Tag Archives: raw food restaurant

raw restaurant review: SAF Wholefoods Kensington

14 Aug

My birthday SAF special raw cashew nut cheese au poivre pour moi

I am very, very lucky. My birthday celebrations have stretched for over four months and my lovely super dooper generous friend Gabrielle decided to humour me with a birthday lunch treat of my choice. Following my fast I naturally gravitated to a raw option and since SAF has opened up in Wholefoods only 10mins away – it was a no brainer.

SAF’s menu is not 100% raw but it is 100% natural, gluten free and healthy and because Gabs is not only Italian but also, like everyone I know and love, as raw as a traditional cheesey meaty pasta lasagne, we were both cleverly and well catered for.

I hate to criticise any raw endeavour but I was a tad disappointed that quite few menu options were not available and as we were the only ones in the restaurant, the atmosphere was, well, let’s say, not as great as its mother restaurant in Old Street.

While Gabs tucked into the bulgar wheat wrap, I chose a SAF raw cheese signature dish of Pesto Au Poivre;  a sage pesto sandwiched between two layers of cashew cheese with pink peppercorn and chive crust served with dehydrated flaxseed and balsamic reduction.

It was delicious and incredible to believe that it was made of raw cashew nuts…I’ve just ordered the muslin online – so will try making it for myself any day now…Thank you Gab!

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Raw food restaurant review: Rasayana

17 Jul

My raw cabbage rolls at Rasayana were rock and roll

My friend San Bao, of tea ceremony fame in Koh Samui, raved about the Bangkok raw food restaurant Rasayana to me two years ago. This year I finally have a few extra days up my sleeve so decided to stop by Bangkok for a raw lunch.

I decided to walk and arrive via a motorway, main road, small arterial road and find the restaurant twenty metres up a private and unnervingly security patrolled lane. The location is obscure so I’m amazed if anyone else ever just wonders in like I’ve done. The first thing I notice is that Rasayana is not just a restaurant but a whole and beautifully calm palm-treed sanctuary in the middle of stinking Bangkok megacity. I almost forget that I nearly died crossing the motorway and sit down at a traditional wooden table with rainforest music tinkling in the background.

True Vision Thailand filming a raw food special

It just so happens that on the day of my visit, the TV channel True Vision was there to film. If you’re watching channels 6 and 7 Friday July 22 in Thailand, you might catch their special on raw food and Rasayana. I think this also proves that some cultures are much more open to raw foodism as a viable option for a mass audience.

I digress.

The menu is overwhelming and I am so parched I can barely concentrate. Hence the first order of the day for me is something they call an electrolyte surge. To you and I – chilled coconut water and celery juice. I’ve never had that combo before and it was delicious. I’ll be making it at home for sure. It also looks a gorgeous lime green colour – for entertaining perhaps?

a glassful of surging electrolytes

I spend the next 30 minutes deciding what to eat and establish a short list:
• Barley sushi – vegetables, avocado, coconut meat in nori roll
• Mexican Taco cup – mixed vegetables in a crunchy flaxseed taco cup and spicy salsa
• Spaghetti and nut balls – marinated zucchini noodles toppled with savory almond nutballs and a marinara sauce
• Sun burger – almond-celery-sage patty served in a cabbage lead and topped with ‘live’ ketchup.

I end up being so boring I can’t believe myself. I choose cabbage rolls (as above). Mainly because the photo made them look sooooooo amazing. And to be fair they are also not your average cabbage rolls. These are stuffed with carrots, celery, avocado and capsicum (peppers) and served surrounded by a delicious raw seeded mustard (mustard seeds, olive oil, garlic, onion, and apple cider vinegar).

Other than the TV crew I am the only guest here today and am seated a right arm’s-length away from a refrigerated display cabinet filled with the raw desserts. While I am so full I can hardly move, I fight with myself. No, you don’t need it. Yes I do. No you don’t. Please don’t, don’t do it.

raw lime heaven on a plate pie

I order the lemon tart – made entirely from macadamia nuts, lime zest and juice and what I presume to be avocado. I eat it, breathlessly, in almost a single mouthful.

I’ve eaten more in one meal than I have over the last 2 weeks and while I feel uber full, I also feel full with nutrients. I planned to return to Rasayana for dinner but alas a tuk tuk driver drove me to shopping emporium (where he no doubt received commission) instead of the grand Palace where I wanted to go. When I refused to enter it – he drove into the middle of nowhere and demanded I get out. I refused as I had NO idea where I was. Luckily, my strange, feeble and terrified insult – ‘you are dishonouring your country,’ seemed to get him going again. This exact thing happened to me in Delhi last year. No more tuktuk drivers.

If you’re in Bangkok and have eaten your body weight in thai green curry– you absolutely must go to Rasayana for a refreshing and innovative raw menu. If nothing else it will provide a gentle respite from the hectic craziness, dirtiness and onslaught of concrete surrounding you

Fasting for hypocrites

15 Jun

I figured that if I’m going to go without food for over a week, then I want it to be in paradise. However it would have to be a budget kind of paradise. Hence I found myself at Spa Samui, a detox spa on Koh Samui, the sadly slightly overdeveloped island in the bay of Thailand. Not exactly paradise, but with lovely beaches, hot sunny days and a raw food restaurant they claim as the world’s best, I can’t complain.

Many religions, from Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Hinduism include fasting periods in their religious calendars and all for different reasons. Muslims believe that fasting from food also prevents false speech and lustful thoughts and promotes brotherhood as everyone, rich or poor, experiences the same feelings of hunger and need. Jewish people fast as a form of atonement for wrongdoing, for commemorative mourning or commemorative show of gratitude and importantly, also to highlight ‘our’ dependence on God to provide for ‘us’.

I fast to give my poor body a break from the sheer quantity of food it has to process throughout the year never mind the quality I put in. Even though my diet is pretty healthy, I do, as you know, ‘slip up’ all the time and all that bread, meat, wine and cheese are still fighting their way through my liver and digestive system a year later. Fasting also forces me to stop doing anything other than reading, sun tanning, sleeping, turning up for massages and drinking copious amounts of water. It gives every organ in my body the chance to detoxify and heal. It also sets a healthy stage for a raw food diet.

So what was my last meal before fasting?

raw pizza to give pizza hut a run for its money

raw pizza to give pizza hut a run for its money

After scrutinising the menu for a desperate length of time, I was forced to make a decision just to avoid the wrath of my Buddhist waiter.  I chose the raw pizza; a delicious pesto spread covered with chopped courgette, diced red peppers and the most delicious, creamy, mayo-like cashew nut sauce on a dehydrated nut pizza base.  Phew it was the right choice. For dessert, I ordered fresh frozen mango creamed into an icecreamy sorbet-like texture and topped with a super sweet honey and cinnamon sauce.  Yum.

What food did I think about during the fast?

Weirdly, I fantasised constantly about a rare chunk of steak and chips dripping in bearnaise sauce.  I haven’t eaten steak and chips like that for over ten years so it was disturbing to my raw core and didn’t make sense. 

And what was my first meal after the fast? 

raw pesto pasta - my post fast first meal of choice

raw pesto pasta - my post fast first meal of choice

At lunchtime on day ten, I broke the fast and sprinted (weakly) to the restaurant. After ten days pawing, licking and ogling the menu, I had memorised it and knew exactly what I wanted without even looking.

I chose the raw courgette pesto pasta.  Fine spirulised strips of courgette, topped with a rich pesto sauce and served on a bed of lovely lettuce.  It doesn’t sound filling but it was. It was so filling, my poor shrunken stomach ached for hours.  I did also practically inhale it. 

The main thing is I am now free to eat whatever I want.  And right now I can’t stop thinking about avocado.

SAF is a culinary haven

30 Mar
fine slices of beetroot stuffed with ricotta nut cheese

Delicious slivers of raw beetroot and ricotta nut cheese ravioli

According to the critics, SAF is THE raw food restaurant to go to in London. Well – to be fair – there are only three but that doesn’t mean it isn’t sensational and doesn’t give every mainstream restaurant in town a run for its money. It’s not raw food as you know it and if I can’t ‘turn’ you raw, their macadamia feta cheese will.

As soon as I walked in from hectic, rainy Old St and sat down, I noticed three distinct things:

1.  SAF, so named after the Turkish word for pure and authentic, is a totally chilled out sanctuary of culinary calm. I usually only breathe properly in a yoga class but here I breathed in and breathed out…sipped my biodynamic, organic vegan red wine and breathed in again;

2.  The menu is actually only 50% raw but what is raw is made up of 100% delectable and ingenious combinations of fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables; and

3.  For a Monday night, it was packed, and this, our smiley, knowledgeable waitress told me, was a slow night.

Kindly joining me on my raw adventure was my friend Vivian, who also generously agreed to share absolutely everything, hence the broad spectrum of dishes we powered through. We had raw beetroot ravioli, a pesto au poivre (raw nut cheese), raw vegetable maki, raw pad thai and a raw root vegetable tart, all followed by a raw chocolate granache tart with pear sorbet, spiced rum and pear compote. Yum, yum, yum. Every dish was delicious and filling, made even more rewarding because all those natural nutrients would be heading straight for my blood stream and I wouldn’t be stressing out my poor digestive system to get to them. I won’t spoil your own experience and critique every dish to death but here are the highlights:

For starters, the beetroot ravioli looked and tasted amazing. Extremely fine slices of raw beetroot were stuffed with a cashew nut ricotta and surrounded by carrot, pumpkin seed oil and the most incredible balsamic fig I have ever smacked my chops around.

The pesto au poivre course was a cheese feast deluxe. This was a tough one as I was (am) a cheese obsessive freak and had very high hopes. I purposely avoid making nut cheese as it goes against my fundamental philosophy that delicious raw food meals shouldn’t rely on crazy equipment, weird ingredients and lengthy time frames. However, I couldn’t wait to try it here. According to our waitress, the cheese with sage pesto and peppercorn crust, was made from fermented cashew nuts by one (or all) of the twelve chefs on staff. That’s amazing! Twelve raw food chefs!!

The raw pad thai was spicey but not too spicey, on courgette noodles that were more noodley than noodles and a chipotle almond sauce that was nothing like almonds or chipotle and everything like a traditional pad thai. Only raw.

With surgical precision only acquired by someone with lots of competitive, food loving siblings, Vivian divided the Granache tart in perfect halves. I tried to trick the waitress into telling us the ingredients but only gleaned cacao and coconut oil, which I had guessed anyway. Needless to say it was luscious, even if I was ‘forced’ to share it.

Whether y0u are herbivore or carnivore, I strongly recommend you go and try out the menu for yourself.  The menu apparently changes frequently so I will certainly go back very soon. I don’t want to miss out on the cucumber black peppercorn sorbet and I am determined to figure out the rest of the ingredients in my own full slice of granache!