Saturday, 31 December 2016

Top 10 Eats of 2016

Well 2016 has definitely been a mixed bag food wise, I spent two months volunteering at Japan Cat Network, a cat shelter in Inawashiro almost 100 miles from the nearest vegan friendly restaurant, and I got food poisoning in Taiwan, but I also discovered a new-to-me cuisine, ate some of the best food of my life, and had some amazing culinary adventures. I'm looking into 2017 with a whole lot of uncertainty and anxiety, obviously the current political climate terrifies me, but on a more personal level I have literally no idea where the next year is going to take me. I don't think I've ever gone into a year with no solid plans at all, I have no idea where I'm going to be living, travelling, or working, but I'm excited about the possibilities ahead and as always I'm feeling lucky that I have choices to make.

Without further ado here are my Top 10 Eats of 2016. These are in the order that I ate them because ranking this short list would basically be impossible. The list also discounts anything I've eaten in previous years hence why Lagusta's chocolates, Vinnie's pizza, and the ramen from T's Tan Tan aren't on the list.

1 - Vegan Heaven in Taipei

I usually insist on picking one standout dish from each place for this list but every single thing I ate at Veggie Heaven was a delight. I can't choose. Don't make me! From the delicate coffee hazelnut macarons to the apple caramel cream cakes I didn't find a single thing that needed improvement. The owner and baker Li is also without a shadow of a doubt one of the nicest people I've ever met. Visit Taipei immediately. Order one of everything. You won't be disappointed!

Vegan Heaven, Lane 473, Guangfu South Road, Xinyi District, Taipei

2 - Vege Creek in Taipei

This simple restaurant concept is one that needs to be rolled out in every city in the word. Vege Creek sell noodle soup bowls but they're super customisable which means that everyone gets the perfect dish for them. You choose your greens, veggies, proteins, and noodles, specify your preferred spice level, and then everything is braised in an aromatic spice and soy sauce flavoured stock. This traditional cooking technique infuses everything in the bowl with a depth of flavour that can't be beaten. 

Vege Creek, 2 Lane 129, Yanji Street, Da-an District, Taipei

3 - Night Market Eats in Keelung

My night market adventure guided by Taipei based blogger Stephie and her partner James is a highlight not only from the last year but from my 18 months of travel. This is not a tourist night market, you won't find any signs in English, but Stephie and James were able to guide our group towards an amazing array of vegan eats ranging from plates piled high with mock meats and tofu, towards delicious herby soups, bao burgers, and more. I even tried my first bubble tea during our excursion. 

Keelung Miaoku Night Market, Rensan Road, Ren'ai District, Keelung City

4 - Pork Ramen from FuShiWu in Taichung

Yes, another spot in Taiwan but this time the food is Japanese. This was actually the best vegan ramen I've eaten in my entire life. This is a real standout dish, no question about it. The incredibly flavourful broth and the texture of the faux pork set it apart from any other ramen I've tried. It's well worth visiting Taichung just for this!

FuShiWu, 447 Zhongmei St, West District, Taichung

5 - Dim Sum at Pure Veggie House in Hong Kong

Hong Kong wasn't my favourite place in the world but I would go back there just to eat dim sum right now. Pure Veggie House is a higher end spot filled with ladies who lunch, I definitely felt a little out of place, but it was totally worth it because the food was mind blowing. The steamed buns and flaky pastries were a delight and the gyoza and shumai were the best I've ever tasted. My only regret is deciding not to break the bank and order even more food!

Pure Veggie House, 3/F Coda Plaza, 51 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong

6 - Soy Meat Plate from Cori Vegan Food Stand in Tokyo

This light but perfectly balanced plate of food made it into the top ten because every single element was perfect. From the soy meat nuggets and scrambled tofu to the crisp lettuce and sautéed mushrooms everything was spot on and the sweet teriyaki sauce that tied it all together really made the meal. The only downside to Cori Vegan Food Stand is that I only got to eat there once - one of my wishes for 2017 is that businesses learn to use social media properly to let people know when they'll be closed!

Cori Vegan Foodstand, 3 Chome-13, Minamiaoyama Minato (at commune 246), Tokyo

7 - Doria from T's Restaurant in Tokyo

This vegan spin on Doria, a French rice based casserole, isn't something I expected to be on my must eat list in Japan but I'm oh so glad that I ordered it. Doria is a popular dish in Japan but as far as I know this is the only pace to eat a vegan version of the dish, it's creamy, flavourful, comforting, and filling and writing this has reminded me that I need to try to make this at home ASAP. Order the teriyaki soy chicken on the side to elevate this to best meal ever status! 

T's Restaurant, LUZ Jiyugaoka building 1F, Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku, Tokyo

8 - Bibimbap from Maji in Seoul

As a vegan with a chilli allergy I found travelling and eating my way around Korea to be a huge challenge. I ate a lot of modified meals from Plant whilst I was in Seoul and chowed down on more kimbap at nationwide chain Robot Sushi that I can count but Maji was the standout meal for me. This simple soy bean bibimbap with a range of tasty sides (including sweet battered and fried pumpkin slices) was 100% delicious, 100% authentic (no weird modifications necessary), and totally chilli free. This place made me happy after some tough travel days and I'll never forget it.

Maji, near Nabbing station, Seoul, 

9 - Mini Maccaritos from The Flying Duck in Glasgow

This is my kinda food. Carbs wrapped in carbs and covered in cheese. This beige on beige delight was one of many amazing meals I ate in Glasgow and I'm already dying to go back. The Flying Duck also excels on many other levels, it's got that slightly scuzzy underground pub vibe, there are games to play, and you can get a can of Irn Bru with your meal. Perfection.

The Flying Duck, 147 Renfield Street, Glasgow

10 - Mac and Shews from Modern Love in Brooklyn

This is no ordinary mac and cheese. The creamy cashew based sauce was of course a total standout but the pecan cornmeal crusted tofu, BBQ cauliflower, and even the sautéed kale elevated this dish to standout status. I'd probably put everything I ate at Modern Love onto the list, the appleberry pie was the best I've ever eaten, Isa's homemade vanilla ice cream blew my mind, the mushroom blintz was off the hook, and the atmosphere is beyond perfect. I ate here three times in three weeks and I would be more than happy to go back tomorrow.

Modern Love, 317 Union Avenue, Brooklyn

And the honourable mention goes to... Kols Staem & Eséé Ché Blueberries & Lavender Creme Chèvre

Every year a pick one non-restaurant food to make it onto the list and this year it's a totally spectacular cheese. Nothing comes up when you google them but add "vegan cheese" onto the end and their Instagram account pops up. Why a company making the best vegan cheese I've ever eaten only has 400 followers and no website is beyond me (well maybe that unpronounceable name isn't helping) but they are well worth hunting down. You can find their cheeses at Riverdel in Brooklyn as well as at pop up's like the Vegan Shop Up.

As another year draws to a close I want to give a shout out to Happy Cow for making my life easier and more delicious. Update your cities peeps, it makes vegan travel so much easier for everyone. Have you eaten at any of these restaurants? What were your standout meals of 2016? Let me know in the comments and maybe your favourite will make it onto my 2017 Top 10 list!


  1. Oh wow, you are making seriously want to go to Taiwan. And back to Japan, though I always want to go back to Japan.

    Best thing I ate this year is a tie, but both were from Smith & Deli in Melbourne. Their strawberry hibiscus curd chocolate sandwich cookie and their strawberry and cream tart make me weep with longing just thinking about them.

  2. Wow, you hit so many awesome places in 2016. Nice to know there's so much great vegan food out there. Looking forward to seeing where 2017 takes you. :-)

  3. That is a lovely looking line-up. Japan remains at the top of my list of places to go, and I can't wait to eat in your footsteps one day, so to speak. I haven't eaten proper vegan dim sum for more time than I'd like to remember. Here's to more good eats in 2017!


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