As a self-proclaimed carnivore, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I stepped inside the cozy vegan restaurant.
I was greeted by three smiling faces, Rotem, Jordana and Itamar, the Co-Founders of Chickpea. The story of their partnership began with Rotem interviewing Jordana for a position at a non-profit Jewish organization in UBC via an online conference call. Jordana got the role, moved from Israel to Vancouver together with Itamar, and the rest is history.
Rotem and Itamar bonded over food, testing new recipes in Itamar’s kitchen. With the goal of sharing great tasting vegetarian food with the Vancouver community, they joined together to create the Chickpea food truck.
The humble beginnings included inviting their friends for a test-run at a small gathering, and given the overwhelmingly positive feedback, the trio decided to pursue the venture with all their effort. The first location for their food truck was at Dude Chilling Park at 7th and Brunswick Street in Vancouver.
It wasn’t long before the momentum from their food truck and catering business encouraged them to open up a bricks and mortar location on Main Street. The inspiration behind the food comes from the Co-Founder’s backgrounds, with a focus on Middle Eastern food from Israel. The menu encourages sharing with lots of family / share plates with everything being vegan with its own original twist. It was the trio’s transition to becoming vegans that have made them curate a menu that is 100% plant-based. It was also their goal to reduce their footprint by eliminating animal products from their menu.
Whereas you may find imitation-meat dishes at other vegetarian or vegan restaurants, Chickpea is perfectly happy serving up dishes that look and taste exactly as they are supposed to - vegan.
As we sat chatting in one of the comfortable group seating areas, the owners served up a vegan feast. The Haflas and its accompany side dishes are the perfect sharing starters to get everyone’s appetites going. With deliciously pickled sliced cucumbers, healthy beets, mouth-watering hummus and so much more, you will find yourself asking for a few more baskets of pita bread.
Their chickpea fries are fried just the right amount, giving it a crisp outer layer. One of our favourite dishes we couldn’t keep our hands off of were the falafels; best of all, they are gluten-free! We bet you will fight for seconds over this dish. The exterior is fried until its crunchy, contrasted against the incredibly soft special mix of chickpeas, onions, parsley, garlic and secret spices inside, these falafels are the most wonderful snack bite on a rainy day.
For fans of cauliflower, you will have to try their Cauliflower of Life dish, which is a mountain of roasted cauliflower drizzled with olive oil and garnished with parsley, chopped red onions, mint, tomatoes, lemon-garlic sauce and classic tahini.
The Hatzil Baladi, eggplant sprinkled with olive oil and then flame-charred for a smoky flavour and buttery smooth insides is packed with nutrition and flavour. Nearing the end of our meal, we could safely say that we are seriously considering converting to vegan. Before our experience at Chickpea, we had a perception of what vegan food was going to be, and Chickpea’s flavourful creations opened up a world of culinary taste and possibilities for us - we couldn’t be more grateful!
So the next time you are on Main Street and wondering if you should go for Italian, Thai or Asian food, you can skip all these choices and head straight over to Chickpea for a welcoming dining experience that is both healthy and delicious. For the co-founders, Chickpea is the place where they share their love of Middle Eastern cuisine with all of their customers, and we can think of no better way to engage people in a culture than through a culinary experience.
So, what are you waiting for?