Wai Kika Moo Kau (Brighton)

Still stuffed from our cooked breakfast at Paskins and having turned our noses up at the limited vegan menu offered by Food For Friends, we gave Wai Kika Moo Kau a go for a light lunch.

Luckily, after waiting 35mins for our food to come I'd worked up an appetite! Service was pretty bad, considering there were 5 front of house staff. There didn't seem to be one person assigned to our table, so we had to flag them down as they walked past at each stage of the meal.

We skipped starters; I ordered a chilli burger and @cherrivalentine a thai sort of peanuty wrap thing with tofu:

Making up for the unattentive / slow service, the food itself was pretty good and reasonably well priced. Portion sizes are very generous, however in the case of the chilli burger - a little too much so. Really it was too meals (burger and a large spoon of bean chilli) in a bun, making it quite impossible to pick up and eat:

(even my mouth's not that big). Only complaint food wise is that their drinks are a little overpriced - our milkshakes were £4 each.

Later on, underwhelmed by Infinity's selection, we returned for cake. I'd spotted on our first visit that they have the same supplier, but a bigger selection.

Quality was up to scratch with when I last ate said cake - it's a real pitty that none of the 15 (or so) v*gan restaurants north of London that I've visited seem capable of producing cake so good.

I'd go back to Wai Kika Moo Kau again - pricing was reasonable, food relatively tasty and portion sizes good. Vegan choice is decent, but the overall range of food available puts it very much more in the cafe bracket, rather than something a bit special that you'd rush back for.

Aloka (Brighton)

Having had a very agreeable experience at Aloka's lunch buffet last year; I had high hopes for the restaurant. The fully raw menu looked stunning - what could possibly go wrong?

We booked a few days in advance for a Saturday night sitting. I was pleased to see that decor from downstairs continues up: same lighting, tulip tables and Vernor Panton S chairs (don't be put off by the plastic seating, as one reviewer said!)

It'd been a hot day, so we were pleased with our table by an open sash window. From my seat I could see along East Street towards Terre-a-Terre; which I tried to avoid looking at whilst we ate (I'll post about that meal shortly).

Having personally thoroughly enjoyed Saf, @cherrivalentine was in for a treat - she'd not had a fully raw meal in a restaurant before (other than the plain salads that confused omni places give you).

The dinner started with an amuse-bouche; a(n IKEA) shot glass filled with overly vinegary gazpacho. It was more an endurance than a pleasurable start to the evening, which didn't set a good tone:

We ordered a mezze platter for starter (£15.75), which promised a selection of items from the menu:

OK, so, the entire meal wasn't raw: we got a small cup of the day's soup, some bread and lentil pancake things.

The carrot humus I thought was rather good. The guacamole a bit bland (needed garlic) and olives over salty (I couldn't eat more than a couple). The crackers weren't good at all (no-where near as good as those from Saf, or those in overpriced boxes from Waitrose), neither was the lentil pancake (bland). The bread was bread and the soup again, a little over vinegary.

The main thing that baffled the hell out of us was just what the brown stuff in the white pot was meant to be. It looked like caramelized onions but tasted like, well, nothing. It was like eating gelatinous water. Apparently they were jasmine tea pearls - I wouldn't have guessed.

The whole dish was a bit pants, but nothing could prepare us for the main.

Stupidly, drawn in by the description, we broke the golden rule of shared dining and ordered the same thing: Botanical Living Special (£13.75):

First impressions good, but if I had to sum this dish up in one word? Bad. Really, really bad.

There were four things on the plate which didn't seem to have a purpose for existing together. A little ball of horseradish on a slice of courgette (wtf?), some chopped beetroot with a couple of olives, a mound of mushrooms in some kind of sauce and la piece de la resistance: a stuffed tomato on a stuck-together-seed-thing, ontop of sliced courgette.

The whole thing just didn't work. Half way through we got giggling fits because it was so bad - it's a good job too, otherwise we may have cried.

I don't know where to start, so I'll start with the seed thing. At first it seemed like something you'd give to the birds, but then it reminded me of those chew things you give to hamsters. It was impossible to elegantly cut with a knife and just didn't seem to have a reason for being on the plate.

The courgette seemed unseasoned - that which I had in Saf had been salted to tenderize, but this just seemed to be sliced. A forkful of tomato stuff with a slice of courgette and a bit of birdseed did taste alright, but it was awkward to eat and only just alright - not £13.75 alright.

The similarly priced raw food from Saf seemed to actually be recognisable dishes (pasta, lasagne etc), so you knew how to eat them. This just seemed to be a collection of mediocre stuff on a plate.

As one of the worst things I've eaten in a v*gan restaurant this decade, it was a poor attempt and a really bad advert for raw food.

Our experience at Aloka was partially resuscitated by dessert, which was actually very good.

Confusingly they don't have a printed dessert menu - the waiter/waitress reads it out (minus prices). We ordered a raw chocolate cheesecake and a raw chocolate banana & macadamia torte:

Other than that the smaller one cost a pound more and tasted slightly of banana; it's difficult to tell them appart.

They were however very good indeed - both the best raw desserts I've eaten and for that matter, amongst the best I've had in any restaurant (either raw or unraw). According to the bill they were 5.50 and 6.50, which is most reasonable.

On balance; I wouldn't go back for an evening meal at Aloka. I thought their lunchtime buffet was excellent when I visited last year and I'd certainly return for that side of things. Their savoury raw food however is .... crap

What I would do though, is eat starter & main at Terre-a-Terre, then nip across the road for dessert.

Loving Hut (Brighton)

This lunchtime @cherrivalentine and I decided to visit Loving Hut - The Supreme Master's cafe in Brighton. Unfortunately she wasn't in when we arrived, but luckily her devoted followers were cooking in her absence.

Loving Hut is an international chain of vegan cafes endorsed by Ching Hai; a nice lady who believes all sorts of nonsense, like the inner detail of life on Mars:

(whizz forward to 1:50 for the uber strange shit).

In her defense, she does give all this useless made-up info away for free - she doesn't charge for it like those money grabbing scientology folk.

Whilst not suggesting that people give up food and water altogether, she does sell reasonably tasty vegan food at reasonably good prices. They've a branch in Camden that I've not tried, but am led to believe has roughly the same menu - 60% thai/chinese, 40% western.

As it was a nice day we chose to sit outside, rather than indoors to the sound of Supreme Master TV. There's about 5 tables inside and 5 out. It's by a busy junction, but was still fairly pleasant.

We ordered a veggie platter (£4.80) that has a selection of things from the starter / light bite menu:

Service was quick and friendly. The balls were pretty tasteless, but wantons very good indeed. The rest was meh. I'd order wantons on their own next time.

My main was satay with noodles:

Which was fairly tasty. The fake meat wasn't very nice; I wasn't sure if it was tofu or wheat based. The sauce was good thou and it was decent value at less than five pounds.

Still a little disturbed by last night's meal at Aloka; Cherry opted for a good old faishoned burger.

which despite coming with feet cheese (tofutti slices) seemed pretty good. It wasn't frys, which is always a good sign (if you're happy paying someone to heat something up from a packet for you you should try VBites). Cherry concluded that as far as cults go, she definitely prefers this one.

Compared to the cake available in other Brighton eating establishments, Loving Hut's selection was a bit pants:

The first was a basic sponge topped with what I expect is Soyatoo whipping cream. The latter a lemon sponge with half a bottle of yellow colouring. They were OK for the price (about £2 a slice), but could have been better.

Summary? I'd certainly go again if I was in the area and fancied something quick and easy. I suggest that if you get a chance that you try it too. It's sensibly priced for what it is - just don't expect Veggie World quality. For once the Midlands may actually be better than the South vegan food wise!