Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Newest Nuba

I’m no Nuba rookie- with one meal at their Seymour café location- I felt confident in recommending a visit to the new-ish Nuba location on east 3rd  for a dinner date. I knew I was going to enjoy something fresh, healthy, tasty and that there would be plenty of vegetarian/vegan options for my dining companion.  It was raining pretty heavily when we parked and sprinted into the restaurant. It was a warm, cozy, yet funky space that felt like a mod 70’s rec room lounge (décor included a white cinderblock wall, lots of tropical plants, and surprisingly comfy plastic furniture.
Ordering didn’t take long. We were both hankering for falafel and I wanted to get one of the items I tried on my first visit. The item in question is Najib’s Special (6.75 as a Mezze appetizer) , a fried cauliflower dish that earned a mention in Vancouver Magazine’s list 101 Things to taste before you Die.
This crispy cauliflower is tossed with lemon and sea salt and served with tahini. It doesn’t look like much, but looks can be deceiving…..these are brown lumps of crispy fried vegetable goodness. The texture is crisp and light, with a crunch, and the tart lemon and tangy sea salt complement the mellow flavour of the cauliflower. Cauliflower used to be one of my least favourite vegetables- now I see that this veggie has potential. As a mezze appy, it is served with pickles and pita.
We also shared a falafel plate (10.25) served with taboulleh, hummus, tahini, salad, hot sauce, pita. We had a choice of roasted potatoes or brown rice- we went with potatoes. The falafel balls were pretty outstanding. Made with organic chickpeas, fava beans, veggies and spices- these were fried to crispy perfection on the outside and nice and soft on the inside. You can tell they put some love into these balls….wait that sounds wrong….you know what I mean….you can tell they use quality, fresh, organic ingredients and taste the difference. The Hummus is made from organic chickpeas blended with garlic, lemon & tahini. The garlic was not overwhelming, and it was a little lemony, delicious and light. Served with pita bread, our server also brought us some hot sauce, which was surprisingly green and tasted amazing. The hot sauce is made in house and the recipe is carefully guarded. I loved it and could’ve had 3 more small sides with our meal. The taboulleh is a salad with chopped parsley, tomatoes, and burghul with chopped green onions and a lemon-mint dressing. We both found it very refreshing, light, and flavourful, we could unquestionably taste every individual ingredient in the salad. Also, we were worried about all of the little green bits getting in our teeth- but we managed our way through this side dish without any dental awkwardness.
The water served at Nuba tastes extra refreshing- that’s because it its cucumber water. The pitchers all have cucumber slices in them so the cool vegetable infuses the water. It was a unique touch and I think I drank a day’s worth of water (8 glasses) in one sitting.
Our server was great, the meal was affordable and fresh, with some stand-out features (cucumber water and homemade hot sauce) and the atmosphere was hipster-kitch without being pretentious. We loved it and will be back!
Cafe Nuba
146 E 3rd Ave
Vancouver, BC V5T 1C8
(604) 568-6727
Nuba (East 3rd Ave) on Urbanspoon

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