Vegan Traveler Interview: Stephie of The Caffeinated Vegan

Stephie in Japan (photo by The Caffeinated Vegan)

This week for our vegan traveler interview we’re joined by Stephie of The Caffeinated Vegan.  Stephie and her partner James travel, drink the best coffee they can find (a task I heartily approve of!), eat great vegan food and share this with others through the blog.

On to Stephie!

How long have you been vegan? How many places and where have you traveled since you’ve been vegan?

I’ve been vegan for just over a year now. James has been vegan for around 5 years and I’ve been amazed but the vegan things you can find if you just look closely!

We have travelled extensively in the last year with multiple trips through Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Macau and the Philippines. We have also spent over a month in Japan and South Korea.

There are still many more places we want to go, and we want to go back to some of our favorite places.

Thailand (photo by The Caffeinated Vegan)
Thailand (all photos by The Caffeinated Vegan)

What’s your favorite place or places you’ve traveled as a vegan?

Picking just one favorite place is too hard, but I think Singapore, Hong Kong, and Kyoto rate highly as vegan destinations. Singapore, for its sheer number of places to eat, with a few standouts such as Brownice and NomVNom. Hong Kong for it’s up and coming initiatives such as Green Common and fine dining like Grassroots Pantry. Kyoto has a vegan pub, need we say more?

Our home base city, Taipei is also highly stacked with vegan dining options. We particularly love it when other vegan nomads find their way here and we can take them out and show them some of the local places or night market eats. These are unique experiences, which they might not be able to have without being able to speak the language and read the menus!

What was the best vegan meal you’ve had while traveling? How did you find the restaurant?

We were really impressed by Whisk (an omni fine dining restaurant) in Hong Kong at the Hotel Mira who managed to develop a custom, six-course vegan degustation for a special occasion for us.

It was a unique experience and while you won’t get exactly what we did you can book in advance for your own special vegan occasion. Chef Bjoern “loves working with vegetables” and came out to explain what every dish was and how he carefully prepared it. It was exciting to meet such a passionate chef who takes his diners dietary requirements so seriously, and relishes the challenge of creating exciting food for everyone.

We had vegan caviar, coffee and quinoa blackened potatoes, and fries made from a South American root. At over US$200 it may not be for everyone, but the dining experience was sublime. We stayed at this hotel and contacted the restaurant in advance.

Whisk, Hong Kong (photo by The Caffeinated Vegan)
Whisk, Hong Kong (all photos by The Caffeinated Vegan)

We have had plenty more affordable yet memorable vegan experiences on our travels, but it’s hard to pick just one to write about! I want to throw honorable mentions at T’s Tantan in Tokyo and Loving Hut in Singapore!

T’s ramen is simple yet delicious, and with a super convenient location in the heart of Tokyo station, it makes a perfect stop after any day trip in or around Tokyo, or after a long journey on the Shinkansen.

T's Tan Tan Japan (photo by The Caffeinated Vegan)
T’s Tan Tan, Tokyo (all photos by The Caffeinated Vegan)

Loving Hut Joo Chiat in Singapore is probably the best Loving Hut in the world. The décor is out of this world compared to some of the other Loving Huts, which have obviously seen better days. Bright and cheerful yet also modern and chic, with some fantastic food; we ate more than our own weight here!

Loving Hut, Singapore (photo by The Caffeinated Vegan)
Loving Hut Singapore (all photos by The Caffeinated Vegan)

And while not a meal, the vegan ice cream at Brownice in Singapore is surely a contender for best in the world. The salted caramel gula-melaka flavor is a must-try.

What was the hardest place to be a vegan? How did you find food? What did you eat?

We found Langkawi, Malaysia a little bit lackluster on the vegan front (we also found KL and Penang a bit sad, but there were some gems!). We survived on Dal, falafel and Subway.

James also spent a night in Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan and survived on two bagels and a plate of fries (minus the butter.)

People say that Japan is challenging as a vegan, but on the whole it is not. Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka have thriving vegan scenes, and even stepping outside of these main cities you will find health focused macrobiotic restaurants and onigiri (rice balls) shops that can see you through. There are also a number of Indian restaurants scattered throughout Japan, if you’re feeling like some non-Japanese food.

Another place that people would say is challenging is Manila; but this is also not the case. Manila doesn’t have the largest vegetarian and vegan scene but it is up and coming with a few standout restaurant options that will see you going back multiple times. I highly recommend Corner Tree Café for authentic tasting veganised Pinoy food. I grew up in the Philippines, so I can vouch for the authenticity!

Petronas Towers, Malaysia (photo by The Caffeinated Vegan)
Petronas, Malaysia (all photos by The Caffeinated Vegan)

Where are you planning on going next and what vegan places will you be checking out?

We will be going back to Japan from late March to Mid-April. We start in Okinawa, which is a new place for us! After that we go back to Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo for a couple of weeks.

We are looking forward to visiting some old favorites such as Cafe Matsuontoko in Kyoto and HangOut in Tokyo!

In May we are visiting the Philippines again and are excited to see how the vegan scene has been going over the last year!

Nara Park, Japan (photo by The Caffeinated Vegan)
Nara Park, Japan (all photos by The Caffeinated Vegan)

Thanks, Stephie!

Follow The Caffeinated Vegan for Stephie’s latest vegan finds (like the ultimate guide to night market finds in Keelung, Taiwan, or this post about an all-vegan shop in Hong Kong).  Or, follow Stephie on Instagram or Twitter to stay up to date.

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2 thoughts on “Vegan Traveler Interview: Stephie of The Caffeinated Vegan

  1. Sam

    I got to meet Stephie and James in Taipei recently, and was one of the lucky visitors who got taken out by them to the night market for an evening of feasting, which was a really memorable experience! I definitely agree about the vegan options in Malaysia and on Langkawi in particular, which was disappointing, but it’s really encouraging to hear about the scene in Japan and the Philippines!

    Reply

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