Justine de Jonge is a Melbourne freelance travel writer and blogger who loves travelling the vegan road. She also loves blogging about her vegan travels at www.fireandtea.com .
Published July 24th 2019
Tasty vegan Turkish kebabs in the heart of Brunswick
As always, it takes a vision to bring an idea to life. The building blocks for the vision of a new food place are the basics: a new recipe and an easily accessible shopfront. The vision for Kevabs Brunswick was to be Australia's first vegan kebab shop. Now, thanks to owner and Chef Angie, Kevabs Brunswick is a reality set in stone (and plants).
An all-vegan kebab shop seemed to be an idea that may have been scoffed at by food traditionalists. Though, Angie's vision came to life because she dreamed big. She dared to ask 'what if?' Through some plant-based culinary creativity, Angie has succeeded in making the seemingly impossible possible. Angie has created a meat substitute to stuff her 'kevabs' with, along with the essentials – lettuce, tomato, sumac onion and a choice of sauces. Angie's secret recipe, made from 'loads of veggies and pea protein', has resulted in a texturally accurate alternative to meat. Here, Angie's blend of traditional Turkish flavours is all translated into vegan versions of traditional Turkish dishes.
Melbourne and Sydney have fought for the title of the best kebabs in Australia, but Melbourne possesses the cultural landscape needed to host Australia's first vegan kebab shop. The concept really couldn't work anywhere else (ok, perhaps in Adelaide; another of Australia's most vegan-friendly cities). Specifically, Brunswick is only a stone's throw away from Fitzroy; Melbourne's famed vegan enclave.
As you wander into Kevabs Brunswick, the shopfront emulates the aesthetic of a kebab shop, except its fresh modern décor and the absence of animal products sets the business apart from others. Staff are friendly and warm, eager for their customers to try the many Turkish vegan flavours on offer. Sure, kevabs are served here on tap, but customers can also fil their bellies with open kevabs sided by salads of beans, couscous, and parsley. Or, there's börek (similar to a sausage roll, but as a vegan version) and crispy gözleme (flatbread pastry filled spinach and vegan 'feta').
Gluten-free options are also available across the menu. It takes time and consideration to decide on what to eat, so the best option is to try as much as possible in one seating. Orders are placed at the counter, then delivered to customers seated at long benches once they're ready.
The result is generously-stuffed flat bread, brimming with salad, Angie's freshly-made kevab, hummus and garlic sauce, all rolled up and slipped into a kebab bag. The tastes are just as generous and satisfying, giving customers an 'as close to' authentic kebab experience as possible. Kevabs can also be served with chips and a choice of extras from vegan cheese to olives and salads.
There are a range of cold drinks to choose from in the fridge, including some Turkish favourites like fermented pickle juice. In the middle of a cold Melbourne winter, a Turkish coffee (with cardamom) or tea will finish the meal perfectly. There is an array of Turkish sweets to serve with a hot beverage, from sweet and smooth Turkish Delight (choose from rosewater, wild rose or chilli), baklava, raw cakes and heavily dusted aniseed crescents.
There's an eye-opening dessert on the menu. Dessert chips – hot chips served with a crowning of tahini, rose jam jelly and sprinkled with pistachios – piques interest and curiosity in customers. A dessert that may warrant an excuse to go back. Either way, Angie has succeeded in creating vegan Turkish favourites that put traditions into a spin. Turkish vegan food really is possible.