Food review: BKA Vegan Restaurant & Bar

1/1837 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads Ph: 0490 457 223

BKA Vegan has opened on the beachside of the Burleigh Highway, marking the beginning of a new era of prosperity for the strip with all leases now tenanted for 2019.

Owned by Chef Ryan Jacobs and his partner Kylie Wood, BKA Vegan sets out lofty ideals (Be Kind Always) as it dips its toe into waters where others have floundered.

“Someone recently called us food activists and it really rang true,” says Kylie. “We want to dispel the misconception that plant-based food is boring and only for vegans. We are all about taste, preparing quality delicious and innovative food with something for everyone.”

The couple are starting with a great base. Coming from the business world, Kylie is focussed on excellent customer service, and Chef Ryan Jacobs has been in the industry for over 30 years, recently heading kitchens at Calavera, The Collective and Iron & Resin Garage before the couple began their own stall at the Sanctuary Markets, Currumbin, gathering a loyal following of both vegans and non-vegans.

Taking over the space formerly occupied by Circul and The Local, the couple have embraced the industrial feel of the venue with its polished concrete floors, suspended timber sleepers and copper-topped bar.

Somehow it fits with the menu: unfussy food with down-to-earth plant-provided goodness. Drawing from the palate of world flavours, Chef Ryan gives us a celebration of all things earthy, presented with the polish of an accomplished chef.

We’re invited in to taste a range of their delicious dishes. Mushrooms (often referred to as vegan’s meat) make several appearances: Spring rolls stuffed with wild mushrooms and veg to be dipped in a house-made dipping sauce ($14) and Mixed mushrooms with kale glass and mushroom jus served on a velvety cauli purée ($16).

Italians have always excelled at vegetarian dishes, so the Eggplant cannelloni ($22) and Tomato Caprese ($18) are no surprise, the difference being that all sauces and vegan ‘cheezes’ are made in house. (Ryan’s range of nut and tofu-based ‘cheezes’ is shown off best in the Grazing plate for two, where house mozzarella, caramelised onion cheddar and feta cheeze are presented with vegan pâtés, fig paste, dips and flatbread.)

The Americas get a look in with Mac ‘N’ Cheese and Taco sliders.

But, fittingly, it’s the Asian Archipelago, where Kylie lived for eight years, that provides the most interest: a deliciously spicy Mushroom satay ramen with peanut sauce and chilli oil ($22) and the dish that will draw us back, Nasi Campur Bali – nasi goreng with lawar, tempeh satay and tofu kecap ($24).

Many dishes are gluten-free, and there are vegan desserts as well as a range of vegan beers, wines and cocktails to complement your meal.

Worth the walk ‘across the road’, BKA Vegan gives a different take on vegan food that’s world-inspired and tasty. Most dishes, particularly those that are Asian-inspired, hold mainstream dining appeal. Priced to please, with both vegan and mainstream dining support, BKA has all the strengths it needs to last the test of time.

NOTE: For free undercover car parking, enter via the Esplanade under the Ambience building. Blank GC dined as a guest of BKA Vegan.

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