CHOICE Kyoto – Gluten Free and Vegan Dining

While in Japan, we spent five days in Kyoto which was the longest amount of time we stayed in one place on our entire trip. This meant we had a bit more time to explore restaurants and try to find some decent gluten free dining. Thanks to the prominence of Buddhism in Kyoto, there seem to be a lot of vegan restaurant options. Although I am not not a vegan, I was avoiding dairy at this point (I’ll talk more about that in a later post!) and vegan = dairy free! I also find that most restaurants that cater to one type of dietary restriction tend to be pretty understanding about other restrictions. This made Kyoto one of the easiest places to eat while we were in Japan.

I had read a few reviews about CHOICE restaurant before our trip and knew I wanted to check it out (gluten and dairy free cheesecake? Yes please!). It’s a great place to check out if you’re visiting Nishiki Market as it’s only about a 15 min walk from there and it’s also super close to Sanjo station (also a few minute walk) if you need to use transit. Once you get there it is well marked and advertises their very gluten free and vegan menu!

The inside is comfortable, clean, and quiet. There is a variety of seating options and reading material scattered throughout the restaurant if you’re interested. They have some quick to grab food at the front cash register (muffins, vegan cheeses, etc.). Our first visit there I took a double chocolate muffin back to our hotel for breakfast the following morning. It kept well in our fridge overnight and was delicious!

Our initial visit was just for dessert. Ried and I ordered the cheesecake and the rice milk ice cream and split them. The cheesecake seemed to be plain flavored but had green coloring swirled across the top which I’m assuming was matcha (but it didn’t really impact the taste of the cake from what I could tell). Although it was really quite good, I think I make a better homemade gluten and dairy free cheesecake. It was really nice to be able to eat something like this in a restaurant though as that is not a luxury you find in many places! The ice cream was actually my favorite. It was soft serve and came in a dish filled with gluten free corn flakes. I really enjoyed it!

The second visit to CHOICE was for breakfast. Gluten free pancakes were on the menu and it was a nice change from onigiri (although I do love onigiri!).  I enjoyed CHOICE’s pancakes, but have to say they weren’t as good as the ones I talked about in my post on Art Elk Cafe in Hiroshima.  It’s not that their pancakes were bad or anything, it’s just that they tasted…too healthy? I think I was looking for more of a typical fried, moist pancake but CHOICE’s appeared to be baked and were a bit dry. They were also fairly small considering the price point. So still tasty, but not quite what I was expecting. I wanted to take another muffin to-go but they didn’t have any in the case this day unfortunately.

Would I recommend CHOICE? I definitely would tell you to go and try their desserts and to take a muffin with you to-go. Also, if you are vegan, they have a pretty decent sized meal menu and cheese selection. It’s a more pricey restaurant then seen elsewhere on our trip so be prepared for that. I really did like the environment of the restaurant and could see myself going back there to get a hot drink and read if we had more time.

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-Rachel

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