a vegetarian London restaurant with a red phonebox in the foreground

A Vegan’s Guide to London Restaurants

I moved to London in September of last year which is coming up to five months ago now – oh how time flies when you spend most of it underground! This may not seem like a long time, but in this period I’ve managed to go from stress crying on a tube that was determinedly heading in the complete opposite direction of my destination to navigating my way through even rush hour crowds undeterred and effortlessly avoiding the much-feared accidental eye contact with strangers in public.

Not only that, but I can now find my way home safely even if my phone’s dead – fearing only the lack of music and the unbearable squeaking of the century-old machinery. (Perhaps my newfound confidence with public transport is helped by the weekly emails delivered to my personal inbox about up-to-date transport information – and I read it too!)

It’s not just the topography of the city I understand better now. I know where to do my shopping (and crucially what time), how to get cinema tickets for any film for no more than three pounds, where to alleviate my sweet tooth with the best vegan ice cream in town, and which restaurant provides the perfect backdrop for a much-needed catchup with long before seen friends. I fear I have become, reluctantly, somewhat of a… Londoner.

So what should I do with all this new knowledge and experience I have gathered? Naturally, what every foodie and writer with a deadline would: compile a list of the best London restaurants according to moi and hope that they will help you enjoy this big confusing city more, just like they have done for me.

So, below, you’ll find the top restaurants in which I have dined in the last few months, a selection of six from many more according to food, atmosphere, and quality of experience. All are either fully vegan or offer an extensive vegan/veggie menu that will give all fellow indecisive girlies (hi) a difficult time. My advice: go back as many times as you can to try everything!

Nem Nem (Islington) & Nom Nom (Hoxton)

Boasting two prime London locations, Nem Nem in Islington and Nom Nom in Hoxton (we were confused too, especially as there is a restaurant named Om Nom in Islington too – all I can say, make sure there are no typos in your Maps app when you’re trying to find your way), this Vietnamese restaurant is sure to please all fans of pho and other delicious Viet dishes. Their extensive menu is divided up in the middle, writing on one side a long list of dishes that feature meat, and right opposite, their vegan equivalents, just as numerous.

Opening with their beautiful starters, Nem Nem offers the unbeatable spring and summer rolls alongside the exciting Vegan Hanoi Fish or Tofu Pancake – on the meat side, of course, the same can be found in all their meat and seafood glory. The main dishes include heartwarming phos, noodle salads, and curries and claypot dishes. Nothing is remiss – not in presence nor in taste.

Nem Nem is the perfect location to bring together a large group of friends with its quiet interiors and attention to layout which separates the tables just far enough from each other not to reveal all your secrets to the strangers sitting at the neighbouring spots. It caters to all dietary requirements and the service is fast and lovely.

One point of note: make sure to take some cash with you as they don’t take card! (If you forget this, as I so often do, there is a post office with an ATM just right opposite, and I think you can guess why I know this so well.)

Nem Nem – Vietnamese Cuisine (nemnoms.co.uk)

A lion statue in front of a vegetarian restaurant in Chinatown, London

Read more about veggie food in London

The Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Chinatown, London

Korean BBQ and Vegan

I am very biased towards this restaurant as it provided the backdrop to the historic day when I turned just the one more year older. And this decision wasn’t made lightly. Remember when I said I’m indecisive? Well, my birthday dinner had to be absolutely PERFECT and my search for the restaurant that could fulfil such a singular and yet impossible criteria lasted for no less than a week and a half, browsing the Internet for hours a day, and annoying my friends by sending them links and then getting cold feet.

Finally, after a humbling text from a very good friend in which she expressed her love for me but also that I am acting ridiculous, I settled on her recommendation of Korean BBQ and Vegan, situated just a seven minute walk from the Barbican.

Korean BBQ and Vegan is a Korean barbecue spot like any other, with all the meat you can imagine being grilled and fried on the oventops provided on each table. It is not just a meal, it is an experience, and if any herbivores feel jealous of all the fun, Korean BBQ and Vegan offers a Vegan Set Menu with vegan meat, mushroom steak, and vegetables.

However, if you don’t fancy cooking after a hard day’s work but would rather kick back, relax, and eat food prepared just for you, Korean BBQ and Vegan also offer a menu of traditional Korean dishes such as Bibimbap, Vegan Topoki, Vegan Yaki-Udon, and my personal favourite, Vegan Doenjang Jjiggae, a soybean paste soup with tofu, mushrooms, and potatoes, served with jasmine rice. A jewel of Korean cuisine that got the seal of approval from my friend who had lived in South Korea – highly recommended for all birthday parties or otherwise.

Korean Food | KOREAN BBQ AND VEGAN RESTAURANT (kbbqvegan.co.uk)

Tofu Vegan (Islington, Golders Green and Spitalfields)

A few months ago, I wrote an article on London’s Chinatown and my newfound love for Chinese cuisine. Tofu Vegan, although not situated in Chinatown itself, is one of the best things to come out of this. It probably has seen me back more times than any other in the whole of London as I march towards it, one in the masses of vegans, veggies, and veggie-curious people that had been charmed by its simple premise of making Chinese food easily accessible in plant-based form. Its three locations (Islington, Golders Green, and Spitalfields) make sure you can get some good old Sweet and Sour wherever you are in London. 

As proudly stated on their menu, plant-based cooking is not new in Chinese cuisine, a long-established tradition that Tofu Vegan aim to follow with the help of their chefs from Sichuan, the Cantonese south of mainland China, and the Dongbei region. Their dishes rely heavily on all sorts of mushrooms, tofu, and different meat substitutes, and this is exactly their success. There are no unnecessary methods to “elevate” their food or add more and more veggies to make it palpable for everyone – they are authentically Chinese dishes that happen not to feature meat and taste absolutely delicious.

Their menu is too extensive for me to list, but I’ll leave you with some of my favourites: Sizzling Fried King Oyster Mushroom in Black Pepper Sauce, Fried Tofu in Black Bean Sauce, and the Mixed Mushroom and Tofu Soup. Next time though, there is no way to keep me away from the Kimchi Chick’n and Tofu Stew – and this is a threat.

Tofu Vegan 豆腐素食 – Vegan Chinese Restaurant 素食中餐馆

Temple of Seitan (Camden and Hackney)

Moving away from Asian cuisine, the Temple of Seitan worships nothing more than the simple chicken wing. This fully vegan fast food place provides all in London with access to vegan burgers, wings, side dishes, and milkshakes in their locations in Camden and Hackney.

Boasting multiple awards like Best Vegan Restaurant in the UK in 2017 and the the most popular vegan item on Ubereats in 2019 for the Nashville Hot Burger, the Temple of Seitan also has scored a winning contract with the popular YouTube series Hot Ones (you know the one where celebrities eat hot chicken wings as we watch them sweat and cry for entertainment?) to provide vegan chicken wings for celebrities on a plant-based diet. Yes, the chicken wings Ricky Gervais is eating in the famous video: they have been flown all the way from the Temple of Seitan kitchen in London!

And where did this all start? It started with Rebbecca McGuinness and her nostalgia for all the fantastic fast food she was able to eat before she turned vegan. She started experimenting in her kitchen to find the perfect substitute and turns out, seitan is the answer.

Thank you, Rebecca.

Temple of Seitan

Two British people eating food in a vegan restaurant in London

Read more about food in London

The Best Vegan Restaurants in London

What the Pitta

As their funky website will tell you proudly, What the Pitta is the home of the original vegan doner kebab. It opened its doors in 2016 as a project of Cem and Roj, who, after quitting meat cold turkey (pun intended), visited Roj’s uncle in Germany to learn the ropes from him about how to make plant-based kebabs.

Only two weeks later What the Pitta opened, first as  a food stall in Shoreditch, but slowly expanding into a local franchise with locations in Brick Lane, Camden, Croydon, Manchester and Brighton. Similar to Temple of Seitan, What the Pitta has also been massively successful on a national level, being the winners of the Best London Takeaway of the Kebab Awards – the first ever vegan winners (also where can I sign up for the kebab awards? Sounds delicious). 

Their menu features Turkish inspired vegan and vegetarian dishes like the Doner Kebab, Gyros, or Box that you can pair with fake chicken, potato fries, some hummus and falafel, or dips like tzatziki.

What The Pitta – The Best Vegan Doner Kebabs

Little Georgia

Finally, if you’re looking for something different in London, why not try Georgian food in a gem of a place like Little Georgia? With two locations in the city, a bigger one in Islington and a smaller, more intimate space in Hackney, Little Georgia has brought authentic Georgian food into London with a selection of soups, the famous Khachapuri bread, stews, and many veggie sides.

I could praise Little Georgia all day, and much to the dismay of my friends, I have in fact done so, but I do have to warn that it is not a particularly vegan place. In fact, it caters more to traditionally omnivore tastebuds; however, its menu has a couple veggie options in each section which are vegan or can easily be made vegan upon request. On our visit, we absolutely couldn’t miss a wonderful bowl of Borscht soup, an aubergine and tomato stew of the name Ajabsandali, and a bean stew that remains one of my favourite dishes to this day, Kotnis Lobio. The quality of the food definitively makes up for the lack of choice, and the darkly-lit buzzing space provides the perfect backdrop to friend dates and celebrations.

Little Georgia – Georgian Cuisine

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