A short deviation from recipes for a restaurant review. One of the benefits of being a vegan who refuses to pay to eat in restaurants that don't explicitly cater for vegans (I'll eat if work are paying and I'm reasonably confident that they understand) is that unless you live in London or Brighton you don't get to do it very often. When you do you're more inclined to make an effort and go somewhere good.
I heard about Veggie World a while back, but was put off slightly by the name and proximity to anywhere else. Last night however we decided to brave the 75 minute drive and give it a go.
We had high expectations having read the menu, so were more than a little bit worried when TomTom announced that we'd reached our destination on what appeared to be an industrial utility road at the edge of a housing estate. Thankfully Google Maps led us onto the parallel running road, which turned out to be the reasonably pleasant looking high street. We drove past it once and eventually found it on foot.
The restaurant is essentially a take away with 8 tables. They've not gone to a lot of effort to make it restaurant like, but it was clean and welcoming enough. There were people already eating there, which is always a good sign.
I really can't fault the service at all; the waitresses were friendly, attentive and fluent in English (unlike many places I've eaten). Food is cooked to order, the amount of choice is phenomenal and waiting times short. Rather than marking items that are vegan it instead marks the few items that are not, which is always good to see. The menu has pictures for each dish, but is a little difficult to read (too many pages, with the title for the page in a similar colour to the background - A4 would have been better):
Please excuse the terrible quality of my iPhone 3G's camera. For starter we ordered a appetiser plate for 2 (ribs, wontons, satay skewer, spring rolls and crispy seaweed), sweetcorn soup and prawn toast:
The satay and wontons were awesome. The ribs a little strange but quite pleasant. Spring rolls were crispy but small and a bit boring. The seaweed is not something I'd ever order on its own, but as a garnish it did a good job and tasted pleasant enough. The soup was very good. Prawn toast would never be my choice (I didn't like fish when i was an omni), but it didn't taste fishy and tasted a lot more fresh than other that I've tried.
Next time I'd definitely go for a full portion of the satay skewers, a soup and possibly the wontons.
We were pretty full by the time the main course came! - Chicken fried rice, duck chow mein, pork balls and sesame chicken. I did take a photo, but it's too terrible to show and doesn't make the food look at all good.
The chow mein is 100% how I remember non-vegetarian takeaway chow mein. It was fabulously good. The sesame chicken (with accompanying sauce) was very tasty. The rice was nice enough, but the pork balls a bit disappointing - my chicken balls are a lot better. Luckily they let you takeaway what you can't eat and for the first time ever in a restaurant I took them up on the offer. We ordered some rabbit buns to eat in the car on the way home which were pretty much how I expected them to be - sweet bean paste in squidgy bread.
They don't serve alcohol but seem to allow people to bring their own (or buy it from the off license opposite). They do the whole endless cups of jasmine tea for £1.20 thing, which as I was driving was good enough for me.
Despite my moaning it was undoubtedly the best vegan Chinese meal I've ever had. The staff were lovely and price (considering we took away enough for Sunday lunch) very reasonable (£43 for 2 including drinks and 15% tip). The quality of food is quite considerably better than the London buffets (which are in themselves to new vegans very impressive). We'll certainly go back again and would recommend it to others.
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