RADIO NATIONAL announced South Korean author Han Kang had won the Man Booker prize for The Vegetarian just as I was looking for somewhere for lunch.
It’s a dark novel about a marriage torn apart by a defiant act of vegetarianism, but that didn’t put me off as I headed to Veggie Mama on the corner of Beaufort and Vincent Streets.
Owner Dylan Weiner grew up in a vegetarian family: “I’ve‚ never eaten meat or fish,” he says.
A lack of restaurants catering to vegetarians was behind setting up Veggie Mama almost five years ago.
“There were no places to eat so I decided to open up something,” the Yokine local says.
The patrons are diverse, from senior citizens to young dreadlocked mums with their kids; and everyone in between.
At the next table an unexpectedly Buddhist gent was telling his young dining companions he’d renounced carnivorism because of his love of animals.
In The Vegetarian the husband says the only reason to start eating like a rabbit is to “lose weight, alleviate certain physical ailments, being possessed by an evil spirit ‚ or having your sleep disturbed by indigestion”.
You don’t have to be possessed, or even a vegetarian, to enjoy the food at Veggie Mama.
Its cabinets glisten with savoury pastries and a mind-boggling variety of patties, salads and pastas, curries and casseroles.
I opted for a noodle tofu dish and the Moroccan delight ($13.95).
The spicy sweetness of the noodles was lovely, but the sharp tomatoey tang of the Moroccan dish outshone it.
Chunks of tomato, capsicum and chickpeas in a rich sauce, dotted with crispy pieces of house-made falafel, delightful sums it up.
D’Angerous would have had the Thai curry, but they’d sold out early and he settled for a coconut curry instead.
It was based around potatoes, which swam in a creamy, moist and flavoursome sauce which delivered plenty of savoury coconut punch.
We washed our meal down with a couple of almond milk banana smoothies ($8.50).
Ingredients at Veggie Mama are organic and sourced as locally as possible, the coffee is Fairtrade, no food is fried and there are plenty of gluten-free and vegan options.
by JENNY D’ANGER
corner Beaufort and Vincent Streets,
open Mon – Fri 8am – 7pm,