When I think of vegan food, the first thing that pops into my head is the sketchy vegan Bistro pizza and the flavorless vegan chicken served at C-Street. I encountered veganism for the first time in my freshman year of college in Seattle, and I was confused by the whole concept. It did not seem possible to create flavorful food without using some deliciously seasoned meats and mounds of cheese.
I guess Seattle has changed me, because I went from being a Nebraska girl who ate meat in every meal to being a pale Seattle vegetarian. I’m still not sold on the idea of vegan food, because cheese is my one true love and I don’t know how I would survive without it. One of my friends got me five blocks of cheese for my graduation gift, and I can honestly say that it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.
I was a bit skeptical when I set out on my mission to review the Cambodian Vegan food pop-up that took place last Sunday, because Seattle U vegan cuisine and my affinity for cheese has taught me to be wary of anything labeled “vegan.” Kirirom’s vegan Cambodian food pop up, though, would prove me wrong.
Kirirom’s Cambodian pop up gave me a newfound hope for the world of vegan cuisine.
I pre-ordered my food for pickup; I decided to try the Lort Cha, which is short rice noodles in dark soy with tofu, fresh bean sprouts and chive, and then for dessert I got Jaek Chien, which is a fried banana with coconut ice cream.
It was about 8:30 p.m. when I set out on my Uber journey to the Taproot Café and Bar. The café is about four miles south of campus in Columbia City, and my Uber driver told me not to walk around in this neighborhood alone when it’s late because there had been shootings in the past few days and the area was known to be violent. How reassuring.
After passing by a plethora of abandoned buildings and dark alleys, we finally got to the café. I walked up to the bar and told them I had a pickup for Bailee. They told me they were just wrapping up my order and invited me to sit down and handed me some water because “hydration is important.” After about 10 minutes they brought my food out, and I paid for it, got an Uber back to my dorm, and hoped it was worth the $16 for the ride and $27 for the meal.
When I returned to my room, I opened the takeout containers and started to voraciously devour my vegan feast. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the noodle dish had a really nice flavor; the noodles were a perfect consistency and there was just the right amount of tofu, bean sprouts and chives.
I would definitely recommend this dish to anyone who likes rice noodle dishes that aren’t too spicy. Personally I like my food to make my mouth feel like it is on fire, so I doused the noodles in Sriracha and Tapatio and it was perfect.
I moved on to the fried banana and coconut ice cream, intrigued by the idea of a fried fruit. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed by the dessert; the fried banana just tasted like a less flavorful version of banana bread. It wasn’t bad, just a bit bland for my taste. The coconut ice cream was really good; it was creamy and tasted like fresh coconut. While the ice cream was good, I don’t think it justified the $7 for the dessert.
Overall, my stomach and I were pleased with the meal. I’m not sure if I would go back again considering the price of the venture, but if the vegan Cambodian pop up happened again and it was closer to me, I would definitely be there. Some of the other items on the menu look pretty interesting; like the Amok, which is Tempeh, shiitake mushroom, pepper and sweet peas in curry in a steamed banana leaf served with jasmine rice.
Kirirom’s Cambodian pop up gave me a newfound hope for the world of vegan cuisine and inspired me to seek out more vegan food in the future; some dishes made with purely plant-based ingredients are truly delicious and also kind for our animal friends. Maybe being vegan wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Bailee may be reached at