Vegan Junkfood Bar (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

After hearing many good stories I finally made the pilgrimage to the Vegan JunkFood Bar (VJFB). There are people that are vegan for health reasons, so this might not be for them. Though, I’d still wager this vegan junkfood might be more healthy than standard junk food. I’ll admit I am biased though!

So in the Netherlands there is this concept of the snackbar or cafetaria. This is a food counter where you can buy fries, ice cream and a variety of (mostly meat-based) snacks. The most interesting thing is that almost all snackbars have a very similar decor and setup, even among different franchises. Note that these cafetarias are very different from chains like KFC and McDonalds in the visitors, people working there and the food on offer. Anyway, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for vegans, but from a cultural anthropological view point I’d say visit one. Btw, the oil used is almost always plant-based, so if the fries and meat are not from the same fryer, try some raspatat. It’s good stuff.   (I believe these types of snackbars are a specific Dutch thing, feel free to correct me if I am wrong!)

A wikipedia commons image of a dutch snackbar
Image from Wikipedia showing a typical cafetaria. Note the small green “trees” between the frozen snacks on offer.

Now to say that the VJFB is “just” a vegan snackbar won’t do justice to the concept. I mean, sure they have typical snack bar foods like the “kapsalon” and “bitterballen”. And they have the typical plastic boxes in which those foods are served in standard snackbars. But the food is, apart from being completely vegan, fancier than what you would expect in a snackbar. Like a sprinkling of sesame seeds over the fries. The burgers are not plasticy but huge and fully loaded with goodness.

We had: the original VJFB burger, the Sumo burger, sweet potato fries, Pakistani bitterballen and fried onion rings. And yes, we ate that all, it was a lot of food, and all very delicious. Don’t come here with a small appetite!

Vegan bitterballen and sweet potato fries at VFJB.
Pakistani bitterballen and sauce in typical plastic box, sweet potato fries and burger in the background.

The burgers are loaded and took some dexterity to eat properly.. no sad patty on a flat bun here! I also really enjoyed their take on bitterballen. I have no memory of eating “actual” bitterballen, but I doubt they are as good as these. In the end I’d say all the dishes, while “junky” are not a substitute but rather an improvement of their original versions.

A huge burger and other snack foods at Amsterdam VFJB
Loaded vegan burger with onion rings and Pakistani bitterballen in the background!

There is also vegan ice cream for dessert, several different flavours.

There are now two VJFB locations, fortunately, because the first one was getting so popular it was almost impossible to find a seat!

Type of place: Junkfood, takeout
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes !
Website (English) :  https://www.veganjunkfoodbar.com/

More Pastry (Den Haag, the Netherlands)

A short post today, I just found back this picture and realised I wanted to quickly mention this little gem!
Soy cappuchino and "Mondriaan" cake at More Pastry
Soy cappuccino and “Mondriaan” cake

I happened upon this bakery when visiting a dear friend in The Hague (aka Den Haag in Dutch). We were actually searching for a place to have lunch, but I saw this bakery which had  several vegan cakes available, and I knew that after lunch I needed to get back for a pastry!

The bakery had a nice selection of cakes when we visited. There’s also coffee with several milk alternatives available.
Additionally More Pastry has a webshop, and they create cakes for special occasions.
I hope to get back there one day, to eat some more cake and make some more photos.

 

Type of place: Bakery and coffee
Completely vegan: no

Website (Dutch): http://morepastry.nl

Coffee Shop Boréal (Geneva, Switzerland)

As a vegan I got the advice to learn to drink my coffee black instead of with creamer, since not many cafés had an alternative for milk-based creamer. I tried coffee without creamer, but I didn’t like it.

So, I am happy to report that more and more coffee places nowadays have alternatives for cow milk. And even better, more and more places have vegan pastries!

If you go down the rue de Mont-Blanc from Geneva Gare Cornavin you can find a small coffee place called Café Boréal. Boréal has several locations in Switzerland, both in Geneva and in Zurich. They sell their own brand of coffee, the beans of which are roasted near Geneva! The Mont Blanc location, near the station, has a few seats inside and several chairs and tables outside, on the main street. (I believe the other locations are a bit more spacious :))

A photo of a matcha latte, espresso and a vegan cookie on a table, taken from above.
Matcha latte, espresso and vegan cookie at coffee shop Boréal.

The coffee shop has many types of hot drinks (coffees, matcha latte, chai latte (vegan!!), teas) and they offer several milk alternatives. There is a small selection of cakes and cookies available, and every time I visited there was a vegan option. Last time there was a vegan lemon cake with chia seeds and vegan cookies of a Swiss brand called Freely Handustry (which are also gluten-free, https://freelyhandustry.com/).

Type of place: Coffee and pastry
Completely vegan: No
Website (English): http://www.borealcoffee.ch/

Anat (Groningen, the Netherlands)

Situated in the Noorderplantsoen park, in a beautiful old building, you can find Anat. This cute little café offers breakfast, lunch, drinks, and cakes. And it is all vegan! Both of the times I visited I sat outside, but inside there is also space on the first floor, with a view on the park. Both times I was there the terrace was almost completely full! Fortunately Anat also does take-away.

The philosophy behind Anat is to respect humans, animals and the environment (something I think most of us can get behind) so the ingredients used are mostly biological and preferably local. In addition Anat also offers workshops and food consults.  In the café there is also a small selection of vegan cookbooks for sale.

Sandwich with olives, rucola, hummus and pumpkin
Sandwich with olives, aragula, hummus and pumpkin

The ingredients used in the menu depend on the availability/season but in general the lunch menu is a variation on sandwich, salad and soup. There’s choice of two types of bread for the sandwich or it can be served as a wrap (one of the options is gluten-free). They also offered a combination plate which basically combined all the offerings (for 2 people).

Coffee is served with a selection of milk alternatives, and there’s hot chocolate milk on offer. There’s a variety of (slow) juices and tea. Now the cakes, let’s talk about those. When I last visited there were 4 type of cakes available: chocolate, banana, lavender and cupcakes. I couldn’t resist and tried a bit of each. They were all so delicious!

Picture of a chocolate cake on a plate
Chocolate cake with pumpkin seeds at Anat!

I have visited Anat only for lunch and coffee & cake. Based on that experience I am confident to say that the breakfast is probably great as well!

 
Type of place: Breakfast/Lunch/Coffee
Completely vegan: yes
Website (Dutch) : http://www.anat.nu/

Lemoncha (Geneva, Switzerland)

Bubble tea is a Taiwanese drink based on tea (no suprise there!) which contains bobbles of e.g. tapioca. It is getting more popular in Western Europe, a development I am totally okay with, because I love bubble tea! In Geneva there are several places which offer bubble tea nowadays. My favourite of the bunch is Lemoncha. It is quite popular, and especially in the summer there were long lines. Still, the waiting time was not bad as the process of making the drinks is fast. Choosing the drink is what takes most time!

Closeup of the Lemoncha counter
Tea samples and tea plant at Lemoncha

Lemoncha differs from most bubble-tea places that I have seen in the sense that they really focus on the “tea”-part. They offer several types of tea, such as genmaicha, earl grey, etc. On the menu are also fruit-flavoured drinks (which can be made vegan) and coffee (vegan too I suppose, though I have never tried them) .
Additionally several drinks noted as “lattes” are offered, which do contain milk since those are made from pre-made mixes which contain milk.

It is very much a choose-your-own-adventure place, but there are also standard combinations possible if the choices are too overwhelming:) You pick the types of bubbles, tea/flavours and milk (cow, soy, rice, almond). Most bubbles are vegan, but not all. Best to ask the staff about it, they are nice and knowledgable. The tapioca bobbles are the standard option and they are vegan. The drinks can be made cold or warm, and the amount of ice and sugar can also be modified.

In addition to their delicous drinks Lemoncha also offers vegan cookies and cakes! However, these are not always available as they are very popular and often sold out.

Lemoncha tea and pastry
Lemoncha tea and pastry

Type of place: Bubble tea takeout
Completely vegan: no
Website (French only): http://www.lemoncha.com/

Awash (Geneva, Switzerland)

The Paquis region near Geneva Cornavin station is an interesting and lively neighbourhood. There are several great restaurants and one of those is the Ethiopian restaurant Awash (which is technically just outside of Paquis). It is tucked away near the train tracks, off the main street. From the outside it seems small and quiet, but once inside you find a busy colourful restaurant. When we visited it was quite busy and there was a lady selling jewellery on a small stand.

I had never been at an Ethiopian restaurant so I was very curious to try. There are several Ethiopian restaurants in Geneva, and the Ethiopian cuisine is known to be vegan-friendly. Awash states clearly on their site that they cater to vegetarians, so it would be a good introduction to Ethiopian food.

The restaurant serves both meat and vegetarian dishes. The vegetarian dishes turned out to be vegan! All food is served with injera, a type of pancake/spongy bread. The injera is used as cutlery to scoop up the food (I have to admit we asked for a spoon as we were not so good handling the injera!) The taste and structure of injera is quite special.

In total there are four vegan dishes, we chose the sharing plate which has a bit of each. The dishes were: red lentils (misir), salad, yellow beans and green vegetables with sauce. The food was served on a large round platter, and the various dishes were put on top of several injera, which soaked up the flavours nicely. There was a second plate with additional injera to use for eating.

The menu on the site is a condensed version, I couldn’t locate a full menu. There are in fact starters and dessert.  I haven’t tried the starters when I was there, so I am not sure if there was a vegan option. I did notice other people order something like samosa’s, which tend to be vegan. The only dessert available when I visited is baklava, which was unfortunately not vegan.

Overall it is a place with a great atmosphere, and delicious food!
Ethiopian sharing platter at Awash
The sharing platter on top of the injera.
Type of place: Ethiopian restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no

Website (French, English): http://www.awash.ch/

 

Welcome!

Welcome to my blog!

A concern for many people that decide to go vegan is that they won’t be able to go out for coffee/lunch/dinner with their friends and/or family anymore. While it is true that not every restaurant has something on their menu which is vegan or can be “veganised”, there are a lot of options for vegans at non-vegan places. Restaurants might have a completely vegan dish on their menu but it is not marked as vegan. Maybe a vegetarian dish can be modified. Maybe there are many sides which can be turned into a delicious full meal. Or maybe the chef decides to experiment to make you a great dish (it happens!)

The reason to start this journal is to record my experiences eating vegan at restaurants that are not necessarily catering to vegans. Since I currently live in Switzerland, that is where most of the places I visit will be. As I am lucky enough to live in a region with actual vegan restaurants, of course I’ll visit those and discuss them here too. Even if you never visit a restaurant that is mentioned here, maybe it will give you some inspiration for the types restaurants that will be vegan-friendly or which dishes that can be modified.