We oftentimes think of sushi as being synonymous with raw fish. As a result, if you've decided to go vegetarian or vegan, you might think sushi restaurants are a no-go. Think again! At most sushi places, there are a variety of vegetarian sushi rolls, salads, and entreés that don't include fish as a key ingredient.

These vegetarian options use a wide variety of meatless ingredients, guaranteeing a dining experience with plenty of flavor and variety. I hope that this article acts as a guide when navigating the menu at sushi restaurants, ensuring that you'll find vegetarian foods that not only taste good, but are good for you.

1.) Vegetable sushi

candy, seafood, cake, fish, sweet, goody, rice, sushi
Jinna Hatfield

One of the most popular options offered at sushi restaurants for vegetarians, vegetable sushi rolls often incorporate a wide variety of different veggies. Some of the most popular include: cucumber, avocado, and shiitake mushroom. 

sashimi, shrimp, eel, fish, wasabi, seafood, rice, salmon, tuna, sushi
Jinna Hatfield

Another vegetarian ingredient that is sometimes added to sushi rolls is sweet potato tempura. Comprised of sweet potato that has been lightly fried in tempura batter, it creates a crunchy, yet slightly sweet filling for sushi.

rice, sushi
Jinna Hatfield

A personal favorite of mine, tamago is a sweet egg omelet that is often placed on top of sushi rice and held together with a thin shred of seaweed wrapper. The egg is traditionally cooked in rectangular pans called makiyakinabe.

Inarizushi is made up of sushi rice placed in a lightly-fried tofu skin that has been marinated in a sweet, soy-based sauce. It forms a pouch with pointed corners, resembling the ears of a fox.

Infamous for its thick, slimy texture and pungent aroma, natto describes fermented soybeans that can be added as a sushi roll ingredient. Rich in many nutrients and protein, the health benefits of natto make it a popular breakfast food in some parts of Japan.

Oshinko describes Japanese pickled radish, which can be added to vegetable sushi rolls. It is known for its strong flavor, and is often colored bright pink or yellow.

2.) Appetizers 

onion, tempura
Tiffany Chen

A veggie tempura appetizer is made up of vegetables dipped in tempura batter and deep-fried, subsequently served alongside a soy-based dipping sauce. Common vegetables found in tempura include: sweet potato, onion, mushroom, and broccoli. 

pasture, pea, edamame, legume, vegetable
Emily King

Edamame, a.k.a. boiled soybeans, takes the center stage as one of the most popular appetizers at any sushi restaurant. Often served with a sprinkle of sea salt or dash of sesame oil, it is a delicious, healthy snack to enjoy before the main course. 

Agedashi tofu is made up of fried tofu served in a mixture of dashi (cooking stock) and soy sauce. The crunchy exterior of the coating combined with the creaminess of the tofu makes for a particularly savory appetizer.

#SpoonTip: Be sure to ask whether the dashi is vegetarian or not, since some restaurants make it with fish stock.

gyoza, bread, dumpling, sweet, dough, pastry
Bailey Bromm

Veggie gyoza are equivalent to Chinese dumplings, or jiaozi. They are made by filling and wrapping thin pieces of dough with a mixture of vegetables, like mushrooms, cabbage, and chives. They are usually pan-fried, and accompanied by a variety of sauces.

3.) Salads

Composed of a mixture of ingredients like: seaweed (often wakame and/or hijike), rice vinegar, and sesame seeds, seaweed salad is the perfect accompaniment to sushi rolls or a bowl of steamed rice. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals.  

The house salad at many sushi restaurants usually includes a mixture of lettuce, sliced cucumber, carrot, and sometimes tomato. Usually accompanied by a miso or sesame-based dressing, this salad is a great compliment to any sushi dinner. 

4.) Noodle and Rice Bowls 

pork, noodle, ramen
Jinna Hatfield

Vegetarian noodle bowls can be made with ramen (thinner) or udon (thicker) noodles served in a vegetable-based broth. They are often topped with a variety of different ingredients, including: seaweed, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, and scallions. Sometimes a sliced, boiled egg or a sprinkle of sesame seeds are also added to the mix. 

#SpoonTip: If the broth is miso-based, it's vegetarian. Miso is a paste of fermented soybeans that is rich in nutrients and full of flavor. 

pho, broth, ramen, noodle, soup
Jinna Hatfield

Noodle bowls can also be prepared with soba, a type of noodle that is made of a mix of buckwheat and wheat flours. Soba has high nutritional value, with the buckwheat providing a variety of vitamins and antioxidants.

broccoli, tofu
Maya Feyzo-Pearlman

Rice bowls, like tofu teriyaki, are another vegetarian choice at sushi restaurants. The combination of protein-rich tofu, rice, and vegetables makes for a hearty meal. 

#SpoonTip: If you have the option, choose brown rice over white; its whole grain status gives you more fiber and nutrients.

5.) Desserts

ice, ice cream, cream
Jinna Hatfield

By far, the most common dessert found on the menu at sushi restaurants is mochi ice cream. It is composed of a small ball of ice cream surrounded by a layer of sticky rice cake. Simultaneously chewy on the outside and creamy on the inside, mochi ice cream makes for a tasty treat. Mochi comes in a variety of different flavors, such as: vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, and green tea. 

#SpoonTip: If you've never had matcha mochi ice cream before, then I strongly recommend giving it a try! It's made with matcha, a finely-ground green tea powder, that is the perfect flavoring for not only ice cream, but cakes and cookies as well.

Along with mochi ice cream, some sushi restaurants offer tempura-battered ice cream. Scoops of ice cream are deep-fried in tempura batter, resulting in a dessert with a crunchy shell and rich, creamy interior. It is often drizzled with fudge and/or caramel sauce, and topped with whipped cream and a cherry or two.

Though sushi is often associated with fish, it is entirely possible to find a multitude of vegetarian choices at sushi restaurants. Aside from the desserts, many vegetarian options are loaded with vegetables and plant-based protein, making them both tasty and healthy!