I’ve always been a fan of udon noodles, but the problem with ordering them in most Japanese restaurants is that they only offer beef or fish stock soup, and don’t provide a separate vegan soup version. So even if it’s “udon with vegetables” (and no meat toppings), it doesn’t mean the soup itself is vegan. Thankfully, TerraZen Centre not far from Amsterdam Centraal is completely vegan and extremely delicious, so there’s nothing to worry about here.
And this was DELICIOUS. The udon noodles were soft and just slightly springy, the way they are meant to be, and the broth was rich in flavour but not too salty (always my problem when I try cook it myself). You can’t see it from the photo but there are also other boiled vegetables in this dish, aside from the pictured carrots, which adds to the moresome and healthy feel.
TerraZen Centre @ Sint Jacobsstraat 19HS
The family-run Caribbean and Japanese eatery comes highly recommended on Happy Cow, and when we arrived we immediately knew we’d like it. The front window has the words “Vegan” painted beautifully in green, and is adorned with plants and flowers, giving a very earthy vibe. There’s only two tables in the restaurant, one smaller and next to the bar stand which seats two, and a larger table that is to be shared between other groups of diners. You really feel like you’ve been invited to eat at a friend’s house.
Everything is kept natural and low-key, and when we got inside it was clear that the man beckoning us in was the cook himself – such a cozy, personal feeling. Although I do visit omni-restaurants as I think encouraging those places to expand their vegan menu is an effective and inclusive way of promoting the vegan lifestyle to omni eaters, I must admit it’s always nicer to dine at a fully vegan restaurant where you know there is absolutely no animal cruelty involved in the cooking process – it’s also a bonus that you can order everything on the menu without having to check with the waiter or sheepishly ask to see their allergens folder (if there’s even one).
A blackboard by the bar shows you the menu items on offer, and when we were there they were maybe 15-20 different dishes available for lunch, including dessert. We ordered the udon noodles (first photo), and the Jamaican plate (above). MMMMM. The curry sauce in the Jamaican plate was probably one of the best I’ve ever tasted. So creamy and flavoursome, with hints of peanuts. They were generous on the amount and variety of vegetables in the curry as well, and it really fills you up. I think this was EUR 16, which isn’t the cheapest lunch dish you could find, but trust me it is delicious.
And, the best for last. When I saw they had hot apple pie with ice cream for dessert, even though we were already full from our mains, I had to order it. Very glad I did as this was SO GOOD. I’m always on the look out for vegan pastries and this did not disappoint – the chocolate icecream was also the perfect topping, with the hot and cold combination melting in your mouth with each bite. Would go back for more just for this dessert.