Posts Tagged ‘brighton’

Wai Kika Moo Kau, Brighton: A Review

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.

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Goodbye Red Veg – A review

Welcome to the Vegan Critic section! This is a new category, although considering how many tasty vegan eateries I check out I’m sure it’ll become popular. Basically, this is restaurant reviews from a vegan perspective. And I don’t just mean vegan/vegetarian only restaurants – anywhere that we deem suitable for vegans to eat in (such as pizza restaurants who are happy to dodge the cheese, or burger restaurants whose veggie options are incidentally vegan) will be liable to a grilling (haw haw haw, cue a joke about vegans and grilling meat or something). Anyway, I have literally no experience as a restaurant critic, and maybe I’ll read up on typical styles for critics at some point, but for now I’ll judge restaurants on a variety of standards including (but not limited to): food (obviously), availability and variety of vegan options/willingness of staff to sort out vegan options, price, and atmosphere (including staff’s attitudes). It should be noted that I live in Brighton UK, which is a very vegan friendly city, and so if I review any chain restaurants citing that they gave me a great and understanding service and you live in Steakville, Meatland and find that the staff just stare blankly at you when you mention being vegan then it may be because of that.

Anyway, the first restaurant I want to review is the benchmark of vegetarian cuisine to me, and has been a staple part of my diet for over 6 years now. I am talking about Red Veg, Brighton’s vegetarian/vegan answer to McDonald’s and Burger King. I heard news today that Red Veg will be closing its doors as of next week though, so don’t get too excited about ever trying it if you haven’t before. A little part of me died when I heard this, but let me honour Red Veg and all the delicious food it’s served me over the years with a final review, kicking off our Vegan Critic section. I’m aware that generally restaurant critics base their experiences on one meal, but I’ve eaten at Red Veg probably in excess of 100 times, so I can’t really do that. But whatever, here we go.

I’ve heard stories of people travelling from all over the country to get hold of some Red Veg food. One guy apparently zipped down on his motorbike from London during his lunchbreak to satisfy that Red Veg craving that’s become very familiar to me.

The restaurant, for many, is one of the highlights of Brighton. It serves up traditional fast food – burgers, hot dogs, onion rings, fries, cokes, and falafel wraps. In the time that it’s been going I can safely say I’ve tried everything on the menu at least once, and never have I felt let down. Particular highlights from a vegan standpoint are the Chilli Veg burger (a standard burger with a bit of a spicy kick in a wholemeal bun, with plenty of salad filler and vegan mayo) and the hot dog, particularly when it comes with fried onions and a load of ketchup and mustard. Everything is absolutely delicious, and I don’t think I’ve ever waited for longer than 10 minutes for my meal to come out (and it’s always hot). I’ve converted several meat eating friends to Red Veg, many claiming it tastes better than a beefburger yet feels far less greasy. The variety of drinks on offer is always nice to, with Red Veg stocking ethical companies such as Whole Earth and their variety of soft drinks. If you’re not full from the meal, there’s usually a tasty slice of vegan cake on offer at just over £1.

Speaking of money, the food is incredibly well priced too, matching most fast food chains. Whenever I’ve been with wrosie, we tend to spend about £12 and get large fries, onion rings, two burgers and two drinks, which is definitely fantastic value for money.

The atmosphere is also great in Red Veg. The staff are friendly and helpful, and will always offer extras to go with your food when they’re available. It always feels very relaxed and chilled-out, with the speakers usually playing some underground hip-hop and the walls are covered in posters of events coming up in and around the city. This may sound clastrophobic but it’s actually pretty nice and gives you something cool to look at. Several gigs I’ve been to I wouldn’t have even realised were on were it not for Red Veg, and I even got my Christmas tree this year from a guy who was advertising in there. Speaking of stuff to look at, it’s in a very nice location in the centre of Brighton’s North Lanes, meaning there’s always some quirky looking people to watch wandering down the street. The only problem with Red Veg‘s atmosphere is that it can sometimes get very busy and you may have to wait for a seat to free up, but this isn’t a bad thing, just a sign of their success.

Overall, I’ll be gutted to see Red Veg go. Like I said before, to me it is the highest standard of vegetarian eating. It’s by no means fine-dining but for £6-7 per meal it’s unbeatable. Based on their food alone, Red Veg is 10 out of 10 eating, and Brighton won’t quite be the same without it.

Best of the Fest!

So VegFest was yesterday, and it was absolutely awesome! Me and Ellie went along and we stuffed our faces for the whole day. We weren’t sure how long we were going to spend there at first, but we ended spending most of our day wandering around and eating freebies. This is a little round up of companies we saw who you should definitely check out! Whilst every company there was doing something cool for veganism (and you can check out the entire selection of companies and charities on display here), I just want to give a quick round up of some of the highlights and also some of the more interesting things we saw (and tasted).

One of VegFest's two floors. As you can see, the event was pretty packed.

 

The first thing we ate were some of Aunty Jee‘s delicious curries and pickles. I’m not sure how widely available the products are yet, and I certainly haven’t seen them before, but I shall be sure to be on the look out. The curries were delicious, and come in oven-bake packages. Thus, they seem to be breaking into the currently underwhelming vegan ready meal market, with some delicious soya mince imitations on classic curry recipes. Ready meals may not be for everyone, but keep on the look out if you’re keen on your curry.

After that, we went on a dessert rampage. We tried some great vegan eclairs which were messy but delicious from To Happy Vegans, and then wondered over to the Moofree stall where I got my hands on some Easter eggs (which I look forward to eating soon!) and some chocolate buttons. Moofree, for those who haven’t tried them, create arguably the best vegan version of plain milk chocolate money can buy. We got hold of a few bags of Goody Good Stuff, the most delicious gummy sweets available and completely free of gelatine. After that we tried out some of Provamel‘s new yoghurt flavours which are set to be released in May – Apple with Green Tea, and Lemon and Lime. Finally we got to our highlight – Ms Cupcake. I picked up a plain chocolate chip cookie, and Ellie got herself a watermelon cupcake and, to put it simply, we cannot recommend these enough. Vegan baking perfection, so congrats to the team at Ms Cupcake.

Ms Cupcake's delights

...and Ellie trying to eat them in a dignified manner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onto the other tasty goodies…

Both Fry’s and Heather Mills’ Redwood were out in full force, serving samples of their fake meats and cheeses (which seem to have improved since I last tried them). Redwood were also showcasing a couple of new products, the most delicious of which was hoisin infused duck, which I’m sure will become a staple addition to future stir frys. In terms of fake meat though, one company blew everything out of the water. TOPAS, a German vegan foods company, were showcasing their Wheaty range, which was nothing short of ridiculous (in the good way). The Wheaty range has gone to extreme lengths to recreate meat using, as the name suggests, wheat. So most of the products are seitan based, but come in the form of about 10 different sausage meats, various other greasy meat stuff, and most bizarrely (and I can’t decide if this is awesome or gross) a doner kebab spit, which was slowly turning whilst heating the largest piece of seitan I’ve ever seen. It was definitely delicious if you’re not averse to the taste of meat, and from what I can remember of the taste of meat, it seemed pretty authentic too.

The bizarre vegan doner kebab

Besides food there was a lot of other cool stuff on display. Any keen fitness junkies may be interested in getting involved with the UK Vegan Runners network. There was a showcase for a new vegan film, Bold Native, covering the issue of animal liberation being seen as a major form of terrorism. THTC were selling their great array of well-designed and interesting shirts, which fall somewhere between Banksy’s street art and Obey.

On top of this there were various important charities selling goodies. These included Animal Aid, Viva!, Sea Shepherd, and the Hunt Saboteur Association.

The event also had various shows on throughout the day. Me and Ellie watched Rubber Ritchie perform his bizarre yet comical contortionist act. We also caught a couple of the cookery shows which were hosted, with live cooking and taster sessions afterwards.

The Riverford cooking show, and some woman who decided to look round just as I took the photo...

Anyway, that’s a basic summary of some of the most interesting stuff that was on display but there really was a lot more. All in all, it was a great event and impressively busy. Only downsides were that I think I put on about 2 stone, and that I failed to win anything really in all the tombolas and raffles I entered, boo! Still, congrats to VegFest and props to everyone who took part. I hope to see more stuff like this in the future, and if you live in Bristol then look out for a future event near you.

VegFest 2011

I must apologise in advance, because this is very short notice, but tomorrow is a day too good to pass up writing a post about – tomorrow is the Brighton VegFest exhibition! There’s going to be a Bristol-based version of the event in a couple of months spanning two days, but for now I’ll give you the lowdown on what’s to be expected at the Brighton event.

VegFest is an exhibition taking place over the whole day, and is completely free. What you’ll find is basically vegan heaven (or at least how I hope vegan heaven will be…). Stall after stall after stall of awesome vegan companies selling everything from shoes to cosmetics to, of course, FOOD! The day is also broken up with regular events, featuring entertainers (including a contortionist tomorrow, although I’m not too sure what to think of that), talks from leading activists and key groups such as Viva! on a range of matters including vegan health and animal use in circuses, and vegan cookery classes.

The stalls that’ll be in place at tomorrow’s fair are from a variety of different companies, charities, and groups. Cosmetic and generally nice-smelling company Lush will be showing off some of their goods. Vegan food giants such as the hugely successful Redwood Foods and Plamil will be selling their goodies during the day (and hopefully offering some free tasters!). Major animal charities will also have stalls, such as the RSPB and Sussex Wildlife Trust, whilst other smaller scale and/or more radical groups such as Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) and The Hunt Saboteurs Association will also be on display. Finally, there will be a range of local Brighton organisations also appearing at the exhibition, such as The Cowley Club.

For anyone going, highlights are set to include (for me anyway):

  • Goody bags for a fiver, and tombola and raffle tickets for £1 with a range of awesome prizes.
  • A great array of caterers. I’m pretty excited on getting my hands on some of Falafest‘s freshly made falafel.
  • A huge range of freebies and special offers – just take a look here.
  • Moofree will be selling their incredibly delicious range. I’m hoping to pick up a few of their Easter eggs!

Anyways, needless to say I’m pretty stoked on it, and I’ve compiled a list of deals that I’m going to be making use of! Hope anyone who reads this and goes has a great time, and maybe you’ll see us there!

Europe’s first vegan supermarket

German Vegangstaz, I am very jealous of you right now. I have actually heard that Germany is packed with vegans, but I guess this proves it. Smashing the traditional stereotype that all Germans eat are sausages in different variations with silly names, from frankfurters to bratwurst, comes this tantalising piece of news – Germany (more specifically, Dortmund in Germany) is host to the very first European vegan supermarket. This sounds absolutely awesome, and now, if I’m ever lucky enough to travel to Germany, I’ll be shifting every tourist attraction down a notch and putting this right at the top! And why? Well because the aptly named Vegilicious occupies a total of 100 square metres and is packed with over 1500 tasty products including “chocolate bars, cereals, and even meat imitations, like fake chicken wings, which use cane sugar sticks to serve as ‘bones.'” Now, I can see some vegans cringing at the thought of the chicken wings, but I’m not particularly fussy, so bring ’em on.

I’m pretty lucky to be living in Brighton in the UK where you can barely even walk around some parts without tripping over a veggie burger. We have the wonderful Infinity Foods here, which is 100% vegetarian, and predominantly vegan. But nevertheless, I sometimes feel like I’m walking around a middle-class hippy’s idea of a food shop when I’m in Infinity Foods and the experience can be somewhat off-putting. I’m sure anyone who’s been there will know what I mean (and there must be some Brighton vegans reading this?)

Vegilicious seems to have recognised that, and is offering the authentic supermarket experience. Only your meat fridge is replaced with all kinds of tasty tofu and seitan, and the dairy aisle is packed with soy milk and cheese imitations. Veganism is, day by day, creeping into the mainstream. Vegetarianism used to be rare 30-40 years ago, and now every restaurant from the Michelin starred to McDonalds offer a veggie option. Veganism has some way to go, but it’s growth rate is nonetheless rapid. Vegilicious attribute their current success to this, and we wish them all the best with their project. Hopefully it’ll come to England one day? You know, where all we apparently eat is fish and chips?

That said, you Germans couldn’t resist could you…

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