bowls/ recipes

Vegan Shiitake Donburi

Vegan Shiitake Donburi | Well and Full | #vegan #plantbased #recipe

This Vegan Shiitake Donburi recipe is made with deliciously crispy mushrooms and a sweet and savory glaze!

Have I ever told you all about my obsession with Japan? I don’t think I have… but it’s about time. I think my love of Japan started with my uncle, who will be the first person to admit that he’s a huge nerd. He, like my father, went to a prestigious university for post-grad (Yale and Stanford, respectively), and has always possessed a love of learning. I don’t know where his interest in Japan started, but when I was growing up, he would always talk about his love of kudo and teach me how to properly hold my bowl of rice the Japanese way. We’d seek out restaurants that had tatami dining rooms, where we’d remove our shoes (in true Japanese tradition) and eat at a low zataku table, sitting on pillows. So when it came time to choose my summer camp when I was 8, I obviously chose Japanese camp!

There is something about the Japanese culture that is so mystical and beautiful to me. It speaks of ancient tradition and modern innovation; precision and order, sinuous design and exacting beauty. And then, of course, there’s the food.

Japanese cuisine lends itself very well to vegetarianism, and even veganism. As a relatively small yet populous island, the country simply does not have the land to devote to livestock. Traditionally, the Japanese diet consisted mainly of rice and sea food (including fish, shellfish, and seaweed). With the introduction of Buddhism, the consumption of meat was considered “taboo”, although its presence in Japanese cuisine did not disappear entirely. However, ingredients that are considered to be such staples in Western cuisine, like dairy, are not prevalent in Japanese dishes.

I loved Japanese food even before I went vegan, but now I find myself turning to those flavors more and more. Something unique about ubiquitous Japanese ingredients is that they often contain umamiwhich usually translates to “savory” but technically refers to the taste of glutamates on the palate. Unfortunately, these glutamates are usually found in meat and dairy products. However, many plant-based Japanese ingredients contain umami, such as miso, tamari, shiitake mushrooms, umeboshi plums, and certain types of seaweed, like nori or kombu.

Growing up, though, I just hated mushrooms. Does any kid like mushrooms?? Even now, I wouldn’t really say I “like” mushrooms. But I may just be coming around with this vegan shiitake donburi recipe – I must say, I did kind of surprise myself with the way these mushrooms turned out. I’m having a hard time finding the words to describe them… they were sautéed in sesame oil, giving just a hint of nutty flavor; and cooked until they were just browned, served over steaming rice, donburi style. The texture was not slimy like the mushrooms of my past, but slightly crispy on the edges and a little chewy on the inside. The flavor was full and mouthwatering and – dare I say it – meaty, but in a very plant-based way that was not off-putting at all. (I generally dislike meat substitutes, so I say this fairly objectively). I ate them all immediately after shooting the photos. And I may not be a full mushroom convert, but shiitakes certainly have a well-deserved place in my kitchen now.

Vegan Shiitake Donburi | Well and Full | #vegan #plantbased #recipe

Shiitake Donburi | Well and Full | #vegan #plantbased #recipe

Shiitake Donburi

This shiitake donburi is full of rich, umami flavors and can be customized with any vegetables you like.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


Shiitake Mushrooms

  • 2 Cups Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 1 Tsp Sesame Oil


  • 1/4 Cup Tamari
  • 1/4 Cup Mirin
  • 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup

For the Bowls

  • At least 2 Cups Sushi Rice cooked
  • At least 2 Avocados
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Scallions


  • In a saucepan on medium heat, combine all glaze ingredients and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until sauce is thickened. Stick in the refrigerator to let cool.
  • To cook the mushrooms, bring a pan to medium-high heat on the stovetop. When pan is hot, carefully add 1 tsp of sesame oil. Add mushrooms and stir in sesame oil. Cook until shiitakes are slightly browned.
  • To serve, put at least a cup of cooked rice in each of the bowls. I used short-grain sushi rice but you can use any rice you have on hand.
  • Put the mushrooms on top of the rice, straight out of the pan, and drizzle with glaze.
  • Top bowls with bean sprouts, avocado slices, and sesame seeds (as much as desired).
  • Enjoy with a cup of hot green tea.

Shiitake Donburi | Well and Full | #vegan #plantbased #recipe

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  • Reply
    Dani @ Dani California Cooks
    October 1, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    This looks so tasty!! There is a place in SF that sells quinoa bowls that looks super similar to this and they are SO delicious. I love that I can recreate this at home.

    • Reply
      October 1, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      Really?? That’s so cool! What’s the name of the restaurant?

  • Reply
    dixya | food, pleasure, and health
    October 1, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    im not as cultured on japanese food but i love their lifestyle and cuisine in general…this dish looks perfect!

    • Reply
      October 1, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      Thanks Dixya!! I’m just nuts about Japanese food so I was excited to make this :)

  • Reply
    The Vegan 8
    October 1, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    This is just beautiful Sarah! Love the colors of this dish! I lived in Japan (Osaka and then Tokyo) for a few months many, many years ago and it was amazing, quite the experience. I’m in love with this simple sounding glaze. I have all 3 ingredients, I am so making that! Beautiful closeups.

    • Reply
      October 1, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      I forgot you lived in Japan!!! I remember reading that in one of your posts! Well if you ever have any feedback / comments about any Japanese recipes I’ve posted, I’d love to hear from you!! Going to Japan is on my bucket list and I’m thinking about going within the next 5 years, because I’ve wanted it for so long. I’d love to hear more about your time there too! :D

  • Reply
    October 1, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    I can’t claim to know much about Japanese culture, but the food… I love it! This looks like such a fab addition to my weeknight meals rota

    • Reply
      October 1, 2015 at 5:18 pm

      I’m so glad you like it!! :D

  • Reply
    Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine
    October 1, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Yes! I HATED (loathed) mushrooms for the longest time! Than one summer a few years ago, I had just some raw white button mushrooms ad randomly fell in love! Now I am mushroom obsessed!!! I still love them raw the most, but any kind, any way, I’ll eat them ;)

    • Reply
      October 1, 2015 at 5:22 pm

      Isn’t it funny how one experience can totally change our minds about a certain food!? I don’t know if I’m quite at the raw mushroom phase yet, but maybe one day I’ll get there ;)

  • Reply
    Kathryn @ The Scratch Artist
    October 2, 2015 at 9:27 am

    Oh have I got a documentary for you! Just last night we watched a new show on PBS, I’ll have what Phil’s having. He travels to Japan and explores their culinary traditions as well as what modern Chefs are creating. We loved it. Here is the link
    and yeah…this looks great! Love mushrooms…even as a kid :-)

    • Reply
      October 2, 2015 at 10:08 am

      I LOVE documentaries!! Thank you so much for sending this my way Kathryn, I can’t wait to watch it!! :D

  • Reply
    danielle is rooting the sun
    October 2, 2015 at 9:43 am

    japan is a really cool obsession to have! my sister studies and travels abroad and i’ve always soaked in her stories like a human sponge cake. what an abundance of culture and cuisine! ♥ my history with mushrooms has been long and varied, but certainly as a child i placed myself as far away from them as possible. growing older, i’m slowly starting to come around. there are certain varieties i truly adore, and some i still can’t wrap my head around. it’s mostly a texture thing i think – their taste is rich and earthy. it helps if you have the ability to go into the woods and forage for them. beautiful dish sarah!

    • Reply
      October 2, 2015 at 10:09 am

      I would love to go forage for mushrooms, but I’m always so afraid that I’ll accidentally pick something poisonous!! Maybe one of these days I’ll get a guidebook and try my luck at it :D

  • Reply
    October 2, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Being from Hawaii and now living so close to Japantown in San Francisco, I have become entranced with all their dishes. I love how versatile don buri is. Great shots and it looks so delicious.

    <3 Dani

    • Reply
      October 2, 2015 at 7:48 pm

      Thanks Dani!! :D

  • Reply
    Sophie | The Green Life
    October 3, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    Sarah, this dish looks wonderful! I love the vibrant colours and the flavours you have going on here. I’m a HUGE fan of Japan too. I’ve only had a quick layover in Tokyo once while I was flying on a Japanese airline (I didn’t actually get to visit Tokyo, the layover was just me spending a few hours at the airport haha), but I instantly fell in love with everything Japanese! The people, the food, the culture. I cannot wait to go and immerse myself for a few weeks. I hated mushrooms as a child but now I couldn’t imagine my life without them! This dish is definitely a must-try. :)

    • Reply
      October 3, 2015 at 8:26 pm

      Even a layover sounds better than no visit at all!! One day I’ll get there though ;)

  • Reply
    October 3, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    I would love a bowl of this! So inspiring, I’m into japanese food too and use umboshi and tamari frequently in everyday cooking, would love to learn more about it. yes please post more on this,. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      October 3, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      Thanks Nina!! I’ll definitely be posting more Japanese recipes :D

  • Reply
    genevieve @ gratitude & greens
    October 4, 2015 at 12:28 am

    Yassss Japanese food is the best! It’s so simple yet refined and I can’t get enough of it. A lot of the Japanese dishes I loved weren’t veggie friendly (sushi, shabu shabu, unagi don) but I have been making do with veggie sushi. The glaze you used for the mushrooms sounds amazing- all ingredients I love!

    • Reply
      October 5, 2015 at 9:24 am

      Thanks Gen!! :D

  • Reply
    October 6, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Would you believe that I STILL hate mushrooms? I do, however, force myself to eat them because they’re incredibly nutritious and do the body good. I’m not sure how I’d feel about them in this recipe (it’s the texture that gets me, maaaaan), but I’m going to give them a try because this bowl looks too damn delicious not to. I never realized Japan is veg-friendly, as my dad always sends me pictures of the piles of fish he’s eating, when he’s there. As of five minutes ago, that little island just got moved up on my list of Places I Need to Visit ASAP.

    • Reply
      October 6, 2015 at 1:51 pm

      Hey girl hey!! So excited that you stopped by, I’m a HUGE fan of Oh Ladycakes ;) But trust me, I HATED mushrooms before this, and will still not eat them if they’re mushy and gross. Just no.

  • Reply
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    November 16, 2015 at 4:08 am

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  • Reply
    February 12, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    This recipe seems deliciously easy or easily delicious :) (and) I don’t really like mushrooms either. If you come to London one day, you should try to go to Itadakizen, it’s near King Cross and it is simply the best Japanese food I ever tried. It’s not easy to eat in as everyone book early in advance but once inside this house, it’s home.
    Oh, and it’s organic and vegan.

    • Reply
      February 12, 2016 at 7:18 pm

      An organic AND vegan AND Japanese restaurant!? Sounds like heaven to me!! I’ll be sure to go if I’m ever visiting London, thank you so much for the recommendation :D

      • Reply
        June 20, 2016 at 3:43 pm

        You totally nailed it about why vegan Japanese food is so excellent! One of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco is a vegan Japanese place, Cha-Ya. It’s not fancy, but the women who run it are the nicest, and they really elevate classics like tempura and dengaku (the dengaku at Cha-Ya is a combo of eggplant, tofu, and shiitake mushrooms).

        Love the idea of this bowl — mushrooms are one of my favorites, and really, add avocado to almost anything, and I’m in.

        • Reply
          June 21, 2016 at 9:05 am

          I just googled the Cha-ya restaurant menu and it sounds fantastic!! If I ever visit San Francisco, that’ll definitely be on the list of places to visit :) Thanks Nicole!

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    October 8, 2018 at 9:51 pm

    I love donburi so much. Do you know if it works as well with brown rice? I know it’s much harder to get sushi to work with brown rice but I guess the stickiness isn’t as essential here.

    • Reply
      October 8, 2018 at 10:05 pm

      This would definitely work with brown rice! :) Let me know how it goes if you try it!

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