Review: Ege Günlüğü in Ankara

Olive oil cooking

Aegean cuisine has a reputation for being one of Turkey’s most vegan-friendly regions. Along the fertile coast, a plethora of beans and vegetables grow abundantly and are traditionally slow-cooked with cold-pressed olive oil, fresh herbs and seasonings. Red lentils and bulgur wheat are combined to make mercimek kofte, the vegan version of a ground meat burger. We have yet to visit Turkey’s Northwestern coast, but thankfully Aegean food has come to us by way of Ege Günlüğü.

Ege Cuisine in Ankara

In Armada Mall, an imposing shopping center, Ege Günlüğü is a welcomed oasis. The open dining hall sits at the end of a busy corridor with white, painted wooden furniture and soothing pastel pillows and cushions. The aqua and blue hues invoke a calmness that I don’t usually find in a packed mall. When I asked one of the managers, Maliha, about her recommendations for vegan diners, she instinctively directs me to their cold food bar where out of more than a dozen dishes, only several include yogurt and none of them include meat. Being able to see all of the entrees makes it easy to pick and point at the dishes I want to fill my platter. With the option of a büyük large plate or a küçük small plate, the choice is obvious. I want to taste as many dishes as they can fit on my plate, centered around my absent dish of yogurt.

Vegan Meal at Ege Gunlugu

Most of the dishes are Aegean versions of familiar ingredients: black-eyed peas, brown lentils, and green beans but the flavors are unique. I recognize the taste of dill, leeks, and olive oil, of course, but the others are harder to distinguish. Regardless, everything tastes fresh and wholesome. When Maliha tells me that they don’t use any frozen vegetables, I’m not surprised. As soon as their produce arrives, it must be washed, chopped, and prepped. Some of the unfamiliar dishes are a variety of green leafy dishes that I couldn’t identify, celery root, stuffed dried eggplant, and artichokes. My favorite dishes were stewed sundried tomatoes with walnuts and mercimek kofte. To complement the mostly gluten-free entrees, a bread basket full of sourdough olive oil and walnut bread rounds out the meal perfectly. The small rolls are not airy and fluffy but rather filling and mildly dense. Even though all of the zeytinyağlı (with olive oil) dishes are served cold, the hospitality was warm and satisfying.

Fresh, Aegean cuisine in Ankara

Ege Günlüğü is most popular during lunch hour, when health-conscious professionals seek out a meal that leaves them more fueled than full. With the cold bar ready and stocked every day from 10am to 10pm, anyone can grab a meal without having to wait or order hot foods from the menu if time allows.  And, with the prices so reasonable, you can easily make eating here a healthy habit.

Vegan Oasis in Armada Mall

With special thanks to Ege Günlüğü for hosting our visit.  All opinions are our own.

Turkey Adventures: Day Trip to Eskişehir

Turkey's Happiest City

Now that spring has sprung, we’re getting out and exploring again. For a quick and easy day trip from Ankara, Eskişehir had all the right ingredients: accessible by train, pedestrian-friendly, learning opportunities for children, and vegan food. We all but flew to this colorful university town and were eager to explore.

Cafe de Kedi in Eskişehir

We traveled with another family from Ankara by high-speed train for the short, one and a half hour journey. Our first stop was Café de Kedi, a vegan and vegetarian spot not too far from the train station. True to its name, it seemed more inviting to cats than people, but their vegan Turkish breakfast begged our patronage. Instead of the typical offerings of cheese, eggs, and meat, alongside fresh bread, jams, tahini, olives, tomatoes, and cucumbers; our feast included lentil salad, tofu cheese, sautéed potatoes, oat cereal with soy milk, lentil soup, tahini stuffed pastries, pickled green tomatoes, cut apples, and a variety of sauces and jams. The combination of our smorgasbord seemed dissonant but was beautiful in its confusing variety. To have so many options for breakfast instead of just bread, olives, and jam was a great treat for us and at only about 4 USD a serving, we couldn’t miss it.

Sazova Park in Eskişehir

After walking along the broad walkways and painted bridges, we took a taxi to Sazova Park to visit the Science Arts and Cultural Park. Bilim Deney Merkezi is a modest museum that is engaging and fun for everyone from toddlers to grandparents. Hydraulics, mechanics, acoustics, and physics were all presented as interesting and fascinating activities. Lil’ Z and I attended a science show displayed on the dome-shaped ceiling of their science center. We didn’t understand the dubbed over Turkish narration but enjoyed watching scenes take us from the ocean floor bottom to outer space.

Unique rock in Eskişehir

With much left to be explored, we decided to move on to Odunpazarı, the Old City, where glass and craft artisans showcase and sell their wares. We noticed a lot of white clay products and later learned that it’s called meerschaum and is unique to this particular region of Turkey.

Veg Food in Eskişehir

For our next meal, we stopped at Café Rasta. We were hopeful that the eatery would have vegan and gluten-free options for our entourage already on the menu but instead, they prepared a custom-made meal for us. It was tasty but surprising that the red, green, and gold branded café didn’t serve more Rasta-friendly fare.

Custom-made vegan food at Cafe Rasta in Eskişehir

As the day drew to a close, we tried to slip over to the Çağdaş Cam Sanatları Müzesi to see glass-blowing in progress but it was after 4pm and the demonstrations were done for the day. Instead, we retreated for some tea and fries while waiting for our returning train to Ankara. After more than an hour delay, we finally got on board and all agreed that the day was enjoyably well-spent. Both of our families traveled well together and we hope to plan another short trip soon.

Odunpazarı Manhole

Review: Chocolat Garden in Ankara

Artisanal Dark Chocolate in Ankara

I’m not much of a baker. I’d much rather leave it to the pros and whip up raw desserts that are much harder to mess up. But, in the absence of the prerequisite food processor or blender, our family has become smitten with a new vegan delight—dark chocolate. Just a few squares after dinner always seems to sate our sweet tooth. Though we generally avoid sugar, we only purchase dark chocolates that contain 70% or higher cocoa content, so the health benefits are evident and the sugar content is minimal. After months of trying different brands of vegan dark chocolates, our taste buds have become more sensitive to the subtle differences between them, and we recently discovered the freshest and tastiest of them all at Chocolat Garden in Ankara.

Chocolate Shop in Ankara

Handmade my Mr. Yusuf, a passionate chocolatier, the Chocolat Garden sells a variety of artisanal products like white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, organic dark chocolate, pralines and truffles. After importing cocoa from Ecuador or Madagascar, they are melted and blended in his very own shop’s kitchen. It wasn’t until meeting him that I discovered how most commercial chocolates use ordinary cocoa and add artificial coloring, flavoring, aromas, and hydrogenated oils to stretch their cheaper product. Mr. Yusuf does no such a thing. He only works with extra fine cocoa, blended with natural flavors and sugar, then molded and set in small batches. The taste of his rich delights are a testament to his commitment to quality.

Chocolate in Molds

Located up the road from Gordion Mall, he cites that recent events in Ankara have slowed down business. His work is challenging enough trying to educate his consumers about what sets his product apart from what is sold on the supermarket shelves. But once they’ve tasted his chocolates, they are hooked and eagerly ship boxes to loved ones across the city and country. His custom orders are prepared fresh and shipped by the next day. Instead of sending flowers or a cake for a special event, consider something healthier and tastier that everyone can enjoy– gourmet dark chocolate made by the best.

Vegan Dark Chocolate in Ankara

Note: Not all dark chocolate products are vegan, so be sure to state your dietary preference with your order.

With special thanks to Mr. Yusuf for hosting our visit. All opinions are our own.

Review: Juice Love in Ankara

Cold-pressed juice bar in Ankara

In Ankara’s Gordion Mall, there’s a tiny colorful kiosk bursting with color and teeming with life. Curious shoppers ask “Are you selling shampoos? Shower gels?” Even better than artificial colors and synthetic scents, what’s for sale are the fruits of nature’s own coloring box, curated by the Creator—fresh, cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices made by Juice Love.

For my first taste of the rainbow, I selected Fight the Flu. Lil’ Z was under the weather and I know from experience that the potency of fresh juices helps equip the body to fight off infections. The bright red drink is made from super, anti-oxidant rich pomegranate, immunity-boosting ginger and cleansing lemon. The sneaky last ingredient, propolis, is a known cold and flu fighter but had no effect on the delicious taste of this combination.

For myself, Fresh Me Up, piques my interest. Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits but unlike pomegranate, the tropical treat is imported. Though not a regular item on my shopping list, I know that it’s one of the best natural remedies for a cough, so I gladly share it with Lil’ Z. Pineapple usually irritates her tongue but she had no such complaints when it was blended with lemon, fresh mint, and apple.

The obvious selection for Urbndervish was Nut Love: a combination of hazelnut, cocoa, dates, vanilla and Himalayan salt. We had some as an after-dinner snack and agreed that it tasted like a healthier, lighter chocolate milk than the syrupy sweet version we grew up drinking. With all three drinks being so tasty, it was hard to pick a favorite.

When I sat down to chat with Öykü, one of the owners of Juice Love, she told me about her family’s experience with juicing and how it has changed their lives and improved their health in the past three years. Instead of relying on doctors and drugs, juicing is their go-to for healing and health maintenance. Pleased by the impact fresh juices have had on their life, they wanted to share their knowledge and expertise with others.

Starting out as a home-based business, Juice Love has grown a lot in the last year. Unsurprisingly, most clients are young women who want to lose weight. They purchase Juice Love cleanse packages to slim down but some have elevated their concerns above the waistline and see the value of detoxification and healthy lifestyle changes. Like them, I know how good it feels to be healthy and I’m glad to have Juice Love nearby.

Fresh juices in Ankara

Review: Masum Mutfak in Istanbul

Organic Veg Cafe in IstanbulA day trip to Istanbul from Ankara is generally a crazy idea but when very special, beloved people are in town and you’re invited to dine at an organic vegetarian cafe, you just decide to go and sort out the details later. Our whirlwind trip began just as Urbndervish ended his work day on Monday. We scuttled off to the airport through insane traffic, just in time to catch an evening flight to Istanbul. We stayed with friends that night and pushed off in the morning to trek across the city, from the Asian to the European side. By metro and Marmaray, an underwater rail tunnel, we reached the heart of the old city in time to meet our respected teachers and beloved friends. We connected and caught up in a hotel lobby before relocating to a breakfast diner. We were nourished by conversations that included topics of parenting, migration, community building, and a Montessori approach to Quran education. With time bullying us to part, we finally did but not without feeling an assuring peace that coming was the right decision.

Organic Veg Dining in Uskudar, Istanbul

In the afternoon we retraced our steps back to Asia to reach Üsküdar. On a side street lined with restaurants and cafés, green footprints led us to a white building that read Masum Mutfak. Up the colorful, painted steps, a narrow staircase opened to spacious rooms. The pure white walls, tables, and chairs were simply accented by small cacti centerpieces, wooden decorations, and the cleansing citrus colors of yellow, green, and orange. With the constraints of time bossing us around once again, we scanned our vegan options swiftly and placed our order.

Colored Wood Cuttings

While we waited for our meal, our host, Merve, told me about her awakening as a graduate student in London. A formerly careless eater, she became enamored with organic, whole food cooking and found options abundantly available in the UK but hard to find in Istanbul. Pairing her training as a marketing specialist and her passion for vegetarian cooking, she opened Masum Mutfak where she showcases seasonal, local foods that are either certified organic or grown organically. Another staple on her delicious menu is homemade, sourdough bread which is used to make sandwiches and pizzas in her breadmaking workshops. At nine months old, she describes her business as a “crying baby”. In all of its beauty and newness, it is still challenging to attract diners beyond her niche while others turn their heels when they realize her menu is meatless. We, on the other hand, fell in love with her food from Facebook and were ready to taste it for ourselves.

International Dishes served Veg Style

Our entrees arrived hot and freshly prepared: Veggie Burger, Falafel Platter, Veggie Dumpling Platter, and Samosa Platter. We were all anxious to taste each other’s dishes. Lil’ Z was generous but quite attached to her veggie burger. I can’t blame her because it is admittedly one of the best I’ve had in a long time. The combination of chickpeas, lentils, and chickpea flour made the burger filling yet perfectly sized for the sourdough flatbread it laid between, topped with mashed avocado, sliced red onions and a smear of spicy tomato sauce. The purple cabbage salad that accompanied it was flavorfully dressed though fresh and crunchy alongside turnip slices garnishing the plate.

Vegan Dining at Masum Mutfak

Falafel is always a winner, especially if you can manage to cook the inside properly and avoid it tasting old and oily. Masum Mutfak succeeded on all accounts, making the familiar falafel feel as innocent as the menu promises. The veggie dumplings were soft and filled with mildly curried veggies. The samosas were unlike the fried Indian turnovers they are named after but heartily filled with lentils, as opposed to potatoes and peas. Each dish was served with dipping sauces and fresh dill and parsley salads. Once we finished swapping bites of each of the dishes, we wrapped up our meal and prepared to jetset again. Before bidding farewell and thanking our kind host for an incredible feast, we gave time one last shove, and ordered dessert for the road: a raw dark cocoa tart and a cherry chocolate muffin.

Vegan Dining at Masum Mutfak

With only about two hours until our flight departure, we hailed a taxi and practically flew to the airport just in time to pray and board. The one-hour flight was brief but all the sweeter once we unpacked our dessert. Though a first attempt, the raw dessert was made like a pro. The texture of the creamy filling was impressively smooth and subtly sweet. Its date and nut crust was finely ground and firmly pressed, like a solid baked crust. The cherry chocolate muffin was delightful; fluffy without feeling empty. Both were a sweet ending to a tasty meal and blessed day in Istanbul.

Raw dark chocolate tart and cherry chocolate muffin on the plane

With special thanks to Masum Mutfak for hosting our visit.

Review: Juju Fresh in Ankara

Fresh, cold-pressed juice in Ankara.

If the name doesn’t grab you, the taste sure will. Fresh, cold-pressed juice is like drinking a salad or a bowl of fruit when you don’t have time to chew. It feels a bit like cheating but in the words of Juju Fresh owner, Işık, juicing is a great way to make your body alkaline and detoxify your system. Just by stepping into the small shop filled with pineapples, oranges, carrots, greens, and beets, I couldn’t imagine leaving Juju Fresh feeling anything less than lively.Juice *IS* always a better idea!

Stepping into the shop, I met a lovely woman who was slowly feeding a variety of fruits and veggies into a small masticating juicer, much like those used to press wheatgrass. I later discovered that this little machine is a potent powerhouse made of surgical-grade materials, developed to treat cancer patients in Europe. Juicing is a well-known treatment for healing and regenerating a weakened immune system, but everyone can enjoy its health benefits too. Cold-press juicers ensure that the enzymes inherent in plant foods are maintained and not destroyed by heat. I was eager to taste the juices for myself.

Juice options at Juju Fresh in Ankara.

We started with a combination of beet, apple, pear, lemon and ginger. The taste was pleasant and mildly sweet. Our next sample was a potent green juice consisting of cabbage, spinach, parsley, lettuce, lemon, and ginger. The taste was more nutritious than delicious, but not offensive in the least. To sweeten our palates, we were offered power balls- a creative reuse of nut milk pulp mixed with dried fruit and rolled in coconut. They were moist and filling. As a takeaway, we had my favorite–fresh almond milk sweetened with dates, cinnamon, and vanilla. It was refreshing and pleasant.

Almond milk sweetened with dates, vanilla, and cinnamon. Yum!

Unless juicing is your forte, it’s great to know that Juju Fresh takes orders and delivers right to your door. Whether for a detox cleanse or just a healthful addition to your daily routine, Juju has got you covered for all your juicing needs.

Fresh-pressed juices for you!

Our visit was hosted by Juju Fresh, but all opinions are our own.

Review: Semotti’s Bakery in Ankara

Gluten-Free Granola sweetened with honey and dried fruits.

Two words–vegan baklava–was all it took for this bakery to get my attention. I was heartbroken when I discovered that most desserts in Turkey are made with butter and egg, including my beloved baklava. I was in denial at first, followed by grief, but then Semotti’s Bakery came and life hasn’t been the same.

Gluten-free granola in Turkey!

Semotti’s Bakery is primarily a gluten-free establishment. Their elaborately decorated cakes are covered with colorful icing and popular cartoon characters but have the unique quality of being gluten-free, dairy-free, and/or vegan. Similarly, their homemade walnut baklava looks and tastes like most other versions, except the homemade dough is a bit thicker and less crispy, perhaps because of the absent egg. Ground nuts are flavored with cinnamon and spread between layers of phyllo dough, then drenched in syrup that is refreshingly mild in sweetness. The baklava was more nourishing than decadent, while totally satisfying.

Loving my vegan treats from Semotti's bakery!

Including with my order of walnut baklava was a vegan sampler pack that included peanut butter, dried fruit, chickpea chips, and dried zucchini. The peanut butter was smooth and lightly sweetened with apple concentrate and vanilla. The dried fruit included thinly sliced oranges, pineapples, strawberries, peaches, apples, and plums. Our favorite, hands down, was the chickpea chips. They are an ideal snack for so many reasons. Made with chickpea and almond flour, they’re gluten-free and protein-rich. Instead of heavy-handed flavors, the chips are lightly seasoned with dried herbs, red pepper, and a touch of salt. We can’t wait until Moulay has enough teeth to chomp on them.

Semotti's has a great selection of dried veggies and fruits.

We saved the dried zucchini for last. Dehydrated vegetables are a new concept to us since arriving in Turkey. We’ve tried dried eggplants and green beans but haven’t quite gotten used to them. However, the dried zucchini was much better than we anticipated. Sliced thin and dried to a crisp, the chips are tasty and have their own natural sweetness without added sugar or salt. It’s every health-conscious parent’s dream to have their child snacking on Semotti’s treats.

Loving the decor at Semotti's Bakery in Ankara!

When you visit the bakery, prepare to swoon from the smell of freshly baked granola, their top-selling product. All of their beautifully packaged snacks are available for sale, but custom orders and dine-in reservations for gluten-free or vegan meals are welcomed too. With a handcrafted menu from the owners who themselves have encountered gluten intolerance or have children with dairy allergies, rest assured that they are meticulous about their work. They have dedicated gluten-free and dairy-free kitchens and their products are rigorously tested for allergens on a routine basis. Remember the name Semotti, because their brand is quickly spreading and might be reaching your location soon.

*Our vegan snack pack was provided by Semotti’s, but all opinions are our own.*

Review: Wuyang Chinese Restaurant in Ankara

Wuyang Restaurant

A little known fact about me is that I’m part Chinese–one eighth to be exact. If you’ve ever seen my grandmother, Ms. Chin, our lineage would be evident. But her decision to marry my grandfather, a tall, dark-chocolate man, makes our Asian features hard to identify. Interestingly, my grandmother only remembers a few words of Cantonese, but she has an undying affinity for Chinese culture. Any product made in China was made by her “cousins”, she jests. From art to fashion, she wears her father’s legacy with pride. I have fond memories of attending Chinese cultural events in Jamaica with her and dining on the delicious cuisine. Authentic Chinese food is nothing like the remixed fast food that is popular in urban America. At the recommendation of a friend, we tried out a restaurant in downtown Ankara, and I’m glad to report that my grandma would been pleased.

Authentic Chinese Restaurant in Ankara

On a busy street lined with restaurants, Wuyang stands out with red lanterns and stringed lights decorating the entrance. When we arrived, the dining hall was mostly full save for two tables near the door. At a glance, we see Turkish waiters in uniform but Chinese managers, cooks, and diners–all very promising signs for a good meal. The menu had the weight of a short novel but we eventually found our chapter of choice: the vegetarian dishes. The price of each dish was also hefty, so we placed our order wisely: Tofu Stir-Fry, Sweet and Sour Tofu, Simmered Eggplant, Vegetable Noodles, and Steamed Rice. No budget for appetizers and desserts today. Water quenches the thirst just fine, so we pass on fruit juices and teas.

Appetizers at Wuyang Restaurant in Ankara

Our waiter had a good enough command of English to answer our questions about the dishes and convey our dietary preference. After topping up our glasses with bottled water, he brought us a platter of fried wonton noodles with a sweet dipping sauce and kimchi, Korean-style fermented cabbage. We appreciate the show of Pan-Asian solidarity and enjoy the spicy appetizer before our meal arrives.

Sweet and Sour Tofu and Stir-Fried Tofu

When the entrees reached our table, they all looked appetizing. Because the restaurant makes their own tofu, the portions were generous. Instead of relying on imported produce, the menu mostly revolves around what is locally available like eggplant and mushrooms, as opposed to bok choy and dasheen. Each of the dishes were uniquely flavored and complemented each other well. The service, food, and ambiance were all top-notch. The bathroom, not so much, but everything else made our meal enjoyable. If we have a special guest or an occasion worthy of fine dining, we now know where to go.

Simmered Eggplant

Hearty Vegan Finds in Istanbul

Istanbul

One of our family travel hacks is to manage our meal consumption. We pick a hotel that includes breakfast or has a kitchenette and eat out for a late lunch/early dinner. We usually carry a box of soy milk, peanuts, and dates to round out the rest. This plan worked exceptionally well for our recent trip to Istanbul where there were an abundance of vegan options to try out. I did my research beforehand because salads and hummus alone can’t sate our appetites and we were all satisfied with what we found.

Community Kitchen

Community Kitchen in Beyoğlu

Not far from the Şişhane Metro Station or the Tünel Trolley Stop, you’ll find this venue down a steep cobble-street road that feels more like home than a restaurant.  Oya is the humble owner who serves veganized traditional Turkish dishes like iskender, köfte, and lahmacun.  She also makes cold meze platters, pizzas with homemade cheese, and gluten-free desserts.  We were most impressed by the seitan she prepares from wheat and green lentils and can’t wait to order some for home delivery!

Minda

Minda Mantı & Ev Yemekleri near Taksim Square

Discovering this place was such a relief.  It was a cold, snowy night and our day’s meal was a little lighter than we anticipated.  For a night cap, we snuck into Minda after seeing fasulye or white beans on their open buffet.  We confirmed that their bulgur pilau, beans, and vegetable dishes were all etsiz or meat-free and dug in.  As the restaurant name indicates, their food is really good traditional homecooking and we couldn’t agree more.

Bi Nevi

Bi Nevi Deli (now in Etiler)

This Sunday brunch was an indulgence but so worth it.  Tempeh bacon, tofu scramble, mashed avocadoes, seitan salami, artisinal nut cheeses, seitan salami, and chia pudding.  Need we say more?  Other than delighting our taste buds thoroughly, the meal inspired me to research where they found these foods in Turkey and how to get them in my kitchen.

Parsifal

Parsifal near Taksim Square

Opened since 1996, Parsifal is staple in the veggie scene of Istanbul.  Their menu is tried and true with a variety of veggie burgers, stuffed chard leaves, and vegetable side dishes.  Save space for their vegan brownie, which is more like chocolate cake, but still a sweet end to a nice meal.

Vegan Dukkan

Vegan Dükkan near Taksim Square

Though not a restaurant, this vegan shop has been going strong for more than eight years and is well-stocked with treats, non-dairy milks, and whatever you might need to do your own cooking.  The owner, a die-hard vegan, is hospitable and warm.  We order from this shop for home delivery regularly.

If you know of any other vegan-friendly eateries, please add them to the comments.  Thanks!

 

Review: Vegisso in Ankara

Vegisso Living Room

After a particularly taxing workweek for Urbndervish, we went out on the town for a family date. Having already frequented one of Ankara’s two vegan restaurants, it was about time to visit the second. Little did we know that the term “restaurant” might have been a bit misleading. Tucked into one of downtown Ankara’s neighborhoods, we made our way to a modest basement apartment. No sign or awning indicated its location, so we relied on the address and phone number provided by Happy Cow. After walking up and down a common residential street, we finally found the home known as Vegisso.

Greeted warmly by a young brother and sister, our coats were taken and we were ushered to a long dining table where two diners were already seated. We sat beside them and perused the menu. Somewhat distracted by the artwork behind us and the cozy living room in front of us, we decided on veggie burgers, Izmir kofte meatball, and a seitan sandwich. Worried that our appetites overwhelmed the kitchen staff of one, we waited patiently for our dishes to arrive. We were encouraged when the other diners received their table settings, a bread basket, and appetizing plates of food. Careful not to stare, I couldn’t help but wonder what they ordered since their Turkish menu offered no translation. Nonetheless, the sister that welcomed us spoke enough English to make some recommendations and tell us which dishes were not available.

Vegisso Living Room

Apparently a hang-out spot for mostly college students, the business tide of Vegisso ebbs and flows with the semesters. A singular vegan saw a need and opened his home to become a haven for young vegan diners looking for a welcoming place to hang out and eat up. The décor of his space is artsy with a unique vintage style and in true college fashion, an acoustic guitar sitting in the corner. I became nostalgic for my own college days, spending late nights on secondhand furniture while my roommates strummed their guitars after cooking meals together. The same relaxed vibe is felt at Vegisso without being claustrophobic or intrusive.

Kofte Platter

The professional presentation of our food was a telltale sign that our chef wants to be taken seriously. Our fresh, crisp salads were dressed lightly with olive oil and a sprinkle of black cumin and sesame seeds. The bulgur pilau was formed in a small mold and our sandwiches were wrapped partially in paper for easy handling.

Veggie Burger

The veggie burger had the reminiscent taste of falafel, one of the menu’s offerings, and paired well with crisp cucumbers, sour pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, and a homemade creamy sauce.  The French fries that came with the sandwiches were hot and crisp. We enjoyed each dish so much that we ordered a second round half-way through finishing the first.

Seitan Sandwich

As is our usual dining habit, we just drank water before our meal and enjoyed both a lunch and dinner portion’s worth of a meal. I was anxious to try their chocolate brownie but none was available on the day of our visit.

Our host and chef, Yesin, chatted with us after our meal. As a green, three-year vegan he has a refreshing zeal about his diet. His business hours are long, but his customers seem more like friends than clients. They cozily filled the space around us and entertained Moulay while we ate. Yesin’s vision is to one day open a restaurant but in true DIY fashion, he’s starting with what he has, right where he is.

Moulay and Cat