There are usually very few items on the menu for vegans in traditional restaurants. But there are now several options for vegans to dine out in Munich. And to enjoy many varied cuisines. Let's take a tour.
Vegan cuisine is poorly balanced, and always the same mix of chickpeas, spelt and tofu. And it's not like that leaves you feeling full. So much for the prejudices that obstinately persist. And I'm guilty of that too. You might of course say: well forget living off vegetables then! Of course. But: first of all more and more of my friends are vegans, and I'd like to go and eat with them without them spending an age poring over the menu searching for a suitable dish. ("Oh no, does that have fish sauce in it!"). Secondly, I increasingly also want to give up meat, and occasionally even eggs and dairy products too.
For obvious reasons: the pain suffered by animals being slaughtered, and the burden on the climate caused by factory farming. But can I? No problem at home. But what about when it comes to eating out? Can fans of vegan cuisine, and people keen to eat vegan, find enough places in Munich that serve up a varied and excellent animal-free menu? I took a look around, and started with a legendary place.
Tushita Teehaus is on the Klenzestrasse in the Glockenbachviertel (quarter), in the heart of Munich. It is best known for its excellent selection of quality teas from Japan, China, India and Taiwan. "Most of our teas are classified as organic," says Tushita owner Sandeh von Tucher. She is standing behind the counter of the cosy dining area, where the shelves along the walls are framed with impressive porcelain and cast iron teapots. They are also on sale here.
The tables for two are already occupied by a few guests on this Monday morning, kick starting the day with a cup of green or black tea. But they come to Tushita not just for a warming drink, but for something to eat too. The breakfast menu includes baked millet with apple, cranberries, walnuts, sesame seeds, coconut and goji berries. "The recipe follows Chinese dietetics. It is easy to digest, and doesn't sit so heavily on the stomach as a pretzel," says Sandeh von Tucher. Sounds good. But I opt for the vegan cakes the Tushita is famed for, keen to find out whether a sweet without the triumvirate of eggs, butter and sugar can be tasty.
"In the morning, we generally don't know what we'll have in the afternoon. We cook as the mood takes us, and depending on what ingredients we have at the time."
Von Tucher cuts me a piece of cake that looks like a piece of coal. It's made from black sesame seeds, buckwheat flour, almonds and rice syrup to add sweetness, giving it a nutty flavour. The cake is light and sweet, while the sesame seeds give it a lovely crunch. Excellent. But it's not just the vegan cakes that are fabulous at the Tushita.
In the tearoom's small kitchen, chef Florian Gudzent is chopping thick carrots. "In the morning, we generally don't know what we'll have in the afternoon. We cook as the mood takes us, and depending on what ingredients we have at the time," he says. And what's his feeling today? "I got really cold last night, so I want to make something warming." He's going to steam the carrots, and mix them with cardamom and lemon. On the gas hob, he's already braising tofu in a mango and chilli sauce, to which he'll add Afghan rice and boiled down aubergines.
Traditional, unpretentious ways of cooking vegetables. Immediate and fresh. "We use only Demeter-certified products, which are so good I hardly need to do anything else to them, " says Gudzent. I'd love a taste, but it's still too early. And anyway, I'm due to meet a couple of friends for a vegan Vietnamese lunch.
Tushita Teehaus, Klenzestrasse 53, 80469 Munich
The Hippie Chay is in Giesing, close to the Grünwalder stadium, where TSV 1860 Munich generally wins its home games. From the outside, the restaurant looks inconspicuous so much so that we almost miss it. But once inside, we're greeted by a large, light reception area, the windows of which were once showroom windows and which open up a view of the traffic on the street and the rust red Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche (church) on top of the Giesinger Berg.
My companions Oliver und Paul love meat, but are of course open to any sort of indulgence. As a starter, we order summer rolls, dumplings and a mango salad. Vegan. We all try a bit of everything. The summer rolls are deliciously crunchy, and filled with pink glass noodles, vegetables and oyster mushrooms. Highly recommended. When the mango salad, with seitan 'strips of duck' arrives, Oliver notes that's there's no fish sauce, which usually acts as the strangely salty counterpart to the sweet fruit. In the vegan version, it's a different sort of salad that freshly and invigoratingly satisfies the appetite.
The dumplings stuffed with shiitake oyster mushrooms melt in our mouths in Moments – which can only be a good thing. Our waitress, who keeps checking on us, serves the main courses. I have ordered Banh Mi, the Vietnamese take on a sandwich. The thin crust of the baguette is as crispy as it should be. The filling of cucumber, seitan, coriander, carrots and sauces soon makes me forget the chicken that Banhs are often filled with.
Paul gets the Bao Burger with Beyond Meat Patty, the best-selling meat substitute that imitates the taste of minced beef better than any product has managed before. We pull the burger apart to try the Beyond Meat in its pure grilled form. It really is hard to differentiate it from its animal-based model. So the Bao Burger is a hit, and the Hippie Chay definitely a place where meat-eaters and vegans can enjoy a meal together.
Hippie Chay, Martin-Luther-Strasse 8, 81539 Munich
The same goes for the restaurant I go to with my colleague Silke that evening. Bodhi in the Westend (quarter) serves up a vegan mix of Bavarian and American fast food. Kasspatzn (regional pasta dish with cheese), schnitzels, burgers, but all with no animal products. The staff bear tattoos, the furnishings are deliberately laid-back, and the place is packed on this Monday evening.
I have never understood the expectation that vegan dishes should ideally taste just the same as those with meat. They have their own quality, their own texture, their own flavour.
Silke is a vegan, and studies the menu carefully. Here too, of course: Beyond Meat on the burger. As well as tempeh, fermented soya beans, which Silke highly recommends. Formed into flat cakes, tempeh for the Bodhi burger is coated in pumpkin seeds and chickpeas before being deep-fried. Silke gives me a piece; it tastes nutty and little bit of mushrooms. Unusual and amazing. Around us, most people are tucking into their burgers. They are a go to dish. Animal or plant-based? Either.
I have ordered a soya Wienerschnitzel. It bears no resemblance to the veal original. But why should it? I have never understood the expectation that vegan dishes should ideally taste just the same as those with meat. They have their own quality, their own texture, their own flavour. They lure you on a culinary journey into an unexplored area. At Bodhi, we primarily test out how plant-based food deep-fried in breadcrumbs tastes. Good! We agree on that. I then leave the fast food area and go the next day to Mexico with my daughter.
Bodhi, Ligsalzstrasse 23, 80339 Munich
The Blitz restaurant is on the Museumsinsel (island). At weekends, there's after-dinner dancing. Attached to the restaurant is the Blitz Club, a techno disco with the best system in town. The Blitz restaurant is brightly coloured. Chairs in various shapes and colours, and a mural with skeletons having a wild drinking session, are reminiscent of the Day of the Dead. We were by the Isar river a moment ago, now we're in Guadalajara.
The vegan and vegetarian dishes at Blitz also have a Mexican influence. The quesadillas and fajitas are not vegan, because they are served with Manchego cheese and sour cream, but there are plenty of alternatives for vegans. I ask the exceptionally friendly waitress to bring me yuca (cassava) frita with banana ketchup and chilli onion rings with three mushroom ceviche with colourful tomatoes. And what does my 12-year-old daughter fancy? The Beyond Meat burger, of course. She is definitely interested in eating vegan. But giving up on fast food? No way!
"Is it really vegan?"
The slightly sweet potato note of the yuca fries is perfectly complemented by the banana ketchup. The mushroom ceviche is excitingly unusual. I have never eaten anything like this before. The wild woodiness of the mushrooms combines with the acidity of the lime to create a complex, bitter, sweet and sour experience. What a discovery. Like the entire restaurant. The hugely inviting, relaxed ambience promises long evenings spent here.
My daughter wolfs down her burger. "Is it really vegan?", she asks. I try it, and it is indeed the best of all the Beyond Burgers I have eaten on my journey through the vegan cosmos of Munich. The result of this tour is clear. This city offers vegans and their meat-eating companions a multitude of possibilities to enjoy a sophisticated lunch or dinner together. Culinary divisions are a thing of the past.
Blitz Restaurant, Museumsinsel 1, 80538 Munich
Kismet, Löwengrube 10, 80333 Munich
Indian Mango, Zweibrückenstrasse 15, 80331 Munich
Erbils Restaurant, Breisacher Strasse 13, 81667 Munich
Gratitude Eatery Munich, Türkenstrasse 55, 80799 Munich
Got a taste for it? Our author spent a day eating her way through what Munich has to offer for vegans.