Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Vegan Food at the Hilton Hotel in Nagoya, Japan

For anyone who happens to vegan and has ever lived in or visited Japan, you know that the struggle is real. There is virtually fish, pork, or some form of meat and/or dairy in EVERYTHING. Well, I'm here to tell you about a place us Americans got to know very well for 2 weeks while we waited for our short term rental to be ready in Nagoya, Japan - the Nagoya Hilton, specifically The Brasserie on the Terrace. Not only did we enjoy their food every day, but I got a lot of good ideas for breakfasts and brunch that I think I'll make on my own.

The Brasserie is this Hilton's buffet restaurant on the second floor of the hotel. You can add it to your room if you are staying there, or you can simply pop in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Now to be clear, the restaurant itself is not a vegan restaurant, but there are enough options and ingredients for a vegan to create a very filling and healthy meal.

I realize how difficult it can be to discuss every dish with the servers but if you are strict vegan, the staff here is very kind and friendly and if they don't know, they will find out. For those who don't speak Japanese, especially if you speak English, virtually every server, host, and hostess speaks English, some with perfect fluency!

Let's start with the breakfast buffet, which consists of a variety of hot foods, a cereal bar, salad bar, enormous slice your own bread basket, and bar with things like peanut butter, margarine, and jelly to spread on your toast, juice bar, coffee, tea, and more.

If you are looking for a traditional breakfast item, I suggest filling a bowl with granola cereal and choosing from the 16 toppings including nuts, dried fruits, and seeds, finally filling with soy milk to create a hearty and nutrient rich meal.

My kids liked the fried potato sticks, American style cereals with soy milk, and while we were there, they were featuring a delicious chia seed pudding made with coconut milk. On our last day, a large group of American Marines arrived to protect delegates for an environmental conference as I understood it. Tater sticks consumption was at an all-time high but Hilton kept them coming.

However, we realized that if we didn't get to breakfast right away, they would run out of the chia pudding so after that we got down there within the first hour to make sure we didn't miss out.

We got used to eating some steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots for breakfast because... who cares if that isn't everyone's idea of breakfast food. It is super healthy and easy to eat for little kids.

There is also fresh fruit and seasonal specialties and items that you can enjoy throughout the year.

Another option is to make yourself a breakfast salad. After a few days of eating granola bowls, enjoying the fried potato sticks and eating too many french fries and pita bread with hummus from room service (c'mon, you know if you're a vegan you have to indulge when you are given the option) I toned it down a little bit at breakfast.

Since the buffet was never really too crowded when we got their early, I started at the salad bar with bed of greens, carrots, and cabbage, and jumped around the buffet finding items like steamed veggies, onions, capers, nuts, fruits, and more to create a beautiful and delicious salad. I couldn't help but take a picture every day and it really was good to the last bite.

Lunch and dinner at the Hilton are a little different. I struggled a little more but was still able to make up healthy, filling, and vegan plates of good foods. As someone who likes mixed plates of rice, veggies, and hummus at home, I was happy to find things like olives, baba ganoush, hummus, and some pre-made salads that were (mostly) free from animal products.

Things were a little more difficult for the kids, but since they are vegetarians and not fully committed vegans, YET, they are a little more flexible than I am. Plus, they didn't really care too much about dinner because they have a chocolate fountain where you can dip fruit and cakes which is great for bribing them to eat their veggies.

We found this hotel buffet to be a very viable option for us. We plan on stopping by here and there when we have a hankering for eating out or are in the neighborhood, even now that we have our own apartment and can cook our own delicious vegan food at home not too far away. This has also encouraged me to visit some of the other hotels in this city because I think there's a chance they are catering to more of an international crowd and have a buffet with options like these, too. We'll write it up if we find anything good!

The pickled pink things in this pumpkin salad was suspect. It had a fishy flavor that destroyed my mouth and I had to shovel vegan food after testing one. That said, it didn't translate into the other food and I'm not afraid to pick around it to only get the goods on my plate. For every vegan pumpkin eater, I'm sure there's a pickle picker that will make a pass.

The baba ganoush is in the middle. They didn't put very much out there, but no shame in taking a healthy scoop for this vegan. Empty bowls send a clear message. No Japanese needed.

Trail mix bar makes some pretty awesome granola.

Americans rejoice. Your cereal is here. 

My daily salads were so fun and colorful each day and seriously so delish.

Beware shiny bread. Some of the breads were obviously brushed and made with egg making them very shiny. The rest of the bread looked legit to me and they had plenty of peanut butter, jelly, and non-dairy butter to slather on them.

Thank you for the clearly marked soy milk!

My kids just enjoyed scoops of peanut butter on their plates. The little one especially likes to cut out the middle man (bread) and also uses it as a facial mask.

Juice bar! The green juice was a good starter for me with a coffee kicker. 

Hummus and pita - LOVE that stuff. 

Check out the beer-a-mid! There is a deal where you can have all you can drink of beer or wine for one price. We never did this because A) I'm still breastfeeding my littlest. B) We were in the Exec floors which have a free happy hour which comes with the rooms. C) We would bankrupt this place. (kidding. Maybe 10 years ago!!!)

For good measure, I threw in a pic of my standard room service fare. When the sushi restaurant is open I could order avocado or cucumber sushi which was vegan as well. The price on the veggie plate as outrageous but as a vegan in Japan, sometimes you have to suck it up in order to avoid the slow-mo effects of a french fry diet in your lower intestine.

This hotel is where it's at for vegans in Nagoya!

Did I mention the staff was excellent? Hugs all around on our last day.

Can't wait to visit again!!!

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