Sat, May 05, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Restaurant Review: Herbivore Vegan Restaurant

By Darice Chang  /  Contributing reporter

The curry in Herbivore’s potato chickpea curry set was a little on the sweet side.

Photo: Darice Chang

The Mia Cucina chain of restaurants has long been lauded in Taipei as the pinnacle of Western-style vegan-friendly cuisine, a prime destination for discerning carnists and vegheads alike. Fresh produce, a plethora of choices and authentic flavors are its calling card.

Herbivore Vegan Restaurant, located on the 2nd floor of the posh Shinkong Mitsukoshi in Xinyi District, is the sophomore effort by the same group, and their first entirely plant-based one. Unlike traditional local cuisine, the menu is light on soy products and heavy on fresh greens and intense flavor. Almost too intense, as the saline glaze didn’t leave my tongue for hours after every meal.

The servingware and plating are on point — polished wood, earthy ceramic and rich gold cutlery — and so is the service, exemplified by the waiter who gave me extra napkins when he noticed that I wasn’t using the folded plastic glove that came with the heavenly hummus sandwich, and the waitress who kindly requested more almondmilk on my behalf when the blueberry smoothie turned out too sweet.

My first encounter was through my roommate, a fellow vegan who had gone shortly after opening. “We ordered a bit too much, would you want to try the leftovers?” ended with half a black bean burger and a generous portion of the fattest fluffiest chocolate banana pancake I’ve had in quite awhile. The BBQ burger (NT$360) was the most authentic I’ve had in Taipei — filled with tangy housemade mozzarella barbeque sauce. I knew I had to go.

On my initial foray I had the grilled vegetable hummus sandwich (NT$350) and, because it took them almost 20 minutes to make, a side of the soup of the day (NT$180), which was mushroom barley. I wanted to like the soup, chock-full of thick slices of button mushroom and fat Western celery, finely diced carrots and toothsome kernels of cooked-from-scratch barley, but it tasted like doctored up Campbell soup. Not very classy.

Herbivore Vegan Restaurant

Address: A4, Xinyi Shinkong Mitsukoshi (信義新光三越A4) 2F, 19, Songgao Road, Taipei City (台北市信義區松高路19號2F)

Telephone: (02) 2723-5368

Open: Daily from 11am to 9pm

Average meal: NT$350 to NT$800

Details: Menu in Chinese and English. Entirely Vegan. Allium-Free options clearly marked

On the net:

The shining star of the meal was the hummus sandwich, which came neatly sliced into thirds. Two enormous slices of crusty bread, grilled with fragrant olive oil and slathered thickly with basil pesto and chickpea hummus then stuffed with satisfying slices of grilled eggplant, zucchini and marinated red pepper. The menu said it is accompanied by corn salsa, but mine arrived with balsamic infused tomatoes. These, too, were a disappointment: crimson quarters of tasteless fruit slippery with oil and marinated just not-long-enough to impart anything more than a whisper of acidic aroma.

A working day led me to try their berry hazelnut smoothie (NT$240), a bright antioxidant-filled concoction rife with blueberries, hazelnut, banana, oats, almond milk and a touch of house-made syrup, which isn’t listed on the menu but was revealed by the waitstaff when it proved too sweet for my taste.

I was a bit disappointed they were using Almond Breeze from a carton instead of making their own milk from scratch, like Plants or Naked Food, especially considering the price. Others diners, however, haven’t found fault with it.

On an outing with friends, both vegan and omnivores, we were delighted by the almond milk cappuccino (NT$160), topped with a thick creamy foam, as well as the sweet potato chickpea coconut curry (NT$430) and mango tofu masala curry (NT$430), which are portioned generously and served with brown rice and a side of roasted tomato soup.

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