Eating clean, fresh and healthy food is a popular trend. Salad and juice bars offer local organic fruits and vegetables to those who are living a health conscious lifestyle, and more and more people decide to forgo chicken or beef a few days a week or even completely. Cairo’s latest addition to this trend, The Vegan Kitchen, opened its doors on Thursday, 28 February. The restaurant is the brain child of Yasmine Nazmy and Alaa Sharshar and serves vegan, gluten-free and organic food.
Upon arrival in the tree lined street in Maadi, the restaurant space was still undergoing the final preparations. Workmen were busy putting in the last screws, tables lined the sidewalk waiting to be moved in and the sign announcing the restaurant was still being hung over the plant-lined arch. Not necessarily the best way to start an opening dinner where you invited the press.
The charm and enthusiasm of the owners entertained us during the wait but by the time we finally sat down to dinner we felt the food should be really good to salvage this opening night’s review. Fortunately, The Vegan Kitchen served us a variety of dishes that were all delicious, well balanced and absolutely fresh. As my non-vegan friend said: “Definitely worth waiting for.”
Environmental consciousness is important to the owners and all building materials which were used are locally sourced and as natural as possible. Previously a garage, the space was converted into a light and welcoming restaurant. The tables are made from discarded wood and all sport a large amount of small plants under a glass top and the glasses are made from recycled beer bottles.
We were served a set menu and we started with a kale and strawberry salad with ground almonds and balsamic dressing. The combination of the coarse, earthy kale and the sweet strawberries was excellently complemented by the dressing and the finely chopped red onions.
As a main course we were served a sample of several of the dishes available on the menu. They were all so tasty that we felt we could order any one of them as a main course. The BBQ skewer featured several chopped vegetables and cubed pieces of marinated tofu, barbequed to perfection and served with an organic homemade BBQ sauce. “We marinated the tofu overnight,” said Sharshar, which had infused it with flavour. The vegetables were still crispy and the smoky flavour of the BBQ sauce complemented it perfectly.
The Oriental salad was a crispy and tasty combination of brown lentils, parsley, red onion, tomato and cucumber with a fresh tasting dressing. A few oven-roasted sweet and normal potato fries provided a savoury side and the Eggplant Ravioli was absolutely delicious. Slices of eggplant wrapped around a rich almond-tomato puree with a dollop of tomato-basil sauce proved a winning combination of tastes.
For dessert we were treated to a slice of brownie and the choice of two scoops of ice cream. We tried the chocolate, chocolate-hazelnut, vanilla and cinnamon-ginger and all of them had a rich, deep taste, with the chocolate and cinnamon-ginger being the favourites. The ice cream is made without any refined sugars; having a variety of choices for those who are vegan, dessert options are an absolute treat.
The full menu offers a variety of exciting opportunities for starters, sushi, salads, main courses and desserts for very affordable prices. The restaurant is open daily from noon to midnight and smoothies and daily specials are on offer besides the comprehensive menu. The quality of the food and the diversity of dishes on the menu make The Vegan Kitchen a great option for healthy food for both vegans and non-vegans.