Review: Vegan Stuffed Crust at Pizza Hut (Baker Street Branch)

pepperphoni

That’s a Pepperphoni Pizza from Pizza Hut with a stuffed crust. Yes, vegan stuffed crust has happened. Kate’s been stuck on soft food recently but as soon as she could chew a little we ordered ourselves some pizza. We ordered from Pizza Hut Restaurants which is a different company with a different (significantly less vegan) menu than Pizza Hut Takeaway. Which is disappointing because we only have a takeaway near us at home.

squish

Pizza Hut was always my favourite chain pizza. You get a good chewy crust and a rich tomato sauce that isn’t too sweet. They use violife as their vegan cheese which is one of my favourites for a takeaway-style pizza. Fancy Italian style gets mozzarisella. The pepperphoni is pretty good although clearly mine was a little dry and burnt. The stuffed crust itself is everything you want it to be. Cheesy, messy, over-the-top.

nugs

The real surprise hit of the order though were these southern fried nuggets. I really just added them to the order because they had a vegan symbol next to them and, you know, might as well. It turns out though that these are the best vegan chicken nuggets I’ve ever had. Why aren’t McDonalds or KFC on this?

I set out to get a stuffed crust pizza mostly for the novelty value. I ended up with one of the most enjoyable meals I’ve had from a chain fast food place. Well done Pizza Hut.

Review: Vegan options at YO! Sushi

I’m sightly obsessed with YO! Sushi. I keep finding myself eating lunch there. Still I haven’t written about it here because I’m sure posting about this British take on sushi would get be a lecture on authenticity. However I really like it so…

Okay, YO! Sushi. It’s bright, it has a conveyor belt, the flavours are a little OTT, you press a little button when you want the waiters attention (very awkward) and people yell ‘Yo!’ a lot. But quietly and apologetically because it’s a British chain. And we’re awkward. A few months back they rejigged the menu, adding more vegan options and here are some of my favourites.

aubergine

Glazed Aubergine (£2.50) The soy glaze on the aubergine is stunningly rich. It’s great to top off the nigiri and is one of my favourite ways to eat aubergines.

yasiroll

Yasia Rolls (£3.20). All of the veggies and some tofu skins all in a delicious roll. I would usually say something about how the mayo seems unnecessary but actually I’m just impressed with how quickly vegan mayo has become ubiquitous so I’m not saying anything. This is my favourite roll. There’s also an inari taco (£3.20) which is equally delicious and over the top with condiments.

salad

My favourite dish is one of the salads. And I don’t say that often. Kaiso seaweed (£3.20) is a salad of seaweed, carrot, and edamame in a punchy dressing. I could eat this all day long.

misopot

A vegan chocolate pot! It’s a bit more special than your average choc pot with a hint of miso for a decadent umami hit. If you’re not sure if you like the sound of that then I’d encourage you to give it ago because it’s delicious.

Like I said in the opening, YO! Sushi is one of my favourite places eat lunch right now. When I need something light and full of flavour.

Review: KFC Original Recipe Vegan Burger

I actually tried this on the day it came out but it’s taken me a while to write it up. Why? Well my thoughts about it are complicated. KFC is obviously responsible for the death of a lot of chickens. If I spend money there am I supporting that slaughter? If I buy the vegan burger will I be encouraging them towards a plant-based business model? Or are they just going to use my money to increase their reach and sell meat to more people?

kfcbox

Honestly I can’t answer any of those questions. Spending money with KFC is probably not the most ethical choice to make but there are upsides. A big one for me is that I can just go out and eat like a normal person. Or, rather, that I can be seen to eat like a normal person. When I’m out with my little cousins and they want KFC I can eat with them. That’s a huge positive for both me as a person and the reputation of veganism. I’m not sneaking off to the far corner of the food court any more to get that one vegan option. I can eat something that looks like what they are eating. When they grow up and are choosing their own diet things like the KFC vegan burger will make veganism seem not just possible, but easy. Something you can do while hanging around with your mates.

kfc

Ethical questions aside, how is the taste? It is shockingly good. I was expecting something like a supermarket chicken burger but this is far beyond that. It’s honestly the closest thing to a chicken I’ve eaten since… well, chicken. The texture is something else. It’s got a moist, tenderness to it that is spot on. Not soggy or wet like bad mock meats can get. Perfect. The coating is its famous fabulous self and I can’t fault it. My only minor quibble is that it comes with vegan mayo and sad iceberg. In my KFC eating days I was a big fan of the zinger tower and I’d love to see a vegan version of that. I’d also like to see vegan fries; at the moment they’re cooked in the same oil as the popcorn chicken. My solution to this would be to make the popcorn chicken vegan. A girl can dream.

Review: Caffè Nero Vegan Options

We’ve been down with matching viruses but when Saturday rolled around we were sick of being sick. Armed with a small amount of energy but lacking the brain power to cook we went fourth to find some of the new vegan options that Veganuary had promised. We went to Caffè Nero.

Caffè Nero has always been my favourite out of the three main coffee chains but that’s mostly because I preferred their hot chocolate as a teen. Certainly the Torquay branch isn’t a pleasant or relaxing experience. The second-hand stress of people waiting for the single toilet cubicle, trying to remember the code and then being underwhelmed by the facilities is enough to drive you mad. But what of the food?

neroballs

We had a pair of vegan meatball paninis. I’m not sure paninis are the best way to serve meatballs as it flattens them out and doesn’t really warm them all the way through. I’m also sceptical about the mayo. Does it really need mayo? Probably not. Overall though it’s a solid sandwich. The tomato sauce was a highlight, strong and flavourful. The meatballs herby and satisfying. It’s no Meatball Mania from Samphire but it’s also a third of the price.

nerocake

Because why not, we also tried the cheesecake. Salted Caramel and Chocolate Vegan Cheesecake. Its hard to nail down what we thought about it. Kate first tried all the individual layers and loved them only to be disappointed by them in combination. Something about it just doesn’t work. If you ask me it’s that the base is overwhelmingly salted and that swirl of caramel on top is aggressively sweet. It’s like they’ve nailed the hard part. They’ve made a creamy, decadent, vegan cheesecake but they failed when it came to the easy thing. They couldn’t make salted caramel and chocolate taste good together.

nerorc

Our last bite to eat was bought to go. Vegan Raspberry Croissant. And honestly I think these might be the surprise winner of Veganuary. The last vegan croissant I had was overpriced, came from Selfridges, and tasted of disappointment. Assuming disappointment tastes like a stale croissant. These were crisp, have just the right amount of raspberry jam, look adorable, and are available on Torquay high street. Surprise winner of Veganuary.

We can recommend a quick stop at Caffè Nero for a breakfast croissant or a lunchtime meatball panini. But not the cheesecake.

Vegan Review: Viapino (Disneyland Paris)

Viapino is a chain and you can find them in the UK, so it’s not a great Disney tradition or anything, but it is the only place in Disneyland Paris that has marked vegan options, so that was good enough for me.

That said the vegan options aren’t massively inspiring. You can have the pasta without the cheese on top or the pizza without the cheese on top. You get the picture. I wanted the bruschetta to start so I went over to the station for that. There was only one man working the station and he wasn’t working terribly quickly. I was waiting behind two people and not going anywhere. So I switched to the pasta station, coming back for the bruschetta after I’d finished that. I waited ages again but finally got my bruschetta. It was good but hardly worth the line.

The pasta line was just as chaotic but with more people working it they managed to get me served pretty quickly. I got the arrabbiatta sauce and was asked if I wanted it spicy. Which I did. It was not spicy. In fact I found that everything that promised to be spicy in Disneyland Paris was barely touched by a chilli. It was delicious, but more as a tomato sauce.

I enjoyed the food. Simple but fresh and hearty. Getting everything was a little stressful though. I’d probably try to go back at a quieter time. That’s the Disneyland Paris location though. I wouldn’t go out of my way to go to any of the UK locations. Not when even places like Pizza Hut serve vegan cheese now. In fact that’s exactly where we stopped on the way home.

Review: Wagamama

We’ve talked before about how we never get to try exciting new offerings from chains, so when we needed somewhere to eat on our last night in London I demanded we go get the vegatsu from Wagamama.

I’m going to say this up front: the atmosphere was awful. It was Friday night in a busy location and the music was loud and the wall to wall people were louder. But it’s pretty much what you expect in a busy location at a busy time.

The food was amazing though. The vegatsu is a vegan take on katsu curry. There is a large slab of katsu seitan served with white rice and coated in a delicious curry sauce. It’s so, so good. The seitan is crazy good! It’s meaty, genuinely meaty, with a great taste and texture. And then they put breadcrumbs on it. Then curry. It’s delicious.

I really want to get another one, but I might not go on a Friday night. That many people in one place scare me.

Reveiw: Zizzi

By the time I’d rejoined Kate in London it was late so we threw ourselves on the mercy of a chain pizza place near our hotel. We went to try the vegan options of Zizzi.

Zizzi use mozzarisella which is totally my favourite vegan pizza cheese. One of the specials was a pizza combining four of their flavours: original, smoked, blue, and cheddar. It was great and you probably think that’s useless information considering it was a special but not so. Now you know to go out and try the all the flavours on pizza. Especially the blue. I’ve tried it before and it doesn’t really work as an eating cheese but I didn’t think to cook with it. Melted it’s amazing.

Kate ordered pizza that contained actual vegetables. She had the vegan zucca with roasted butternut squash and spinach. This is on the regular menu so you’ll be happy to know that it’s a good pizza too.

For desert we ordered the vegan cheesecake. It was on the winter special menu but it’s back on the menu for spring. I hope it stays forever. It’s delicious. The server raved about it when they brought it to the table, a huge recommendation for a vegan dessert in a non-vegan restaurant.

We were expecting a decent meal and the pizzas were good, solid pizzas. The cheese cake though? Amazing.