I think most veggie-lovers, vegan (or vegetarian) or not, probably give Gorilla Food a try at least once if they’re in Vancouver. A vegan friend of mine recommended it to me (rather, she was gushing about how truly awesome the food was there), and so I decided to give it a go. I dragged a hesitant Emme and an equally hesitant Pitah along with me for the ride… Pitah in particular would never turn into a vegetarian, vegan, or — least likely of all – an “all-raw” vegan — and Emme also quite likes her meat. I only managed to convince them to give Gorilla Food a shot, actually, by saying that we could just view the meal as an afternoon snack rather than lunch or dinner.
The actual “restaurant”, if you can call it such, is small and has that “hippie” sort of atmosphere that you seem to often find in vegetarian restaurants – sort of akin to the Naam but very different at the same time. One thing the two have in common is that the waiters – or, in the case of Gorilla Food, the counter attendants – are very chill and laid back. Nothing is rushed. The music is… relaxing, but… interesting? Because of its limited space, it did feel a bit cramped. Being partially underground also made it a bit dimmer and darker, and gave it a “cave”-type feeling. The place was almost empty when we came in, and people were picking up food to go rather than sitting around. Nevertheless, the three of us grabbed a table and then took turns ordering at the counter…
Emme asked for the GO Veggie Burger, preferring to stick as close to her meat-eating ways as possible, and was served up an impressive stack of veggies plus the burger “patties”, surrounded by lettuce and two crackers/bread slices. Although she was not particularly a fan of the veggie flax “bun” – it tasted earthy, she reported, but not bad per sé – she liked the guacamole and rather meaty veggie patties. The ginger tomato ketchup also added a nice taste and tang to the dish. It kind of amazed us how the patties held together so well, and the texture was pretty impressive as well. The only real downside, aside from the “bun” in Emme’s opinion, was that it wasn’t filling at all. At $8, that is pretty disappointing for a dish. Otherwise, everything was very fresh and the actual patties were pretty good!
Pitah ordered a slice of Maui Waui pizza… and ended up getting two, since I suggested that one might not come even a bit close to filling him up. (Even if I were to eat regular pizza, I would reach for at least two pieces… and so found it hard to believe that one could fill up a typical meat-eating guy.) The crust of the pizza is made from sprouted sunflower seeds, buckwheat, carrot, and flax, according to the site. It’s topped with a sundried tomato herb sauce and massaged kale, as well as walnut “cheeze” and pineapple chunks. Amazingly, Pitah devoured both slices. If Gorilla Food is great at one thing, it’s at getting people to get their raw veggies. Usually, even I can’t eat kale raw, but Pitah said it was tender and not all that bitter. I guess massaging the kale really makes a difference. Other than the kale and very fresh pineapple chunks, the savory sauce was also pretty good. Actually, I think the sauce with the walnut “cheeze” was what made the pizza seem far more edible to Pitah. It actually did taste a bit cheesy” – it was just a bit nutty at the same time, of course. Somehow, the two slices filled him up… for a little while. He commented that he certainly felt “very healthy” afterwards, haha. At $7 a slice, however, I can hardly call this a good deal.
I specifically asked the counter attendant what would be filling, and at first debated between getting the Water Wisdom Seaweed Salad (love seaweed!) and the Nice Bowl, but ended up getting the Nice Bowl since I was curious about what the “ryce” was, and it seemed like it would have more substance. Now, maybe this is just because I’m a crazy vegetable-lover, but I… really liked this. Actually, I would go so far as to say I loved the dish – since I ran home and recreated it at a later time, heh. I usually can’t eat broccoli raw; it just tastes too iron-y, in my opinion, even if served with dip. The curry “sauce” in this made the entire thing delicious, and the “ryce” was also very tasty. I think it was comprised of processed raw cauliflower, and the entire dish was mixed with plenty of sesame seeds. I’m not sure which was the best part: the curry seasoned veggies, leaves and sprouts or the “ryce”. I can see why the raw kale did not bother Pitah, also, since it was wonderfully tender and gave the illusion that it was lightly steamed or cooked. As the menu described, it was served warm, which was a pleasant surprise since I think I expected it to come out cold anyway. Clearly, raw food does not always equal cold food.
Would I go back? You know, I probably would. The Nice Bowl actually did fill me up, and I had to take a portion of it home to finish later. However, would I bring a meat-loving omnivore here? Eh… probably not. As “interesting” as Pitah and Emme found their dishes, and as creative as the ‘chefs’ are, in the end they did not really leave with fully sated appetites. The food was pretty good, though, just not the best value – organic or otherwise. Also, I would probably just grab a dish ‘to-go’ next time like most of the other customers, since the little “hole-in-the-ground” feeling from the restaurant didn’t really appeal to me. Emme and Pitah commented that the music was kind of bizarre. The lack of waiters isn’t a bad thing at all here, though; with seemingly few “sit-down” customers, more people getting tale-out, and limited space, the current set-up makes much more sense and doesn’t detract from the ambiance. The counter attendants were friendly enough, though a little bit brusque.
Personally, I’m looking forward to going back and trying some of their other dishes… I have heard good things about their desserts and drinks, none of which I tried. According to Pitah, if not full you will at least leave here feeling very “healthy”.
Value: 3 (Not the best bang for your buck in terms of leaving with a full, satisfied belly.)