A new restaurant and café that caters for vegan, gluten-free, raw, low-sugar, low-GI and macrobiotic diets has officially launched in London.
Vantra Vitao, near Tottenham Court Road, officially launched yesterday, after a soft-launch in late November last year. With 25-covers, it is aiming to serve vegan and healthy food, that is still appealing and tastes good.
The food menu is split between small "living dishes" that function as appetisers, followed by raw, small dishes, "balancing grains and veg" side plates, and mains that are either raw or steamed.
Choices include kimchi with sesame seeds and chilli miso; flax seed nacho crackers with pineapple, guacamole and salsa; buck-"vheat" pizza with seed cheese (a whipped, dairy-free "cheese" made from pumpkin) and raw tomato salsa (pictured).
Steamed dishes include chickpea and aubergine moussaka, green vegetables in mustard sauce; squash, tomato, pesto and seed cheese lasagne; and squash, chickpea spiced curry.
The menu is customisable, in that any ingredients listed with an underline can be removed or replaced, according to taste and diet. This can include removing allergens such as nuts, seeds or gluten, removing garlic or raw onion, taking out aubergine and pepper for a macrobiotic diet, omitting soya and miso for those looking to avoid soya.
Choices can also be served without sugar, yeast, cooked fruits, mushrooms or chilli, for those following a "yogist", low-sugar or low-GI diet. Spend is around £10 for lunch and £15-20 for dinner.
Décor is natural and slightly bohemian, with rough wooden tables, deliberately distressed colourful paintwork, and low lighting.
Since its soft-launch, the site has been trialling a buffet-menu option during the day, with its a la carte menu available on Friday and Saturday nights. It eventually intends to serve the a la carte every evening.
Manager Emil Zalewski said that the venue also hopes to put on evening events, including live music and spiritual talks on the benefits of veganism and juice detoxing, and their connection to Eastern religions and practices such as Buddhism and yoga.
Owner Lenny Phong, originally from China and a committed vegan for 25 years, wanted to show Londoners that vegan food could be healthy and appetising.
Speaking at the venue's official launch, Phong said: "We want to educate people about veganism and healthy eating. Some people think veganism can't be healthy, but with all this experience and ingredients that we have gathered, we're now ready to go mainstream. There's no reason today why people can't eat vegan, healthy and gourmet food."