Monthly Archives: March 2014

A winning lunch at the Wise Cicada

Wise Cicada saladsSunday lunches are often busy times and this popular vegan cafe in Newmarket on a warm autumn afternoon was no exception. We were lucky to find three seats at one of the long polished wooden tables.

We were briefly tempted by the hot food in the brunch bar but settled on the hot dish of the day, a roast pumpkin, chickpea and tempeh dhal ($12.50). It was delicious. The spiced ginger and coconut cream sauce also contained kumara, onion, garlic, kale and carrot, and was served with red quinoa infused with lemon and orange zest. The quinoa provided a light, fresh balance that offset the creamy main nicely.

We shared a slice of the Vegan Raw Cheesecake ($9). The crust is made with cashew, almond, coconut and date paste, and the filling with coconut oil, cashew, vanilla, lemon juice and the flavour of the day, which happened to be berry. It was sufficiently rich for a third share each to be entirely satisfying.

The coffee was a disappointment, bitter and not warm, but the cheerful, willing staff seemed hard pressed to keep up with the orders. We left feeling quite satisfied with our choice overall.

As an encore I was able to choose two salads from their colourful salad bar ($3.95/100 grams) – kale with apple, walnut, sprouted mung beans, ginger and mustard, and a cauliflower salad with tahini, carrots, sprouted mung beans, and almonds in a satay sauce – to take away.


Vegetarian delights at Manukau city’s Buddhist Temple

Fo Guang Shan templeThe Fo Guang Shan Water Drop Vegetarian cafe is a busy little hub near the entrance to this elegant, tranquil temple at Flat Bush in Manukau. The distinctive pagoda style temple roof can be seen from some distance away, and as you walk up the steps and enter the main doors into the large atrium you can see ahead of you the open landscaped central courtyard. The cafe is to your left.

Kitty was enraptured with her Laksma Deluxe ($18), a delicious and indulgently large bowl of noodles, sprouts, tofu, BBQ flavoured soy, and mushroom gluten balls in a thick coconut milk curry. It was too large for her, she consumed all the broth and veges but left many of the noodles. There is a smaller version but I suspect she’d order it again just for the sheer joy of it.

My own Lohan Delight ($15) was a bowl of mushrooms and other fungi, water chestnuts, gingko nuts, broccoli, tofu and bamboo sticks in a savoury gravy, with a bowl of rice. Totally different, and a very nice light meal.

Both dishes were vegan. We were unable to choose a cake to go with our rather good coffee as they all contain egg.

There’s plenty of parking on site and I was able to drive across the neatly paved courtyard to deliver Kitty to the base of the main steps. I was pleased to see there’s also a sloping ramp as an alternative access to the main doors.

The cafe is open Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 4pm.

To find out more about the 50+ vegetarian cafes throughout NZ, ask for the Guide to Vegetarian Dining Out in Aotearoa/New Zealand $9.95 + postage – email

Burgers to relish at the Blue Bird

Blue Bird interiorThe Blue Bird Vegetarian Cafe in Dominion Road is hard to go past for a relaxing Saturday lunch after a hectic week. It has a tranquil atmosphere on both floors that lends it self to lingering conversations, and there’s a conversation pit with luxurious couches upstairs that invite you to do just that.

I was there with two of my nephews, both fit young men who enjoy healthy appetites. Usually I order from the cabinet and indeed there was a tempting hazelnut loaf along with some salads. However, this time we all opted to order from the blackboard menu, two of us for tofu burgers and one with a lentil burger ($13.50). Each of them came topped with a smooth, but not cloying, most acceptable peanut sauce, and a good side helping of Asian coleslaw; the latter provided a satisfyingly crisp balance. We all found our burgers to be good tasty fare that set us up nicely for our respective afternoon activities.

The staff at the Blue Bird are all of the Sri Chimnoy philosophy and their practice of harmony and balance is reflected in the cafe: the service is quietly attentive and helpful. While a few of the dishes use some eggs, it is mostly vegan-friendly, and gluten free options are always available.