One Planet (Kyiv, Ukraine)

 

One Planet is a fully vegan restaurant in Kyiv. It was in the fact the first fully vegan restaurant in Ukraine! The restaurant is located a bit away from the main street, and it is rather small. There is some place to sit, and I believe there is a terrace when the weather is nice. They do take-away as well.

Interior at One Planet

One Planet serves burgers, soups, salads, drinks and desserts. There is a menu in English available. We tried the “black burger”, a burger of potatoes, bamboo and corn, served on a black bun, and a quasadilla with ‘vegan cheese’ made from soy and chick peas. There are not really any side dishes like fries or so available.

Hot drink at One Planet
Healthy hot drink with spices and fruit

I was hoping to get a milk shake (pretty ubiquitous in Kyiv, so not a strange request) but there were none so I got a “health drink” made with ginger and slices of fruits. It was very tasty!

Burger at One Planet
Black burger

The food was presented in a very beautiful way. The quasadilla was pink! It was more like a wrap, not very cheese-y, but tasty nonetheless. The burger was served with a nice spicy mustard sauce which went well with the soft taste of the burger. I have to say the burger was a bit smaller than expected.

Quasadilla at One Planet
Pink quasadilla

Of course we had a dessert! There were several options, we tried the Napoleon and the blue berry cheesecake. The Napoleon, made with coconut cream, was very creamy, almost gooey but in a good way.  The blue berry cheesecake is made with cashews and coconut milk but I found the coconut taste to be pretty overpowering. The texture of the cake was interesting, it was not very smooth, but not in an unpleasant way.

Desserts at One Planet
Desserts! On top the Napoleon and below the blueberry cheesecake

The service is okay, it was a bit awkward since the space is small and we were the only guests,  the servers were hovering around us a bit. The food was nice, but the portions rather small. And to be honest, it was actually a bit expensive for what we got. Especially in Kyiv where food is often very reasonably priced. With the menu in English too (albeit with some creative translation), we had the idea this place caters mostly to foreigners, rather than locals.

Blue berry cheesecake at One Planet

Type of place :  vegan restaurant
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website (Ukrainian) : https://www.facebook.com/oneplanetfamily/

Cafe l’Ami-ami(Neuchâtel, Switzerland)

A few weeks ago I was in the beautiful town of Neuchâtel to see one of my favourite bands live! They didn’t tour for a few years, and I saw completely by chance they were going to perform near my current home town. And to properly prepare for an evening of headbanging on platform heels, you gonna need some good food!

Initially I wanted to go to a fully vegan place in Neuchâtel, but unfortunately, like so many fully vegan places in Switzerland, that place is only open during the week, and I happened to be in Neuchâtel on a Saturday. After some further investigation, I found on HappyCow the Cafe l’Ami-Ami, a restaurant with vegan options that serves Isreali food in the Jewish culinary tradition. Sounds interesting!

Interior at Cafe l'Ami-Ami

The reviews were positive, and without getting ahead of myself, I can already say I agree!  We didn’t reserve and arrived just in time to get the last free spot. The place is very small, and very busy. The atmosphere is relaxed, like a nice corner eatery. There were all different kinds of people, which is also nice to see. Cafe l’Ami-ami also does catering, and they sell some of their products in a little shop, like hummus and teas.

Table at Cafe l'Ami-Ami

Cafe l’Ami-Ami is not purely vegan or vegetarian, but there is a vegetarian menu with several vegan dishes. These are not specifically marked, but the kind owner will help with picking the vegan ones. It is also possible to veganise some of the vegetarian dishes. The falafel, vegetable balls and melaouah are vegan, and there are some vegan sandwiches as well.

Melaouah at Cafe l'Ami-Ami
Melaouah with tomato sauce and spicy sauce at the side

We tried the melaouah for starter, then the falafel with salad and sauces, and the vegetable fritters with fries and a small salad. I had read about the melaouah (or malawach), so I was very curious! It is Yemeni speciality, and it resembles a pancake made of thin layers of puff pastry, which are folded. The result is a very crusty exterior, and a soft inside, the taste is almost buttery, very interesting and delicious! It is served with a spicy sauce and a fresh tomato sauce, with coriander and onion. The light sauce fits well with the more heavy pastry. Definitively a new favourite of mine!

Falafel plate at Cafe l'Ami-Ami
Middle-Eastern plate of yum: falafel, salad, sauces and pita

The falafel either comes with pita and a small salad, or two sides of choice.  It is also possible to order them as an ‘add-on’ to the ‘complete’ salad with sauces, which is what we did. This ‘complete’ salad is served with hummus, tahin, tomato-bellpepper sauce,  smoked aubergine sauce, 2 pita breads and home made green salad (salad leaves, tomato, cucumber, onion). Since the smoked aubergine is not vegan, the owner suggested to swap it for an additional tomato-and-bellpepper sauce.I assumed the aubergine sauce would be like baba ganoush, so it was unfortunate that it wasn’t vegan but I think the tomato sauce made up for it. The falafel is very nice and crispy and all the sauces were good too! The vegetable fritters were served with fries and a similar small salad. The fritters were nice and soft, and nicely spiced. The fries were okay, not too special. Probably because the rest of the food was so nice, the fries were a bit basic 🙂

Vegetable fritters and fries at Cafe l'Ami-Ami
Vegetable fritters, salad and fries

I really enjoyed my visit to Cafe l’Ami-ami! It is nice to experience different types of food and cuisines. I really liked the food, the owner was helpful and kind and the place has a great atmosphere.

Interior at Cafe l'Ami-Ami

Type of place :  Middle Eastern/Jewish restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: ?

Website (French): http://cafe-ami-ami.ch/

SNCKBR/ Waku Waku (Utrecht, the Netherlands)

SNCKBR? Yes, it is time for another place to get our healthy vegan junk food on! Amsterdam has the Vegan Junkfood Bar but Utrecht is coming on strong with SNCKBR.  Fun fact, there were several other SNCKBR (3 I believe) which were non-vegan and they all closed, while the all-vegan SNCKBR is going strong! Survival of the fittest !

When I visited at the end of last year the places was called SNCKBR, but the name has been changed to Waku Waku in 2019. It seems the menu is largely the same, but it seems they wanted to get away from the ‘junk food’ idea.

Kitchen at SNCKBR/Wakuwaku
View on the kitchen

We were in Utrecht, fresh of the plane, to get a late lunch. SNCKBR describes their dishes as healthy comfort food, they use fresh produce, and organic when possible. Their food is free from refined sugars and artificial additives. I am not sure if that makes it healthy, but reading their menu card I completely agree with the comfort food part!  Think: fries, burgers, Peking luck, kibbeh, etc. The menu card also nicely notes any potential allergens that could be in the dishes. There is a lunch and a dinner card, which have some overlap.

Interior at SNCKBR/Wakuwaku
Hello little monkey friend

The place itself is very spacious, and very nicely decorated.  It is also conveniently located extremely close to Utrecht central station. It was not very busy when we visited, since we arrived at such a strange hour for lunch (few Dutch people would have lunch at 1430 :)). The atmosphere is very relaxed, and they played some Rolling Stones oldies. The waiting staff was superfriendly and we had some great conversations.

Table at SNCKBR/Wakuwaku

The food took a bit longer, probably because we arrived at a bit of a strange time between lunch and dinner. It was well worth the wait! First off, the presentation is more than beautiful. It was almost a shame to eat the food.

Burger and fries at SNCKBR/Wakuwaku
Burger with salad, and sweet potato fries with truffle mayo

The burger is served with salad and sauce. The salad consists of beets, potato and small carrots. The bun of the burger is nice and soft. I don’t know what the patty is made of, there is not really an overpowering taste, but it is a bit mushroom-y  (according to me) or meat-y (according to a non-veggie). The sweet potato fries are served with mayonnaise and are delicious, and perfectly crispy.

Kapsalon at SNCKBR/Wakuwaku
Vegan “kapsalon”

The ‘double dutch kapsalon’ is a variation on the monstrosity, I mean eclectic combination of foods, called kapsalon; a layer of fries, a layer of shawarma, a layer of cheese and on top  lettuce and a variety of sauces. The kapsalon served at SNCKBR consists of sweet potato fries, pulled jackfruit, vegan cheese and a salad similar to what is served with the burger.

SNCKBR serves several types of sodas, fresh juices, lemonades, coffee and tea.  But they also served alcoholic drinks, like wine, beer, and cocktails.  I had an elderflower lemonade which I think went very nicely with the food:)

Tiramisu at SNCKBR/Wakuwaku
Tiramisu, non-conventional presentation

For dessert there are several choices, there is a cake of the day, a brownie, fudge, and more! When we visited there was tiramisu on the menu, but I think it is no longer available. The tiramisu is prepared with speculoos and coconut yoghurt. I found the taste of speculoos overpowering, which I don’t mind since I love it, but it was not the tiramisu taste I had expected. I also tried the “kerststol”, a type of Dutch christmas bread which contains dried fruits, raisins and a centre of almond paste. Usually they are not vegan, so I was excited to try this vegan version! It was indeed very nice, a bit dry maybe.

Kerststol at SNCKBR/Wakuwaku
Kerststol and latte

For the coffee there are several plant milks available, and you can even get vegan whipped cream! The coffee is served with a small chocolate, the perfect way to end a delicious vegan meal!

So my main problem with SNCKBR, or Waku waku, is that it is very far from where I live. The atmosphere of this place is great, the staff friendly and the food is just delicious!

Interior at SNCKBR/Wakuwaku
Very lush and green interior

 

Type of place: Vegan Restaurant
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes!
Website (Dutch, English):

https://www.snckbr.com/SNCKBRUTRECHT/ (old)

https://wakuwaku.nl/ (new)

Yiantes (Athens, Greece)

 

Time for a review of another restaurant in Athens! Really, I went out a lot for food when I visited…the city is just full of great places to eat! This time, let’s talk about Yiantes. Yiantes is a Greek restaurant, located in the central Exarchia region,near the very touristic Plaka region, but in a slightly more off the standard-path region.

Outside Yiantes
Beautiful garden terrace, but it was too dark to make a good picture 😦

This restaurant came as a recommendation from a Greek friend of mine. Initially we just passed by to check it out, since she had mentioned that, while the place is very nice, they might not have any vegan dishes.

They did.

On the daily menu which was posted outside, one dish was specifically labelled vegan. So of course I had to get back and try that dish in the evening!

Starters at Yiantes
Starters: stuffed leaves and fava bean paste!

Yiantes has room to sit inside, but most people will probably prefer to sit outside, on the beautiful garden terrace. Even on a late October evening, the weather was pleasant enough. The terrace, or garden, is split in a ‘true’ outside part, and a part with glass walls and ceiling.  Downside is that we ate at proper Greek dining hours, so it was already getting pretty dark making it difficult to make pictures!

Rice and cabbage at Yiantes
Rice and cabbage dish

Of course we were interested in trying the vegan dish from the daily menu but the standard menu card also has several vegan options for starters. We tried the stuffed vine leaves and fava beans with spring onion and capers. We also got some freshly baked bread to go with it. Cannot go wrong with that!

There are no vegan mains on the standard menu when we visited, but the daily menu had two vegan options (only one was labelled vegan), so that turned out well for us. The first dish was a dish with Greek pasta with tomatoes. I am not sure what made this pasta specifically Greek, it was like shorter but thicker spaghetti. We also tried the rice with cabbage dish. The combination of rice and cabbage is quite common in Eastern European food I believe. It was tasty, and quite filling.

Greek pasta at Yiantes
Greek pasta with tomato sauce

I don’t believe there were any vegan desserts, but anyway, we had no more space for desserts! The service was very nice and friendly. I also enjoyed that the restaurant was not overly tourist-y, even though there were probably some tourists since the menu is also available in English and French. The atmosphere in the garden was very nice, and the food seemed pretty authentic to me, which is also a plus. However, as mentioned there are no vegan mains on the standard menu, so if you would want to eat here, check the daily specials.

 

Type of place : Greek restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no

Website: https://www.facebook.com/pg/yiantes2000 *

I really dislike linking to Facebook since if you have no account you get annoying pop-ups all the time. However, it seems many businesses didn’t yet catch up on this.

Takinoa (Nyon, Switzerland)

takinoa_entrance

Takinoa is a Swiss chain of restaurants, founded in 2013.  They are located in the cantons of Geneva and Vaud.  The name ‘Takinoa’ is a combination of the Greek “taki”, meaning speed, combined with ‘no’, so ‘no speed’ or slow. It is also a play on the pronunciation of the word ‘quinoa’, a famed super food. Additionally, their slogan is “food for joy”. Takinoa focuses of food which is good for the consumer, but also the environment. They use local, preferably organic, seasonal and biological products. But they also limit the amount of sugar and salt added to the food. More than half of the dishes they serve are gluten-free, lactose-free and vegetarian. There is also some choice in vegan dishes.

Refrigerator at Takinoa
Available food in the fridge; vegan, vegetarian, lactose- and gluten-free labelled

There is a changing menu, with juices, smoothies, salads, wrap, desserts, and (hot) bowls. The food itself is pre-made, packaged and refrigerated. For each item it is clearly listed if it is vegan, vegetarian, gluten-or lactose-free. They do use recycled plastic, but still it seems a bit wasteful, especially with the environmental message. The food that gets reheated is packaged in glass.

Cookies at Takinoa
Vegan cookies and energy balls at the bar

So you pick the food from the refrigerator, then you pay at the counter. You can also order the daily soup and drinks there. On the counter is also an assortment of cookies and cakes. There were even a few vegan cookies! When applicable the food is heated by the staff, and brought to you together with any drinks you ordered. After eating, you put your tray and the boxes, cutlery and bowls in the correct place. The procedure, and even the bowls reminded me of N & Co by Quinte & Sens. Service was less traumatic here fortunately.

Interior at Takinoa
Water is available for free

That is how it works, now what did we eat! I planned to visit Takinoa for a while, since I had the idea there was a lot of vegan stuff since I had been told it was all vegetarian. When I arrived, I found out that was not really the case. Takinoa mentions on their site that 70% of their food is vegetarian and 20% vegan, and that seemed about right with what I saw. I was happy to see that there were some vegan desserts, and the vegan dishes available were not only salads 🙂

Food at Takinoa
Pumpkin soup with bread, mango lassi, quinoa bowl and soba noodle salad

 

We tried the pumpkin soup, a quinoa bowl, a soba noodle salad and two desserts. I also had a small mango lassi (vegan, made with almond milk and curcuma) but I have to report it was not that great, it didn’t really have the mango taste I expected. The pumpkin soup was nice and thick, served with a generous piece of rustic bread. I do think the soup needed some more seasoning, but I guess this falls in line with the idea of Takinoa using less salt.

Noodle salad at Takinoa
Soba noodle salad with prunes, veggies and nuts. To the left the dressing we picked with it

The quinoa bowl was served warm, or rather flaming hot. Eat carefully! The bowl contained, apart from the quinoa, apple, carrot, some other seasonal vegetables, and balsamic vinegar. It was nice, the apple gave a natural sweetness to the dish. The soba noodle salad was very tasty, it had edamame beans, prunes, broccoli, a few sweet potato pieces, some mushrooms, salad and several types of seeds. We could choose our own dressing for the salad, but there was already some in the dish itself.

Apple crumble at Takinoa
Apple crumble dessert!

We tried two desserts;  an apple crumble with cinnamon and pistachio and a pudding-y dessert with Matcha tea and steamed pear. The apple crumble was just apple sauce with some crumble on top…a bit disappointing. The pudding was nicer, it was topped with goji berries, and had a very interesting texture.

Pudding dessert at Takinoa
Matcha pudding with steamed pear and goji berries

Afterwards, I had a coffee with a vegan cookie. The cookie was a bit salty, it went quite well with coffee. They also have vegan ‘energy balls’.

Coffee at Takinoa
Coffee with plant-milk and a cookie

Overall the food was okay, but a bit on the expensive side. If you take-out, the food it is a bit cheaper.

Type of place: health food
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website (French): http://takinoa.com/

Athens – Miscellaneous

A slightly different format today! Normally I write about a single place but today we’ll do a round-up with short reviews!  I was in Athens a few weeks ago, and I visited a bunch of  different food places. I didn’t get enough material to create a full post for all of them. Still, I want to give a shout-out to all the good food I had!

Greece is not really a place that is known to be very vegan-friendly, since the food is heavy on the meat and feta, but Athens is great for vegans! There’s a bunch of really good vegetarian/vegan-only places. I wrote about a few (Cookoomela Grill ,Avocado) and there are some more posts in my draft folder waiting to be uploaded! But also at the street food places, like Kumpirista, and more ‘traditional’ eateries, like Tivoli, you can get some good vegan food. There are some traditional Greek vegan dishes, for example, dolmades (rice-stuffed vine-leaves) and spanakorizo (spinach with rice), which are often vegan.

Graffiti in Athens

Street food

 

Oven Sesame:

Oven Sesame is a street food place found in two locations in Athens. The location I visited had no space to sit inside, but a small terrace in front. They serve stuffed sesame pita, salads, sides, sweets, breakfast and juices. The vegan options are clearly marked on the menu. I tried the vegan pita, which is stuffed with grilled vegetables and pink tahini sauce, with a side of potato wedges and a lemonade. Very good!

Vegan food at Oven Sesame
Fruit smoothie, vegan sesame pita, potato wedges and pink tahini dip

Website: http://oven-sesame.com/

Kumpirista:

Home of the kumpir (baked potato )!  I spotted this place because it was next to Cookoomela Grill! Kumpir are a popular type of fast-food in Turkey (Greece and Turkey influenced each other greatly).  The (huge) potatoes are baked in an oven, cut open, partially mashed and filled with all types of toppings such as herbs, sauces and vegetables. Generally the base recipe contains butter but this is subbed for olive oil in the vegan version. The vegan kumpir on the menu is served with couscous, black beans, olives, carrots, salad, aubergine and ketchup. But you can also create your own version with the available toppings.

Kumpir at Kumpirista
Vegan baked potato with allll the toppings!

Website: https://www.facebook.com/Kumpirista-874884449329618/

 

Lukumades

Lukumades are traditional Greek sweets. Also called ‘Greek doughnuts’,  lukumades are deep-fried dough balls served in sauce. Vegan options are not marked on the menu, but ask and the staff will tell you. When I visited there were several options, like powdered sugar, dark chocolate and peanut butter sauce. I tried the peanut butter and powdered sugar version…it is so good! The place itself is pretty popular, they also serve ice cream and milkshakes, but I don’t think those are vegan.

Lukumades
Lukumades in peanut butter sauce and with powder sugar

Website (Greek, English): http://lukumades.com/

Acropolis in Athens

Restaurants/Bars

 

Tivoli

A restaurant/bar with live music, which has been around since 1974. We arrived quite early (for Greek standards) so the place was quite empty still, but it seems to be quite popular usually. We actually ended up there by accident when looking for the vegetarian restaurant called Trivoli…it was a happy accident though because those dolmades were indeed *chefs kiss* They were served warm, which was interesting since dolmades are usually served cold. They were made according to an authentic Greek recipe passed down generations. Also serves a great eggplant dip!

Starters at Tivoli
Dolmades, eggplant dip and tasty bread

Website (Greek): http://tivoli-live.gr/

 

Yiasemi

Plaka is a pedestrian area, with a lot of stairs, and a lot of bars and restaurants. It is very cute and not just for tourists. In fact, this tearoom/restaurant was recommended to me by a Greek colleague! Yiasemi is a super cute café, with a terrace and an inside sitting area. They serve drinks, snacks, food and desserts. There were several vegan snacks and some possibly vegan foods, but unfortunately when we visited they were out of a lot of stuff, like the dolmades. We tried some roasted bread with olives and grilled vegetables, which was good. The atmosphere of the place is great! Perfect to unwind after a long day of touristing about in Athens.

Snacks and drinks at Yiasemi
Seasonal fruit lemonade, coffee, snacks and a cute & cosy atmosphere

Website (English) : https://www.yiasemi.gr/

Dos Caminos (New York, US)

Dos Caminos Interior
Inside Dos Caminos**

Dos Caminos is a chain of Mexican restaurants with several locations in New York. I passed by the Times Square one when I saw a sign with a specific mention of a vegan taco (served with vegan cream!). So I knew I had to check it out!

Dos Caminos is a bar and restaurant. It prides itself on having many different types of tequila, and the food served is Mexican, both street-food style and classic dishes. They also do delivery and take-away.

Dos Caminos interior

Dos Caminos has a brunch, lunch and dinner menu, but I believe the latter two are about the same. The menu is quite extensive, and at first glance not very vegetarian/vegan-friendly: the dinner menu is divided as follows: a guacamole section (several veg*n options), seafood dishes, street-food (several vegetarian options), taco’s (1 vegetarian that can be made vegan), traditional plates (1 vegetarian option), house specialities (no vegetarian options) and sides. There were some salads that seem vegan-isable too. I was happy to spot empanadas too, but unfortunately they cannot be made vegan.

Nachos at Dos Caminos
Nachos with three salsas

I was not surprised by the lack of vegan options, since the Middle-American cuisines tend to be pretty meat heavy and I came for the taco’s anyway 🙂

We started with the nachos with 3 salsas from the guacamole part of the menu. We expected there to be in fact guacamole, but we got indeed nacho chips and 3 salsa’s, but no guac! It seems that the guacamole here just means that it is a starter of some sort. The salsa’s were quite liquid-y and a bit sauce-like rather than chunky. They tasted okay, a bit spicy as expected. The nacho chips were nice, and we actually got a free refill since we were still snacking on them while waiting for our mains. So in true American style we took some home 🙂

Vegan tacos at Dos Caminos
Tacos with vegan cream served on some artsy contraption

The vegan tacos come in a set of 3 and are served on some metal construction, a bit strange, but I guess it is to keep their shape. It was not very easy to eat from though (#wewantplates). The filling consists of mushrooms, guacamole, onions, tomatoes, vegan cotija cheese and vegan cream. The filling is a bit spicy, but definitively not too much. It is also possible to order the tacos as a bowl, but I prefer the original format:)

Sides at Dos Caminos
Papas fritas with mole ketchup and plantains!

For sides we also tried the sweet plantains and ‘papas fritas’ with mole sauce. The plantains are very nice, and the ‘papas fritas’ (which are fries) nicely crisped, but needed some extra salt. This may sound like a weird combination with taco’s but we wanted to test some different things!

Papas Fritas as Dos Caminos

Unfortunately there are no vegan desserts available. Overall Dos Caminos was a nice place to have some taco’s and huge amounts of nachos. I am sure that in New York there are many more places to find good Mexican food though.

Type of place: Mexican restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no

Website (English): https://www.doscaminos.com/

** When editing the pictures for this post I noticed a lot were not properly focussed and very dark 😦