Delicious vegetarian/vegan restaurant outing + mate tea review!

On a rather average (in terms of weather) and quiet Sunday (because here, we have a tradition of citywide Sunday hangovers), my mother and I decided to go out for some delicious restaurant food.

*Co-incidentally today was day-light savings day! (into Summer for us, yippee! And shame Northern-hemisphere-ers going into winter)

Anyway,

We made our final decision on the Lotus Heart Cafe that’s situated near the CBD of the city. The Lotus Heart Cafe is a vegetarian restaurant (with vegan options) that’s owned by followers of “Sri Chinmoy”. As a summary, this restaurant is one of those where European servers wear saris.

The food there might be a bit above the average price but the atmosphere is great, the meals are always elaborate, so they’re worth the additional dollars.

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I ordered the “Mate tea” (read as Ma-Te, most of you might’ve already known how to pronounce the name of this famous South American tea, but I embarrassingly ordered for a “Mate” tea with the waitress.)

Brazillian Green Mate

Ma-te tea improves digestion, promotes balance in the body, provides mental clarity and sustains physical energy.

*This was what they’ve written on their menu. My mum had very kindly written down descriptions of our meals for me to share.

Don’t know to what extent is the truthfulness of their advertised benefits of mate tea, but it’s dang delicious! With flavor rivaling those of Green, or matcha tea. The taste is green-tea-y, but it has this sweet, spicy and herb-y edge to it as well. As if it’s lightly seasoned with a spice, similar to cinnamon, but with not quite the same strong flavors.

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I ordered the “sun burger” (named so because the pattie consists of SUNflower seeds duh). I would’ve ordered the breadless burger, but I wanted the chutney that comes with bun-inclusive dishes.

The ‘house chutney’ turned out to be about 1 tsp of cranberry-like jam smeared on the bottom bun.

Sun burger

A tasty sunflower seed pattie with melted cheddar, mayo, house chutney, gherkins, tomato and lettuce.

(Obviously I asked for no cheese) The double dose of gherkin slices prevented me from complaining about the chutney though. And the roasted veggies were just delicious (despite the lather of oil! Or were they delicious because of the oil?)

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What’s with me and sour-y foods? They just seem to float my taste-bud’s boats, but it’s not only their delicious flavor that’s great; vinegar helps boost metabolism, and lemon juice contains compounds with similar properties.

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My mum’s elaborate and delicious dish; chef’s salad.

Chef special salad

Artichokes hearts, sundried tomatoes, cannelloni beans, olives, rosemary and garlic vegetarian salami and green beans tossed in a home grown coriander with pistachio pesto

(Another good thing about the restaurant is that they have their own herb/veggie garden, right behind their restaurant)

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This dish was yum! Sadly, the pesto was probably something like 50 calories per tbsp and contained dairy (I still ate it though haha, sorry cows, but it’s already been ordered!), the vegetarian salami was good too, I thought it was meat when I first dug in (had a freak out moment, is this really a vegetarian restaurant!?) I honestly nearly broke out into sweat because of how meaty the salami had tasted (the pink slices seen in the dish). Most likely made of soy-protein (tasted even better than Fry’s sausage). They also chucked in a WHOLE load of artichoke hearts so that dish was worth every penny $16.50 (My burger was $13.40).

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1/8 of my mum makes an appearance! This is the special (and very convenient) straw called “Bombilla”  which comes with the mate tea (I think the tea was only $4 which is a great deal considering the elaborateness, and most hot drinks at cafes are around that price anyway)

Bombilla (metal straw). Served in a traditional Calabash (gourd)

*They had a side note for the mate tea on the menu.

The tiny holes let the warm liquid in, leaving out the leaves.

I’m surprised the Chinese haven’t invented a tool like this for their tea drinking since they’re so susceptible to inventing everything (from paper to pasta), and have more recently moved on to growing a nose on a man’s forehead.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/130925/chinese-doctors-grow-replacement-nose-patients-foreh

My dad would explain that the reason was because drinking tea is an art of “cultivating one’s mind” or “Xiu Xin Yan Xing” i.e. patiently letting the tea leaves sink to the bottom before sipping it.

For me, nah. I’m gonna buy myself a Bombilla. Plus, it’s so much funner to use! I was enjoying myself so much drinking with it, it was a bit embarrassing.

Anyway, everybody support Latin American tea-growers; go buy organic mate-tea! It’s soooo delicious too.

The restaurant/cafe also had a gift-shop in which my mum always buys a food item or two from. This time, I decided to join in with the bounty gathering…

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Our exploits: Obviously, we had to buy the Mate tea (only $7.50 per box!) and I got myself a $3.50 single serving pack of protein powder to try. Have never had protein powder ever! (except for this vital-green nutrients powder thing that had a bit of pea protein in it) I will utilize this sachet in my time of protein-need, and write an entry about what it’s like.

I wanted to buy a protein chocolate bar too, but it was a bit high-calorie 230 per bar, and $5.50… The cacao bean chocolate bon bons looked tempting, but were a bit pricey.

So I got myself a box of low-calorie ginger mints (strange combination) which would be a nice break from the artificial sweeteners in the chewing gum I chew (mentioned in this post, http://obsessivenutritioncompulsive.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/artificial-sweeteners-and-their-dangers/ my trying to reduce sweetener intake)

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(sweetened with organic cane sugar, corn syrup*not high-fructose or HCF so not so bad for you)

Anyway, I just remembered I have this picture of the leftover from the last time I went to the Lotus Heart Cafe (and first time at their new location).

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I’d ordered an “Energy platter” that had flax and seed crackers with nutty dips and salad. Man, that platter was so filling! Beware of seemingly low-calorie all-natural thin wee crackers. Nuts and seeds are extremely high in Kilojules (obviously) Nevertheless, the dips were incredibly delicious (forgot what they’d contained) totally worth the calories, was slightly soury and very creamy (presumably cashew + lemon juice etc.)

My mouth’s watering writing about all these foods I’ve eaten. I’m looking forward to having the leftover of my mum’s chef special! Can’t wait! 😀

5 thoughts on “Delicious vegetarian/vegan restaurant outing + mate tea review!”

  1. A really good friend of mine in college was from Uruguay, and she used to drink mate all the time – and used the same cup and straw contraption that you mentioned using at the restaurant. The only thing was: we lived on campus at the time and the housekeepers continually reported her for substance abuse, thinking that the cup and straw were meant for other purposes. Ha!

    1. LOL that was the same thing I thought when they brought me the tea! (pot tube resemblance). My initial thought could’ve been coupled by the fact that the people at the restaurant had this ‘hippie’ air about them. Anyway, mate is yum. Would taste good as iced tea too! (drinking cooled mate right now) I guess mate in South America is like green tea in China (although China is not a continent…) Can you find some around where you live?

      1. I like mate and have found that it’s available at Whole Foods Markets here, but I’ve heard that the “caffeine” content is more condensed, so I try not to drink it as much. Caffeine in quotes, because I believe that there is another ingredient in it that has caffeine-like effects, even though it’s considered to be caffeine free.

        1. That’s really interesting to know! It drove me to do some research on mate. There are different opinions out there over the caffeine content, imo it doesn’t really energize me much, could’ve been the cause of my difficulty getting to sleep these past few days! (I’ll need to keep track of my consumption association with sleep)

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