This was another meatless Monday with my vegetarian friend. When looking for a spot near by “Kokomo” came up. I liked the photos of its peachy exterior and the quote that was splashed a-crossed its front window. Both beckoned for warmer weather and sunnier days, that and it’s colourful menu were enough to peak my curiosity.
The interior matched the exterior with its peach coloured tiled counter that separated the open space between kitchen and eating area. The colour then begins to pattern with white, striping the cushioned seats that surrounded the rest of the room. Sections were punctuated with a similarly coral coloured throw pillow. It was fun and flirty, but was easy to get dirty. The whites of the cushion and the floor showed the cafe’s age with stains and smudges.
The only thing that felt out of place was their choice in music. Not that I minded, as I liked their rotation of hip hop. A playlist I assume was off of a staff member’s phone. Although up beat and catchy, we did find the juxtaposition of light food versus hard hip hop hard to swallow. Given how lighthearted our serving below was and how airy the space felt, you expect something more calming to play, the music to be more zen. Something you can mediate to, maybe something with some chanting.
You order at the podium by the door. They only have one printed menu for viewing, it has a little more information then what is on the wall menu, like what goes into the named bowls, salad, and noodle dishes. But given that many of their customers this afternoon, didn’t need to reference it or the wall, I can safely assume they had a well established following of regulars. And I can see why. They were not trying to fool the diner with meat friendly substitutes, their dishes fully celebrated being vegan with its use of colourful vegetables to highlight the flavour of other rich veggies.
Although I recently read that several vegetables like lettuce and avocado aren’t actually vegan given the need for and use of bees in their pollination, therefore no bees no avocado. Other vegetables on this list includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, muskmelon, mustard, okra, parsley, peppers, pumpkins, rutabaga, squash and watermelon.
Being an omnivore I good either way, and was just happy to have found this new and tasty way to eat healthy and be happy doing so. Not that I would crave any of it again, but it’s nice to know that when my body craves green I can offer it another option and a full menu’s worth of variety.
Vegan food typically has a lot of fillers to add textures and flavours, but here everything is made to order using whole foods.
To start with I ordered one of their smoothies, mistaking it for a juice to accompany my lunch with, instead of its intended meal replacing beverage. The “lush greens” was recommend to me as being the easier to drink of all their green based juices. Banana, kale, mango, apple, lemon, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, coconut oil, and coconut water. It was as savoury as it sounds, where I should have mentioned I wanted something sweet and juicy… I guess I actually wanted a pressed juice and not a thick smoothie to hard swallow. This would be better suited as a meal on the go.
For a full meal you get one of their bowls. The “coastal macro” was another recommended to me, this was majority of their customer’s favourite bowl. Brown rice layered with greens, marinated tempeh, roasted squash, cucumber, ginger pickled cabbage, and a edamame hummus. All drizzled in a Thai turmeric sunflower seed dressing, and eaten like a salad. The rice was present to make you feel full with the starch your body craves. I liked the fulsome assembly, with the varying combinations of textures and tastes, they offered a new squish, crunch, or chew as random surprises. Overall it had a crunchy feel with a tangy pickled flavour. I could have used a rich element or spread to create a dense chew, and with some more cucumber for balance. Towards the bottom of the bowl, the rice became really salty, so much so that I couldn’t finish in full. Though this was a large serving, that many wouldn’t be able to finish half of, let alone get to the bottom of the bowl. It at least helped to change the taste and keep the bowl interesting from the first scoop to last grain. Whereas the highly anticipated noodle dish below, we found boring.
This was their interpretation of laksa, without most of the noodle’s trademark heat and/or spices. It tasted toned down and made bland for anyone who has had the authentic South East Asian noodle dish before. “Golden laksa”, a coconut and turmeric broth with rice noodles, zucchini spirals, sliced cucumber, ginger ferment carrot, green onion, cilantro, and sunflower cracker croutons. I should have known that this would be far from authentic, having read the inclusion of croutons in their laksa. It certainly tasted healthy, but I just couldn’t get behind it, as the broth lacked punch, and some heat would have greatly helped to flavour. Some tomato would have also been a welcomed tradition. The noodle dish was good as a side, but not the main and the only thing on the plate.
We were smart enough to order and pay for our dessert when we did so our mains. Ours was the last of their “cocowhips”, which I am thankful for. Because honestly this is one of the best ice cream-like desserts I have ever had, and it’s surprisingly it is void of any milk or cream. This is their coconut milk based soft serve. And unlike other vegan ice creams, it doesn’t over power with a coconut flavour. It tasted fresh and light, like a sorbet but actually creamy instead of icy. It also had the perfect amount of mild sweetness to it. It is available topped in either a berry mix or our chocolatey explosion version. Raw brownie chunks, cacao nibs, hemp hearts, and a dark chocolate sauce. Those who know me, know that I am not a fan of chocolate, but here, found myself appreciating the flavour it added, and the chew the brownie chunks offered. The nibs and seeds provided the crunch you like in your desserts.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Given my appetites, I don’t think I will find myself here again, or anytime soon. I wouldn’t travel for anything in particular, but if roaming around west 4th I could see myself stopping by for a smoothie. And if they were open later, back again for dessert after dinner. I prefer them to their neighbourhood ice cream purveyors. Don’t deny your cravings.
611 Gore Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6A 2Z8