- 10844 82nd Avenue, Edmonton
- (780) 433-9702
- Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9am to 9pm; Sunday 11am to 2:30pm
- Cash, Debit, CC
- Outdoor patio
Situated along the venerable Whyte Avenue, where casual chic meets Edmonton’s conscience, Café Mosaics is well placed to serve both kinds of patrons, as well as anyone else who chances upon this cosy café. Entering the doors one is immediately made to feel at home, with the warm earthy décor beckoning one and all. Sitting down to one of the various tables, each with its own character, such as unique mismatched candles and/or lights, flower vases… There is a real sense of comfort here, and one where conversation and friendships converge over some excellent foods.
Café Mosaics has existed now for 10 years, getting its start in 1997 after an incarnation as a European bistro. It slowly evolved into a 100% vegetarian restaurant, becoming so in 2006; the premise had been that a fully vegetarian establishment might prove intimidating to some meat-eating patrons, thus precluding them from dining there. The decision was made however, to go hard on the vegetarian concept, especially since the general public is far more receptive to vegetarianism. Any fears of a loss in trade have proven to be unwarranted, as the popularity of Café Mosaics keeps the place hopping.
But moving past that there is a very interesting array of options, both vegetarian and vegan, all of them sounding delicious!
Starting with the Breakfast menu there are things like The Cowgirl Breakfast, comprising of the choice of eggs or tofu with toast, as an accompaniment to the baked beans, onions, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and potatoes. As well, there are the traditional egg selections along with a Tofu Scramble, a Fruit and Granola mix, a choice of vegan or non-vegan pancakes, and sides of veggie sausage links and/or veggie bacon. Its easy to see why Café Mosaics is popular in the mornings on the weekend.
Lunch too, is designed to satisfy most preferences, with the main focus being sandwiches, soups and a variety of tex-mex influences, such as the Quesadilla, a Burrito and their own signature Secret Burrito, which is made from teryaki tofu, brown rice, spinach and mozzarella in a tortilla. Their sandwiches come with a choice of 1 side: fries, soup, salad, beans.\, chips and salsa, rice, hash browns or a fruit cup. Whew!
And the sandwiches, ranging from a Teryaki Portabello, Grilled Mozza Pita, Garlic Grilled Cheese, Greek Egg, the famed Tofu Clubhouse-with grilled tofu, onion, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and cheddar all nestled inside 3 slices of toast. Then there is the Grilled Tofu Sandwich, with onions, mushrooms and red pepper spread, the Vegomatic Sandwich, a Peanut Butter and Tofu sandwich, Falafel, their take on the Veggie Burger, a Curry Veg Pita, with veggies, tofu, a coconut curry sauce in a pita with yogourt, and finally the Oyster Mushroom Bagel-artichoke hearts, tomatoes, onions slathered with a red pepper spread and topped with cheddar-for the dairy fanatics.
Soups are different every day, and are vegan for the most part. I have had a curry carrot soup there, as well as a bowl of Tomato Garlic-muy sabroso!
Salads are fairly standard but well created, with the House, Greek and Spinach Salads being available, but they also have a Teryaki Portabello Salad too, just to keep the edge….
Dinner is predominantly pasta, but with a unique flair to it, comprising of five selections, from a basic Pasta and Tomato Sauce and the Baked Spinach and Feta Linguini, to the Cheese Ravioli, a Creamy Portabello Pasta, and the Mexican Pasta, which has beans, veggies and cilantro served on a bed of pasta, accompanied by nachos.
Along with the pasta choices there is also a Pita Pizza, an excellent Veggie Chili, Stir Fried Veggies, a Curry Dinner of veggies and tofu cooked in a coconut curry sauce and of course, their Vegan Tofu Loaf, served with dilled potatoes, a mushroom gravy and a salad.
There is an outdoor patio in the front, for summertime lazing and the front opens up too, to make it an open café, in all its permutations. They serve beer and wine too….need one go elsewhere?
LUCKY SALOON AND EATERY
- 9855 76th Avenue, Edmonton
- (780) 434-7275
- Hours: 10am to 3pm 6 Days. Closed Tuesdays.
- Cash only
Approaching Lucky and one is immediately brought to mind of an old western style building, like a saloon, with the flat roof and open front, white washed paint and the windows revealing a simple interior of tables and bar stools….
Inside the doors the ‘western’ feel continues, albeit from a much funkier, and likely irreverent perspective though, and that is exactly the way that Penny Buckner and Audrey Bray wanted it, as they set about creating a space that would be both fun and welcoming. Lucky opened its doors on Remembrance Day in November 2006, and they have been growing ever since, through both word of mouth, and their reputation borne of also being integral parts of the Café Mosaics team; they cut their restaurant teeth there over the past 9-10 years. From such a past came a desire to create a new vegetarian eatery, with a pronounced them behind it, and what better than to capitalize on the western heritage so prevalent here in Alberta? Letting one’s eyes wander around Lucky, its clear they had great fun decorating the place, from the old retro 50’s dining tables, to the ‘paintings’ decorating the walls, as well as the horse shoes, cow and action figures situated in various spots throughout. There is even a ‘lucky lager’ beer bottle above the counter, next to a kissing couple on a park bench; to some this could say ‘kitsch’, but to me it sings irreverent, fun and eclectic-all accurate descriptives to this friendly outpost not far removed from the activities of Whyte Avenue.
Penny and Audrey decided to keep the menu fairly simple, so as to not overwhelm either the patrons, or themselves while getting established. They believe that it is better to build success carefully, slowly if need be, than to over-extend themselves at the start and not be able to adjust as need be. To that end, they make all the sauces and dressings from scratch as well as virtually everything else. The menu can be made 90% vegan with the removal of cheeses and yogurts from certain dishes, of which there are but eight on the menu, as well as a delicious lentil soup. The selections are variations on themes and traditional dishes, ranging from the Freddy’s Fender Bender, a crispy corn tortilla filled with beans, greens, cheese and salsa, served with potatoes, Un Gran Pedazo De Amor, essentially a white flour tortilla wrap, with beans, cilantro and cheese, served with greens. The Cinnamon Sasquatch is intriguing with a sourdough rye bread toasted until crisp and topped with a cranberry and raspberry sauce, as well as fresh fruit. Other ‘breakfast-style selections include the Lucky Breakkie, two poached eggs on tomato slices with cheese, served with potatoes, sourdough rye toast and a yummy vegan sausage, the Get Up And Go, which is a homemade bran muffin topped with the cranberry and raspberry sauce and fresh fruit, served with either (dairy) yogurt or vegan ice cream.
Rounding out the selections are two of my favorites, the TCB, a layering of grilled tofu, with basil and sundried tomatoes, served on polenta with tomato sauce and cheese, accompanied by sourdough rye toast and greens, and the Nanny’s New Wave, potato and onion perogies fried with onions and garlic, bacon bits and the vegan sausage, sliced and grilled. Sour cream is also added unless one requests it not be included. A bowl of greens accompanied it, with an amazingly tasty cranberry dressing.
For those who still have room they make fabulous vegan desserts including their signature ‘cheesecake’, very well received it is, and something I definitely intend on indulging in, the next time I ‘get Lucky’.
ORIENTAL VEGGIE HOUSE
- 10586 100th Street, Edmonton
- (780) 424-0463
- Hours: Wednesday through Monday, 11am to 10pm; Close the first Monday of each month
- Cash, Debit, CC
First off, it is important to make a distinction between all the Edmonton restaurants that are named “Veggie House”, of which there are 3, including one in St. Albert. This one is the Chinese version, independent of the others. In fact, except for the similarity in names, there are no other connections between them other than the fact that they are all vegetarian.
The Oriental Veggie House has a somewhat fascinating history behind it, and its owners. Chun Ming Sun and Chor Chu Chiu are both Buddhists, having chosen to become so 15-16 years ago. At the time, they had started to attend a Buddhist Temple in Hong Kong, in order to become more knowledged in the Buddhist faith. Part of that included learning to eat, cook as Buddhists, becoming familiar with vegetarian cooking, and different aspects of it as it pertains to Buddhism. This includes the fact that garlic, onions and leeks are forbidden in the Buddhist diet, as they are believed to be unhealthy for the spirit. As well, Buddhists do not eat dairy, meats, partake of alcohol and tobacco. In the process of becoming Buddhist they learned how to prepare foods, not only as a family unit but increasingly they became more adept in the concepts as they could apply to large groups of peoples.
When they came out to visit family in Edmonton, they had difficulties in obtaining foods typical of their faith, so they set about learning more of accessing foods stuffs they could use in their dietary requirements. In 1996 they made the decision to move to Edmonton with their three children, so in partnership with their brother-in laws, the decision to open the Oriental Veggie House became a reality. It helped that Chor’s father was a chef in Hong Kong and she has a natural affinity with cooking; she learned very quickly the unique styles of Buddhist cooking at the temple. They serve the restaurant very well indeed, with her being the chef here. This restaurant is the first of its kind in Edmonton, and it has stayed true to its roots, and to the tenets of the Buddhist philosophy.
Even though it is located in the heart of Chinatown, it took a number of years before the Oriental Veggie House could become established. That the vegetarian community is growing is a positive sign for restaurants such as this, but the fact remains that they have to attract people from the mainstream in society. Cultivating a client base is the most difficult part of opening a new restaurant, and it is certainly no different in the world of vegetarianism.
One of the realities of opening a restaurant that specializes in a certain form of cooking, is that they cannot be entirely exclusive in their menu selections. Approximately 60-70% of the patrons of the Oriental Veggie House are non-vegetarians, so there is recognition that, by including dishes that contain egg or dairy, it makes for an easier transition for the non-vegetarian, who may otherwise be intimidated by the lack of recognizable dishes. With that in mind, the Oriental Veggie House is 95% vegan, with only a select number of items containing either dairy compounds or egg, based on the fact that certain noodles are made using egg material(certain chow mein noodles, for example). As well, there are a few dishes that do contain egg, but they can certainly be adapted to a vegan diet. By substituting rice noodles for the chow mein noodles those dishes are instantly transformed into vegan ones. The rule of thumb here, is to let the server know when ordering if you are vegan, so as to ensure that the meal is to your satisfaction.
Except for prepackaged “meats”, and certain noodles, everything is made from scratch, including most of the sauces and marinades. The fake meats are from Asian sources, mainly from Taiwan or Hong Kong, so they are largely vegan in composition as well.
I cannot say enough of this restaurant; the dishes I sampled when I visited it included the Deep Fried Crab Rolls, as an appetizer, and then the Ginger Chicken Balls Hotpot, accompanied by the Pan Fried Satay Vermicelli. The flavours were both rich and intoxicating; ginger has always been a most exotic experience for my tastebuds, and here the opportunity of savouring it in such a fashion-well, let me say that it was a most satisfying moment for me. The Crab Rolls were also a new sensation for me, they did not disappoint, with the delicate taste, the crisp and fresh feel as I bit into them. The Satay Rice Vermicelli were also a success, pan fried to perfection…..
The prices at the Oriental Veggie House are very reasonable, with no dish over $10.50, except for the Veggie Crab Meat & Shark’s Fin Thick Soup, where a large bowl(for sharing) can be ordered for $25.95. Most entrees and hotpots fall between $9.95 and $6.95, with rice and noodle dishes ranging between $5.95 and $7.95.
The Oriental Veggie House can be rented for private parties, and they also have a take-out menu available. As well, they sell a selection of packaged “meats” for those who would like to experiment with them in their own homes.
It is easy to see why the Oriental Veggie House was voted the best vegetarian restaurant in both 2000 and 2002; they are a superb establishment, with wonderful food, service that is top-notch, and a friendly way about them.
PADMANADI VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT
- 10626 97th Street, Edmonton
- (780) 428-8899
- Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 4pm to 10pm
- Cash, Debit, CC
When I committed to writing this book, I made my first trip to Edmonton to research and visit restaurants that I felt would fit its mandate. Having discovered Padmanadi through the Vegetarians of Alberta newsletter, I set out to learn more about it and in the process, found out much about a business, those who work there, and of the strength of the human animal’s spirit.
To say that Padmanadi is a vegetarian restaurant, is to do it, and those who have brought its vision to Edmonton, a grave injustice. On the surface it IS a restaurant, and likely for many who go there incidentally, it may remain thus. Those, however, who have had the chance to visit Padmanadi and see beyond the excellent food and approach they have towards serving their patrons and bringing a piece of them to each diner, will have found there are a number of levels to this place, with virtually all of them stemming from Kasim, the owner of Padmanadi, and his family. Personally, I have been privileged to get to know Kasim, with whom I share a birthday, as well as his family, including Thomas, his partner and brother-in virtually every sense of the word. I have also found that my trips to Edmonton are wrapped around going to Padmanadi’s upon arrival there, and prior to leaving for home.
“To Provide The Best Vegetarian Food Services To All Vegetarians” The Mission statement of Padmanadi, coupled with their vision, “Encouraging People To Eat More Vegetables, and Promoting Vegetarianism as a Healthier Lifestyle”, sums up perfectly what Padmanadi stands for. Kasim, as a Buddhist, has been busy spreading these beliefs to all, through his foods, and through his very being, simply and modestly.
From opening up his first restaurant in Jakarta, Indonesia in October, 1984, Kasim set about perfecting both his vision, and the manner by which he could translate it into action. Eventually he found his way to Canada in the Summer of 2002, and by that December opened Padmanadi to Canada, via Edmonton. Stepping inside the doorway, one is visited by a clean and bright, serene dining area that has lightly painted walls decorated by Asian art and a variety of Buddhist ornaments and symbols, as well as Chinese and Indonesian mementos. Before The dining area has booths and tables of different sizes and shapes, two of them have lazy-susans to better distribute the exotic dishes to the patrons seated around it. Immediately, one is greeted and made comfortable at a table, whereupon they are presented with a teapot of chrysanthemum tea and the menu.
Padmanadi is a Buddhist restaurant, and as such does not serve any dairy or meat infused dishes. Neither do they serve dishes that contain items such as onion or garlic; it is believed that such vegetables promote aggression within oneself. Outside of these few qualifiers, Padmanadi isn’t so much about what they do not serve, but rather, what it is that they do, and suffice to say, they have an extensive selection of foods that are certain to please every palate, vegetarian or not.
The menu is divided into six sections: Snacks, Vegetable Dishes, Tofu Dishes, Soup & Thick Soup, Deluxe Vegetarian Dishes, Noodles & Rice and Dessert, each of them self-explanatory.
No visit here is complete without having an order of Indonesia Satay, either the beef or chicken, five skewers of succulent alternatives to the meats, with a delectable peanut sauce for dipping. The sauces are all made here from scratch, as the freshness of the flavors attest. There are eleven selections listed under the ‘Snacks’ section, ranging from the traditional fare, spring rolls and fried wonton, to the Satay skewers, Gado-Gado, an Indonesian vegetable salad with tofu and a peanut butter dressing, a combination plate of gluten and more. I have sampled a number of these and found them all to be excellent and flavorful, with a fresh taste to them, neither oily or heavy.
In the Vegetable Dishes section the dishes feature a variety of vegetables, from eggplant, as with the Stir-Fried Spicy Eggplant and the Celery & Eggplant with Black Bean Sauce, to the Pan-Fried Spinach and the Stir-Fried Spicy Crispy Spinach, to mixed veg dishes such as Szechwan Mixed Green, the Lo-Hon Vegetable Deluxe and the Padmanadi Vegetable Deluxe, a total of 13 distinct dishes here.
The Tofu Dishes may have only five choices, but they all sound quite tantalizing, in particular the Stuffed Tofu, the BBQ Tofu and the Chilli Tofu with Soya Sauce. The great thing about tofu is that it absorbs flavors readily, thus making each dish exciting and tasty.
Soup & Thick Soup also lists many of the usual soups served in other Chinese restaurants, except that these are strictly vegetarian, meaning of course, that with respect to the Veggie Shark Fin Soup, no ‘finning’ has occurred for the sake of titillating one’s taste buds. Padmanadi serves a wonderfully savory Tom Yam soup, along with another nine varieties, including a Sweet and Sour soup, a Gourmet Miso soup, the Bamboo Fungus soup, the Black Moss soup, and more.
In the Deluxe Vegetarian Dishes are found both the specialties of the house as well as the dishes that are predominantly comprised of the ‘fake’ meats, made from gluten or soy, even dried mushrooms and taro root. Here the old adage, mimicry being the sincerest form of flattery is quashed, to be replaced by, faking it is the sincerest alternate to cruelty, as the fake meats here are both delicious, and cruelty-free. Here one can order the tried and true, such as Sweet and Sour Pork, Chicken or Fish, the delicious Kong Pow Chicken, as well as a Veggie Seafood Hot Pot, the Tom Yam Fish, the Pan-Fried Broccoli with Veggie Ham, a Veggie Curry Mutton, the ‘mutton’ made of dried mushroom stems, and a variety ‘meats’, Fried Ham, Pork Jerky, the Smoked Chicken Drumsticks and more, thirty one different selections in all.
In the Noodles & Rice section are six noodle soups such as the Tom Yam Udon Noodle in Soup, the Rice Vermicelli in Soup, a curry version of this, and three others. As well, there are some fried rice dishes, including the Veggie Chicken Curry Rice, the Fried Rice with Ham, a Mixed Vegetable Rice, to name a few. One of the more exotic rice dishes here though, is the Javanese Stir Fried Rice, with a very nice spiciness to it, mixed into it slivers of vegetables and some meats. As well there is the Javanese Coconut Rice which is an inverted bowl of coconut rice accompanied by a variety of foods with which to enjoy the rice.
For the noodles here, there is Javanese Stir Fried Noodle, with the thicker fried noodles accompanied by mushrooms, and an assortment of veggies and meats, an excellent Stir Fried Silver Thread, a very thin transparent rice noodle served with a variety of vegetables and meats, among others.
In the countless visits I have made here, I have yet to have dessert, since I tend to overindulge in the dishes of food I order-never quite certain I will be back in Edmonton. However, for those who have greater self-discipline, the selections revolve around a number of ice fruits, some ice creams, such as a Lychee Ice Cream and the Jackfruit Ice Cream, as well as a Coconut Milk Tapioca, which sounds quite refreshing, as they all do, in fact.
Padmanadi has been offering on a regular basis weekend brunches to celebrate occasions, such as Mothers Day and Fathers Day, as well as certain holidays and to also raise awareness and funds for specific causes. They held such a benefit last year when an earthquake caused all sorts of devastation to Indonesia, and they also held a brunch for Earth Day this past year.
When Kasim isn’t helping people in Indonesia, as he was in 2007 and then again in 2008, he welcomes you as a dear, long lost friend, eager to make sure you are comfortable and satisfied while in his ‘home’. One can see a series of photographs lining the curved counter where the cash register is, pictures taken of Kasim with his friends, the patrons of this wonderfully enchanting sanctuary of food for the stomach and the soul.
- 7200 156th Street, Edmonton
- (780) 443-8063
- Hours: Monday through Thursday, 10am to 4pm; Friday, 10am to 2pm (call ahead) With advance notice, dinner reservations
- Cash, Debit, CC
- Catering and Take-out
Imagine if you will, ordering meatloaf and chicken pot pies, beef and mushroom pies, shepherd’s pie, bobotie, and a huge variety of dishes you had previously avoided feasting on due to the blood letting involved in their ‘creation’. Imagine a place where you can order kosher, vegetarian and, in many cases vegan, variations on these dishes, and you will have conjured up The Planet Pareve Café, located in the Jewish Community Centre. It is the brainchild of Daniella Drisdell, and has been open since January 2005, providing an invaluable service to both the Jewish and the vegetarian communities as well as excellent meals on order, and a small café that serves meals on a daily basis.
The word ‘Pareve’ is defined in Hebrew as “neutral food”, that are neither meat or dairy, where meats refer largely to mammals and fowl; fish are an accepted part of the diet though shellfish isn’t. In the case of the Planet Pareve all of the foods prepared and served here are vegetarian except for the ones that are comprised of fish, which are few in comparison. As far as menu items that mention ’cheese’ or other dairy-like words, they are all soy based, non-dairy versions. There is egg usage in certain dishes though, so it isn’t entirely vegan as far as the vegetarian selections go; Daniella does her best to accommodate her customers with respect to special dietary requirements however, so with advance notice many of the dishes can be adapted.
Planet Pareve is a small location with three major functions to it. As a café it provides a daily selection of soups, sandwiches, a quiche of the day, salads and a daily special, along with fresh bakied goods such as scones, muffins, breads and more. Soups available from time to time include Borscht, Mulligatawny, Vegetable Wild Rice, Spicy Chili Bean and Lentil, all vegan. The soup comes with fresh baked nine grain bread, or if one chooses they can have a salad or sandwich with it. Salads include a Roasted Eggplant Salad, Garden with a creamy dill dressing, Couscous, served with an herb vinaigrette, an Asian Salad and a Bean Salad. Quiches vary daily, but could be a Mushroom, Spinach, or a Tomato Herb Quiche.
For sandwiches, all served on Daniella’s nine grain bread, there is the Egg Sandwich, ‘Cheese’, as well as the ‘Cold Cuts’ sandwiches, both of these soy based. Daily specials vary, but they can include a Tofu and Vegetable Curry, or Mujadra, a rice and lentil casserole which also has fried onions, all cooked with cumin and coriander, for a hearty and savory repast.
They will also have available fresh scones and muffins as well as cinnamon buns and more, for the light eater, as accompaniment to coffee and conversation.
For people dropping in to pick up a readymade dinner Daniella has an extensive selection of meals she chooses from preparing some on a daily basis, as well as preparing custom orders for dishes she may not necessarily have on the go for that day. For any custom orders people are asked to order sufficiently in advance so as to ensure they are ready. From her listings one finds a huge choice of dishes, including Pates and Dips-baba ghanouj, humus, tahini, lentil pate, etc, Phyllo Appetizers-Moroccan Cigar, Samosas, Chik’n Chutney, a variety of Quiches, Savoury Pies-Chik’n Pot Pie, Beef and Mushroom, Veggie Pot Pie and a Spicy Mex Pie, Egyptian Specialties-Ful Medamas, Stuffed Vine Leaves, Megadarra, and more, Entrees-Lasagna, Mousaka, Meatloaf, Bobotie, Chik’n Curry, Enchiladas, to mention but a small sample of options. As accompaniments Daniella makes her own chutneys and salsas, as well as a variety of pickles.
Desserts figure prominently at Planet Pareve, with the home baked goodness of fruit pies and cream pies, a variety of cakes, cookies and bars, as well tarts, biscotti and more.
Daniella does a lot of catering, for different kinds of functions, be they meetings, weddings, funerals or luncheons; she can advise people as to requirements, meeting special needs such as gluten free diets and more, The menu selections form a base from where she works, though she can accommodate many tastes as well, as witnessed by the variety of cultures represented here. Daniella has been exposed to Middle Eastern cuisine through her own heritage, and that of her husband, and has lived in Montreal as well; working in different places too exposed her to various manners of food preparation while also inspiring her to create dishes while also adapting others.
In time, one will hopefully see Planet Parave establish its own world, where it be a provider of an ambience, a sanctuary befitting its foods and its creator, Daniella.
SAIGON GIVRAL - Vegetarian Subs And Food To Go
- 11005 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton
- (780) 447-0620
- Hours: Monday to Friday, 10am to 8pm; Saturdays, 10am to 6pm
- Cash, Debit
Driving along Jasper Avenue I stumbled upon the Saigon Givral sub shop, located virtually next door to the Radius Bistro. I noticed two men seated outside the Saigon Givral and, seeing them chowing down on subs, was overtaken by curiosity as to what, if any, vegetarian fare they might offer. I was glad I did, since it turns out that they have the most amazing satay “beef” and “chicken” Vietnamese subs ever! I had the opportunity to meet and speak to the owners of this place, both Sinh and Hai Nguyen, and learned that the Saigon Givral opened in May 2002 in Edmonton, and in 2003 in Calgary, though the Calgary store was eventually sold to another interest, while retaining their menu. There is a bit of history to the name Givral, being a name most associated with the finest of Vietnamese baking from Saigon, along with the trademark submarines, etc, over the past 5 decades-since 1950. In keeping with the signature of quality the decision was made to name this venue after the Givral of Saigon; it features the first vegetarian Vietnamese subs in Edmonton.
The ones offered here are made from soy beef and soy chicken, both marinated in a satay sauce before being loaded into sub buns that have been toasted, with (your choice to not have included, for those who are vegan) a homemade mayonnaise, cilantro, slivered carrots, cucumber, raw jalapeno peppers, onions and topped with mozzarella cheese(again, optional). They are then sprinkled with soy sauce and pepper before being served, all toasty and warm. They are both equally excellent. When I was trying to decide which variety to try, Hai offered to make one that was half “chicken” and half “beef”, making my decision an easy one.
Saigon Givral also sells homemade spring rolls and salad rolls, unfortunately they are meat and/os shrimp based. They will make some up that are vegetarian with enough notice, as a special order, and there is talk of more vegetarian specialties becoming available later-keep in touch with them either by email or through one’s frequent dining excursions there. Definitely a must-go when in Edmonton.
As it turned out, the two gentlemen eating outside the Saigon Givral are regulars, both of them feasting on the veggie satay subs. Apparently they are very popular-easy to see why.
The prices for these culinary creations are, $3.99 in Edmonton, GST included
SAVOY‘S GOURMET HEALTH CAFE
- 11010 51st Street, Edmonton
- (780) 437-7718
- Hours: Monday through Friday, 11:30am to 7pm
September 1st, 1997 saw the opening of what has since become a tiny jewel nestled among all the many eating establishments-a vegetarian jewel of exotic sources and flavors, one that still few replicate. Savoy’s is a restaurant that specialises in South Indian cuisine and no matter its very simple décor, those who have discovered it cling jealously to it, going day after day, line ups be damned.
Viju Varkey is the owner of Savoy’s, and as such has set its course from where it hasn’t strayed. Savoy’s serves lunch and early dinner with a menu that is very simply to choose from. One wall mount shows a variety of juices available while the other one focuses on the food options. For those who are accustomed to going to Indian restaurants, this one will surprise them, since none of the dishes will likely be available elsewhere, the cuisine is that regionally separated. There is no tandoori here, nor is there any dal to be had, being that these are dishes typical of northern regions of India.
Instead, Savoy’s highlights dishes from the Tamil region, in particular the Masala Dosa, a favourite for those who frequented the An Purna in Calgary. Essentially, it is a huge crisp savoury crepe made from rice and lentil flours, some recipes include different spices as well, and inside its folds is a mild dish of potatoes, yellow split peas, turmeric, chilies, onions and mustard seed. Dosas are often served accompanied by a chutney and Sambar, and Savoy’s is no different in that respect. Sambar is a wonderfully aromatic lentil soup that has a variety of vegetables, chilies, as well as tamarind paste and curry leaves, to give it a hint of tanginess to it; it lends itself well to dosas and other dishes where there is a bread or dough presence, for dipping purposes-just a little something I discovered!
Other dishes served here, are the Vada, a donut-like dumpling that is made of lentil paste, formed and then deep-fried and served with a sauce or chutney, and the Idly, a fermented rice dumpling, served with a chutney or a spicy sauce for dipping in. It can be dipped in tamarind sauce too, a slightly sour, tangy fruit-like sauce from the tamarind seed pods.
Finally, there is a dish called Spring Hopper, a rice and wheat flour based variation on the pancake, served with curried chickpeas. The dishes here are few but the quality and value is great, as proven by the line-ups that form every day for lunchtimes. All healthy and delicious, no frills are necessary.
To accompany one’s meal there is a selection of fresh juices available, highlighted by two energy drinks, the Energiser, with carrots, ginger, beets, apples and oranges, all blended together upon ordering, and the Body Cleanser, with daikon, carrots, apples, peppers, grapefruit and ginger, designed to cleanse you body while satisfying your taste buds and nutritional needs.
For those who would prefer, each of those ingredients can be made as a juice too, or one can combine any of them to create their own cocktail of vitamins and minerals and such. The processing of these vegetables and fruit doesn’t start until the juicer gets the order, in order that they be as fresh as possible.
Savoy’s Indian Gourmet Health Café is simple in its presentation, and the menu is kept small for a reason; this place serves many people in a fairly short time frame, so the menu is streamlined to provide a good selection of foods done extremely well. I have found that the place tends to slow down the further one gets away from the lunch crowd, so there is a chance to enjoy Savoy’s. The focus is on healthy eating here, with the adage that healthy can be delicious too. On all that, and on what Savoy’s does, they are very successful.