The vegan-Oriental fusion found at Sydney’s most talked about restaurant, Bodhi, continues to thrive after many years in business; marking its territory in Sydney’s extravagant culinary scene.
Vegan entrepreneur and owner of Bodhi Restaurant Bar, Heaven Leigh, grew up in the wining and dining space, as her family has been in the hospitality industry for three generations. Established in 1988, Sydney’s Bodhi Restaurant Bar is Australia’s longest running and largest plant-based restaurant. It boasts a mouth-watering vegan yum cha lunch menu and a unique a la carte style selection of oriental tapas for dinner.
Heaven joined us at our attractive table for a relaxed and stimulating chat whilst we feasted on plant-based platters and downed a selection of sensual cocktails.
We commenced the evening with a classic margarita and the liquid magic of Life Of Pi ($20) a tangy blend of Dead Mans rum, maraschino liqueur, orange juice, pineapple juice and lemongrass syrup. The latter was the fan-favourite at our table of three with its sour, citrusy goodness playing a symphony of piquant notes. Something deeply unique and utterly satsifying.
It’s been known that Bodhi’s cocktails “have been created with the aim of using the very best organic herbs, fruits and juices. To maintain the highest quality, the team fresh press… fruit juices daily and... create” their “own bespoke syrups”; ultimately ensuring their cocktails are of the highest standards.
To follow, we had the zucchini flowers filled with rendang brown rice, mango quinoa, and coconut flakes (3pc $16); an eccentric yet welcoming version of the classic flowers served at many of Sydney’s restaurants as an appetising starter. The Chilled silken tofu with a soy glaze, mushroom floss, enoki and cucumber ($14.5) was sampled soon after, with Liam (my guest who accompanied me) exclaiming this was his favourite dish due to its succulent nature and its overall delicateness.
During our dinner service, Heaven said: “With vegan dishes, it’s always a challenge to constantly try and create and recreate and present things differently and find different ways to enhance flavours; and one of my issues and pet peeves with the plant-based industry is I don’t believe that because it’s vegan I should compromise on taste. It should always be tasty!"
The corn cob strips with an espresso miso glaze, crispy soy and radish ($16.5) was beautifully paired with our photogenic array of tapas – best matched with the finger eggplants that were infused and coated with chili, sesame seed, sweet black rice vinegar, coriander, peanut and caramel sauce ($29), which, conclusively, was my personal favourite dish of the evening.
“The finger eggplant is done with a super sticky glaze, which I absolutely love,” revealed Heaven. “And we use a really skinny eggplant – not the usual, larger ones – so it just melts in your mouth.”
To follow, we had the thai-style soy larb that sit in lettuce cups with kaffir lime leaf, spiced peanut and bean sprouts ($16) – a wholesome plate featuring an array of oriental flavours – perfectly light and probably the perfect starter for couples or small groups to relish before having any of the larger, heavier mains.
Soon after, it was the doughy sliders, one consisting of vegan fried chicken, the other a vegan smoked duck (2pc $17.5). Liam and I being meat-eaters, we felt the faux duck dressed with a spiced plum sauce was to our preference as it was a remarkable replication of an original duck pancake.
“The duck is always so popular because it’s as close to something that you’re used to," said Heaven.
For our shared main, we unapologetically polished off the house made sweet potato gnocchi partnered with asparagus, oyster mushroom, xo sauce and Australian truffle oil ($30.5). The supple body of the gnocchi coated comfortably in the truffle was a warm and welcoming autumn dish, boasting a colourful palette of orange hues. An undeniably perfect choice for this season.
To conclude the evening on a sweet note, we had the mango cheesecake, the lavender cake, and the steamed Thai tea cake; all boasting a stimulating array of flavours and textures. The crunchy, earthy tea cake with a surprising moist base was the favourite; it’s infused with condensed soy milk, walnut praline, and paired with a vegan vanilla bean ice cream. The lavender cake with yuzu panna cotta, white chocolate sauce, pistachio and cardamom ($21) also comes highly recommended with its zingy taste and picturesque aesthetic.
Heaven revealed zero-waste is something Bodhi attempts their very best to practice. “Instead of throwing everything out, we try to use every part of our vegetables and other products; whether it’s to make stocks, infusions for our cocktails, we try to use as much as possible. The slow food movement is another big thing we are embracing; it’s about knowing where your food comes from and sourcing locally for business and environmental reasons. It’s about the distance and purchasing your stock within a radius.”
We were blown away by not only the food, cocktails, and Heaven’s beautiful company, but also the tender, love and care that goes on behind the scenes of this humble eatery that genuinely has ethicality at the forefront. We can’t wait to dine in again!
Lunch (Yum Cha) Monday - Saturday 11am - 3pm Sunday 11am - 4pm
Dinner (A La Carte) Tuesday – Sunday 5pm - 10pm