[Update] Sadhana Kitchen has kindly responded to some of the concerns raised in this post! Let it be on the record that I love restaurants that take the effort to engage in this two-way dialogue. Most appreciated. The response is posted at the conclusion of this post 🙂
Celebrating, and accepting variety is supposedly one of the hallmarks of a modern, civilised society. Dietary preferences, naturally, fall under this umbrella as well. Australians are acutely aware of or engaging in many a ‘fad’ diets – paleo, low-carb, 5:2, liquid-only, fast & feast, greens & whites only, etc.
In the end, it’s your own body and thus, your own responsibility to sort out fact from fiction, because variety is the spice of life, right?
I’ve never really followed a fad diet, so I eat whatever, as long as it’s delicious. But then, I visit a place like Sadhana Kitchen. Raw, vegetarian foodism is what it’s all about – using organic ingredients that are not heated to more than 40C in the cooking process. Wow, how was an omnivore like me going to cope with a restriction like that? What would even prompt me to visit such a place? A curious and open mind goes a long way…
Date Last Visited: 14/9/2014
Address: 147 Enmore Rd Enmore, NSW 2042
Recommended Dish(es): raw cakes, Sadhana super bowl, Sadhana Lasagne (the latter two together)
Writing about a restaurant whose selling point is a restrictions-based menu is fraught with danger, especially from the perspective of someone whose diet is not subject to the same censure.
Raw foodism evidently has a large following. Sadhana Cafe is packed, the queue for ordering (all done at the counter) occasionally stretches out the door.
Granted, counter service was very slow (two customers in front of me took more than five minutes for their orders to be taken), but it is clear that Sadhana is the place to be – even if it’s just people who want to try out what the fuss is all about with raw food.
Fortunately, the cafe does take bookings, which was actually a key factor in choosing Sadhana Kitchen as a venue, for we were a ravenous group of eight. Orders took around 20 minutes to arrive, and to be fair, we were warned of this fact by the counter staff. Expectations set = no disappointment. There was one glaring exception to this, covered down the track.
At the risk of sounding insensitive, I must admit I did wonder what takes so long to cook food that really…doesn’t require actual cooking. More than happy for someone to fill me in on why raw food involves such a long prep time.
A funny side-effect of eating at a raw cafe is that the food looks amazing. Case in point: super bowl!!! Ok, it is aptly named – it’s a big bowl, with lots of stuff in it. It’s a visual spectacle.
I’m calling it for what it is – a salad. As one of our dining companions remarked (and I’m paraphrasing here) – “I feel like I’ve had my vegetable intake for the week eating this”. Aptly put – it’s the very definition of healthy, put into a bowl. Perhaps a wee tad over your daily five serves.
Taste? It does well for a salad – the vegetables are fresh (they had better be, given they’re the star of the show), and the smoked paprika hummus packs a good deal of punch. The thing is though, there’s not enough of the stuff, because there is literally no other seasoning that goes with the salad. Apart from one giant dollop on one leaf, there was not much other flavour. Some sour was teased from the sauerkraut, but overall I was eating unseasoned leaves and tomato about 80% of the time.
It’s actually somewhat filling, but ultimately not particularly satisfying. That said, it didn’t fall too short of my expectations – it’s a salad, after all. Would love to see some more of that hummus to amp things up.
Given that flour doesn’t play nice in a diet that forbids temperatures of 40C+, putting something like the prana pad thai on the menu was always going to be a bit of a twist when you can’t use real noodles.
Needless to say, if you eat this expecting it to taste anything like pad thai, you will not come out a happy person. Zoodles (zucchini “noodles”) don’t exactly replicate the flavour of pad thai. As for the sauce, it was probably made with almond butter (almonds seem to be big in raw diets), garlic, ginger, and probably soy and something tart and limey. It tastes decent, but I have no point of reference to compare to.
It’s pretty much another salad, but texturally it was more satisfying than the super bowl due to the zucchini and kelp noodles. Considering it has no meat, you could come away with a lot worse.
I must say, every dish has been a learning experience so far, and it’s been quite the strange roller coaster. Case in point, Sadhana “raw” lasagna: what in the world is cashew cheese? I have no idea, but this, plus all the other ingredients that make up this dish, works a certain magic, making it the tastiest I’ve had out of everything I’ve tried.
It’s simple really: the other dishes have so far delivered only on texture but not flavour. This delivers that sorely-needed flavour hit. It’s not too dissimilar to actual lasagne, as the real thing is already pretty mushy and moist. That makes a raw & vegetarian analogue easy, and consequently it delivers the goods.
For the most part, anyway. It does get heavy, and one particularly problematic point of concern, as expressed by one of our dining companions:
“While the first few bits were amazing and I could almost forgive them for serving me luke-warm food, the dish does get cold quickly (in minutes), and it became obvious that I was essentially eating a few dips with thinly sliced zucchini“. A fair assessment, given the ingredients used. There is no escaping that fact.
My recommendation? Order this, and also the super bowl (if you’ve got an appetite like mine, you won’t get full from one dish). Here’s the fun part – use the lasagne as a sauce for the salad. Trust me, it works. This is a smear campaign for which I can wholeheartedly give my backing.
There are just so many things with the raw vegan mushroom benedict that are not what they seem. That’s not really the problem with this dish, since nobody expects it to taste like actual eggs benny.
No, my qualm with this dish is the mushrooms. Last time I checked, mushrooms should be cooked before consumption – I had no idea they could be eaten “raw”. Does heating them up to 40C help? No idea honestly. So I know nothing about the dish, but I can comment on the taste.
One of our friends remarked that taken individually, the elements of the dish aren’t anything flattering – limp mushrooms, cold spinach, coconut “bacon” that tastes like…dessicated crunchy coconut, and a sauce that’s potentially hummus-based. Take them together (i.e. in one forkful) and it becomes a textural combination that, beyond my consternation, actually works.
If you like mushrooms and you’re feeling a bit lucky, definitely give this one a go, just be mentally prepared for tepid mushrooms.
The banana crepes was the only dish I didn’t personally taste, so I won’t say too much here. Two of my friends ordered this dish, and while they appreciated that it’s very different from normal crepes, concluded that they did not like it. Their comment: the crepes themselves were very hard and chewy – crepes should be thin and light. The coconut cream was really good though, and the fruits fresh..
Also, the matter of temperature again reared its head – cold crepes is a thing, but not when it’s a dish that in its non-raw form, is meant to be served warm.
Perhaps produce a version with ice cream?
Now one of the crepes arrived nearly a full thirty minutes after the rest of our orders. I get that service is slow, but a dish arriving almost a full hour after first service is pretty poor form. An isolated incident perhaps, but one that I dutifully must report.
A very pretty dish, both in construction and presentation, the buckwheat French toast had a difficult task to live up to. I’m pleased to report that it’s quite delicious, and is one of the best sweet dishes I’ve had at this place. No, it doesn’t taste like French toast at all, but whatever. The buckwheat base makes for a very solid, nutty base that tasted great. The banana was actually warm enough to be about right, and berry coulis is always a winner in my book.
I could actually see this dish on a normal cafe’s menu and would be totally welcoming of it – as long as they didn’t call it French toast.
I didn’t order the pink passion frappe, but my friend who did said that it’s very refreshing, with a great look (something I could see for myself). Tangy, and the balance spot on with all of the fruits. Sadhana’s got a bit of a reputation for good smoothies, so this seems to have born out.
There were three other drinks that were ordered – a protein smoothie that was “amazeballs”, and a berry latte that “wasn’t a latte, just blended berries, and no hint of vanilla at all”. Given I did not have these drinks, these 3rd party comments are all I’ll provide. I also ordered an iced latte, which was one of the most normal drinks you could get at this place. No regrets – I can’t go without my coffee no matter what cafe I step in.
That finishes off the food component….or does it?
Top – mango float cheesecake: cashews, walnuts, desiccated coconut, coconut oil, dates, mango
Bottom– Snickers cheesecake: cashews, almonds, walnuts, desiccated coconut, coconut oil, vanilla, dates, sesame, salt
Left – caramel cheesecake
Right – choc-raspberry cheesecake: cashews, walnuts, almonds, desiccated coconut, coconut oil, coconut sugar, vanilla, dates
Top – not-Ella cheesecake: hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds, desiccated coconut, coconut oil, coconut powder, cacao butter, vanilla, dates
Left – lemon cheesecake
Right – Neapolitan cheesecake
Bottom – carrot cake: carrots, desiccated coconut, dates, coconut oil, stevia, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg
Yes, can’t have a raw cafe without a raw cake selection, right? If you bring your own takeaway container, you get 10% off due to the cafe’s environmental policy (this applies for food as well). Because I’m crazy like that, I took home one slice of each of the cakes they had.
…if you read the ingredient descriptions of each of the cakes, you’ll see a lot of repetition: walnuts, cashews, coconut, almonds, walnuts…did I repeat walnut?
Yeah, a lot of the cakes have a fundamental texture and flavour that tastes very similar. The mango float cheesecake and the caramel cheesecake are particularly noteworthy – actually tasting almost as good as the real thing.
One beauty of raw cakes is that because they’re made out of nuts, they have an amazing texture that flour-based cakes will actually find difficult to replicate. To each their own, but I could do with a raw cake every once in awhile – the fact that their health benefits are pretty nice as well only adds to my argument.
To say the food at Sadhana is a mixed bag is really not doing it justice. For what it is, you could do a lot worse. For raw foodies, I’m sure (but not absolutely certain) that this is a great addition to the cafe scene. For everyone else, it’s definitely worth at least one try – keep an open mind; even if you don’t end up liking it, at least you’ve given it a go.
One last thing: Sadhana means “simplicity” in Hindi/Sanskrit. The hidden beauty of the food at this cafe is that it preaches a simple message of health, but it’s anything but simple in execution. Kudos to @redolencetech for the tip 🙂
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three 😀
- It’s a raw food cafe that thrives (this is an achievement)
- Ignore for what the food pretends to be, and it’s a nice feed
- The occasional raw cake is a treat that doesn’t remain on the hips
Not so Awesome:
- Very slow service
- If you’re an omnivore, raw food won’t make you ditch your fried chicken any time soon
- Raw cakes are all pretty similar in the end
- It’s not going to start a wave raw & vegan revolution conversions
*this rating doesn’t really mean much for raw foodies, for obvious reasons. So take it with a grain of salt.
Sadhana’s response (in context here):
Also, read your write up, it’s awesome to see people who don’t usually follow the raw lifestyle try the food. We are very busy on weekends especially, so there can often be a wait. People can wait longer than 20 minutes at busy cafés for conventional food so we try our best to get the food out as quickly as possible without compromising on quality. The reason it can take over 20 minutes to plate and prepare food that doesn’t have to be cooked is because of the volumes we deal with as well as the intricate assembly required for each of the dishes’ components. We are looking into another site for @sadhanakitchen #2 as we are reaching capacity in our Enmore location. Also, the “French toast” arriving late would have been an error and hopefully the staff recognized that and were apologetic for it. If not, I am sorry, and hope the experience was enjoyable despite that mistake. Apart from that, cashew cheeze is made using ground cashews and filtered water. The paste is biofermented with probiotics and cultured at room temp for 24-48 hours and develops a “tang” the way cultured dairy develops a tang when made into cheese – dairy cheese is also cultured in a similar way. Ok I think that’s it but we are happy to answer any more questions I may have missed. Raw food is certainly becoming a more and more popular and it’s great to see people being open minded and giving it a go. It’s very different to convention food but offers something for everyone. Cheers for the useful and honest feedback! Taking everything on board✌️