(Dragon Bowl @ Zen Kitchen)
I belong to the Ottawa Blogger Brunch group on Facebook - we meet every month or so at a different brunch spot, introduce ourselves and talk about blogging before we dive into typical brunch fare. This month we chose to try Zen Kitchen for their vegan take on brunch. Sadly there were only four of us (myself, Ming Wu, Roy Wallace and Samantha Everts) instead of the usual 8-12 that we usually have but we did enjoy ourselves.
I've been to Zen Kitchen several times - as part of a dinner club, for my birthday, with a friend - I love it. When it was suggested as a place to go for for the Ottawa Blogger Brunch I jumped at the opportunity and championed to have it there. A lot of the attendees were afraid of cost, worried that a restaurant known for fine dining wouldn't be able to offer something affordable. However, at all of the brunch plates ringing in at $14 it is a great way to experience the food of Chef Caroline Ishii and her talented crew.
(Kimchi Caesar @ Zen Kitchen)
When I arrived I immediately ordered coffee - it was already 1:00pm and I hadn't had my daily dose! After I quickly downed it and felt a bit more like myself I ordered the Kimchi Caesar. I'm not a Caesar drinker but I thought that the kimchi would add an interesting element and it did. I really enjoyed drinking it. For my main brunch dish I ordered the Dragon Bowl (pictured above), it had a base of brown mixed grain rice with spiced sauteed vegetables, house made pickles and crispy maple ginger tofu. The different textures of the dish really made it pleasant to eat, I found myself pausing, really savouring each element that was on the plate.
(Forbidden Rice Pudding @ Zen Kitchen)
Despite having 9 chocolate desserts the previous day I still wanted to have dessert! It wasn't hard to decide which dessert to get, I had to go for the Forbidden Rice Pudding. It was served cold with fruit compote, ginger and crispy coconut very delicious, a wonderful way to end the brunch.
(Tres Leches Cake @ Zen Kitchen)
But the eating wasn't over just yet! Just as we had finished our desserts Chef Caroline comes into the dining room to check in with each table. When she reaches ours Samantha, a vegan, gushes about how wonderful it is to have so much selection on a menu where she would normally have to limit herself to the one vegetarian option. After more talk about technique, the benefits of eating quality food, Chef Caroline goes to kitchen and lets us sample this beautiful vegan Tres Leches (three milk) cake made with coconut milk, coconut cream, and soy milk served in warm caramel. So decadent, hard to believe that it's vegan!
I can't talk about Zen Kitchen enough, it's fantastic, it's something you must experience. Since it's been featured in Lonely Planet's guide to Canada as Ottawa's Top Choice you probably will find it hard to get a seat. If you have an opportunity, go, experience not only the best vegan cuisine but one of the best restaurants in Ottawa.