Healthy Penguin Cafe

Delicious and nutritious plant-based eats in Matsumoto

By Kim B    - 2 min read

In larger cities across Japan like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, finding vegan cafes and restaurants is becoming much easier, and the number of available options is growing all the time. What about smaller city locations, though? Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture has a real gem of a spot for vegans which can be found just a short stroll from the iconic Matsumoto Castle - Healthy Penguin Cafe.

The cafe offers a great variety of completely vegan dishes on their menu, from a Thai-inspired yellow curry filled with mixed vegetables and quinoa, to smashed avocado toast, and their very berry smoothie bowl. Many of the offerings are also gluten-free, and they are clearly labeled with GF on the menu. The best seller is the classic burrito bowl, which is packed with spicy beans, colorful peppers, hearty mushrooms, salsa, salad, guacamole, and a wedge of lime. There's also some distinctly Japanese flair to the burrito bowl, with the addition of grilled lotus root for a bit of extra crunch!

If you're a sweet-tooth, you're covered there, too. The dessert options rotate, but have previously included earl grey banana scones, Mayan chocolate truffles, and a raw raspberry chocolate "cheese" cake which is also sugar-free and gluten-free. You can pair your sweet treat with a smoothie, coffee, latte, or premium tea from Australian tea purveyor T2. Their sencha mango and Melbourne breakfast blends are personal favorites.

Do note that the cafe is closed every Tuesday and Wednesday if you plan on making a special trip.

For more on what there is to see and do in Matsumoto, visit the Japan Travel guide here.

Getting there

Healthy Penguin Cafe is located just under 15 minutes on foot or a seven minute taxi ride from Matsumoto Station, served by the Shinonoi Line, the Oito Line, and the Kamikochi Line.

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Kim B

Kim B @kim.b

I'm an Australian who has lived abroad for almost a decade, including 7 years in Japan - specifically Tokyo and Niigata. I've  visited 44 of 47 prefectures - with only Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Kumamoto left to check out. I'm particularly fond of exploring off the beaten path destinations, gardens, and tea houses, and have a real interest in Japan's growing vegan scene.

Join the discussion

Sherilyn Siy 2 weeks ago
100% vegan desserts are incredible. "I can't believe there's no butter/eggs/milk" :)
Kim B Author a week ago
I am just in awe of how they make them! I find baking difficult enough at the best of times, but to be so creative that they can manage to make delicious treats without milk, eggs, or butter is impressive!
Sleiman Azizi 2 weeks ago
Of course, why didn't I think of this?! Nagano is well regarded for its mountain vegetables.
Kim B Author 2 weeks ago
Good point! Niigata has them too! I'd never tried them until living there!
Elena Lisina 2 weeks ago
The dishes look different, indeed.
Kim B Author 2 weeks ago
Healthy and tasty! I love that they are so colorful, too!