Tuesday 14 November 2017

Vegan in Wellington

Wellington was our final stop on our North Island road trip and we made it there just in time for the Wellington Friday Night Market on Lower Cuba Street. It was a super busy and bustling market with a great atmosphere and I was more than a little surprised at just how many vegan options there were. Aside from In Bloom the 100% vegan stall selling burgers and raw cakes there were stalls slinging vegan dumplings, takoyaki, tacos, churros, and more. We started with dumplings from House of Dumplings and we chose two each because we knew we were going to do a lot of eating that evening.

We went for one Spinach, Tofu, and Bok Choy dumpling each and then I grabbed a Japanese Six Mushroom dumpling whilst Nick opted for the special which was an Indian Dhal Coconut Cashew dumpling. Vicky who started House of Dumplings is from Hong Kong so these were legit and they made an excellent starter. If you have cooking facilities you can find House of Dumplings dumplings in supermarkets all over NZ but I don't know which ones sell the vegan versions.

Next up was the Takoyaki stall, Gogo Takoyaki, and I don't mind admitting that we loved these so much that we got in line for them twice!

I tried Takoyaki for the first time when I was living and volunteering in Japan. I found a Takoyaki pan at the volunteer house and set about finding a recipe and the ingredients to make them ASAP. I can safely say that these ones were about a hundred times better than the ones I made! They had the same konnyaku filling but these were actually round and had just the right level of crispiness on the outside without being at all raw in the middle. Making Takoyaki is definitely something that takes a little practice.

Gogo seemed to be doing a roaring trade in their vegan option and the konnyaku filled balls were right up our street. I loved that they had vegan mayo and that they were keeping the vegan and non vegan things separate. This market should definitely be on your must visit list for NZ, if you're lucky and time your trip right you could even be there for the monthly vegan night market Vegan Vault which takes place on the first Saturday of every month. I won't lie, I was a bit gutted that we missed out on that, but you should go for me and tell me all about it!

Our next eating adventure took place at Sweet Release Cakes and Treats because I'd heard that they make epic baked goods have pies on the menu. Sold! I ordered a Chicken Pot Pie because faux chicken is 100% my jam and Nick ordered some kinda potato topped pie. I wasn't really paying attention to his pie because I was too focussed on my amazing pie and his was gone before I could request a taste.

The chicken pot pie was seriously so good, I'd been eating a lot of pies by this point in our Aus & NZ adventure and this was definitely one of the best. Far better than any vegan pie I've ever eaten in the UK. We couldn't skip dessert once we knew how good their food was so I stuck to the pie theme with a veganised version of a Hershey's pie whilst Nick opted for a PB Brownie.

These were also completely delicious. I hadn't heard of the pie that this one was meant to be imitating but apparently it's kind of a big deal in NZ right now and I can see why. This chocolatey cookie crusted mousse filled and cream topped delight was, well, delightful. I wish I'd had space for a second slice. It seems that Sweet Release also make something called a Doof Doof which looks like a huge doughnut muffin hybrid. I didn't see any of those when we were there but please swing by and eat one for me if you're in the area. They look uh-mazing!

The YHA hostel we were staying at was around the corner from Commonsense Organics which is packed full of vegan goodies including faux meats, cheeses, and my very favourite treat, Dandies marshmallows. I usually order these from iHerb (Use my code JOJ321 for a discount on your first order) for a very reasonable price but that's not an option when you're on the move all the time and don't have an address. I'm happy to pay import prices for something this delicious though!

Located a little way away from where we were staying Mara Restaurant in Newtown was another spot on my must-eat list. Thanks to Hitch Car Rentals we had a car to zoom around in so we headed there for dinner on our second night despite the fact that it was pouring with rain. The place was cute and I think that they're pretty new but unfortunately the menu wasn't great for me. The only thing that they could make me was the polenta dish topped with veggies but with no sauce, granted the eat in menu was small, around eight or nine dishes, but I didn't feel like they were really trying very hard to accommodate me and it wasn't exactly busy when we were there. The dish itself was okay, decent even, but it wasn't exactly exciting and I don't feel that I got to experience what their food is really like. Mara have some good reviews but I wasn't sold after this course.

Dessert was where I was able to sample their food as it's meant to be eaten and I tried the Black Doris Plum and Beetroot Custard Tart with house made rose ice cream whilst Nick went for the Reincarnated Chocolate Three Ways which consisted of a chocolate brownie, chocolate mousse, and cookie ice cream. We were none the wiser about the whole reincarnated thing as the waitress told us that it was an inside joke that even she wasn't in on.

This dessert was pretty good, I enjoyed the flavours of my dish when they were all together, the beetroot, rose, and plum compliment each other nicely but I would have liked more plums and the pastry definitely could have been better. Nick wasn't super impressed with his dessert but I enjoyed the mouthful I tried, the brownie was fudgey and the ice cream had a good flavour but I agreed with him that the texture of the ice cream was a little strange and that the mousse could have been airier. I can't decide whether I'd recommend this place or not, they're new and just getting on their feet so maybe they'll iron out some of the creases in time and for upscale food in NZ it was surprisingly affordable. It's definitely a date night kinda place and if you do try it out let me know what you think.

V1 Vegan Store is a Wellington must visit, the people running this place are so lovely so even if you don't need anything drop by and give them some love. You're sure to be impressed by their range of faux meats and cheeses, the line up of vegan pick 'n' mix, and their bulk nooch bin.

They also have a little bakery counter selling cakes and cookies including the amazing cookies from Moustache in Auckland that I wrote about here. I loved them so much that I couldn't resist picking up a couple more. I also picked up some of Savour's organic cultured nut cheese in Cheddar. I was tempted by the beer infused cheese but I was pretty sure that Nick would hate it so I played it safe and I definitely wasn't disappointed. We managed to make this last two meals but I desperately wanted to eat it all in one go.

Speaking of cheese Nick and I also grabbed pizza from a couple of spots around town, firstly from Cin Cin, a non vegan pizza place with vegan cheese and a vegan chocolatey dessert on the menu, and secondly a slice of veg covered pizza from Tommy Millions, a take out hut on Courtenay Place which we could see from the window of our Wakefield Street hostel. They're open until 4am and whilst they don't have vegan cheese yet their veggie toppings were very generous and the slices were huge.

I was definitely impressed with the wide range of vegan options on offer in Wellington, we just kept stumbling upon things, and I would definitely suggest that you spend a few nights here if you're road tripping through NZ. We were pretty food focussed during our time there and we spent one day hiding from some truly terrible weather but there are good museums and walks so there should be plenty to keep you occupied. If you missed parts one and two of our New Zealand adventure so far you can catch up here and here.

This post was sponsored in part by Hitch Car Rentals. As always all words and opinions are my own. Posts like these help me to keep bringing you travel content from around the globe.


  1. WOW!!! I'm envious of your vegan options and finds!!!! VERY COOL!

  2. What amazing finds and definitely some delicious looking meals! What an amazing trip!

  3. You've really made some great finds in Wellington. That looks like some good eating! Who doesn't love a bit of nut cheese?

  4. I am always pretty food focused where ever I am. ;)
    The combination of plum, beetroot and rose does sound lovely, a shame it didn't live up to the full potential.

  5. I would definitely want to try the dumplings and the chicken pot pie!


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