Zambrero, Darlinghurst Sydney

I was thrilled to see a burrito-serving place around the corner from my hotel and even more thrilled at the ‘vegan’ sign in the window.  One of my first food stops for lunch was here at Zambrero, where I chose to pig out on a burrito containing everything veg: guacamole, rice, refried beans, lettuce, tomato, corn, japalenos, red onion, corn and a choice of a Zambrero sauce:

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I was stuffed after this so the next time I read the menu properly and saw you can get the smaller size option.  The staff at the Darlinghurst outlet on Oxford Street were super friendly and changed their gloves when making up my burrito.  Win!

Zambrero have outlets in Melbourne too though I’ve never tried them.  I am however inclined to make my own at home, though for Vegan MoFo I’d probably experiment with a raw wrap of some sort.

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Mother Chu’s Taiwanese Gourmet, Sydney

The Happy Cow app came in very handy before and during my Sydney stay.  The fam and I were on a random bus ride (you know, hop on a street bus to who knows where) and we ended up at Hay Street near Chinatown.  I’d read about Paddy’s Market and everyone was hungry so we thought we’d brave a food court then have a look around.  Husband and the kids were able to find lunch options but there was nothing for me so I loaded up Happy Cow and saw that Mother Chu’s Taiwanese Gourmet was closeby.  So I went off to get my lunch, arranging to meet the family at the Powerhouse Museum later on.

Mother Chu’s was easy enough to find and I was seated quickly.  There was some confusion as none of the staff understood what ‘vegan’ meant and I had to keep explaining how it was different to vegetarian.  I was assured the ‘vegetable combination’ with plain rice had no egg, dairy or fish sauce so I went for that.  It wasn’t a stand out or anything special but I was struck by how much I was enjoying the crispy vegetables.  Before I was vegan, I would never ever have enjoyed vegies like this.  It felt good to be on a holiday but still being able to load up on a veg meal:

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The staff also told me the ‘red bean flaky pastry’ had no egg or dairy so I ordered one.  This was quite delicious and the pastry was certainly flaky:

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I went back a couple of days later to try the green onion pancake.  I was told this was just a flour-water-oil-green onion recipe.  Truthfully, this is one of those snack foods that is technically quite bland but really yum at the same time.  I also got myself another red bean flaky pastry:

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My experience was kinda ho-hum and I’m always concerned when people don’t know what vegan means but the waitresses did go to the kitchen and ask about any animal products so that was good.  The place is hustle-bustle but service is prompt.  When you order at your table you pay at the same time:

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 I’d return for the green onion pancake and flaky pastries but probably not a main meal, unless I go there with a fellow vegan who is experienced with the menu and can recommend something awesome.

Mother Chu’s is located in Chinatown at 86 Dixon Street, Sydney.


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A dinner at Yulli’s in Sydney: YUM

During our Sydney stay I’d planned to go out for a nice meal on my own.  There was a time long ago when I would never have gone out to a restaurant on my own, because of the ‘lonesome loser’ factor.  These days I love a quiet meal by myself.

Our hotel was near Crown Street and the Happy Cow app told me Yulli’s was about a fifteen minute walk away.  So with Husband and the kids enjoying the hotel pool, I went off to get myself an early dinner at 5pm.  5pm was a good choice because people started coming in immediately, telling me the place is certainly popular with locals.

The menu had some very tempting options and I went in to full on greedy mode and decided on three courses.   For my entree I ordered the ‘steamed leek and ginger dumplings with a fresh plum sauce’.  These were absolutely delicious and I could easily eat a dozen:

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For my main I got the ‘vegetable sambal’ which the menu describes as “fresh seasonal vegetables and tofu stir-fried with an Indonesian style chilli and cashew sauce, served with jasmine rice”.  Another winner, though the rice was a little overcooked and was often in big clumps I had to stab apart, rather than fluffy grains:

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I can’t go past vegan dessert in a nice restaurant and I was assured the sticky date pudding with coconut ice cream was all vegan.  Vegan sticky date with butterscotch sauce?  I’m there!  This was so soft and luscious:

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This was a great dining experience with friendly staff, though the music volume was too loud for my liking.  At one point it was turned down but inexplicably, it was turned back up a few minutes later.  Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and would happily recommend you try it.

Yulli’s is located at 417 Crown St Surry Hills, Sydney.

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Iku Wholefood-the good and the waaah bad :(

I was very excited to learn that my hotel was right around the corner from an Iku Wholefood outlet, the Darlinghurst store to be exact.  I had been itching to try it and so one morning when Husband took the kids to find some breakfast, I skipped along to Iku, looking forward to the many fantastic sounding options.

I arrived at 9:20am and the ‘closed’ sign was on the door, next to one of those “we open at…” clocks, which was set to 9:30.  The stores open at 9:30 so I wandered off down Oxford Street and returned at 9:38.  The door still had the closed sign but someone was inside so I went in to ask what time they’d open, so I could go back in.  It looked like the woman was busy (I mistakenly thought she was on the phone as I couldn’t see her as she was bending down) so I looked over at the fridge.  Then, in a fine display of the worst customer service I’ve experienced in a long time, she snarled “we’re not open yet”.  Now, imagine wanting to give someone you dislike the filthiest look possible. A look that shows your level of disgust with them.  That’s the look this woman gave me.  I replied that the website mentioned 9:30, and I was going to say how I actually wanted to ask what time they open, but she cut me off with more death stares and death tone of voice.  Now, I like to think I’m assertive but this upset me so much I just walked out of there.  What should have been a lovely, peaceful morning was completely ruined.

I don’t get people like this– people who deliberately attempt to make others feel crap.  They certainly shouldn’t be dealing with the public with attitudes like that.  So the Darlinghurst outlet of Iku Wholefoods gets a negative six billion rating.

On a more positive note, I visited two other stores.  One was at the Pitt Street Mall and the other was, I believe, the AMP Plaza.  Staff there were lovely, especially the bubbly lass in the Pitt Street store.  From AMP Plaza I got this delightful wrap.  I can’t remember what was in it but it wasn’t the millet option.  I think it was the rice ball.  Anyway, it was delicious:

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I followed it up with a little vanilla friand (top left, below), YUM:

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From Pitt Street Mall I went for the Sesame Fudge Tart.  The texture was more custardy than I expected which was a surprise but not an unpleasant one.  I was asked if I wanted the cream and I said yes and it came drowned in it (again, not unpleasantly so!) and this cream was rice milk and sago:

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Despite the horrible experience with the Darlinghurst store, I was very happy with the other two stores.  I was just very annoyed and disappointed that the store around the corner from me was a no go zone after the rudeness I experienced.

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I definitely recommend you check Iku Wholefood out if you have the chance, but if you go to the Darlinghurst store you might want to wear an asbestos suit.

Bodhi in the Park, Sydney: SAD FACE.

I’ve just returned from a family trip to Sydney (more on that soon) and naturally I did my research on all the vegan options before I left!

One place that sounded great was Bodhi In The Park.  Located right near beautiful Hyde Park, I was plenty pleased that I was within good walking distance.  The reviews I read seemed mostly favourable so when Husband took the kids off to Darling Harbour, I went off to get lunch (we’d been at the Australian Museum all morning and I went without food until 1pm so I was ravenous and would have eaten my children).

Bodhi wasn’t that difficult to find and the set up outside is quite lovely:

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When I went up to look at the menu, I  was looking at the mains menu when a waiter seated me outside and told me it was yum cha service. I don’t know if that meant yum cha was the only option for lunch but I’ve never had all vegan yum cha before, so I thought why not?  I love yum cha.

First up was the mock bbq pork rolls. These were tasty but could have done with more filling:

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Next was spicy tofu with mashed potato which seemed interesting enough. Tasty but nothing mind blowing but as I waited twenty minutes for this to come out after the pork rolls, they seemed full on gourmet:

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And now for all the downsides.  This is where SAD FACE comes in to it.  So get your tissues ready.

Service was slooow. I mean painfully, crying-inducing slow.  When you go to yum cha you kinda expect the food to come thick and fast. Instead I watched as wait staff brought out two or three baskets of yum cha and asked the tables near me if they wanted anything. The answer was always yes which meant I was never offered anything and had to wait. And wait. And waaaait. Why on earth would you bring two baskets when eight tables are waiting and there are more than two people at each table?  It got to the point where I was beginning to feel quite angry about it– I’d see a waitress approach with two baskets on her tray (and each basket often contained three items of the one recipe) and I was there for over an hour WAITING.  And the staff would go to other tables in a random order, offer them the food and of course they’d take it because we were all bloody hungry.  So it meant the rest of the tables had to wait.  Diners around me were quite vocal (to eachother) about their dissatisfaction and a few had to ask the waitresses if more food was coming out (the answer was “yes, more food always comes out”…).

Lunch shouldn’t take over an hour where 95% of that time is spent watching the staff sail by you and serving the people who arrived long after you. What should have been a lovely outdoor vegan dining experience was just full of delay and confused staff who were not always able to answer my questions.

In the end I got so frustrated because I waited well over an hour between my first dish and when they came back out with a loaded tray (yippee!) it only contained the dishes I’d already had. Boo CRY SOB.

So I did what I usually do when I’m feeling crapski. I asked for the dessert menu.  I figured I might have better luck if I ordered something off the menu.  The friendly waiter brought out the dessert menu.  Then he disappeared.  And I waited again.  And waited.  AND WAITED.  Staff seemed oblivious to my “excuse me waiter” face.

In the end I had enough, went to pay the bill and was asked what I had to drink.  I said nothing because I wasn’t even asked!  I did have the glass of water come out and it was refilled and I could hear the other diners being asked if they’d like anything to drink.  But not me.

It was such an incredibly disappointing experience.  To spend an hour and a half at yum cha, only to have two dishes come out (or other dishes, half an hour later when I’d already had them) was beyond a joke.  So unfortunately I can’t recommend Bodhi at all which is a real shame, as I’d love to plug vegan yum cha in gorgeous surroundings.

Bodhi in the Park is located at 2-4 College Street, Sydney to the east of Hyde Park (right near the Cook and Phillip Park Aquatic and Fitness Centre).