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Brighton Spotlight: Bonsai Plant Kitchen Review for Veganuary

Hi, I’m Mollie and I’m your new social media girl here at WERKS, therefore you’ll see lots of me throughout the platforms within our internet community. I am an extravert, a musician, a writer, an optimist, a film-buff and a bona fide foodie (in no particular order).

I want to create engaging content that inspires people to grab life by the horns and make beautiful decisions day-to-day - so if that sounds like something you’d like to engage with, please read on! Whether it means guiding you to create new, cherished memories with loved ones by recommending Brighton-and-Hove eateries, or inspiring some positive change in your habits by shining a light on innovative and exciting local activities, I would love to give you a helping hand and take the fear out of the unknown. This creative space will be home to local restaurant write-ups, gig reviews, news and offers from us at WERKS, as well as client spotlights. So here goes - thanks for coming along for the ride!

Let's start by looking back at the month of January. The New Year is freeing and inspiring, yet demanding and challenging. Many of us decide to step onto this fresh canvas with a list of resolutions to fulfil, or simply a monthly challenge to kick-start the year (such as Veganuary or dry January). Some of us even manage to see it through! My personal goal for 2023 is to be more conscious of my environmental impact and to improve my gut health - prospects I’m sure many others are aligning with. To be successful in both of these objectives means to cut down on my meat and dairy intake, therefore I am focusing on making a larger proportion of my diet plant-based.

The annual challenge of Veganuary started in 2014 and is a wonderful way to explore a plant-based lifestyle without committing to it for life. The revolutionary campaign is in place to make veganism more visible and accessible through worldwide promotion and 98% of participants would recommend trying it to a friend. Perhaps if you participated - to your own surprise - you will continue the Vegan lifestyle throughout the year. Or, like me, you may now feel inspired to implement balance with more vegetables and less meat into your diet (whether you eat in or out). In Brighton we are enormously lucky to boast a wide array of vegan eateries, whether you’re craving junk food or a boujee banquette - you’re in the right place! Brighton is home to a number of exceedingly delicious plant-based restaurants and it would be nigh-on-impossible for me to list them all. However, throughout the year I will be focusing my attention on local Brightonion businesses that deliver exceptional vegan cuisine whilst I Spotlight my favourite cruelty free food spots here in the city. My ‘Vegan Perks With WERKS’ diary starts here and my January edition will not disappoint.

I truly must start the year by paying homage to my new favourite place, the absolute tippity-top choice, the fab-u-lous Bonsai Plant Kitchen. I don’t know where to begin… but I’ll try. Off of the beaten track, I doubt you’d find this quaint and intimate spot unless it was recommended to you - but luckily for the owners Amy and Dom, this is an absolute given. As soon as we walked through the doors of Bonsai we were greeted with fragrant, sweet, and aromatic smells, and such a warm welcome by Amy (who was an absolute delight from start-to-finish). In a group of four, my husband (Tom) and I, along with my cousin and her partner, attended Bonsai for Tom's birthday meal. It was immediately clear that this would be the perfect spot for a romantic date or for dinner with friends - the vibe is chilled yet elegant, and oozes all of the qualities for an ideal adult-orientated dining experience. We received nothing but warmth, humility, patience, great service, and extensive food-and-drink menu knowledge all the way through our visit.

As we sat at our table, we admired the minimalist, modern décor throughout the beautifully lit space, with the open kitchen - complete with Japanese coals - reaffirming the authenticity of this South-East Asian inspired restaurant. The ambience was vibrant, yet soothing, and as music filled the room, we began our meal with a seriously delicious mango daiquiri.

We ordered about two-thirds of the menu as everything sounded so damn yummy and we had no desire to resist any of Bonsai’s sumptuous offerings. This was plenty for the four of us and fast forward 90 minutes - (spoiler alert) - we devoured every last mouthful. Food arrived piping hot as and when it was ready. Every new dish arrived like a gift, with enough time in between to enjoy and savour every element.

The first dish to arrive at the table were Bonsai’s vegetable gyozas complete with a soy/honey/chilli dipping sauce that I genuinely wanted to bathe in (but don’t worry I managed to hold myself back). Without being dramatic, I actually remember Tom and I looking at each other with absolute shock and ecstasy during our first mouthful of those perfect little parcels. There may even have been a gasp. Absolutely game changing.

To follow was their dirty rice (which was absolute filth - in the best possible way), crispy chilli ‘beef’, an array of Bao buns, tempura cauliflower (best cauliflower we’ve ever had), ‘chicken’ skewers (please explain how this isn’t real chicken?), Hanoi 'Pork' Cha Gio (fried rice paper spring rolls), the list goes on. In all honesty I think we shared about fifteen small plates. I regret nothing! It's also important to mention that everything was presented beautifully.

As I’m sure you can tell, we had the dreamiest time at Bonsai and left with hearts full of pure, wholesome joy and tummies full of 100% plants (which seems crazy to me). Bonsai feels high-end but not even slightly stuffy, with reasonable prices, and a unique, mouth-watering (not to mention nut-free and predominantly gluten-free) vegan menu. Each dish blew us away and we felt so taken care of. 10/10 this is a must visit, whether you’re a lactose intolerant flexitarian or otherwise. Oh, and you should most definitely indulge in one of their cocktails - you will not regret it!

I hope I have inspired you to book in at this wonderful restaurant. Thank you Bonsai. Thank you Amy and Dom. I hope you enjoyed this debut post, let’s catch up soon!

(All food photos are taken from Bonsai Plant Kitchens official website as we did not even consider taking pictures before consuming this feast - I can confirm that each food item looks exactly like the pictures!)

Written by: Mollie Buckley at WERKS

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