1. Vanilla Black, London, UK
London’s foodie scene is so vibrant that it’s no surprise the city boasts more than one top-rated vegetarian establishment. Vanilla Black’s forward-thinking and innovative menu doesn’t rely on bland and stereotypical vegetarian options, like pasta and insipid meat substitutes.
The Vanilla Black team has mastered the art of crafting an exquisite plate of vegetarian and/or vegan food. Available for lunch and dinner, it’s recommended to take the vegetarian or vegan 5-course menu, both at a cost of £55 (US$78) per person; wine pairing is available.
2. Mildreds, London, UK
Mildreds is a popular vegetarian restaurant chain that boasts four different London locations, each with its own unique setting and style. The menu offers a selection of scrumptious starters and small plates including such aromatic dishes as Thai coconut and mushroom soup with chilli and lime. For mains, order the Tokyo bowl (black rice and purple pickled egg served with daikon, miso-glazed eggplant, edamame beans and a jug of miso) or the wood-roasted mushroom and ale pie with minted mushy peas and fries. Mildreds also prepares some of the best veggie burgers on the planet. A beetroot and white bean patty is served with lettuce, red onion, mayonnaise, pickled cabbage and gherkin with the choice of adding cheese (vegan options available) and fries to your order.
3. L’Arpège, Paris
Somewhat of a Parisian institution, three-Michelin-star L’Arpège has been wowing crowds in the French capital for over 30 years with its fresh and fabulous fare. Celebrated chef Alain Passard opened the Art Deco-style restaurant’s doors way back in 1986, but it’s since the early 2000s that the chef removed most meat items from the menu, concentrating on vegetables as the shining star of his award-winning establishment. The chef even started his own organic vegetable garden to ensure the constant fresh supply of produce. Both lunch and dinner services are available, with highlights of both being the unexpected and sublime way that the renowned chef infuses taste, texture and flavour into every veggie dish he prepares.
4. Tian, Vienna, Austria
Embark on a meat-free taste adventure like no other at this Viennese establishment, which is truly in a class of its own. Not only does the gourmet vegetarian restaurant boast an impressive Michelin-star rating, it also prides itself on exemplifying through its cuisine and service its four core values of quality, cordiality, respect and love. Lunchtime diners at Tian can choose from a 3- or 4-course elegant menu which includes items like parsley root served with couscous and chicory, cauliflower with walnut and rosehip, and beets with rice and pickled strawberries. Dinner is a choice between an 8- or 10-course service, including dishes such as eggplant with olive and coriander, and lentils with onions and sea buckthorn. In addition to the thoughtfully prepared dishes, patrons can pair their meal with wines carefully selected by the award-winning in-house sommelier.
5. El Huerto, Santiago, Chile
Since opening their doors in 1980, El Huerto has been serving the Chilean capital’s residents and visitors a tantalising array of vegetarian dishes. The varied menu includes favourites such as tapas, daily soup specials and a wide range of salads and dishes inspired by global flavours. They also have excellent wine and dessert menus, adding the perfect accompaniment to any meal; they even offer yoga and cooking classes for those looking to add more healthy habits to their lifestyle.
6. The Acorn, Vancouver, Canada
Consistently voted as one of Vancouver’s top restaurants, The Acorn in the city’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood takes vegetarian cuisine to stylish new heights. The menu features fresh, locally sourced ingredients, which are combined so masterfully that even self-proclaimed meat-lovers will delight in the meatless offerings. The Carrot (an aromatic gnocchi dish) and Brassica (a kimchi rice dish with cauliflower and salad) are two firm favourites on the dinner menu. For brunch at weekends, consider ordering the Artichoke, which is a mouthwatering dish of southern fried artichoke, waffle, pickled shallots, bourbon-maple syrup and mushroom red-eye gravy. The Acorn is also famous for its open-till-late bar that boasts an excellent range of wines, beer and a host of inventive cocktails.
7. Beyond Sushi, New York, USA
Beyond Sushi is a fully vegan eatery where the focus is on creating the tastiest vegetarian sushi using only the freshest locally sourced, seasonal produce. There are a handful of Beyond Sushi locations all over New York, allowing diners to enjoy the menu’s inventive and colourful offerings. Must-try items include any of their sushi rolls, rice paper wraps and noodle soups.
8. Cafe Gratitude, Los Angeles, USA
With a few locations around the greater Los Angeles and San Diego areas, Cafe Gratitude specialises in gourmet plant-based food, with an ethos built around the tenets of sustainability and health for both the individual and the environment. Only the freshest, most wholesome and vibrant food items are included on the fully plant-based menu which features perennially popular plates like the Humble Indian Bowl (red lentil dal, spinach, roasted garnet yams, coconut mint chutney, spicy tomato jam, brown rice or quinoa), Mucho Mexican Bowl (black beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, salsa verde, cashew nacho cheese, romaine, brown rice or quinoa) and the Pulled Mushroom Sandwich. For something sweet, enriched with the power of superfoods, opt for the Vivid Açai Superfood Bowl.
9. The Hungry Herbivore, Cape Town, South Africa
From humble beginnings as a vegan food stall at some of Cape Town’s most popular food markets, The Hungry Herbivore has blossomed into a full-fledged sit-down vegan eatery. Located just off the city’s main foodie thoroughfare of Bree Street, the Hungry Herbivore offers diners a delectable range of 100 per cent vegan items. The kimchi and lentil burger, served either on a bun or on a bed of salad, is a winner as is the raw pizza slice, served with salad. The restaurant also serves smoothies and freshly pressed juices, which are delicious when paired with the other items off their menu, namely the selection of raw vegan desserts like cheesecake slices, cupcakes and chocolate and pineapple bars.
10. Anastasia, Tel Aviv, Israel
Anastasia is a sidewalk cafe in the heart of the city with a menu as nutritious as it is delicious. Here, you can enjoy a plant-based meal either indoors or on their outdoor deck, allowing for a distinctly relaxed, yet cosmopolitan dining experience. If you visit the cafe for breakfast or brunch be sure to order either the Open Table or Shakshuka, two tasty vegan takes on famous Israeli breakfast dishes. Additional highlights off the menu would have to include the phenomenal range of different drink options, from a variety of coffees and hot beverages (like Indian chai and the superfood-enriched Chocolatte Bianca) to the freshly prepared green and veggie smoothies, and delightful almond and coconut milk-based shakes.
11. Suruchi, Delhi, India
In the Indian capital, Suruchi is a vegetarian staple and often rated the best vegetarian restaurant in Delhi. Regional delicacies from Gujarat and Rajasthan are the flavourful stars of the vast Suruchi menu, with a Gujarati or Rajasthani thali being excellent choices for those wanting to enjoy an authentic and aromatic dining experience.
12. Sanchon, Seoul, South Korea
When in Seoul, head to Sanchon, a tranquil establishment owned by a former Buddhist monk, Kim Yun-sik. Inspired by the vegan food from his days in Buddhist temples, Kim has created a vegan dining experience of zen-inducing proportions. Sanchon’s set menu features regional Korean delicacies and dishes made using fresh produce and wild plants. Geotjeori (non-fermented kimchi), kimchi, twigak (fried kelp chips) and seasoned deodeok (root vegetables) are all highlights of the Korean tasting menu, with lunch service costing 33,000 won (US$31) and dinner service charged at 45,000 won.
– TEXT BY SAUL LIPCHIK
PHOTOS: VANILLA BLACK FACEBOOK, MILDREDS FACEBOOK, ALAIN PASSARD FACEBOOK, TIAN – EXPERIENCE TASTE FACEBOOK, THE ACORN FACEBOOK, BEYOND SUSHI FACEBOOK, CAFE GRATITUDE FACEBOOK, THE HUNGRY HERBIVORE FACEBOOK, CAFE ANASTASIA FACEBOOK, SURUCHI RESTAURANT FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.