Japanese cuisine is well-known for their sushi, but if you’ve ever been to Japan or are a fan of Japanese food, you’ll know that soba noodles, miso soup, bento boxes, salt and edamame beans and so much more are also on the menu. Since I first arrived in Edinburgh in 2008, I used to pass by Tang’s and my friends would joke it was my family’s restaurant given the same maiden name before I got married.
I was excited to finally be able to try some dishes on their menu. Being able to try dishes from their menu that are already vegan made us very happy indeed. A lot of Asian dishes are predominantly vegan and in Japanese cooking, this is usually quite easy to spot. Apart from the potential non-vegan broth or soup, there aren’t really any hidden ingredients in Japanese dishes, but if you’re visiting Tang’s, the staff are happy to run through the menu with you and give you an idea of what’s suitable for vegans.
The restaurant consists of an upstairs dining area and a bar area and a few tables downstairs. On nights when it’s not too busy, they tend to keep the downstairs area open for guests.
We found it quite difficult to choose what we wanted for starters and mains. There were quite a few choices to consider, although we were informed at the time of our visit, we were informed the vegetable gyoza, kimuchi and mixed vegetable tempura starters weren’t vegan.
Agedashi tofu with avocado maki sushi
The crunch of edamame beans with coarse sea salt gives it a bit of a moreish flavour. The combination of sweet and salty also makes edamame beans a great starter to have. The agedashi tofu was nice and soft on the inside with an interesting bubbly battered outside. The tofu quickly absorbs the slightly sweet Japanese soy sauce and with the slight salty taste of the shredded seaweed, I enjoyed every morsel.
The avocado maki sushi was lovely and it seemed to disappear really quickly. You get 6 in a set and if you were planning on having it as a starter with a tofu main dish, this is the perfect portion size. Dipping the maki in soy sauce gives the creamy avocado a contrasting flavour (I’ve started dipping slices of avocado in soy sauce at home with meals too) and of course it goes well with the sushi rice.
Spicy yaki tofu udon
The OH ordered the spicy yaki udon with tofu which is moderately hot without being overwhelmingly so. The udon noodles were cooked just right, giving it a slight al dente texture to it and the tofu was expertly cooked to give a flavourful dish with mixed vegetables.
At first glance, it doesn’t seem like there’s really enough tofu to go with the generous bed of rice, but the blocks of tofu are quite large once you start digging in. Like the agedashi tofu, the batter is made from a glaze of soy sauce, mirin and sugar. The teriyaki sauce is nice and light which made it quite easy to dig into. Sometimes teriyaki sauce becomes too heavy and thick and you can’t enjoy the dish or flavours because the sweet flavour is overwhelming, but this isn’t the case here. The only shame of it is the tofu and rice quickly absorb much of the sauce. I wished there was a bit more sauce poured over the rice so it balances out the flavours a bit more.
Garden bento box
The bento box also comes with teriyaki tofu as well as green tea jelly and edamame beans alongside the requisite rice. If you’re looking for a traditional Japanese style meal, you can’t go wrong with this traditional style lunch box. You get a taste of a bit of everything, but in the end you’re guaranteed not to still be hungry.
In addition to the dishes mentioned above, the cucumber sushi rolls, Tofu Donburi rice bowl as well as mochi and banana harumaki for dessert we are informed are also vegan. At first, we were also told the tofu yakisoba noodles are vegan until we realised the dish included egg noodles.
All in all, the dishes are very deceptive for their size. Given a lot of the dishes include tofu, as yummy as they are you do fill up quickly so try to avoid having tofu for a starter and main if you intend on also ordering a side and/or dessert afterwards!
Tang’s gohan is located on 44 Candlemaker Row, EH1 2QE and is open Mondays, Wednesdays to Saturdays from 12:00pm to 2:30pm for lunch and 6:00pm to 9:30pm for dinner (closed Sundays), and 12:00pm to 9:30pm on Sundays. They are unable to take same day bookings online, so if you’re looking for a reservation on the day, call 0131 220 5000. Otherwise reservations and enquiries can be made here.
Have you been to Tang’s before? If so, what are your thoughts? Are there other Japanese restaurants with great vegan options you would recommend?