Little Bird at Britomart

Little Bird Britomart Unbakery

Not long ago, I wrote about Little Bird‘s crowdfunding campaign to open a third Unbakery at Britomart. The crowd was quite keen on this idea, it turned out – Little Bird raised more money than they asked for, the doors to their downtown location are now open, and lunchtime customers are flocking in.

 

Cake Graph

Little Bird Britomart is at 14 Customs Street, just around the corner from the train station. It’s open 7 days: Monday to Friday 6.30am-6.30pm, and 9am-5pm on weekends.

The new Unbakery is a small space – everything’s packaged to take away and there’s just one table where you might find a seat. But though it’s small, it has a full range of Little Bird deliciousness on offer: a cabinet full of ready-to-go meals, another cabinet full of cakes and sweet treats, and the fridge full of the new Squeezery range of cold pressed juices, nut milks and tonics.

Two things I found at Japan Day

vegan cake

My experience of Japanese street food is that it’s not often very vegan-friendly (one day I’ll write a Tokyo travel post and tell you about some delicious exceptions to this rule: dango & sweet potato & anzu-ame). So I wasn’t expecting the Japan Day celebrations at Queen’s Wharf to be especially interesting in terms of food. I was idly cruising the food stalls wondering if there might be some edamame or something, when I noticed a sign that said CHOCOLATE VEGAN CAKE.

 

Delicious Vegan!

The sign belonged to a food stall that was all vegan, in fact. Its snack options included fresh or deep-fried spring rolls, wontons, crumbed tofu, samosas, noodle salads and two kinds of cake (lemon or chocolate).

Run by followers of the Supreme Master Ching Hai (the movement that started the Loving Hut restaurant chain), the stall’s regular location is at Otara Flea Market every Saturday.

 

Summer rolls

The stall had two kinds of Vietnamese summer rolls: I tried the fake chicken rolls with ground peanuts. They were generously-sized, stuffed with fresh filling and tasty.

 

deep-fried tofu

But my favourite thing was their crumbed, spiced, deep-fried tofu. It’s a bit of a repulsive comparison (and it’s been decades since I’ve eaten the original), but I wonder if this might be like a vegan version of KFC? It consisted of thick slabs of firm tofu, coated in a golden, crunchy batter filled with a mixture of spices. Really good – I’d hunt these down again if I was anywhere near Otara Markets on a Saturday.

 

popolatos

As we were looking around inside Shed 10, another sign popped out at me: Lalele Organic boasted “ORGANIC COCOLATO: made from organic coconut milk, gelato-like texture with no dairy & no egg”. Frozen desserts made out of coconut are some of my favourite, so we stopped to check these out.

Lalele Organic’s range of desserts include a few flavours of coconut-based gelato, as well as organic fruit sorbet popsicles that are all dairy- and egg-free. They appear at other events and markets around the city (including Glenfield Night Market, Coatesville Market and Matakana Village Farmers Market), and they’ve recently opened a shop at Mairangi Bay (378 Beach Road, open 7 days from 10am-6pm).

 

avocado, coconut and tarragonpopolato

I tried a ‘popolato’ coconut gelato popsicle: avocado, coconut and french tarragon. It was beautifully creamy and rich, with a strong avocado flavour. I also tasted a bit of Erin’s plum sorbet popolato, which was tart and perfect. Several of the options in the cabinet looked appealing; the other dessert I’d been eyeing up was strawberry, coconut and lavender cocolato, and the feijoa popolato also looked amazing. I’ll need to find an excuse to visit the North Shore to try more of Lalele’s offerings.

A grocery store you should know about: Bulk Food Savings

bulk food savings

Vegans of Auckland, have you been to Bulk Food Savings in Mount Eden? You might not guess from its unassuming name, but it’s a vegan gold mine: one of the best places in town to find uncommon ingredients at reasonable prices.

Located at the city end of Dominion Road, Bulk Food Savings is not easily categorised – it’s a curious cross between a hippie health food store, a bargain bulk-foods place, a flash organic grocery and a little ethnic food market. Not everything’s organic, gluten free, fair trade or health-conscious, but all of these preferences & needs are well catered for.

 

shelves full of food

Vegans, too, are well accommodated: Bulk Food Savings stocks all kinds of animal-free supplies to fill your pantry.

Almost any basic ingredient can be found somewhere on its shelves, among an impressive range of beans, pulses, grains, flours, herbs & spices, dried fruit, nuts, liquid and dry sweeteners, oils, nutritional yeast, pickles, sauces, baking ingredients and specialty ingredients from a few different food traditions: Indian, Mexican, Japanese, Turkish, Italian and others.

There’s more than you might expect: the nut butter selection includes jars of German cashew cream, the shelf of non-dairy milks includes chocolate hazelnut milk alongside the usual soy and almond options. A fridge near the entrance is full of coconut yoghurt, kombucha, unusual juices.

Specifically vegan treats include Ceres snack bars (& this roasted nori snack I’ve been addicted to lately), Amazeballs (not all flavours are vegan – read the ingredients), Spacebar snack sausages, Angel Food products, and a small selection of chocolate including Rapunzel (not all vegan, but their Nirwana Noir is a long-standing favourite of mine).

Bulk Food Savings is also a great place to stock up on natural cleaning products: Wendyl’s, Dr Bronner’s, Ecover, various coconut oil-based beauty products.

 

bulk dried beans

Bulk Food Savings is at 217 Dominion Road – behind the main Dominion Road shops. The easiest way to find it is off Walters Road – it shares a carpark with the Wendy’s drive-through. There’s also a walkway by the bus stop opposite Vinyl.

It’s open every day: Monday-Saturday 9am-6pm, and Sundays 10am-4pm.

Read more reviews: Nom Nom Panda, Yelp.

Small plates at the Heritage Lobby Bar

tapas at the heritage lobby bar

Another old favourite I haven’t told you about before: tapas at the Heritage Auckland‘s Lobby Bar.

The bar has an entirely vegan food menu, including breakfast, lunch and high tea. In the evenings, it serves a selection of small shareable plates, along with an extensive drinks list that indicates which wines are vegan-friendly.

Last time I visited with a friend, we shared polenta-crusted artichokes with vegan aioli, tempeh & cauliflower filo cigars with beetroot chilli radish, rosemary-dusted fries, and a bowl of olives. All were delicious; I also recommend the paprika-spiced macadamias.

 

truffle oil marinated field mushrooms

The Heritage Auckland is at 35 Hobson Street in the CBD, not far from the Sky Tower. Tapas is served from 5pm-11pm every day – at other times you can get breakfast, lunch or high tea in the Lobby Bar, or choose from the vegan options at Hectors Restaurant.

Vegan things I have eaten at Mexico

dinner conversation

As a news story, this blog post is well overdue. Mexico has been serving its vegan-friendly take on Mexican-inspired food since 2012, and I’ve been eating there almost as long. So, this is not a news story, but a big list of various things that Mexico has fed me at different times, and a recommendation to try it some time, if you haven’t.

Mexico’s menu changes every three months to make the most of fresh, seasonal ingredients. There are usually a couple of things on each menu that are vegan by default (listed on their website and in a chart on the wall), as well as a few vegetarian options that can be prepared vegan.

 

crispy chickpea taco

The menu always includes a vegetarian option on its list of soft-shell tacos, which can almost always be made vegan. Tacos I’ve eaten include:

& various others I didn’t take pictures of.

 

corn chips & salsa

Other things I’ve eaten at Mexico over the last couple of years include:

and various other delicious snacks & margaritas.

 

candle in a glass

Mexico has four locations in Auckland: at Britomart, and in Takapuna, Ponsonby and Ellerslie. All four are open seven days, noon until late.

Three things about RAD in Mount Eden

Effing good coffee: a true claim from RAD in Mt Eden.

1. They make the best coffee in Mount Eden Village, hands down. I don’t know how such a central, wealthy suburb had survived so long without any decent coffee outlets but RAD’s fixed all that now.

 

Raw salted caramel tart, made by @therawkitchen & bought at @rad_cafe in Mount Eden Village. #vegan #aucklandvegan #vegancake #raw #saltedcaramel #veganpie

2. They sell raw vegan cakes by the slice, made by The Raw Kitchen. This one, pictured, is a slice of salted caramel tart, and it was delicious. (Here‘s a slice of berry cheesecake I ate another time).

 

A vegan option! On the menu at @rad_cafe in Mount Eden Village. #vegan #aucklandvegan #menu

3. They have a new vegan option on their lunch menu! I haven’t tried For All The Vegie Lovers yet, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t good; RAD made me a similar-sounding salad for lunch a while ago, and it was fresh, flavourful and more filling than I expected.

 

RAD is at 397 Mount Eden Road, in the Village. It’s open seven days a week: Monday-Saturday 6.30am-4pm, and Sunday 8am-4pm.

Another dessert: cashew frozen yoghurt

Cashew frozen yoghurt

We’re a bit spoiled in the frozen dessert department these days, with Little Island (a.k.a. Nice Cream) and Kohu Road stocked all over town, and dessert destinations Giapo & Milse constantly outdoing each other with their artisanal vegan offerings.

Here’s another freezer treat that’s newer to Auckland: frozen cashew yoghurt, from botanical cuisine. Packed in a paper cup in flat white-sized portions, bc’s frozen yoghurt is available in three flavours: classic vanilla, raspberry, and coffee xocolatl, flavoured with cold drip coffee and cacao beans. It’s available from The Cruelty Free Shop in St Kevin’s Arcade on K Road.

I tried a cup of coffee xocolatl yoghurt yesterday – it’s smooth, subtly flavoured and quite special.

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