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. Β  (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) :Β  https://www.veganjunkfoodbar.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.Β  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/