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Published March 6th 2017
This Is Just The Veganning
The Macro Dragon Bowl (by Yong Green Food)
While fad diets come and go, the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet are impressive. Whether your diet is completely vegan, vegetarian or you'd like to eat more veg without giving up meat just yet, discover the most delicious vegan dishes in Melbourne at these top 5 vegan-friendly restaurants.
It's rare for everyone in a family to go vegan but a meal at Smith & Daughters might turn the tide. With a series of tapas dishes inviting sharing, you'll enjoy your favourite but won't be stuck with a main meal you didn't expect. Browsing the menu in the lively dining room, note the page numbers beside each dish. The chef has published a cookbook so you can try making your favourites at home.
Begin with the tomato topped garlic bread and the paella fritters with green peas, a spicy sofrito sauce, saffron and aioli. Continue with Sopa Seca, a Mexican fried noodle dish with black beans in a chipotle salsa or button mushrooms simmered in a sauce of white wine, garlic and paprika. For dessert, the warm Churros, a light and fluffy doughnut filled with quince and dusted with powdered sugar or the sangria trifle with saffron custard and almond crumble are a sweet ending. They also handle gluten-free and nut-free versions of each dish. For drinks, consider the inventive list of mocktails, including the peanut butter cup and sweet peach iced tea. They do offer sneaky cocktail versions too.
Testing the conventions of traditional Asian restaurants, Yong Green Food might surprise you with their clever uses of tofu to replace meat-based dishes. While the staff are friendly and prices are cheap, they can be busy so service can slow down but it's the organic food that keeps people coming back.
Sip the cleansing green smoothie before sharing slices of Hawaiian pizza with macadamia-nut bread, raw tomato sauce, avocado, pineapple, olives, alfalfa sprout, cherry tomato and cashew cream. Next is the ultra-healthy stir fried kimchi dragon bowl with brown rice, stir-fried kimchi, coleslaw, microsalad, cucumber, organic tofu, cashew cream, sesame oil, kizami nori and a side of chickpea miso soup. Burgers can be hit and miss but the mock chicken burger with "wheat meat" (gluten) would tempt Colonel Sanders. Replacing calamari with mushrooms to enjoy a typically seafood-based salt and pepper dish. For dessert, finish with a chocolate cheesecake of raw cacao, cashew, agave, almonds, sunflower seeds, sultanas, dates and coconut.
Yong Green Food is open for lunch on Tue and Thur - Sat, with dinner Tue - Sun 5pm - 10pm, closing at 9pm on Sun.
Serving veg since the 70s, Shakahari (Hindi for vegetarian) aims for a fusion of Indian, Japanese, Thai and Chinese influences in a simple dining room where 2 19th century cloth paintings are the only decorations. The chef offers a seasonal menu to grab the freshest local and organic produce in vegan dishes where freshness counts.
Highlights on the menu are tempura fried avocado wedges and red capsicums, wrapped in eggplant and served with a jade green sesame coriander puree for entrée and the linguini in green pinenut pesto with greens, olive oil, kale and peanuts or the quick-fried skewers of beancurd, seitan, onion and capsicum with a mild spiced peanut sauce, pickles, greens and turmeric rice for mains. For dessert, there's the banana cassava fudge or the 3-tiered avo and lime "cheesecake" with coconut milk, nuts, dates and maple syrup.
Shakahari is open Mon - Sat for lunch 12pm - 3pm and dinner 7 days a week, 6pm - 9.30pm weeknights and 10.30pm weekends.
Made famous by their pay as you feel service, where you drop your payment in a treasure chest, Lentil as Anything is a must-try, even for non-vegans for both the novelty and ethos of the restaurant. Often busy, the service is friendly and the dishes are simple, tasty vegan pleasures.
The green lentil burger with salad, vegan aioli and sweet chilli sauce is a non-guilty pleasure and the thali of the day (a platter with a selection of Indian and Sri Lankan curries) with fresh pickle, yoghurt and roti or pappadums is a real feast. Sip the chai tea while you decide how much you'll donate in lieu of waiting for the bill.
Lentil as Anything is open for 7 days a week from 12pm - 5pm and 5.30pm - 9pm with restaurants in Abbotsford, Footscray and Thornbury.
A nice little vegan cafe by river, Munsterhaus is an ideal intro to vegan food with bain marie dishes offering a dozen choices of curries, baked and roasted veges and legume dishes to colour your plate. A hearty and healthy choice on an cool autumn day.
From the other items on the menu, the sweet potato starch glass noodles with capsicum, cashews and mushrooms in a soy and sesame sauce or chickpea salad with rocket and pumpkin are filling choices. For dessert, the lemon and coconut or mocha cakes is freshly baked.
Munsterhaus is open for Mon to Wed 9am - 4.30pm and Thu to Sat 9am - 8.30pm, closing Sunday.
Where's your favourite restaurant to introduce meat-eaters to the best of vegan? Please let us know with a comment.