Continental Europe isn’t exactly a hotbed of veganism, but you might excuse a small, landlocked nation of half a million inhabitants for not thinking to cater for non-mainstream dietary requirements. As much as I love Luxembourg, it’s not for the food that I look forward to going back – if anything, it’s in spite of it (mum’s cooking aside, obviously).
Consider that their most well-known “vegetarian” restaurant, Mesa Verde, serves fish – and a lot of it – alongside a few salads and plenty of cheese-based dishes. Not cool.
Then there is Anabanana, the only vegan restaurant in Luxembourg to my knowledge. They serve daily seasonal specials, a couple of Japanese noodle dishes, and salads. I’m sure it’s tasty and fresh, but I’m not exactly desperate to go there (hence why I haven’t).
But I’m just as happy to veer onto the beaten track and test omnivorous restaurateurs as well as to support vegan businesses. So last weekend I once again eschewed the veg*an establishments in favour of the everything else:
On Friday night we visited an old favourite of mine in the centre of town, Wok. As the name implies, it is an Asian fusion restaurant with an emphasis on sushi and other Japanese food. I have only ever been served by the same one woman, but she is always knowledgeable as to what contains egg. Previously I have enjoyed their Pané de Tofu (fried tofu) and their Variété de Légumes Sautés wok dish (stir-fried vegetables). This time I had their Salade d’Algues (wakame salad), which was so good, followed by Nouilles Sautées aux Légumes (vegetable fried noodles – the server told me that the rice version contains egg, so I went for the noodles, though they did seem distinctly like egg noodles to me…). It was all really tasty, and at about €18 not too badly priced for what was a filling meal.Next we wandered around the Christmas market, where I took my chances asking busy and cold Jean la Gaufre waffle stall staff about the ingredients in churros (or chi-chis, in Luxembourg). I can’t believe I had never actually thought to ask – or to look it up online before – as it turns out they are perfectly vegan!
After another full day of eating our way around the world at the International Bazaar (more on that in my next post), we still went out for dinner and this time decided to try our chances at Aka, another sushi restaurant right smack bang in the centre of town. Turning up at 9pm on a Saturday night with no reservations, they were absolutely packed but managed to squeeze us onto a table for two with an extra place setting, which was actually not a problem at all. It was so worth it either way, as the food was wonderful. I was pretty full and needed something not deep fried (I know, right?), so although their tempura dishes looked tempting, I stuck to another wakame salad. Guess I really have a thing for slimy salty seaweed.
I’d love to be able to say I could tell the difference between the two different salads, but I really couldn’t. Either way, they were both awesome and similarly – if not identically – priced.
The downside to Aka is that they have no vegetarian, let alone vegan, mains. They have a vegetable tempura salad which, seeing Steph’s chicken salad, I’m sure would be filling enough, especially if following a starter or accompanied by a side. The plus side is that the lack of options totally took the dilemma out of whether or not to order the massive 24-piece vegetarian sushi platter. I knew it would be way too much food, but having ordered the same thing a few years ago, I knew it would be delicious. Plus, where else do you get 24 pieces of beautiful vegetarian maki for €21 (in Luxembourg)?
The assortment and presentation had changed since my last visit, but was every bit as good as I remembered. Wonderful creamy, chewy, salty fried tofu and avocado maki, fresh crunchy cucumber maki, and surprisingly appropriate strawberry maki. This was ridiculously filling, so although they had some tasty-sounding sorbets on the menu as well as other desserts which may have been vegan, I just couldn’t even think about eating anything else.
I know it’s not a vegan establishment, but I highly recommend Aka to anyone – it’s slightly more expensive than other places I eat, but you absolutely get a bang for your buck, in a beautiful setting in the heart of Luxembourg City.
Somehow, I managed to nibble on a few more churros (I just can’t bring myself to call them chi-chis) whilst we wandered around town. This time, we wandered down to the Grund – the old part of the city, down in the valley – and I showed Ben and Steph the river and some of the nicer pubs. I couldn’t believe my eyes when they spotted this sign on the wall of a restaurant I had never paid any attention to:
Although I couldn’t see any vegan options on the menu outside Bosso Restaurant (right opposite Scots pub), but I will definitely try and fit a visit in next time I am in town, just to show them that advertising vegan options works.
I’m disappointed I didn’t get to check out Am Véierzeng, the new vegetarian and vegan café opened within the Musée d’Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg (Luxembourg City History Museum), which I randomly read about on the plane in the in-flight magazine. In the meantime, you can check out a nice review of the food and décor on Flânerie Féminine (in English).
An old favourite I didn’t get to visit this time around is Table du Pain, who do an amazing yet deceptively simple tapenade (pâté d’olives) tartine or sandwich, as well as a grilled aubergine sandwich for take-away. And another reliable option, but one which doesn’t excite me so much, is Urban, a bar in the centre of town which serves an English-inspired menu featuring either a falafel wrap or salad. The falafel are too salty even for me, and I’d recommend checking the salad is served with vinaigrette rather than salad cream, but their potato wedges are to die for – and either way, it’s good to know you can eat there if that’s the sort of thing you’re in the mood for.
I think that’s about it… I don’t eat out much in Luxembourg, and to be honest a lot of the time I go back to the old haunts as it’s easier than trying to stake out new vegan options. I will make it my mission to go back and visit Am Véierzeng (good excuse to visit the museum again too…) and report back. More excitingly though, stay tuned for my roundup of eats around the International Bazaar which I hope to get out later this week!