I'm an inner-city rambler who's happy to share my best finds with you. My writing turns up in the local street press, magazines, and more. (This week's pic: face on a pole, Vulture-Boundary St intersection.)
Vege Rama takeaway in the Myer Centre is a must-visit for vegetarians, and a great reminder for everybody else about just how good vegetarian food can taste. With flavoursome curries, fresh salads, decadent cakes and pizzas groaning with toppings, this one-off eatery offers food that looks and tastes great.
I found Vege Rama by accident while wandering through the Myer Centre one day a few weeks ago. Attracted by a cabinet full of colourful pizzas and salads, I then moved on to take a closer look at the hot meals. These had a definite Indian bias (think curry, kofta, dahl, rice) -- but also included vegetarian lasagne, moussaka and potato bake.
It all looked good, so I decided to give Vege Rama a go. Instead of choosing from the prepared meals, I went for something a bit different, and ordered a dosa -- a lentil crepe filled with potato masala, served with dahl and chutney ($9). It was cooked to order, and came out about 5 minutes later -- light, tasty and huge. I enjoyed it very much, but think it would probably be better shared between two, accompanied by a salad to balance its slightly salty flavour.
A few days later I asked a couple of mystery shoppers to visit Vege Rama, and they also enjoyed their meals. One had chickpea curry and brown rice, and the other tried panir (curd cheese) curry and brown rice. They found both flavoursome and filling, and good value at $7 (add another $1.50 for two curries and a further dollar for three curries).
One of my mystery shoppers (not a vegetarian) liked Vege Rama so much that he went back again the following week, and tried the potato curry and rice and a delicately fried kofta (like a pakora, $2) and samosa ($3.50). He liked them all, though said I should warn chilli lovers that everything was at the very mild end of the spectrum.
I also returned another day to try one of Vege Rama's fabulous-looking salads (ranging in price from $8 for one small salad to $10.50 for three large salads). My chickpea salad was a delight, full of crunchy broccoli, snowpeas, carrot, tofu, spinach and pumpkin, with a tangy pesto dressing. I ordered brown rice and dahl to go with it ($10 for the lot) and although the combination sounds weird, it went down fine. Everything tasted great and felt great to eat. It reminded me what a wonderful feeling it is to eat something really healthy that you also enjoy -- the best of all worlds.
After my meal, I talked to owner Ruchi, who said that Vege Rama had been open in the Myer Centre for about 18 months (after moving from the Post Office Square location it occupied for almost two years before that). Ruchi and chef Guru are themselves committed vegetarians and see Vege Rama as a way to share the benefits of vegetarianism with their customers. They purchase organic ingredients where possible, use healthy olive and rice-bran oils, and offer vegan and gluten-free options every day. They also use largely biodegradable and sustainable plates and containers, and sponsor charities such as green groups and the RSPCA.
Ruchi said that they have many loyal customers, and I saw a steady stream of happy faces ordering and eating at Vege Rama. Another very smiley face belonged to staff-member Narae -- who began as a Vege Rama customer while on a homestay in Brisbane, and loved the Thai curry so much that she moved here from Korea to join the Vege Rama crew (boy, that must be some curry). Now she handles the front counter with Ruchi and tempts passersby with a silver platter loaded with crunchy kofta samples (one of which I tasted -- they were very good).
Vege Rama had lots of other things I'd like to try: burgers ($11), lasagne ($12 with salad), pizza (ranging from $7 to $12 with salad; vegan and gluten-free versions available), and lavish cakes that prove that a vegetarian diet doesn't have to be all about denial ($8/slice). While the prices here are a little higher than at many food-court takeaways, I still think Vege Rama offers value for money, given the quality of the food and its support of sustainable practices.
For vegetarians, Vege Rama is a blessing, and it's easy to see why they keep going back. For the rest of us, it's a great chance to eat fast food that's really healthy, and to walk a little lighter on the planet. Why not give it a try? You might be surprised how much you enjoy it.
Though I enjoyed the food,I was really very upset by the comments made by rude Smooth headed sales man. I had a bad experience twice with same man,..I really wish why such wonderful restaurant hired head strong people like that!!Never Again...
By Anonymous Thursday, 19th of April @ 10:43 am
That's a shame. I've always found the staff nice there. Hopefully he was just a rare exception. At least the food was good, I hope.
By West End Girl - senior reviewer Friday, 20th of April @ 08:07 am
I came there many times and also met one male staff not very kind but other staff especially two Indian female staff are just so nice!
By the way, I also found their brown rice was sometimes undercooked...not soft enough to be chewed.