The Japanese sushi chain Itsu have announced that since 2015, sales of vegetarian dishes across their 70 UK stores have more than doubled. With that, they are launching a new menu that features 11 new meals, half of which are either vegetarian or vegan, including a detox miso soup; quinoa falafel and vegetable rice bowl; and a vegetarian gyoza udon. 20% of all the brand’s sales now come from vegetarian products, rising from around 10% just two years ago.
It comes as a number of London restaurant chains are placing a new emphasis on vegetarian and vegan menu options. Just last week, the Italian brand Carluccio’s launched its first ever vegetarian pop-up at their flagship Covent Garden restaurant, in collaboration with food blogger, Anna Barnett.
Before that, Wagamama, the Japanese and Asian-inspired chain began a trial of a new vegan menu a fortnight ago; Pret launched a third exclusively vegetarian store on Exmouth market five days ago; and McDonalds introduced a new vegan burger this month.
It also comes in the wake of a number of new vegan restaurants opening in the capital, some homegrown; others plant-based imports from across the Atlantic. Itsu say it is widening the offering to the estimated 1.2 million vegetarians in the UK. Research also shows the percentage of vegans in the UK is less than 1%.
Will Da Silva, senior food development manager at Itsu, highlighted that Itsu’s vegetarian udon noodle dish outperforms all meat-based udon options in-store.
He said: “Itsu is synonymous with sushi but we wanted to remind our customers about how much variety there is in our range. We’ve seen a lot of increase in our vegetarian sales, for example, our veggie udon noodle dish is the bestseller in the udon range (over and above meat options), so we wanted to respond directly to our customers and provide them with even more vegetarian options.
“We’re excited to launch our hot food menu nationwide and hope our customers enjoy our Asian-inspired menu as much as we did creating it. Keep an eye out for our new additions over the coming months.”
This year Itsu celebrates its twentieth anniversary, having first launched their “delicious, affordable and healthy, Asian-inspired food” concept in 1997. The new dishes arrive in stores from 17 October — the full menu can be seen here.