K&K Food Stand
K&K Food Stand is the second location in a growing family of "meatless, wheatless" grab-and-go eateries catering to health-conscious downtown lunch crowds. Like the original franchise, Kupfert & Kim , the latest lunch counter is located in the Financial District 's PATH- specifically, underneath the Sun Life building, just off of King and University.
The new location, which features a much larger kitchen space than its predecessor, was originally going to be a sort of "annex" for the existing Kupfert & Kim shop. Gradually, however, the concept evolved to become, as co-founder Daniel Suss says, "the first gluten-free, vegan burger bar."
Since the existing location was only a few blocks away under First Canadian Place, they saw an opportunity to set the new location apart by bringing in a menu of tacos and burgers - items they'd previously only been ever able to offer as specials due to the space constraints of the other kitchen. Together, explains co-founder Mark Kupfert, "both of them created the Kupfert & Kim we always envisioned." Though tacos, burgers and smoothies form the cornerstone of the menu, the specific offerings will likely change with the seasons.
K&K's tacos ($10.18) come three to an order. You can choose from any combination of their black bean and guacamole Oaxaca taco, a tempeh bulgogi version topped with kimchi, or - my favourite - a roasted cauliflower and pickled onion taco that gets plenty of zip from a lime jalapeno chimichurri sauce. The Oaxaca comes served on two corn tortillas; Kupfert says he likes to peel one off and use it to patch the taco as it inevitably falls apart.
Next, I try the Hemp & Sunflower burger ($11.06), which features a hemp and sunflower patty and traditional burger fixings on one of their house-made, gluten-free buns, which are square and focaccia-like and feature a pleasantly-spongy texture. Thankfully, it doesn't try to ape the flavour or texture of a meat burger - but it's savoury and tasty, with a pleasant zip from the organic djion mustard and pickles.
Every good burger deserves a savoury, starchy side, and K&K delivers with a small heap of roasted root vegetables (rutabagas, turnips and sweet potatoes) that come sweet and caramelized to perfection.
Sweets like balls and cookies, carried over from the original location, are joined by a refrigerator case full of vegan-friendly desserts and grab-and-go sweets like acai bowls ($7.09), berry crumble ($4.41) and a tangy coconut-lime pudding topped with mint ($3.90). Though they're still phasing in the breakfast menu, which will include congee and a coconut-bacon raw BLT, their gluten-free berry waffle ($7.50) is an early hit. Stumptown coffee is available in drip form (no espresso here) or by the bag.
A variety of wraps (in gluten-free shells like rice paper and seaweed) are available for grab-and-go, including walnut-pesto and pumpkin-seed varieties. Their peanut-encrusted-tofu version ($8.85) is like a fresh spring roll beefed up with quinoa, with a welcome dose of flavour and moisure from the accompanying peanut dipping sauce (apply liberally).
If the two K&K storefronts didn't already have a monopoly on healthy lunches in the downtown core, the founders reveal they've got two more locations in the works, including a Richmond and Spadina outpost set to open in March. If the new menu at K&K is any indication, they've got plenty of wheat-and-meat-free surprises up their sleeves.
Photos by Morris Lum.