I always appreciate the come up of a small business. The drive to put yourself out there and take a chance at your dream. That is why I was more than happy to try and support the then, 3 month old home cooking of Nafas Kitchen. They are serving vegan Mediterranean cuisine out of a commissary kitchen atVancouver’s Industrial Street’s row of warehouse spaces.
They currently only deliver to Vancouver, so I took the trek down from Burnaby to pick up and take out. It is easy enough to find with plenty of parking. And as quick as a buzz of a bell and the hand off of a brown paper bag.
I would get an assortment of their dishes to be able to complete this fulsome review, which includes majority of their dips, a few of their sides, some stand alone wraps and rice bowls, plus a small dessert.
I went in apprehensively, keeping in mind they are a new business and home spun, so was more then pleasantly surprised by the professional quality. If it wasn’t for the takeout packaging, I could see this all well represented on a contemporary bistro plate. And once again everything is all vegan, 100% plant-based and 100% delicious.
Their wraps are an easy grab and go solution, best eaten within the day of ordering due to the lettuce. I personally cannot take the texture of wilted greens. The Mushroom shawarma is a 12″ tortilla stuffed with oyster mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, pickles, pomegranate molasses, garlic paste, lemon juice, and their special blend of shawarma spices. I had it as, not realizing the wraps came with a side of garlic paste. And truthfully it didn’t need it as there was already some spread within, and together with the sweet molasses it was nice mix of savoury and sweet. Although for my own taste, I still wanted ranch dressing, I typically eat wraps of any kind with a dish of it.
The Soy Curls Shawarma is similar, just instead of earthy mushrooms we have the manufactured texture of imitation meat. And the latter is some of the best and closet to strip cut stir fired beef that I have had. A “meaty” 12″ tortilla wrap of soy curls, lettuce, tomato, pickles, pomegranate molasses, garlic paste, and their own shawarma spices. Served with a side of garlic paste.
You can also get the curls in one of their bowls, and this is the way I preferred it and would recommend it. The Musakhan Bowl with soy curls, caramelized onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles, garlic paste, cumin, cinnamon, and pomegranate molasses. Served on a bed of white rice and finished with a drizzle of garlic paste. There is plenty of flavour of this, even more garlicky flavour and zesty spice than in the wrap. I also prefer rice as the base carb for a full comfort dining feel. The pickled vegetable offered a nice freshness, but I could have used more or maybe some fresh slices of cucumber or cherry tomatoes to fill in the gaps.
Another rice bowl option is the Kafta Bowl with two baked Beyond Meat plant-based Kafta skewers, breadcrumbs, white onion, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, garlic, cilantro, and cumin. Served on a bed of white rice and finished with a drizzle of tahini and coconut yogurt. Similar in flavour profile to the above, but more herbaceous and less garlicky. You are basically choosing between the textures of these, and for me it is the chew of the soy over the grind of the meatball-like patties here.
The Yalanji looks like and tastes similar to the Greek grape leaf wrap dumplings. Vine leaves, rice, onion, dried mint, tomato, lemon, pomegranate sauce, and parsley. I am not a fan of leafy texture, but once I unwrapped it and had the filling I was not disappointed. This would make a great side to any of the bowls above, as you do get more rice that protein.
The Potato Harra is another one you have to eat right away, otherwise the potatoes get cold and ashy. Deep-fried potato cubes finished with crushed garlic, red chili paste, coriander, lemon, and salt. I wanted more chilli paste, but had more than enough garlic spread leftover from the wraps above to use over the potatoes here. The spread was nice warming spice with a citrus tang.
Out of all of their spreads/dips the Baba Ganouj was my favourite. Grilled eggplant mashed with green, red, and yellow peppers, garlic, onion, lemon juice, pomegranate sauce, and chopped walnuts. Finished with olive oil and parsley and served with pita. I have never had one with so many additional vegetables outside of its signature eggplant, and it made a difference in filling it out. It ate like a Middle Eastern salsa with refreshing chunks. This would have been nicer with a crunchier chip than the soft white pita they provide with it and all the other dips.
For something creamier, the Eggplant Mutabal is a nice option. Grilled eggplant mashed with coconut yogurt, lemon, and Nafas’s signature tahini. Topped with pomegranate and served with pita. This had a soothing lumpiness with a great smokey flavour.
The Hummus was pretty standard. It tasted as expected, a creamy made-from-scratch blend of chickpeas, cumin, olive oil, and lemon. Served with pita.
For something slightly different look to their Spicy Hummus, same as the above but with the addition of pepper. A creamy made-from-scratch blend of chickpeas, cumin, olive oil, chili paste, roasted garlic, pepper, and lemon. Served with pita. Be but warned, it isn’t spicy at all, in fact I found it hard place. And thought it to be a watered down version of Muhamara below, or a sweet potato hummus.
Muhamara is grilled red pepper blended with onion, breadcrumbs, cumin, walnuts, pomegranate sauce, and Nafas’ specialty tahini. Served with pita. This one was very distinctive. A thicker, more starchier dip. No hiding the flavour of roasted pepper in this one. It is great as a dip with raw veggies.
I loved the colour of the Beetroot Hummus, but alas did not get any of its featured ingredient flavour. A creamy made-from-scratch blend of chickpeas, beetroot, cumin, olive oil, and lemon. Served with pita. Outside the colour and a slight sweetness, I did not get any beets.
And for dessert we had their Walnut Baklava. Three crisp, oven-baked Filo pastries stuffed with cinnamon powder and walnuts. Lightly brushed with coconut oil and finished with homemade sugar syrup. A wonderful way to end a meal of dips and pita with a completely different crispy texture and unique sweet taste. Be sure to treat yourself and add this on if you are ordering from Nafas.
In closing, support local small business and eat well with Nafas Kitchen. Purchase their dips for your next party and their rice bowl for yourself.
401 Industrial Ave, Vancouver, BC V6A 2P8