Valya (Geneva, Switzerland)

Inside Valya

For those who do not follow my instagram, first, go check it out, I post more regularly there, and second, I recently moved! I am now living both in Ukraine and Switzerland. And of course, a week before leaving Geneva to go to Kyiv, I found a cute little café around the corner of my apartment! I decided to quickly pop in for a coffee and a dessert.

Sign at Valya
I’ll have to try their Matcha to see if this claim is correct 😀

Valya serves local, seasonal and biological food, with a specific focus on superfood and nutrition for well-being and health. A lot of the available food is also raw, the idea being that raw food is more nutritional. In addition to caring about the health of humans, they care about the health of the environment, serving 100% bio degradable packaging. Valya offers cold-pressed juices, soups, bowls, coffee, (almond based) drinks, sweets and desserts. There are some vegan options available, which is marked on the menu. There are also several gluten-free options.

Vegan items at Valya
Vegan juices and breakfasts in the fridge

The place itself is quite small, there are a few seats available, but it seems to be mostly take-away focused. A lot of the food is premade, and refrigerated. I tried a turmeric latte (also called golden latte), and a slice of banana bread. These turmeric lattes are kind of a new popular beverage. Turmeric is supposed reduce inflammation. That is always nice, of course. This specific version is based on almond milk, has some coconut oil, a dash of cardamom, and is sweetened with dates and cinnamon.

Turmeric almond latte and banana bread at Valya
Turmeric latte with almond milk and a slice of banana bread

It was the first golden latte I had every tried! I am so behind on things #worstbloggerever. The latte had a nice foam but it was a bit tepid. Maybe that is normal with these type of drinks, but I personally would prefer a hotter beverage. I really liked the banana bread, it was nicely moist and very good. I think most of their sweets are vegan, they also had some energy balls and other stuff.

Vegan bowl at Valya
This vegan bowl looks good!

 

 

 
Type of place : Superfood bar/takeout
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website (French): https://valya.ch/

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/

Akiko (Geneva, Switzerland)

Interior at Akiko

Akiko is a chain of modern Asian fusion restaurants in Geneva. There are currently three locations, and I have visited the one closest to the main train station several times. The restaurant has an East Asian-inspired feel, modern interior and upbeat 90-ties musics. There are plenty of places to plug a phone charger, which is always nice. Apart from eating in, they also do take-out.

Drinks at the counter at Akiko
Choice of drinks and ready made food

The food is East Asian fusion, so think Pad Thai, spring rolls and fried rice. For drinks there is the standard soft drinks, but also some special drinks, like lychee juice. They also have bubble tea! There are quite some vegan options, even for the bubble tea!  It is not completely clear from the menu what is vegan but the staff is pretty helpful.  You order at the counter, pay and you get a little buzzer that tells you when the food is ready.

Interior at Akiko

For the mains there are some pre-configured dishes, but you can also create your own. We tried this, for vegans there are two options: tofu or vegetables, and then you choose either a plate (like noodles or Pad Thai) or rice and a sauce. We tried the Pad Thai version with tofu, which we were told was vegan. However, while we were waiting for our food (with the little timer) someone came to us to say it is usually served with egg! But it was easy to leave it out.  There are also vegan desserts: Japanese Mochi (tiny balls of rice with bean paste, sounds strange and non-dessert-y for those used to Western cuisine, but it tastes great!)

Spring rolls at Akiko
Spring rolls!

We tried the spring rolls, served with a good dipping sauce. The rolls are nice and crispy, fried on the spot.  The Pad Thai is served with mung bean sprouts, noodles, spring onion and peanuts. Tasty and sticky, as it should be! The portion is pretty big by the way. For drinks we had a matcha and taro bubble tea with soy milk.

Food at Akiko
Bubble tea, spring rolls and Pad Thai with tofu

Akiko is a nice place for a quick and filling meal. The staff is nice and accommodating, and food is good.

Type of place : Asian fusion restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website (French): https://www.akiko.company/#!

Street Beirut (Geneva, Switzerland)

 

Another Lebanese restaurant today! Well, what can I say, hummus is just one of the main food groups in veganism 🙂 Street Beirut is on the more modern scale of Lebanese restaurants, closer to Homous & Co than to Le Cèdres du Liban. When we visited on a Saturday for lunch it was busy and quite noisy. Part of the room was reserved, so I think with all customers being put in one half of the room this added to the noise.

Interior at Street Beirut
Since the place was pretty packed I couldn’t make a lot of pictures of the interior unfortunately

On the menu you can sandwiches, salads, warm dishes, and platters. It is marked which options are vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free! Street Beirut also serves mezze, but it was not clear which of these were vegan. During the week there is a daily menu as well, with different warm dishes every day (from what I spotted, mostly non-vegan stuff..). There are no vegan desserts, unfortunately. There’s also a take-away and delivery option.

Falafel platter at Street Beirut
Falafel platter: Falafel with tahin sauce, moutabal, hummus, tabbouleh and the magical pickles!

We tried the falafel platter; which consists of falafel with tahin sauce, tomatoes and salad.  All platters are served with taboulleh, hummus, moutabal, pickled turnips (?) and flatbread. We didn’t get the bread until we asked for it though. The moutabal and falafel were good, nothing interested to report..you cannot really go wrong with these I think!  The tabbouleh was a bit disappointing, it was chopped very coarsely. The hummus was good, very soft. The thing that really stood out for me were the picked beets or turnips. The internet tells me they are called ‘Kabees El Lift’, but please correct me if I am wrong 🙂 On the menu it was just ‘cornichon’, which means ‘pickles’. They were a bit salty and sour, I never had them before, and I really enjoyed them!

Pita at Street Beirut
Pita served in the smallest grocery basked 😀

I got a mint tea with it; it is sweetened with sugar and not with honey. In fact, our server was a bit confused when I asked about it.

Tea at Street Beirut
Nice tea pot

Overall the service was okay. The place is more of the hip fast-casual type, not too fancy (except for those magical pickles). I did find it expensive for what we got, especially since the atmosphere was rather casual.

Wines and tiles at Street Beirut
Nice tiles
Type of place : Lebanese fast-casual restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no

Website (French): https://streetbeirut.ch/

Biofred (Geneva, Switzerland)

Entrance of Biofred

Biofred is a small shop which sells biological products, including many gluten- and lactose-free products. In addition to the shop section there is also a small café with a changing daily menu. They offer warm dishes, sandwiches, salads and desserts. For drinks: smoothies, juices, coffees, etc. Not all food on offer is vegan or vegetarian, but there are several veggie choices.  They serve breakfast as well as lunch items. They also do take-out.

Shop at Bio fred
Part of the shop

The space inside is very small, there are two tiny tables inside and one outside. There is relaxing music, and a chill atmosphere. I don’t think there is a bathroom, though.

Menu at Biofred
Colourful menu!

They use a lot of ” superfoods” in their dishes, like algae-paste, spirulina and maca. They also use a water which has been treated with a specific osmosis process, of which I am …. not sure what to think. They also sell water which has been filtered by this specific process by the litre.

Daily soup at Biofred
Courgette-sweet potato soup

There are several vegan options available, and we were hungry, so we tried several different things. The daily soup was made with courgette and sweet potato.  The soup tasted mostly like the sweet potato, I didn’t really taste the courgette. There was a hint of anise, which was interesting. It did need a bit more seasoning, I think. Strangely enough, it got served kind of lukewarm. The daily warm plate was a lentils with brown rice dish, which is a great and classic combination, of course. The lentils were nicely spiced, but again the plate was a bit lukewarm. (For both the daily soup and warm plate there is a normal and a large version, we took the normal version)

Daily plate at Biofred
Daily warm plate: Rice with lentils

We tried both vegan sandwiches; one with avocado & hummus, and one with pesto-tofu and lemon-almond paste. Both also have algae paste and a variety of vegetables. The bread itself is very tasty, but the sandwiches were not very big. The filling of both sandwiches are nice, specially the tofu is interesting with the spices. They did taste a bit the same though, probably since a lot of ingredients were the same.

Sandwich at Biofred
Avocado sandwich with a cute heart-shaped bun ❤

For drinks we had a smoothie and a fresh-pressed juice. The strawberry smoothie included, besides strawberries, apple, banana, ginger and fig, on a base of rice- almond milk and the Jus-Jitsu contains apple, kiwi, fig and ginger. Both are fine, but not very special. Also they were served in plastic cups, which was a bit strange. Especially since the cutlery and plates were not plastic.

Drinks at Biofred
Jus-jitsu and smoothie

I have to say the service was not spectacular. While the staff member was very nice, she was on her own and she was very occupied by  a (regular?) customer. After a while it got very busy with people getting take-out, I noticed quite a line developed. We had to wait quite some time for our food, even though we were the only people, apart from one other person. I mean, this is not a fast-food place where you expect your food within 5 min, but especially for the soup and plate, which were already made, it was a bit strange.

Outside biofred

Overall I liked the food. Biofred is one of the few bio-eateries that is open on Saturday. Most vegan/bio-places are only open during the week. However, it was pretty expensive for what you get. The food was made with attention to detail, and of course they use biological products (and that special water) so that is the reason why I guess. Bio-oriented/vegan places, often tend to give small portions, at least in Switzerland. Still, I think it is good to mention.

Type of place: Biological/health shop and café
Completely vegan: no

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

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/

Nefis (Geneva, Switzerland)

Interior at Nefis
I guess the colourful cows and milk cans are for the frozen yoghurt part of the shop…the display shows the packaged Turkish foods

A few weeks ago I passed a small café that sold both frozen yoghurt and authentic Turkish food. I was immediately intrigued because I like to try authentic food from different regions (as long as it is vegan of course!) and it is difficult to find authentic Middle-Eastern food here. (Also frozen yoghurt and authentic Turkish food seemed like a strange combination to me, if I am missing something please let me know!)

Drinks at Nefis
Interesting sour cherry drink

Nefis is very small, I think they do mostly catering and take-out. There is some space to sit inside, and there is a terrace as well. When we visited there were several vegan dishes available to choose from: lentils, hummus, dolmas (rice-stuffed vine leaves), a carrot dish and tabbouleh. The food is pre-made and packaged. They also sell some interesting drinks.

nefis_interior

We tried the carrot dish and some dolma. The carrot dish has garlic and it has an almost sweet flavour. The dolma are very delicately spiced- a dash of cinnamon gave a very interesting taste. The food was served with Turkish bread – not the standard flat bread but similar.

Food at Nefis
Dolma and carrot-garlic dish

We finished with coffee, unfortunately we didn’t get the Turkish coffee! I think they do serve it but you have to explicitly ask for it. However, the coffee is served with a Lotus Biscoff cookie…which is vegan 😉

Bread at Nefis
Turkish bread

I really liked the food at Nefis, but still the concept of both the frozen yoghurt and the Turkish authentic food is a bit strange. Additionally, there is very little information about them or their menu online. The staff was very nice, and the overall experience was pleasant.

Interior at Nefis
Colourful chairs
Type of place: Frozen Yoghurt, Turkish catering/café
Completely vegan: no

Website (French): https://www.facebook.com/pg/nefiscuisine/