Exploring the unknown: vegan food!
My colleague Paul and I sometimes treat ourselves to a lunch out. Being near Liverpool Street, we have plenty of choice around us yet he’s vegetarian so we have to pick somewhere with enough choice for him to have a satisfying meal.
A couple of weeks ago we were trying to decided where to go when he smugly announced: ‘I’ve found a perfect place: Vegan Yes in Brick Lane’.
He sent me the menu link which read like someone with a very creative mind had tried to come up with the oddest combination of Korean and Italian food, excluding any ingredient that would be animal origin.
Yes that’s right. A vegan mish mash of Korean food (kimchi and the likes) with some Italian inspiration (gnocchi, lasagne). Crazy. My first reaction was ‘no way!’ then we started reading the reviews (all pretty positive) and I decided to take the risk of going hungry but give it a go, if anything, for the pleasure to tell Paul ‘I told you so’.
Vegan Yes is on a corner right in the middle of Brick Lane, not far from the Truman Brewery. Small, with a couple of tables inside and a chaotic sort of ambience which makes it quirky. The menu is described on the walls as well as on a ipad which the cook (and owner) brings to your table to showcase the dishes. And the menu is as bonkers as we’d expected. There are bibimbap, rice dishes, inari and so forth.
We made ourselves comfortable in the packed cafe and perused the menu to find something we’d like to try. Surprisingly, there were quite a few dishes which sounded oddly appetising!
I opted for a vegan hemp sausage with rice and kimchi and was asked which two colours kimchi I’d want, as each colour heals a different part of the body. Paul opted for a bibimpap snack and then the ‘healthy potato’, a portion of steamed and sweet potato, raw seaweed, extra virgin olive oil, soy sauce topped with roasted white sesame seeds.
When our dishes arrived, we actually were both pleasantly surprised. The hemp sausages were flavoursome and did not have that after taste of plastic and processed food that many vegan ‘alternatives’ have; the rice was delicious and full of punchy spices, while the kimchis were a great addition (and I am really into kimchi at the moment too, making my own version as well)
We even tried two desserts. I had the chocolate mousse which was more a custard but was really good, not too sweet: extra virgin olive oil, dark choccolate, ﬂour, almond milk, chilli, salt, sesame seeds topping. Paul had a dark Mochi, a chewy rice ball, red bean paste centre, covered with dark chocolate, sesame seeds topping.
So, how was it?
We liked it so much that we decided to go back a couple of weeks later and take our boss with us for a team lunch.
This time, still not brave enough to try the lasagne dishes, I had rice and fasule (fasule is beans in Neapolitan): steam rice, homemade vegan kimchi red, honey beans, extra virgin olive oil, soy sauce, sesame seeds, once again a very satisfying portion of well cooked rice, delicious kimchi and in this case, black beans. Paul this time tried the Vegan burger and said it was very enjoyable. Indeed it looked the part.
Vegan yes has also a great selection of hot and cold drinks from home made kombucha to blue pea flower tea.
When we chatted to the owner, we found out that her husband is Italian hence the commistion of Korean and Italian ingredients.
As bonkers as it sounds, we will be going back for more and I thought it would make an interesting blog review (I want to spread the word). Photos on iphone to prove I never expected to like it that much either.
A great discovery which helps towards my 365 plant based meals challenge I am doing (but that’s another blog post!).