May 29, 2016 1

Like A Vegan Abroad – Kyoto

Konichiwa from Kyoto, the second last stop on my three week tour of Japan! After a couple of quick journeys on the Shinkansen from Hiroshima, we made it to our hotel in central Kyoto to drop off our bags and hunt for some eats.

The closest thing we could find that took our fancy was Gomacro and really I had no idea what to expect. We were greeted by lovely staff and presented with an all vegan menu featuring sesame! Sesame is one of my favourite things ever so as you can imagine I was pretty down with the prospect of a sesame themed meal. Unfortunately their large lunch set was sold out (get there early if you want it) but I grabbed the noodle set which included a pasta and salad (plus coffee and a mini dessert for a little extra). Before the meal arrived we were each given a little mortar and pestle filled with sesame seeds to grind and add to our lunch, C-U-T-E! The pasta was super tasty and full of fresh vegetables, the salad was simple but totally satisfying plus I washed it down with an iced sesame chai which was dope AF. Then in a moment of weakness I ordered the assorted dessert platter consisting of a nut tart, brownie and ice cream with granola. Oh. My. God. So good.

Gomacro

Gomacro

I rolled my way back to the hotel and checked in before taking some time to chill before dinner. We headed along the Nishiki Market for a highly anticipated dinner at Cafe Matsuontoko but were met by a sign saying they were booked out for the night (awesome for them, sad for us!) we made a booking for the following evening and headed around the corner to Momukuteki. With a lovely atmosphere and great staff, we were seated in the couch area and given an English menu. Much of the menu is vegan, the main offender is fish stock and dishes containing it are clearly marked. I opted for the tofu burger set. It was a little on the smaller side but after the epic lunch I had earlier it was more than enough, on a normal day I may have ordered a dessert to take me to that next level of fullness.

Mumokuteki

On our first full day in Kyoto, we expected rain so opted for one of the less outdoorsy activities and hit up Kyoto Studio Park. Many of Japan’s movies and television shows are filmed here and you can wander some of the sets as well as see some live performances and dress up as a ninja or geisha (this costs extra). It didn’t take us long to get through the park so we headed off to Kyoto Station for lunch.

Kyoto Studio Park

We thought we’d take a gamble and check out Kyotofu Fujino atop the Isetan building in the station. This tofu-centric restaurant is a little more pricey and unfortunately most items contain fish. The staff are very friendly and can let you know what is fish-free but don’t expect too much. The sesame tofu was ok, the assorted baked tofu was much better but together unfortunately a satisfying meal they did not make. There was a miscommunication with the waiter (not his fault, I can’t speak Japanese) so I couldn’t quite establish whether or not the soy ice cream contained dairy. It came out anyway and I didn’t eat it. The most frustrating thing about it was that Kyotofu clearly state on the front of their menu that the restaurant isn’t vegan so they know what it is and it would be great if they could a) add a set meal that is vegan and/or b) denote what’s vegan on the menu to make things easier for their staff and customers.

Kyotofu

Slightly unsatisfied we wandered around the station’s many shops for a while before heading back to our hotel to get ready for dinner at Cafe Matsuontoko. Inside there’s a lot of dark wood and large dining tables plus some additional seating upstairs. Movies are projected onto one of the walls although from where we were sitting it was kinda hard to see. The menu is quite large and diverse with a range of different meals to choose from. Making up for lunch I decided to get the avocado burger set which was served with fries and salad as well as the fried soy meat. It was all hella tasty and super fresh, albeit a tad messy but who cares right? I like that the portion sizes in Japan are modestly satisfying to prevent you from going over the edge into a food coma. I tempted fate and went for a parfait for dessert which was full of cake, mochi, matcha ice cream, soy cream, matcha jelly and some random red bean filled pastry. I didn’t hit that food coma but I came damned close thanks to that tasty little number.

Cafe Matsuontoko

Cafe Matsuontoko

The next day it was onto the Sagano Romantic Train for a cute little ride through Kyoto’s mountains and view of the Hozugawa River. I recommend sitting on the left side of the train if you’re heading from Saga-Torokko Station as you’ll get the best view! Once we hit the top we decided to shell out the extra clams for a ride on the Hozugawa River Boat, taking about 1.5 hours to reach the bottom. Our guides were hilarious even though we couldn’t understand a word they said to us and the experience was well worth the cash. We got to walk through the Bamboo Forest en route back to the station, a damn visual feast of bamboo.

Scenic Train

Hozugawa River

Bamboo Forest

After an epic day of naycha, it was back to Kyoto Station for lunch, this time trying out Cosme Kitchen Cafe, a casual setting with vegan options within Kyoto Station’s The Cube. Just ask the staff what’s vegan and they’ll sort you out, this time I had the curry lunch set which came with 2 deli options so I picked a couple of salads. It tasted way better than the photo suggests and is a great option if you’re in a hurry.

Cosme Kitchen Cafe

We headed straight from our late lunch to the traditional area of Gion, famous for its Geisha and other Japanese traditions. It’s hard to believe that this place is just a few minutes from the bright lights and city towers, it feels like you’ve stepped back in time as soon as you cross the bridge! We were told to hit up Gion Corner for an inexpensive taste of what Japanese culture has to offer. For about 50 bucks you can catch an hour-long show featuring a tea ceremony, Kyo-Mai dance, flower arrangement, Koto Zither, Gagaku court music, Kyogen Theatre and Bunraku puppet theatre. While it did seem a little low in production value, I get the vibe that this show is put on as an inexpensive option for tourists to experience various elements of Japanese traditions and is run by an art foundation so I assume the money is going to a worthy cause keeping these traditions alive, which I am super down with supporting.

Gion Corner

A short 15 minute walk and we were back at Momukuteki for dinner. This time I had a rice thing (I forget what it’s called!) that came with burger patties, salads and lotus root. I also grabbed spicy fries and a chocolate shake because I’m an absolute MONSTER. If that wasn’t enough I decided to finish things off with a sweet potato pie, which came with soft serve that tasted more like froyo (I ain’t complainin). I bloody love this place and wish we had something like it in Newy so I could go every. single. day.

Mumokuteki

Mumokuteki

Mumokuteki

The following day we hit up Fushimi Inari to check out the epic pathways of torii gates. After strolling around for a little while we hopped another coupla trains to Kurama to immerse ourselves in more culcha and naycha. Luckily Yoshuji is located right outside the entrance to Mt. Kurama, meaning we were able to get a tasty feast for lunch. This joint has basic lunches starting from around 1000 yen but I went YOLO and got the full shojin-ryori experience, complete with soup, noodles, tempura, vegetables, fruit salad and a whole bunch of other bits and pieces. Boy, it was good!

Torii Gates

Shojin-Ryori

That night we met up with a pal who also happened to be in Japan and decided to show her Momukuteki. After that epic lunch I wasn’t all that hungry so went for the salad and those spicy fries again (because I’m a mofo monster!) The salad was pretty simple with some veggie mince served alongside it. Definitely not the best item on the menu but great for a light option.

Mumokuteki

We were due for a bit of a chill day so decided to spend it wandering around the Shoju area where we were staying. There are so many amazing shops lining the streets and undercover malls, you can entertain yourself for hours. Oh, and Mumokuteki is there so embarrassingly we stopped in again for lunch. I had the burger again (you don’t need to see another pic). After that we did a little more browsing around before a brief pit stop at our hotel then onto Veggie Cafe for dinner! This little place is adorable and run by the sweetest Japanese man who is clearly influenced by American culture. The grub is a wholesome and healthy take on fast food and it’s super delish at a modest price. I had the felafel pita, fries and finished it off with a cinnamon bun. All delicious, all vegan, all good!

Felafel

Cinnamon Roll

And with that, Kyoto is a wrap! The final leg of the trip is upon us as we hit Tokyo next for all the eating, doing and shopping we can muster. The next time you hear from me, I’ll probably be back in Australia, Vegemite sanga in hand. Sayonara!

Addresses

Gomacro

67-3 Jinmei-cho, Nakagyo-ku

Kyoto, Japan

 

Momokuteki

2F, Teramachi-dori (at near Shijo Teramachi),

Kyoto, Japan

 

Kyoto Studio Park

10 Uzumasa Higashihachiokacho, Ukyo Ward

Kyoto, Japan

 

Kyotofu Fujino

JR Kyoto Isetan, 11th floor

Kyoto, Japan

 

Café Matsuontoko

538-6 Shijyo Agaru Shinkyougoku Nakanocho Nakagyoku (at Shijo)

Kyoto, Japan

 

Cosme Kitchen Café

901 Karasuma Shiokojikudaru, Higashioji, Shimogyo-ku (at JR Isetan Station)

Kyoto, Japan

 

Gion Corner

Yasaka Hall, 570-2 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku,

Kyoto, Japan

 

Fushimi Inari

68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward

Kyoto, Japan

 

Yoshuji

Kurama Honmachi

Kyoto, Japan

 

Veggie Café

Nishikiinokuma-cho 537, Nakagyoku (at Inokuma dori)

Kyoto, Japan

May 24, 2016 0

Like A Vegan Abroad – Hiroshima

Hiroshima is a 1.5 hour Shinkansen journey from Osaka and the next stop on my Like A Vegan Abroad journey! Like the other parts of Japan I’ve visited, Hiroshima shares similarities but also some significant differences. The coolest thing about this place is how green it is thanks to the tree-lined streets and luscious AF gardens. It also seems way more chill in the way that you don’t constantly feel like you’re slowly moving through a crowd. Oh, and the food is dope too!

Hiroshima

We rushed for our bullet train and without a chance to grab a snack we were pretty starving so as soon as we checked in, we headed out in search of some eats. The vegan food sitch is nowhere near as plentiful but when it comes to vegan food in Hiroshima, it’s quality over quantity. We very quickly made our way to Art Elk Cafe and pulled up a seat in their light-filled space. The lunch menu is quite varied with plenty of vegan options and from what I can gather the staff speak pretty good English. I opted for the vegan lunch set with tempura as it was the first time I’ve had the opportunity for a big-ass Japanese selection plate since arriving.

Hiroshima

The tempura had a neat little selection of veg with a super tasty dipping sauce. It was followed by a large tray consisting of miso soup, a tofu dish, edamame, onigiri and a little okra dish. All of it was absolutely amazing, one of the best meals I’ve had in Japan so far for sure.

Hiroshima

When you think Hiroshima, unfortunately you think of the atomic bomb that destroyed the city and killed so many in 1945. No visit to Hiroshima should avoid the chance to learn more not only about the horrific event and its victims but also the brave survivors who have managed to rebuild their lives. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is the perfect place to learn and pay your respects while enjoying some beautiful scenery. I would recommend taking the time to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, the Atomic Bomb Dome and the many monuments scattered throughout the park including the Children’s Peace Monument, which honours the lives of the children lost as a result of the atomic bomb. Atop the monument is a statue of Sadako Sasaki, the young girl who was diagnosed with leukemia as a result of the radiation of the bomb many years before. You would know her as the girl who made 1000 paper cranes in an attempt to grant her wish of a cure for her disease.

Hiroshima

After a pretty intense afternoon of education and reflection, we made our way back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner. We were told that traditional Hiroshima okonomiyaki was a must-have so headed back past the park to Nagataya. We were greeted by a long line of people who obvs had the same idea but after a 30 minute wait we took a seat at a little bench. We ordered while in line so our meals arrived pretty swiftly and when you have a pretty well labelled vegetarian/vegan menu, you can’t really go wrong (make sure you ask for it!) I had the option with rice cake, corn, garlic chips, green onion and soba noodles. It was all crazy delish and so filling that I could barely finish half (I would love it if they came in mini sizes!)

Hiroshima

Hiroshima

The next day we hopped on a boat at Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park and headed off to Miyajima or “Shrine Island” (probs because of all the shrines, huh?) We made our way around the island pretty quickly, checking out the shops, shrines and sights like the huge torii gate. There are plenty of wild deer on the island which are incredibly cute and seem quite happy, not entirely sure how comfortable I am with that whole sitch tho!

Hiroshima

Hiroshima

With that we hopped back on our return boat and trotted along to Hiroshima Castle, which was rebuilt many years after the atomic bomb hit the city. The surrounding grounds are really something and the castle itself has a museum inside where you can learn more about how the castle was restored to its former glory.

Hiroshima

After our exhausting day trekking around Hiroshima so couldn’t muster up the energy to grab dinner. The next day we hopped a cable car, Shinkansen, train and ferry over to Okunoshima or “Rabbit Island” as it’s more commonly known which was originally used as an island factory for producing chemical gas during WW2. You can walk around the island to check out some of the super creepy ruins from the factories as well as the Poison Gas Museum. The rabbits themselves are obvs adorable and hop all over the island at their leisure. We were there on a particularly warm day so many dug little holes to rest in or chose to kip under a tree. It seems a fair amount of effort has gone into making sure the rabbits aren’t disturbed with plenty of signage telling tourists what is and isn’t acceptable as well as lots of water bowls all around for them to drink from. Some say the rabbits were released as test subjects when the poison gas factories were shut down but apparently they were a new batch of rabbits introduced later on.

Rabbit Island

Another ferry, train, Shinkansen and cable car ride back to our hotel meant a quick and reliable dinner was in order, so we stopped back in to Art Elk Cafe on our way back to the hotel. The dinner menu is very similar but has a couple of additional side options. I decided this time to try the Hiroshima Yakiudon with chilli sauce, plus some garlic bread (OMG BREAD, FINALLY!) and then finished things up with a banana spring roll. I believe the woman working that evening was the owner and she was particularly interested in my reasons for becoming vegan. Although not vegan herself, she appreciates the movement and is happy to cater for us, which is so awesome considering there’s not a lot around these here parts. She also said I have lovely skin so naturally we’re BFFs now.

Art Elk Cafe

We didn’t have any big plans locked in for our last day in Hiroshima so we spent the day wandering the streets and checking out the many stores. The larger chain stores don’t seem to have as much to offer as the bigger Japanese cities but there are some super cute boutiques as well. I had heard that a new VEGAN place had opened up not too far from our hotel and even though bookings were recommended, we decided to take our chances. We found Vegan Cafe in the Shanti Yoga building and were greeted by lovely staff who invited us to take off our shoes and enter the dining room. You sit on the floor to eat and a lunch set is brought to you on a tray, ours had rice, miso soup, tofu, salads, pickles and a sweet potato cake which was then followed by tea (we chose matcha) and a chocolate orange cake. The staff were so beautiful and friendly, asking questions about veganism and how we had found the food in Hiroshima. They even took a photo of us for their Instagram which was pretty cute! For 150o yen the food is satisfying and the atmosphere is awesome, definitely a must-visit!

Vegan Cafe

 

Despite the mixed reviews online we decided to give Indian restaurant Padma a go however when we arrived it seemed to be very much closed (not sure if permanently). With very little energy to suss out a new location to trek to (there are very few anyway), we decided to give MOS Burger a visit considering they had been a great back up on our last trip. Since then they’ve added soy patties to their menu and while I couldn’t decipher online whether or not they were vegan, I checked in with the staff who said they were (please feel free to let me know if this info isn’t right.) The buns are still a no-go as far as I know, so I opted for another new thing, getting the burger in lettuce instead! Super delicious and while I’m hoping there’ll be enough vegan options available for the rest of the trip, it’s good to know there’s solid backup if necessary.

MOS Burger

And with that it’s sayonara to Hiroshima and konichiwa to Kyoto, TTYL!

Addresses

Art Elk Cafe

1-7-23 Naka-hara bld 2F, Hiroshima, Naka-ku Otemachi (Hondori St Shopping Centre)
Hiroshima, Japan 730-0051

Nagataya

Shigeishi Bldg 1F, 1-7-19, Otemachi
Hiroshima, Japan 730-0051

Vegan Cafe

Naka-ku, Mikawachō, 2−20
Hiroshima, Japan 730-0029

MOS Burger 

Naka Ward, Hatchobori 6-3

Hiroshima, Japan 730-0013

May 22, 2016 0

Like A Vegan Abroad – Osaka Part 2

Well hello, it’s me again! Coming at ya from Hiroshima with my round up of vegan junk in Osaka. Apart from a day trip on my last visit I had never been to Osaka before so it was most excellent to spend a little extra time and eat a lotta extra food.

Osaka Glico Man

This time around we went fully natch and hit up Minoh Park, a forest on the outskirts of Osaka but only a quick trip from the city. It’s a pretty casj walk to the top so even those allergic to fitness can manage this one, though I wished it was a couple of degrees cooler.

Osaka Minoh Falls

On the way up to Minoh Falls you’ll see plenty of little stalls and restaurants as well as super dope natural and cultural stuff. Maple leaves are the symbol of this little mountainous town and you’ll see them used all over the place, including tempura maple leaves being sold in many of the stores (I didn’t have the chance to find out if they’re vegan). The falls are effing sick and well worth the climb, especially when a monkey gets thrown into the mix! This little guy came out of nowhere and wandered around the perimeter of the falls, almost as if he was posing for photographs before scampering back into the trees. What a little legend.

Osaka Minoh Monkey

After all that walking we had quite the appetite so it’s very convenient that Salunpowaku is sitting pretty near Minoh Station, huh? This hella cute little place has a small but appetising menu in an adorable setting, plus it’s cheap so you really can’t go wrong. I opted for the tofu burger, full of salad and vegan mayo plus a teensy minestrone soup with a chocolate soy milk to wash it all down. So tasty it makes you kinda furious that I can’t score something this tight back home!

Osaka Salunpowaku

We hadn’t had our fill of animal sightings for the day so hit up the amazing Neco Republic, a cat shelter in the heart of Shinsaibashi (near Cafe ATL btw!) Unlike the plentiful and uncool cat cafes you’ll find scattered around Japan’s cities, Neco Republic only houses homeless cats and cares for them until they are adopted. You’re able to go in and spend time with the cats, play with and pet those who are willing and enjoy their presence. If you or someone you know want the cat cafe experience while in Japan, look up one of Neco Republic’s locations and help the cats while spending time with them.

Osaka Neco Republic

Once playtime was up we had built up quite the appetite so went for a little walk to Shama, a vegetarian Indian joint not far from our hotel. It’s another semi-weird underground type situation but a great choice for an inexpensive meal from a pretty extensive menu, from which most items can be made vegan. I chose a set that came with a drink, soup, samosa, momo, spinach naan and two small curries. The curries were ok but it was a real thrill to finally have naan, I haven’t had it since going vegan all those years ago!

Osaka Shama

For our last full day in this amazing city we thought it was time to do a little shopping and the thoroughly amusing HEP Five in Umeda was the place to do it. 7 levels of fun and fashion with a massive red ferris wheel on top (I went on it last time I was here but chose not to this time). I couldn’t track down anything close enough for lunch so we hit the nearby undercover mall and found a pretty fancy Japanese restaurant but unfortunately I don’t know the name because it was all in Japanese! I managed to find some pickle and cucumber hosomaki, pickled cucumber and pickled eggplant nigiri sushi, some edamame and a pickle plate. All of it was pretty delish minus the pickled eggplant and umeboshi on the pickle plate, it’s a no from me. We headed back in to HEP Five for some final bits and pieces, had a brief stop for melon soda (it’s THE BEST) and headed back to our hotel.

Osaka HEP Five

For our final night in Osaka we thought it would be swell to visit one of the most highly recommended restaurants online, Le Coccole. After a 15 minute walk from our hotel we were delighted to find this little place set back from the street and lit up with fairy lights. We took a seat outside (which explains the terrible photos, soz) and we were given a menu. The options for dinner are quiet limited but I opted for a dinner set for 2500 yen which included a leafy salad with a creamy dressing, 3 smaller salads (not exactly sure what they were) and a main meal, I selected what seemed like a creamy risotto dish.

Osaka

Everything was being run by one super lovely and attentive woman who made us feel welcome and along with the atmosphere and positive reviews, we were pretty pumped. Unfortunately for me the food didn’t live up to the hype; the green salad was good but the others all had one very strong underlying taste and the rice dish wasn’t bad but also wasn’t terribly exciting. I get the impression that Le Coccole may be a lunch venue as the menu looks much more extensive.

Osaka

Osaka proved to be a different destination to what I thought it would be but for the better. A great contrast of traditional and modern means that you get a very well-rounded Japanese experience in this city. While the hustle and bustle on the street is a little more hectic than Tokyo, it’s a very easy place to get around. It’s also fantastic to see a growing number of vegan-friendly eateries (and customers!) hitting the city.

Osaka

The next morning we hopped aboard the Shinkansen for Hiroshima (which is where I am now, yay!) If you have any suggestions for eats in the area, let me know as it looks like slim pickings in terms of vegan eats.

Addresses

 Salunpowaku                                                                                                                                                                                                  Osaka-fu, Mino-shi, Mino 6-2-18, Minoh
Osaka, Japan 562-0001

 Neco Republic                                                                                                                                                                                                          3-7-17 Minamisemba, Chuo-ku | 3F Miuraya Bldg                                                                                                                                Osaka, Japan 542-0081

 Shama Vegetarian Indian
 Kurasho Bldg, B1. 1-3-7, Kitahorie, Nishi-ku
Osaka, Japan 550-0014
 HEP Five
 Kakuta-chou 5-15, Kita-ku, Osaka-city
 Osaka, Japan 530-0017
 Le Coccole
 3-4-1 Kitakyuhojimachi, Chuo-ku (Honmachi)
Osaka, Japan
May 18, 2016 4

Like A Vegan Abroad – Osaka Part 1

Hello internet-lovers! If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, you certainly aren’t following me on Snapchat (likeavegan) or Instagram. If you were, you would know that I’m in Japan seeing the sights and eating the eats for the next few weeks. First up I’m going to hit you with a little taste of Osaka because even though I did a sneaky night in Tokyo beforehand, we’ll make our way back to that at the end of the trip.

Osaka Castle

I wasn’t really expecting Osaka to be much different from Tokyo and in some ways it isn’t; there are still hoards of people, streets lined with stores and restaurants plus a whole heap to do. I have noticed that the chaos here is much less organised and I’ve bumped into way more people than I’m used to. A lot of people ride bikes, which was awesomely unexpected, albeit adding to the craziness of navigating Osaka streets.

Osaka Bay

After a ride on the Shinkansen from Tokyo, we were after something nearby for dinner so I tracked down El Pancho, a little Mexican joint just off the Shinsaibashi shopping strip (near H&M and Uniqlo). You wouldn’t necessarily expect to find good Mexican in Japan let alone vegan Mexican but this place is a gem! Don’t be fooled by semi-dodgy exterior, inside there’s wall-to-wall artworks and scrawled handwriting with lights and music filling the place. The staff know what can be veganised which helps a great deal, so I opted for a vegetable burrito which is just as good, if not better than what you’d get back home. Combine that with yuzu margaritas and a Japanese man covering ‘Girl from Ipanema’ and I’m sold!

Osaka El Pancho

The next day we set out to explore the beautiful and historic Osaka Castle before heading back to Shinsaibashi to try the highly recommended Cafe ATL. When you see the big gorilla sign (unfortunately promoting a pet store), look across the road and you’ve found it! A sweet and cosy atmosphere is only made better by the food. You can select a entree, main and drink for less than $15 AUD so I opted for the potato quiche, served with pickled vegetables for my entree with the hummus bagel with salad as my main. Both were fresh, tasty and filling but it was definitely the quiche that stole the show this round.

Osaka Quiche

For dinner we walked in the opposite direction from our hotel and found Paprika, a super cool restaurant with awesome decor and friendly staff. While the food does take quite a while to arrive, it’s well worth the wait. My salad and soy meat pizza were both mega tasty and while I was disappointed they had run out of soft serve for dessert, the cheesecake definitely eased the pain.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Osaka Paprika

While the main pull of Osaka Bay is the aquarium (obvs a big no no), it’s still a great place to check out if you have the time. I’m not a ferris wheel kinda gal but they’ve got a big one, attached to a funny little shopping mall, as well as Japan’s lowest mountain (a whopping 4.53m above sea level). You won’t find much vegan food here but Green’s Vegetarian Dishes overlooks the ferris wheel and provides a cheap and easy option for lunch. For around 800 yen you can select from the buffet with a few options as well as a soup and a little dessert afterwards. From what I can gather this place is run by volunteers and supports a disability charity so even more of a reason to visit! That night we hit a Hanshin Tigers baseball game at Koshien Stadium so as you can imagine, dinner was a bit of a non-event.

Osaka Green's

The non-event meals continued yesterday due to a visit to Universal Studios Japan, who unlike Disneyland make it incredibly difficult to find out what the hell you can eat. With a little detour through Temma on the way back to Namba, we were in for a real treat for dinner at Aju Vegan Bistro, a funny looking little place off the main strip. The menu is full of variety, so we opted for the caesar salad, avocado fritters and assorted vege soy chicken. The latter were my faves but the salad was tasty too, full of different bits and pieces (including corn flakes?) plus my previous soft serve woes were over, I finally got one (also with bonus corn flakes).

Osaka Aju

Osaka Aju

Osaka Aju

With a few more days in Osaka to go, I’ll have plenty more to share with you next week. Be sure to share any food tips for Osaka, Hiroshima, Kyoto and Tokyo if you have ’em!

May 12, 2016 0

Gotta Have It: Mr. Smith Hair

Price: From $29.95

Where to Buy: www.mr-smith.com.au

Mr. Smith Hair

Have you ever had your hairdresser run out of the salon as you’re walking past and shove a bag of new products in your face, telling you that you HAVE to try them? No? Well, neither had I until very recently when my hairdresser did just that. The products she gave me were from Mr. Smith and I cannot wait to tell you more about them!

Mr. Smith products are Australian made and crafted from Australian botanicals and essential oils, designed to retain the hair’s natural fluidity and shine. You won’t find any parabens or sulphates in their stuff, nor will you find any animal products because they’re certified vegan (schaaa-wing!)

Mr. Smith Hair

My hair is thin, which is a real damn struggle so when I found Volumising Shampoo in my little bag of products my heart skipped a beat. When I used a 10 cent coin’s worth of product and the lather took control, I almost cried. I’ve never had a shampoo lather quite that much and to be quite honest, it made my hair feel a heck of a lot cleaner. A combo of cupuaçu butter and neem seed oil fortify and protect the hair from UV damage, while mango butter, hempseed and marula oil strengthen and repair the roots.

Next in the process, the Mr. Smith Volumising Conditioner is made to help promote cellular regrowth in fine hair (like mine!) Full of cocoa butter, myrrh and marula oil to prevent dryness and add volume, while wheat protein keeps the hair vibrant. The conditioner is essentially weightless, so thin hair like mine doesn’t end up heavy and greasy like many conditioners tend to do.

I do blow dry and straighten my hair so I was pumped to try Mr. Smith’s Serum which is formulated to nourish the hair while strengthening damaged hair through the use of argan, jojoba and hempseed oils. I was a little concerned that adding this junk to my hair would leave it looking oily however I was totally impressed by its weightlessness and heat protection skillz.

Overall I am so impressed with this range that I think Mr. Smith may be my new go-to! Plus with packaging like this, you seriously cannot expect me to NOT go bananas. Just. Look. At. It. Srsly.

Mr. Smith Hair

Mr. Smith make a range of cleansing and styling products for hair so if you’re in the market for some new stuff, you know what to do.

May 10, 2016 0

Review: Matcha Mylkbar

Address: 72a Acland Street, St Kilda, VIC 3182

Website: www.matchamylkbar.com

Matcha Mylkbar

If you’ve moved house recently and still waiting for your internet to be reconnected, you may have missed the fact that Matcha Mylkbar is now open for business.

Located on St Kilda’s bustling Acland Street, this place is perfectly styled with plenty of white walls, wooden tables and greenery setting the scene for your next epic brunch date.

Matcha Mylkbar

The menu is weird but in a good way, with plenty of flavour and food combinations you’ve never even thought of trying but somehow make total sense. There’s a good balance of savoury and sweet items and of course matcha features quite often however don’t fret if you’re not a fan, there are many matcha-free items too.

I kicked things off with an apple pie latte which in reality was more like a warm apple cider. I wasn’t mad though, it was an excellent way to start the morning and prepare me for what was to come. My friend had opted for the turmeric latte which was significantly less sweet and way more latte-like.

Matcha Mylkbar

For eats my friend grabbed the mushroom and black bean tacos which looked awesome and while I didn’t get to try them, I did have a little nibble on the side of mushroom bacon which was perfectly crisp and smoky.

Matcha Mylkbar

I couldn’t go past the poached “eggs” with saffron hollandaise, potato rosti and fried cauliflower, plus I added a side of the eggplant balls. I didn’t know what to expect from the vegan eggs but was pleasantly surprised with the taste and texture; definitely sweeter and creamier but an awesome breakfast addition in its own right. The potato rosti and eggplant balls were both amazing too, creating a completely satisfying meal.

Matcha Mylkbar

Matcha Mylkbar is a refreshing addition to the Melbourne vegan scene, offering a menu unlike any other. I can’t wait to head back on my next trip to try some more awesome food and watch a steady stream of puppies stroll by.

May 5, 2016 0

Lemon Thyme Potatoes

Difficulty: Easy

Serves 4

Lemon Thyme Potatoes

We all know that potatoes are dope AF so there’s no real need to convince you to get on board with this recipe other than the face it also combines the freshness of lemon with the perfect wintery flavour of thyme. Chuck this winter warmer in the oven and serve it alongside your favourite veggie roast.

Ingredients

  • 10 baby potatoes, washed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • Salt and pepper

Lemon Thyme Potatoes

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Cut the potatoes into quarters and set aside in a large bowl.
  3. In a small jug, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Mix well.
  4. Pour the oil mixture over the potatoes and coat well. Add plenty of thyme and continue to mix until well coated.
  5. Spread the potatoes out evenly on the baking tray and add some salt and pepper.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes before turning and baking for a further 20 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and add a little extra lemon juice, salt and pepper and fresh thyme.
  8. Serve immediately.

Lemon Thyme Potatoes

May 3, 2016 0

Gotta Have It: Over The Moo Ice Cream

Price: From $10.95

Where to Buy: www.overthemoo.com.au

Over The Moo Ice Cream

You know what’s super tough about blogging? Getting asked to try a whole friggin’ bunch of vegan ice cream and having to write about it. LOL JK, it’s actually dope AF and the legends at Over The Moo wanted me to tell you all about some of the bitchin’ new flavours in their range of coconut ice cream.

Over The Moo is Australian owned company churning out nine, yes NINE, amazing vegan flavours like mmmmMangoo, The Espresso Lane and Choc! Choc! Who’s There? but today I am going to hit you with a classic and a bunch of newbies that are going to be in your reg rotation in no time.

TBH I thought I was going to hate Vanilla Bean Missing You because I thought the vanilla would be lost amongst the coconut. WRONG. While there is definitely a coconutty vibe, the vanilla is all up in there and you know that because of the little vanilla flecks. That’s what real vanilla looks like, guys! Smack that in between a couple of my Coconut Choc Chunk Cookies and you’ve got yourself one hell of an ice cream sandwich.

Over The Moo

Over The Moo have recently dropped their new Asian flavours which are totally beyond! The creamy nuttiness of Me! Me! Black Sesame! can’t be beat while the unusually satisfying combo of Pandan Pecan Party will have you questioning your life-long favourite flavours. Combine those with scoop or two of Matcha Made in Heaven and you’ve just taken a little Asian holiday without leaving your couch.

Over The Moo Ice Cream

The latest to join the Over The Moo family are the two most indulgent flavours so far. Ginger Ninja Karate Choc! is a combo of creamy chocolate ice cream with ginger cookie chunks to give that extra crispy zing. I may have just found my favourite ice cream of all time in I Fell for Caramel; ripples of salted caramel sauce and crunchy toffee balls which make me feel like I’m sinking my teeth into the hokey pokey from my childhood.

Over The Moo

Having such a diverse range of vegan ice cream readily available is so bloody exciting that I wouldn’t be surprised if you checked my freezer at any given time, you’ll find at least four tubs lurking. You can pick these guys up at independent grocers (mainly IGA and Foodworks) and select Woolworths stores around the country but be sure to check out Over The Moo’s stockist list to find your nearest stash.

This was a sponsored post. To learn more about Like A Vegan’s sponsored posts and how they work click here.

April 27, 2016 2

Review: Bonta Vera

Address: 40 Church Street, Minmi, NSW 2287

Website: www.bontavera.com.au

Bonta Vera

I can finally utter the words “we have a vegan restaurant in Newcastle” and damn, it feels good. Sure, it is a 30 minute drive from the CBD but when you’re used to travelling to Sydney for a completely vegan menu, the trip to Bonta Vera ain’t so bad at all.

Located in the old courthouse on Church Street, Bonta Vera’s exterior is hella gorgeous and green AF. When it comes to dining you can choose from the airy space indoors, the wraparound verandah or if you’re feeling super chill, grab a picnic blanket and find a patch of grass on the lawn.

Bonta Vera

The menu is quite varied, ranging from burgers and sandwiches to lighter salads and even raw pad thai. This was a “treat yoself” day so I ran with the weekly burger special: the double bacon cheeseburger with fries (say whaaaaat?!) Loaded with two Gardein beef patties, cheese, salad and facon, this thing was so epic I couldn’t finish it on an empty stomach. The super crispy chips were the perfect accompaniment, especially when washed down with an organic ginger beer. Mum opted for the regular cheeseburger with sweet potato fries and loved it. I had a lil nibble of her fries and either I’m starting to like sweet potato fries or these bad boys are unusually good.

Bonta Vera

I know I said I was too full to finish my burger but we all know there is a special space in out stomach that is reserved for dessert so we ordered a slice each of the vanilla chai and lemon coconut cheesecakes. Both were incredibly creamy, crumbly and delicious but the vanilla chai was for sure my fave.

Bonta Vera

I’m really looking forward to seeing Bonta Vera get even better with time and for a city where anything further than 15 minutes away is a hassle, it’s fantastic to see it more and more full each time I visit!

Bonta Vera

April 19, 2016 2

Coconut Choc Chunk Cookies

Difficulty: Easy

Makes: 18

Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

When you’ve got nothing to do, a rainy day is the perfect excuse to chill hard, bake hard and just generally max relax in the comfort of your own home and/or PJs. Keep the ingredients for my coconut choc chip cookies on hand so next time it starts raining cats and dogs (I wish), you’re ready to bake up a storm.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 3/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/4 cups chocolate chunks

Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with grease-proof paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the vegan margarine, caster sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Whisk in the vanilla extract before separately whisking together the water and cornflour, add that to the bowl and mix well to combine.
  4. Throw in the desiccated coconut and sift in the flour, mixing well to create a dough.
  5. Fold in 1 cup of the chocolate chunks and using 2 tablespoons as a guide, roll the dough into balls and place 5cm apart on the baking trays.
  6. Gently press a couple of extra chocolate chunks into each cookie ball before using the bottom of a clean glass or back of a spoon to gently press down the cookies.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden around the edges (the longer you cook, the crunchier they’ll be). Allow to cool on the tray for 15 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies