Kupfert & Kim
Kupfert and Kim opened up recently in the winding maze that is the PATH (making it an automatic take-out only space, although I did spy a nearby recessed wooden cubby on which you could probably perch and chow down). There are the expected long line-ups around lunchtime, filled with curious Bay St. types.
The concept, on the surface, isn't exactly new. Vegan and wheat-free dishes, a few nutrient-dense ball snacks, a smoothie ($4.87), and Te Aro coffee. I opt for a small cappuccino ($3.54) made with rice milk and find that the espresso is expertly made.
When I receive my three take-out containers (all chosen from the lunch menu, which is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), I'm somewhat skeptical. They look very similar--which is to say, like rabbit food. Beautifully coloured, to be sure, but still. Willing to give them all a try, I take a forkful of each, then experience a fairly significant foot-in-mouth moment--each dish is incredibly flavourful, and light enough as to actually give credence to their purported healthiness (read: not slathered in heavy sauces).
We start with the First Canadian ($9.29), which I'm told is one of their more popular items. It's surprisingly filling--quinoa and tempeh, with lush, dark kale, rainbow radish, and yams, tossed in a hint-of-sweet chia tamari maple sauce. The whole thing is speckled in a generous helping of pomegranate seeds, which offer a bit of crunch and tartness, although I would've preferred the option of more beets in favour of the purple cabbage.
The Kim ($9.29) is a rich (yet not overpoweringly so) blend of brown rice, tofu, steamed bok choy, edamame, pickled carrots, daikon, cucumber braised cabbage and chia (basically the whole garden), and it's paired with almond chili lime sauce. It picks up on its obvious Asian cuisine influences, while remaining (dare I say) dietetic.
Any place that touts its vegan status should boast a stand-out salad, and yet the simply named Dan's Salad ($8.41) doesn't immediately win me over. I blame the dressing--dubbed basil vinaigrette (simple enough, no?), it tastes neither of basil, nor particularly of vinaigrette. Rather, it lays the oil on a bit too heavy and takes a few brisk shakes to properly coat the salad, which is delicious--arugula and micro-greens, carrots, cabbage, chickpeas, goji berries, rainbow radish and apple slices. Some welcome texture comes through with hemp and pumpkin seeds, chia, and raisins.
Kupfert and Kim also offers a breakfast menu (available from 8 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.), with all menu items ringing in at $5.75. It includes house granola (with gluten-free oats), sweet quinoa, and steel-cut oats, with almond, rice, coconut or soy milk on offer to top it up. Yes, Kupfert and Kim is good--and more notably, good enough to appeal even to a long-time carnivore.