Japanese cuisine is probably the last thing on most people’s minds regarding vegan food because of its heavy reliance on seafood, meat, and fish-based seasonings. The same goes for Peruvian cuisine, which centers around meat for those who may not know.
So, when you read the description of “Nobu,” saying that it offers fusion food prepared by incorporating Peruvian ingredients in traditional Japanese recipes, you don’t think it’s a place worth visiting as a vegan.
But, if the hype about Nobu has got the best of you or your family or friends are insisting that you accompany them for a fine dining experience at Nobu, you should do a little homework and figure out Nobu’s vegan menu before going.
Does Nobu Have Vegan Options?
Being a Japanese eatery, Nobu is known for its seafood dishes (no surprise here). But, it has an extensive menu. And if you have been vegan for any length of time, you would know that the larger a menu is, the more likely you’re to find something that suits your dietary needs.
So, let’s dig into Nobu’s menu to find out what vegan options have at this New York-based restaurant that is readily becoming a global brand. In case you didn’t already know, Nobu is spread across five continents.
But, there is a bit of a problem here.
Since Nobu is (almost) all over the world, it doesn’t have a single fixed menu. The restaurant’s menu tends to differ across various locations (as you would expect it to).
So, we don’t have just one menu to evaluate and shortlist vegan options from. And we can’t obviously go through all Nobu menus. There is no allergen menu available for the restaurant either.
As if this hadn’t made things difficult enough for us, Nobu doesn’t even provide lists of ingredients for its menu items on the website.
This left me with two options – use my judgment to determine the vegan status of various Nobu food items from their names or rely on the information available on other (third-party) websites.
I decided to use both. Because if there is one thing that I have learned over my long journey of veganism, it’s not to trust names and labels. They can be shockingly deceiving.
So, here’s what I decided to do to put together a list of Nobu vegan options:
- Use the Nobu New York menu as our source; since it’s from this city that the Nobu journey started.
- Use my judgment to pick out foods from the Nobu menu that appear vegan-friendly.
- Check with other online sources to confirm if the shortlisted items are actually vegan-friendly or not.
Even though I tried my best to find Nobu vegan foods, I would recommend double-checking the status of every item on this list with the server at your local Nobu outlet because there is just so limited information available online that it’s almost impossible to be 100% sure.
Another reason why I recommend confirming with your server is that the recipes of various items may also vary across different Nobu locations.
What’s Vegan at Nobu? Nobu Vegan Menu 2023
Based on the approach mentioned above, vegan options at Nobu are as follows:
Vegan Appetizers at Nobu
- Edamame Choclo
- Shishito Sea Salt
- Shishito Den Miso
Vegan Soups at Nobu
The following Nobu soups appear to be vegan-friendly in light of whatever information is available online.
Since there is a high likelihood of the use of animal ingredients in soups, I would recommend confirming their vegan status with your server one more time before ordering, just to be on the safe side.
- Miso Soup with Tofu
- Mushroom Soup
Nobu Vegan Tacos
Although Nobu is a Japanese restaurant, they also have tacos on the menu, which was a pleasant surprise for me. But, there is only one option that felt suitable for vegans, and that is:
- Vegetable Tacos
These tacos are meatless, as the name shows. However, make sure to check for any non-vegan sauces in them.
Nobu Vegetable Dishes
These dishes are vegetable-based, as per the Nobu menu. However, please make sure to check the sauces, dips, and dressings that they may come with for non-vegan ingredients.
- Kappa Sunomono
- Field Greens
- Baby Spinach Salad with Dry Miso
- Eggplant with Miso
- Crispy Rice with Avocado
- Roasted Cauliflower Jalapeno Salsa
- Warm Mushroom Salad
- Tofu New Style
- Artichoke Salad
- Artichoke Salad with Noodles – Make sure the noodles are vegan-friendly.
- Hearts of Palm – It comes with the option to choose from two dressings; Jalapeno dressing, which is most likely non-vegan since its usual recipe calls for sour cream, and Yuzu dressing, which appears to be vegan-friendly, but make sure it doesn’t have honey.
- Shiitake Salad with Spicy Lemon Dressing – Check the ingredients of the dressing.
- Tofu & Vegetables in Spicy Garlic Sauce – Looks vegan-friendly, but check once with your server.
- Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Goma Ponzu – Goma ponzu is a Japanese sauce made with tahini, sesame oil, miso, soy sauce, and ponzu, along with a few other ingredients. It doesn’t typically include any non-vegan ingredients. However, just to be sure, ask about its vegan status at your local Nobu.
Does Nobu Have Vegan Maki?
Nobu offers a few vegetable maki rolls. They most likely are vegan-friendly. But, I would still recommend confirming with the server at your local Nobu outlet before ordering them.
The options include:
- Vegetable Maki
- Yasai Maki
- Avocado Maki
Nobu Vegan Desserts
- Seasonal Fresh Fruit
Nobu offers house-made sorbet, which is often vegan-friendly but may sometimes contain a tiny of milk fat and/or honey. Check with your server to find out if the ones they make at Nobu are suitable for vegans.
Nobu Vegan Drinks
- Double Espresso
- Sencha Tea – Japanese green tea with wild grass and roasted almonds
- Sobacha Tea – A caffeine-free Japanese tea made from heirloom buckwheat.
- Yame Oolong Tea – Floral, umami notes with lightly oxidized oolong.
- Black Orchid Tea– Ylang-ylang flowers, vanilla, and mandarin.
- Nobu Shiso Tea –Slightly sweet tea infused with shiso leaf.
- Soothe Tea – Caffeine-free tea with a minty scent.
- Lemongrass Ginger Tea – Caffeine-free made with lemongrass and ginger.
- Grapefruit on the Rocks – Grapefruit Juice, Elderflower Cordial, Lime Juice, and Lime Zest.
- Pepino – Pineapple, Lychee, Cucumber, and Lemon.
- Matcha Love – Matcha, Coconut, and Agave.
*Houjicha – Although it’s a type of Japanese green tea, its description given on the Nobu website says it has hints of caramel. So, I am not 100% sure if it’s vegan-friendly. It’s best to confirm with your server.
Nobu also offers cocktails, martinis, and a wide variety of wines, champagnes, sake, beer, whiskey, vodka, gin, rum, and many other types of liqueur.
Conclusion – Is Nobu Vegan-Friendly?
This question is a tricky one to answer because we don’t have enough information about Nobu foods. Whatever we have discussed in this article is accurate to my knowledge.
However, the fact that the restaurant doesn’t provide an allergen menu or lists of ingredients for its foods makes everything a little uncertain.
While there are dishes on Nobu’s menu that appear vegan-friendly, we can’t be 100% sure of their vegan status because we don’t know what ingredients they contain. So, there is no clear-cut answer to whether Nobu is a good place for vegans or not.
All in all, the ratio of meatless foods to the seafood dishes isn’t the best. But, it isn’t the worst either. Presuming that all the plant-based dishes we have shortlisted are vegan-friendly, you can have a decent vegan meal at Nobu.
Did you find this article helpful? Interested to learn about other vegan Asian food options available in the country? Check out my article Pei Wei Vegan Options to find what this pan-Asian restaurant chain has for vegans on the menu.