So today we decided instead of cooking a vegan meal ourselves that we would venture outside and find a culinary delight in one of the many delicious eateries Brighton has to offer us. We ended up in a delightful little restaurant situated in the Kensington Gardens area of the North Laines known as Wai Kika Moo Kau (pronounced ‘why kick a moo cow’ in case you didn’t get it before) This is a completely vegetarian restaurant with many vegan options available.
Despite having eaten here before it has been a while since we enjoyed some Moo Kau goodness and so were desperate to try this again. It seems they have changed their menu quite a bit since our last venture here and Wrosie was most disappointed to discover that her favourite, the bangers and mash, had been removed. Nevertheless, this spurred us on to trying something a little different. The variety on offer is decent, and they always have special dishes available. You have your standard burger which comes with a variety of additions, most of which are vegan. The burger is made out of sweet potato and soya beans, which sounds like a decent mix between a fake meat burger and a vegetable patty. Elsewhere on the menu, there are a variety of wraps (including a great vegan burrito), veggie chilis, and curries (and these are nearly all vegan, or can be modified upon request).
Something we’ve always loved about Wai Kika Moo Kau is their delicious range of drinks. (One of the most refreshing things about vegan restaurants is their vast range of healthy drinks- makes a nice change from standard restaurants where Coca-Cola and Sprite are the generic drinks.) Although somewhat pricey, their milkshakes are second to none, and I wasted no time in ordering the daily special which happened to be the delicious ‘Jake’s Shake’ – a banana and peanut butter concoction. Wrosie, who is not even that keen on peanut butter (idiot) didn’t hesitate on slurping down a good portion of it. In the end though Wroise opted for the freshly squeezed orange juice (just one of a few juices they have on offer – a quick and easy way to make it to your five-a-day!). Besides this there is great range of smoothies and vegan-friendly alcohol. Oh and your usual range of fizzy-pop if you aren’t tempted to stray away from the norm…
The divine Jake's Shake
After a quick browse of the menu, we both opted for the same thing – a curiously named wrap (the “Bang Bang Tofu Wrap,” or something), which is essentially a wrap containing salad, tofu chunks, some seasonings and chili, and a peanut butter sauce. The meal itself was perhaps the only area we felt slightly disappointed with. Despite the variety of food on offer, there was something lacking in the meals themselves. The aforementioned bangers and mash, which has now been omitted from the menu, brought a sense of originality and a feeling of effort to the food, as the sausages were made on site and the gravy was perfect. Whilst our wraps were delicious, perhaps the only aspect of the food which seemed remotely interesting and original was the peanut butter sauce, which was an interesting mix of flavours. The tofu lacked any interesting preparation and hadn’t been marinated in any way, making it fairly bland and boring. I felt like the meal (besides the sauce) was nothing that I couldn’t have done at home with a bit of salad, some tofu, a wrap, some oven cook fries, and 10 minutes to spare. This feeling was further exaggerated when I saw one of the staff carrying bags of Sainsbury’s pittas and wraps into the kitchen. Whilst the wasn’t by any means unreasonable, and the food was tasty, I expected a little more for £7 per meal.
What I would say about Wai Kika Moo Kau’s meals though is that they get the portion size just right. Some people feel hard done by if they’re left still feeling a little peckish after finishing their meal, but in reality I think that is important to leave a little room for other things on the menu, so let’s get to the best part of the meal: the dessert. Wai Kika Moo Kau has a great range of vegan friendly cakes on display to tempt you after your meal (or you could dive straight in and just order a slice of cake – the ambience is close enough to a cafe to allow you to do that without feeling awkward). We chose a slice of carrot cake.
When this arrived, we tried to savour it but ended up wolfing it down. It was a delicious cake. I feel a truly excellent vegan cake should defy the fact that it is vegan and not only taste like its non-vegan counterpart, but also do something a little extra, and our carrot cake did just that. It was up there with the best, and the icing was soft and thick. It had just the right level of orange peel in it to give it a citrus kick which added to the cake, rather than detracting from its traditional carrot cake flavour.
Errmm... the cake was so good that we ate it before we took a photo... so here's a snap of some Hare Krishna dudes who walked by whilst we were eating... sorry.
Before rounding up, here’s a quick note on service. The service in Wai Kika Moo Kau was fairly good – we got our food quickly, and the staff were happy to assist. The only downsides were we waited a while for our cake to arrive, to the point where I was about to mention it again as I thought that we’d been forgotten about, and also the staff did at times seem very flustered and overwhelmed, although it was a busy day so that can be forgiven.
So, overall, at just under £25 for 2 meals, 2 drinks (including one vegan milkshake) and a slice of cake, Wai Kika Moo Kau is a fairly good choice. The atmosphere was great and very relaxing, the staff were friendly (if a little rushed off their feet), and the food was generally good. The only slight disappointment was the lack of passion and originality that I felt went into our main meals, and with the wealth of vegan-friendly eateries serving as competition around Brighton it is perhaps time that Wai Kika Moo Kau pushed itself to offer a little more than the generic (or even took a step backwards and offered some of its choices from its old menu again). At the moment though, with fantastic vegan milkshakes and cakes, Wai Kika Moo Kau offers a great experience for just a light cafe lunch, and you could always browse the main meals whilst you’re there. You’ll probably find something you like.