Shinjuku Station is one of the busiest stations in the world, so it makes sense that it’s packed with fantastic restaurants, cafes, and bars. Luckily, gluten-free and gluten-free-friendly options abound, so we’re going to give you some highlights, all of which can be found on our color-coded map.
Chances are you might pass through Shinjuku on your way somewhere else, but it is a great place to experience the pulse of the city, see interesting architecture, and shop for just about anything—clothes, electronics, camping gear. It is also home of the famous area called “Golden Gai,” which is a group of alleys with small unique bars.
Sweets or Breakfast on the Go?
Rose Bakery and Chaya Macrobiotics, both located inside of Isetan Department Store, have GF cakes and sweets that can be eaten in the restaurant with coffee or boxed up for takeout.
Update: this location of Mor Happiness has closed down, but they say that they will sometimes sell breads on the 6th floor and at the basement floor shop, Vege Stand, in the same building.
Mor Happiness, in the Marui Building, is 100% gluten free and vegan and is only available for takeout. In Japan, it is a rare and special feeling being able to walk in and know that everything is safe for you to eat. Vege Stand on the basement floor of the same building also carries their sweets, but select carefully as some of their sweets come from different shops.
If it’s a nice day, take any of the above options to nearby Shinjuku Gyo-en, a large garden full of diverse trees and flowers. During the cherry blossom season, it is crowded, but on an average day, one can find a quiet spot and a bit of peace in the center of hectic Shinjuku.
If you are craving a nice coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee in NeWoman, a building I still can’t decide how to pronounce, is a popular chain that also usually serves a GF cake.
There are so many wonderful places to eat around Shinjuku, depending on your budget, cravings, if you want to eat in a crowded shop down a dark alley or a posh restaurant with a skyscraper view.
Here are just a few recommendations…
Mr. Farmer is perfect for people who are vegetarian/vegan and gluten free because they can accommodate both. Also great if you’re craving something more wholesome since their food is on the healthier side and includes a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. Mr. Farmer is in the MyLord building and is popular, so you might have to wait to be seated.
Want to try Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki? Teppan Baby is the way to go. They are clear about the fact that cross-contamination is an issue since the same grill and tools are used for both GF and non-GF items, but the okonomiyaki itself is gluten free. If you want to see how it’s made, grab a seat by the counter.
Ain Soph is a famous vegetarian/vegan chain, but the staff say that their items might have cross-contamination. It is almost always crowded, so maybe best to be avoided when hangry. They also have a selection of their own gluten-free granola and cookies.
Chaya Macrobiotics (also mentioned above) has some meals that are gluten free in addition to their cakes. Macrobiotic cuisine is mostly vegetarian, and they have a small selection of gluten-free snacks for on the go.
If you’re craving a burger, get a lettuce wrap at Shake Shack. The burgers themselves do not contain gluten, and they are accustomed to people ordering lettuce instead. They will likely ask you if it’s an allergy or preference. This branch of Shake Shack has a nice outside patio for dining if you want some fresh air.
Been wanting to try Japanese curry? Unlike most Japanese curry, Moyan’s curries are all gluten free, but be careful to select toppings that are not fried. They also give you all-you-can-drink Rooibos tea. Since so many restaurants give out barley tea, this was a nice a surprise for me.
Breizh Cafe is a 100% soba crepe shop, so they are naturally gluten free. However, not all toppings are gluten free, so be sure to advise the staff of your allergies.
While I have not visited myself yet, according to various reports, Nabezo can prepare a gluten-free version of shabu shabu. Shabu Shabu is a type of Japanese hot pot in which you order different meats and vegetables to cook inside. Advise the staff of your allergy or show an allergy card since not all staff will understand “gluten-free.”
Shopping for Snacks and Ingredients
Shinjuku Station is massive, and you can find just about everything nearby. I marked a lot of shops on our map that tend to have gluten-free items, including Natural Lawson, Seijo Ishii, and Kaldi Coffee Farm. These are great places to search wherever you are located in Japan as they consistently carry some gluten-free items, like bread, snacks, and protein bars. Read about deciphering labels in Japanese here and here.
I recently discovered a chain called Biople, which carries a number of organic and gluten-free items, natural toiletries, and even CBD oil if you’re in the market for it.
I often stop by HALC food since the basement floor has Kaldi, Kodawariya, and Meidiya, which all have GF items, to varying extents. The Enoteca that is part of Meidiya also usually has hard cider if you’re looking for it.
Egg, umm, fans…
A restaurant called Eggslut just opened in Shinjuku. At first, not going to lie, I thought this was some amazing Engrish, but it turns out it is a branch of a Los Angeles shop that serves all-day egg dishes. According to various reviews at the LA branch, people can order their eggs with salad instead of bread, but since their grand opening was only about a week ago, I haven’t had a chance to confirm that the Tokyo branch can and will do the same. Stay tuned!