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By Tom• 19 Dec 2018 • 3 Comments
Some of the most exciting developments in the modern food world are the innovations of plant-based chefs. Cooking methods, ingredients and expectations are all up for challenge. Who would have imagined tasty vegan cheeses, meat substitutes that cook like meat, and vege dishes that make you excited about eating your vegetables?!
No matter your expectations, taste, or budget, we guarantee there are plenty of vege options for you in Wellington that even the most die-hard of carnivores will enjoy (even if they won’t admit it!)
Lyall Bay’s all-vegetarian eatery, The Botanist, achieves what some would deem impossible: taking meat-heavy classics, like a steak, burger, or fish and chips meal, and making a vegetarian or vegan version which is so immensely satisfying that you won’t miss the original.
Their new summer menu features entrées such as punchy jalapeño poppers stuffed with vegan cashew nut ricotta and vibrant gado gado boats: crunchy baby gem cups, tender marinated tofu with satay, roasted red pepper, peanut crumble and avocado.
Unmissable main dishes include the vegetarian fish and chips, featuring tempura-battered banana blossom in place of fish. Another highlight is the crumbed halloumi and roasted cauliflower steak, served on crushed baby potatoes, topped with crispy onions, rich vegetarian gravy and popped capers. The smell of this dish is pure Sunday roast – savoury, umami heaven!
Here’s the bottom line about Plant Blazed: their hotdogs are among the best in the city. And better yet, they’re entirely vegan.
Plant Blazed make and sell their cheap and deliciously cheerful vegan eats from a food truck parked up on Dunlop Terrace beside Victoria Uni Architecture School. They make their own seitan (a meat substitute made of wheat protein) and many of their sauces, and all of their ingredients are fresh and local.
A hotdog you need to try is Ziggy Stardust featuring sauerkraut, facon (vegan bacon), Angel cheddar cheese (vegan) and extra bits of extra crispy seitan. There’s no way to pick it up without making a mess, so just go for it and make a delicious mess of yourself. Plant Blazed also make some of the top vege burgers in Wellington. Old Boy features crispy Southern-fried seitan with kimchi, cheez, red dragon mayo, slaw, pickled onions and BBQ sauce on a toasted bun.
Boquita is La Boca Loca’s clean-eating, vege-loving little sister. El Jefe, Lucas Putnam, prides his eatery on delicious, plant-based Mexican food, with no nasties, no short-cuts, and no compromise on flavour – and he delivers in full. There should be queues every night for the food that is served here.
On Kent Terrace, just down from Embassy Cinema, Boquita’s menu is taco-focused, paying homage to its mural and slogan, proudly reading: “Eat food, not too much, mostly tacos.” And when the tacos are this good, it’s easy advice to follow. Hand-pressed tortillas are filled with creative fillings of tofu, tempeh, potato, falafel or mushroom. The potato is one of my all-time-favourites: crunchy cardamom potato rosti, with beetroot-ganoush and tangy salsa.
The salads are crunchy and inspired; the empanadas soft pillows of colour and flavour which change daily – including a dessert option. But the nachitos steal the show: yellow-and purple-corn crispy totopos served with cinnamon mole beans, chipotle hummus, beet salsa, and guacamole. Fresh, colourful, and lively, this is the type of food I could eat any time of day.
Hillside Kitchen & Cellar
Hillside Kitchen & Cellar went vego: as of September 2018, Hillside has an entirely meatless menu for brunch, lunch and dinner. With this plant-based revolution comes one of those rare dining experiences difficult to describe. Each of the courses identified by just the main ingredient, such as: “carrots”. It’s bold and intriguing, and I’m reluctant to ruin any surprises.
On booking, you can choose whether you’d like five or seven courses. Do yourself a favour and opt for seven given the small price difference. In addition, there are a couple of surprises in-between, mysteriously identified as “snacks”, “palate cleanser” and “petite fours”. Hillside also offers an all-vegan option of the same menu, which we’d opt for next time due to its additional layer of creativity.
Chef-owner Asher Boote and head chef Max Gordy have crafted something special here - we recommend setting aside an entire evening for an intimate and unique dining experience.
One third of Chow's menu is vegan, making it a very good spot for a plant-based lunch or dinner. Especially when you time it to coincide with their famous two-for-one Mondays and their everyday $15 lunch deal.
Try the vegan version of some Classic Chow favourites, like Peking duck lettuce cups with the duck replaced with shiitake mushroom and broccoli stalk; and potsticker dumplings with water chestnut, savoy cabbage and chickpeas. Make sure you order up some completely new vegan creations like the popcorn tofu with sweet and sour plum sauce, Penang laksa and the field mushrooms with dark garlic, chilli and teriyaki sauce.
With a varied and lengthy menu, both vegans and non-vegans alike are in for a deliciously good time at Chow every day of the week.