A Genuine Game Changer
Thanks to the release of popular yet polarising documentary The Game Changers, the benefits of eating vegan are at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds and the word vegan no longer has the negative connotations it once had. Images of unwashed hippies flinging buckets of symbolic red paint over unsuspecting diners at a bar and grill have been replaced with those of six packs, self care and environmental responsibility.
The tide is turning for the once maligned vegan community and trendy, creative eateries like Zed Bechara’s Vegan Lebanese Street Food (VLSF) on Bondi Road are leading the charge. The restaurant, which began as a market stall run by owner and chef Bechara, is now Australia’s first 100 per cent plant-based vegan Lebanese restaurant, with a second location in Bondi Beach set to open in March.
When I visited VLSF, the woozy synths and ethereal vibes of Rüfüs du Sol’s ‘Innerbloom’ filled the small yet lively space opposite the old post office. The trendy interior is lit up by a row of neon lights and the range of different personalities the restaurant attracts creates a vibrant atmosphere. This all makes for a fun dinner destination, but the fast paced kitchen and street style menu means VLSF can also double as a quick lunch stop. My menu recommendations therefore depend on the purpose of your visit.
VLSF’s menu showcases all the classic Lebanese dishes. If you’re dining in and want to experience as much of what VLSF has to offer, the mixed plate is your best option. Featuring traditional Lebanese dishes such as majadara, falafel, vine leaf, spinach triangle, pickled turnips, cucumbers and chillies, as well as a trio of dips served with warm wholemeal bread and your choice between a fresh fattoush or tabouli salad, this plate is bursting with Middle Eastern colours and flavours. Bechara also uses minimal oils and salts and has ditched the deep fryer for ovens, meaning a bunch of the dishes are completely oil free.
Bechara may have kept it simple when naming his then market stall, but he is very creative in the way that he has veganised traditional Lebanese meat dishes. Bechara claims that 90 per cent of his customers aren’t vegan and hopes these veganised options can help people transition into a plant-based lifestyle. If you’re visiting because you want to eat less meat, but are worried that this will make you less happy, then the Taita’s meat pie and the chicken shawarma could be the compromise you’ve been searching for. Made from a plant-based mince and Lebanese spices, you could easily mistake this meat pie for the real thing and the chicken shawarma made with shredded seitan marinated in a special garlic and herb sauce is equally deceptive. If you’re swinging past and need to grab some quick lunch, this chicken wrap is perfect, as is VLSF’s signature falafel wrap.
As for drinks, VLSF should have its liquor licence in the coming months, but in the meantime there is an assortment of kombucha flavours for you to detox on post-Christmas.
If you’re looking for a Halal snack pack, this definitely isn’t the go, but if you’re keen to enjoy the traditional flavours of Lebanon without getting the meat sweats, this place is a genuine game changer.
Vegan Lebanese Street Food
Address 188 Bondi Rd, Bondi
Phone 0404 413 335
Open Mon-Fri 5-9.30pm, Sat 12-10pm, Sun 12-9.30pm
Prices Mixed Plate $26 for 1 or $48 for 2, Lebanese Pies 3 for $12, Chick’n Shawarma $15, Slow Baked Majadara $19
Cards Master, Visa, Amex
Licensed Coming soon