Sunday, July 21, 2013

Revolution Foods Cafe

Revolution Foods.  My first thought when I heard the name of this new café in Newtown was that it is a fantastic descriptor of the menu.  What is more revolutionary than veganism and the plant-based foods that form a part of it?

I visited on Wednesday with the V Stars Sydney group where a special menu had been prepared for us by the vibrant owner Brandy.  In addition to the main menu, we could order from a choice of shepherd’s pie, calamari and a burger.  The café is located in the shop that was vacated by Spoon’s Vegetarian earlier this year.  It has been redecorated with the whimsical touch of classical paintings ‘enhanced’ with vegetables.  Here is the Mona Lisa with beetroot!

Choosing just one dish from the all-vegan menu was a tough choice.  The menu includes smoothies, sandwiches, nachos, bruschetta and fantastic thick-cut chips. I was very keen to try the shepherd’s pie as it is the quintessential winter dish, but I was very curious as to what the calamari was like as I had never tasted any vegan versions before. Curiosity won me over, and I tried the calamari not just for myself but for my sister who was an avid seafood lover before she switched to a vegan diet.

The calamari dish was loaded up with a garden salad and a serving of lime mayonnaise.  I would have hope for a larger serving of the calamari as it did fall on the small side.  While the calamari rings were small compared to the marine version, the texture and taste were very close to what I remember.  The large caveat being that it has been over 15 years since I last tasted the marine version so my comparison is probably not the most reliable. Putting the comparison aside, it was a very tasty dish.

There was a good range of cakes, slices and cupcakes for dessert baked by the local heroes Vegan’s Choice and Mad hatter cupcakery.  I chose a slice of the peanut butter and chocolate raw cheesecake.  The flavour and texture were good but I would have preferred it to be a little sweeter.  I have a big sweet tooth though, so it should be fine for those who prefer their sweets on the less sickly-sweet side.

I didn’t try the vanilla slice but here is a picture of my neighbour’s serving. The slice received varying reactions from being better than the non-vegan version to being OK.  A few agreed that it would have been better with the addition of passionfruit.

Apart from the café menu, there is a small selection of vegan goodies available such as liquid smoke, some cheeses and seasonings.

Overall, this café is a great addition to the already vibrant vegan scene of Newtown.

Revolution Foods Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mamak Restuarant (Chinatown)

As expected, when I arrived at the Mamak restaurant several minutes before opening time at 11.30am on Sunday there was a queue to join.  This queue was there not because there was a lack of food outlets in the vicinity.  Chinatown is just a stone’s throw away as well as the many other restaurants on the same street, so I presumed that there must be some very worthwhile food inside. 
The décor inside is very basic and reminds me of a fast food restaurant with many tables aligned in rows under fluorescent lighting.  The service is very quick and efficient with wait times of only a few minutes for food to arrive.
The restaurant had advised me that there were dishes that could be veganised such as Nasi Lemak, Kangkung Belacan and Nasi Goreng.  However, I should talk to the staff on the day.
I decided to order the Nasi Lemak and advised the waitress that I did not want the sambal (sauce that contained fish), anchovies or egg and that they should be replaced with vegan options.  The waitress’ English was limited so it took a little while to convey this.

My dish was brought out a little while later and I asked the waitress “Is that it?” when I saw it. It was rice, peanuts and some chopped up cucumber.  I was very disappointed as they had not veganised the dish, just removed the offending non-vegan items.  Another waitress who had earlier proved helpful asked if I would like a sauce or curry to go with it and I replied that I would.  I expected this would replace the missing items, but I was charged extra on top of the regular price for the dish. 
The coconut rice was lovely, but the overall meal was nothing spectacular.  It was the type of fare you could find in any food court across the city.

So as not to base my opinion on just one dish I ordered a dessert even though I was fairly full.  I order the Ais Kacang which is a dish made of coconut milk, shaved ice and some grass-green noodles.  Although this one tasted fine (again, nothing special) I was slightly put off by fishing around for extremely green noodles in a sea of creamy-coloured liquid. 

Overall, I was very underwhelmed. This is one restaurant I wouldn’t recommend going back to because as I said above, you will find dozens of restaurants and takeaway shops with similar offerings without the waiting lines. 

Mamak on Urbanspoon