India’s first vegan food court, Café 28 opens its doors in Chennai
Look out for gourmet burgers, shawarmas, pizzas and gelato!
In a big win for the plant-based community, Chennai just got its first all-vegan food court. And according to owner Dhaval Chandarana (35) who has been a strong advocate of the lifestyle and even set up the city’s first vegan lifestyle store Earth Story, back in 2017, “This vegan food court is not just a first in the city, but in the country.” Hear, hear! Christened Café 28, after its RA Puram pincode, the venue has six food vendors serving eclectic offerings that range from a Philly Cheese Hot Dog to a Japanese-inspired Sesame Katsu burger.
The newest vegan kitchen, which makes its debut in a brick and mortar setup, is Wrap Man by Pachcha Kathithi owned by 21-year-old Rishi Kannah. We try his Organic Smoked Tofu wrapped in Turkish flat bread and can’t help but say ‘yum’ out loud on our first bite. The other brands on the list, some of which you might know already are Aakaariyaa, Fabulous Lyfe by Soul Garden, Eat with Lilly, The Green Mowgli and Auroville’s much-loved Gelato Factory.
Over a ‘burger bowl’ (minus the buns) of crisp crumb-fried oyster mushrooms paired with the goodness of baby spinach, purple cabbage and lettuce, drizzled with mushroom sauce, Dhaval tells us that the idea for a food court came to him when Kalpaviruksha Pazhamudhir Nilayam (next door) reached out to him to do something with a vacant 1,500 sq space. “Three months later, here we are,” he says. As we move on to enchiladas with plant-based ‘cheek*n’ and sip on a deep purple Wild Blueberry Smoothie, Dhaval walks us through some of his many plans for the space that he hopes will empower small businesses while simultaneously building a thriving vegan community. “We plan to have a pop-up menu of a different cuisine every week, but entirely vegan of course. Our first one will be Gujarati fare this weekend,” he shares. Also in the pipeline are open mics, book swaps and a five-course vegan Christmas feast!
Open from 11.30 am to 9.30 pm. Price range: INR 150 to INR 400.
To promote sustainable living, a mini thrift store by India Wasted has been set up with western and Indo-western clothing, some even carrying a designer label. You can contribute clothing as well as flattened beverage cartons that will later be upcycled into furniture in the donation drums.