston, Baltimore, Brooklyn and Philadelphia; and he also contributed to the development of BAIA, a vegan Italian restaurant in San Francisco. He absolutely has the capacity to make Woodblock successful.

3. Blue Bird Sushi

For vegans and vegetarians in Long Beach, they can get amazing diet-friendly sushi in their neighborhood too. Blue Bird Sushi jokes that they’re the most vegan-friendly, non-vegan restaurant around. With a full vegan menu including more than ten rolls made of all different ingredients, their avocado wraps and fried tofu toppings will appeal to Long Beach vegans with all different tastes. Additionally, Blue Bird has traditional sushi options on their menu so that vegans’ friends can comfortably dine with them and follow their own dietary needs or wants.

People with special diets have final say on any group outing’s destination, so it’s smart of Blue Bird Sushi to appeal to a wider variety of people so that everyone can get something they really enjoy and leave with a wonderful impression of Blue Bird Sushi.

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4. Shizen

San Francisco isn’t hurting for delicious vegan sushi; Shizen Vegan Sushi Bar and Izakaya serves an entirely plant-based menu along with their full service bar. In mid-March, they closed because of COVID-19 but reopened June 22nd with all new dishes to entice their customers back. Reopening after months of hiatus did spark some financial and health concerns for the restaurant, which is why they made adjustments to prioritize safety and monetary conservation such as offering boxed sushi, discounted sake, and limiting customers to phone pickup or walkup orders only.

On top of their vegan menu, Shizen also caters to other dietary restrictions with their gluten-free options and they have ten types of sake to appeal to anyone’s craving.

The restaurant succinctly explains their mission: “The team at Shizen is proud to offer a vegan sushi experience that harmonizes Californian and Japanese flavors while reducing resource use, safeguarding animal welfare, and softening our overall footprint on the world.”

5. L.O.V.E Organic Cafe

For Angelenos who love vegan Thai food from Studio City’s H.O.P.E, now they can enjoy its sister restaurant in West Hollywood: L.O.V.E Organic Cafe serves sushi, salads and other plant-based, organic products. They also serve Thai food so H.O.P.E fans can get their fix and try out a new menu, too. L.O.V.E partnered with third-party delivery platforms to make their menu more widely available for diners who want to try out their cuisines.

With delivery and curbside pickup options, “L.O.V.E takes pride in serving only fresh, high quality food that is always non-GMO and free of pesticides, additives, and preservatives. We strive to use only certified organic products whenever possible.”

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Veganism and vegetarianism are really popular these days, so it’s no surprise that restaurants are actively adapting their menus to be more expansive and cater to those who follow those lifestyles. Naturally, the next step is all-vegan restaurants where they serve dishes traditionally associated with non-vegan lifestyles and make them taste great. It’s a trend bigger than California, as these kinds of restaurants exist all over the world. Try out a new, vegan sushi restaurant this month and find out what you’ve been missing—and craving—all along.

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