Today we’re talking about a restaurant that we discovered for the first time in 2018, and which absolutely blew us away. Situated just around the corner of the Shepherd’s Bush underground station, Tai Buffet is an all-vegan Asian food buffet venue which caters to an all-you-can-eat crowd until late daily.
Let’s start with the process of making the macaroons. It was so easy to do that we really had no problems with it at all – it’s a very straightforward mix and the ingredients are easy to work with, just as before. You don’t need to add much, even though you might think that macaroons are more complicated than cakes.
The texture and taste of the coconut macaroons were absolutely perfect. I’ve never made macaroons before – vegan or not – and so this was really exciting for me. Seeing them come together perfectly with no problems, even if they might not be the neatest or prettiest macaroons out there, was fantastic. We also enjoyed them a whole lot – let’s just say it was hard to keep the lid closed on the box we stored them in.
Anyway, here’s the video of how we made our delicious macaroons. Have a watch and see just how easy it is to do!
The best news is that we have one more Gluten Freegan mix to share with you, so we’ll be posting that soon! We can’t wait to get stuck in and see how it compares to the two we’ve tried.
It’s served in a really nice bun, a glazed brioche which adds a bit of a luxury touch. So far, so good!
There is so much filling that it’s actually too big to eat in one mouthful, as the burger and other elements simply squidge out the back when you try. I don’t like being defeated by a burger, but sometimes you just have to knife and fork it – and I would suggest that this is one of those times.
There’s lots of fresh salad in the bun which always adds that extra feeling of satisfaction, though of course it’s the burger itself we’re most interested in. This has a solid texture, and is very fibrous. There are lentils visible in the burger mixture, which overall is quite sweet. This might be a little strange except that it’s less noticeable when paired with the bun.
Inside the bun are a few smaller sliced gherkins as well as a big slice of tomato (you know how we feel about those here at VegBurge – we like to throw them straight out!). The burger was a tiny bit dry and could perhaps do with some added spice or diced onion. Overall, however, it was really tasty.
The ice cream sundae, I should note, is not vegan, however tasty it might be!
On the Vegburge scale, I give this…
Taste – 8/10
Price – 5/10
Rest of experience – 7/10
This place has a lot of great stuff on the menu, but before we even get to that, the atmosphere was fantastic. It has this kind of arty, shabby chic vibe that was right up our street, complete with chalkboard wall and exposed brick. It looks pretty much exactly like you would expect a vegan cafe in Hackney to look like, honestly.
Next up, the menu: starting with the drinks. I ordered – of course – a hot chocolate. Mind you, this was before the heat wave properly struck! The vanilla white chocolate, at £4.50, contains vanilla, maca, cacao butter, coconut oil, maple, and heated milk (oat or coconut). I went with coconut and it was so… pretty! Just look at all the flowers on top!
It tasted good, too, but a tiny bit strange because it’s a white hot chocolate that has no chocolate in it. Just think about that. Also, a white hot chocolate always tastes a little odd because it’s not what you’re expecting. But still, it was nice.
And I actually liked it so much that it now features directly next to my face in all my new social media profile images, so that’s great.
Anyway, onto the food. We took a glance over the menu and decided to order the share platter for £10. If we weren’t wanting to rush on, and also not spend all our money in Hackney, we probably would have chosen other things as individual plates, but something to share worked for us.
The fresh veggies included to dip were SO fresh and tasty. It was just a flavour explosion, as everything was obviously freshly prepped and cut. The tomatoes were even pretty tasty, and as regular readers know, I can’t stand a raw tomato. But these, I ate.
The dips were pretty interesting. Much like when we make vegan dips ourselves, they are pretty solid – not as creamy and smooth as your normal houmous. You kind of end up getting lumps of dip, but they still eat just the same and the flavour was great here as well. The kimchi was really strong, and I loved the traditional flavours of the houmous. The cheese was very much like the houmous in texture and almost in flavour – certainly not the best “cheese” we’ve had, but on the other hand, a great dip.
The bread was absolutely delicious, and also obviously fresh. It was quite oily and even though it was the least healthy thing on the plate, we soon snapped up the offer of getting a couple more slices added to the platter at no extra charge, which was pretty decent.
Would we go again? Absolutely, yes. I don’t often find myself in Hackney, but now, when I do, I know where to go.
Thankfully, what they have on the shelves includes this relatively new option: a sweet potato falafel and beetroot houmous wrap, which comes with harissa slaw and spinach.
I’m pretty impressed with it, in all fairness. Despite the seeming mandate that ‘vegan’ has to been ‘boring’ for some retailers, they’ve created something very tasty indeed. There’s no attempt to substitute here – they’re simply making a wrap which happens to contain only-plant based ingredients.
That shows in the flavour. The beetroot houmous is undoubtedly my favourite part. It’s really beetrooty, which I love. Plus it has that lovely smooth texture. Then you have the falafels, which are usually kinda squished but still very tangy and flavourful. All the veggies and spinach add little zings here and there, and it just all goes great together.
The spinach is a good option, and as you can see, it’s suitable for eating on the train (apologies for the quality of photographs taken with my phone, in the dark, on a moving train).
It’s one of the healthiest options amongst their takeaway foods, excepting an actual salad, which is a great bonus. I’m giving this one a thumbs up because it’s become my go-to when those meetings and shows run late and I can’t get home in time to eat.
Which is actually probably helping me lose weight, because what we eat for dinner generally has larger portions and more calories, so I guess I’m fine with it!
The mango chutney, disappointingly, does not ooze out as it does in the photo on the packaging. Which is a shame, because that looks like a lot of tasty mango chutney. As it is, the amount that was actually in the burger was so little that I hardly noticed it at all. You can barely even see it when you look at the burger from the inside.
Can you spot it? That tiny little splodge there that barely justifies inclusion on the front of the packet? It was sweet, but only if you managed to isolate a small amount on your fork – otherwise, forget about tasting it at all.
It was a somewhat fragrant taste, though there wasn’t a single flavour from the ingredients which I would say stood out from the rest. It was kind of herby; if I had to describe it in a word, I would probably say “green”.
There was quite a size disparity between the two burgers in the same packet, which was troubling. They were crispy in texture, and quite solid all the way through – not as crumbly as one might expect. All in all, they weren’t very much to write home about.
Which is a big shame, because the burger on the packet? I was excited to eat that burger. It just turned out that what was on the outside didn’t really represent what was on the inside.
On the Vegburge scale, I give this…
Taste – 2/10
Price – 4/10
Rest of experience – 3/10
(By the way, I say in the video that it’s nut free… that was just me being silly! The mix does contain almonds, so it’s not actually nut free).
Let’s start with the process of making the cake. It was so easy to do that we really had no problems with it at all – it’s a very straightforward mix and the ingredients are easy to work with. While there is a need for apple sauce, which may not be in everyone’s cupboards, it will be a familiar staple ingredient for vegans who love to bake. It’s one of the best substitutes, and really does help to make the cake taste, well, like a cake.
The texture and taste of the cake were incredible. There’s very little chance that anyone would ever guess they were eating a cake that wasn’t made in the usual way – it’s moist, soft, and just delicious. The coffee flavour does come through very well, and with the use of real coffee, it even gave us a bit of an energy boost.
Of course, if you’re like me and hardly ever consume caffeine, you probably shouldn’t eat a slice right before bed… whoops!
Anyway, here’s the video of how we made our gorgeous coffee cake. Have a watch and see just how easy it is to do!
The best news is that we have some more Gluten Freegan mixes to use as well, so we’ll be filming those and showing you how they work soon! We can’t wait to get stuck in – what’s not to like about cake that is suitable for just about everyone?
I actually didn’t take up the discount, simply because the offer was cheap enough (£3 including shipping) to just go ahead and buy it – I’m saving the coins for something bigger! The pack arrived within a few days, consisting of a packet of fruit jerky and a banana bar.
The jerky is definitely a new experience. J has been hanging on to his jerky as one of the last non-veggie things he eats, and he was pleasantly surprised to try this version. It fits the bill for him, so we can’t say fairer than that! The jerky is quite chewy and has a tangy blueberry flavour that really stands out. I couldn’t really taste the apple or the banana, but in the back of my mind there was a certain knowledge of the texture and that they had to be in there somewhere.
There’s not a huge amount in the bag, so it did disappear quickly. I also noticed that while there were mostly rectangular-cut pieces of jerky that looked fairly uniform, there were also a lot of scraps at the bottom of the bag. These were all shapes and sizes, including some ridged pieces. They aren’t too thick, but you can see and taste that there’s a lot packed into each piece.
The banana bar was a lot less banana-flavoured than I was expecting, interestingly enough. Snact describes it as having a cinnamon ‘kick’, and I would agree with that. It’s not exactly spicy, but you can tell it’s there – and that’s good for your insides for sure!
These snacks are quite interesting, and I would say they’re a step up from the dried fruit products I would eat when I was at school. They have something that non-vegans might also appreciate, with the interesting flavours and textures. They aren’t hugely different from other brands that I’ve tried at festivals, but I would say that their branding is fantastic – and that might just push them further than a unique product could.
Now, I’d like to get into what this product is not. This is not a steak. It’s a cauliflower sliced on its side and then tossed in some herbs. It’s not a great alternative to a chicken breast. It’s not any kind of substitute.
It’s a cauliflower.
It tastes like cauliflower. It has the same texture as cauliflower. Even with your eyes closed and no prior warning, you would still be able to tell beyond any reasonably shadow of doubt that this is a slice of cauliflower.
Sainsbury’s Roasted Cauliflower SteaksI really hope no one ever suggests to me again that I should try cauliflower steak, because they might just find a rant on their hands. I never want to eat, or even look at, this soft, slightly spicy, massive chunk of cauliflower ever again. This is quite possibly the single most disappointing vegan or vegetarian alternative product I’ve ever tasted – and considering I’ve been trying them for 27 years, that really says something.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a snap of the menu like usual, but they’re fairly simple to explain. You’ve got sweet potato fries and hash browns, topped with onions, pizza sauce, and vegan cheese. Then it’s all melted together until it’s pretty delicious. It’s also pretty cute that they come out with a hashtag made with fries on top!
We had them as a shared side alongside our favourite Greenhouse burgers (yes – we were very full afterwards – what a shame that we just couldn’t bring ourselves to move for a couple of hours!). They were pretty damn good, I have to say. I’m really starting to love the taste of vegan cheese and the kind of stickiness when it melts – it’s like a classier version of singles cheese, which I have always loved.
The hash browns were not too salty or oily – I usually hate hash browns because they have those two attribute, but I actually enjoyed these. The flavour throughout was decadent and certainly reminded me of pizza. While the hash browns do seem like a random addition, since you don’t usually top pizzas with them, I’m not complaining. I liked them anyway.
They are substantial enough that they could easily serve as a full meal, and are also great for sharing. If you’re anything like us, there will be some closely-guarded battles over who can get the biggest and cheesiest fries! It’s a fantastic vegan dish and I loved it thoroughly. Next time we come, I’ll be crossing my fingers that these are still on the specials board.