Dining out is not always easy for vegetarians and vegans. In fact, it’s rather difficult and can often be a burden. You don’t want to be that person at the table that orders a menu item and then completely butchers it and makes it their own. I’m guilty of this for sure, and it’s not fun.
With an increasing percentage of the population becoming vegetarian or vegan, it’s apparent that we are in need of more places to dine that cater to these diets.
A 2000 poll found that 2.5% of the US population were vegetarians, and PETA maintains that this has grown to 4% since then, with 19,000 people making the healthy choice to become vegetarian each week. There is a major shift in the way people are eating and the restaurant business should recognize this.
What would be absolutely ideal would be to have restaurants that were totally vegetarian and vegan. A place where a vegetarian could choose anything off a menu. We are limited however, and must search high and low for places like this.
Introducing, Kaya’s Kitchen. Located in Belmar Plaza, this place is like heaven for a vegetarian in need of a hardy meal. Many people believe it to be the best vegetarian food in New Jersey.
Kaya’s Kitchen uses all natural and organic ingredients. Every dish is made fresh to order. They don’t have premade sandwiches or salads, which is a huge plus for me.
The menu is massive; it has everything a vegetarian or vegan could ever want. Starting with delicious fresh soups and salads and then on to appetizers and small plates. To pick a few items to highlight is tough, but one that cannot be overlooked is the “Karma Wings.” They are spicy buffalo tofu strips served with celery and a ranch dipping sauce, vegan of course. I’ve seen meat-eaters try these, and they are amazed at how much they taste like wings.
The sandwich and burger portion of the menu is a bit overwhelming, but in a good way. Anything you could possibly think of is listed, literally. From one of the best veggie burgers I’ve ever had, to a hummus and avocado sandwich, to a tempeh Reuben, to the Sloppy Joe, you can’t go wrong with any choice.
The sandwiches are all served on fresh multigrain buns with a choice of a side, like their delicious homemade coleslaw, pasta salad, cucumber salad or potato salad.
The menu also includes 14” pizzas, which are great as individual pies or for sharing as an appetizer with a few other people. Lastly, as far as savory foods go, they have a long list of dinner entrees and chef’s specialties that are prepared incredibly.
Dishes such as a lentil loaf, enchiladas, tofu teriyaki, veggie burrito and pierogies are among some of the options. Where else on a vegetarian menu have you ever seen pierogies? They happen to be a soft spot of mine, so I was thrilled to see this on the menu and even more excited to try them; they are darn good.
Not listed on the regular menu, but prepared fresh daily and always available, are their ridiculous vegan desserts. Ask your server for the list, and you will not be sorry. The one dessert I have to get every time I’m there is their coconut chocolate fudge.
The first time I tried it I thought, “How is this possibly vegan?” It is out of control delicious; dense and chocolaty, it is all one could need to satisfy their sweet tooth.
In addition to the restaurant and regular dining, Kaya’s Kitchen also has a new fresh vegetable juice and fruit smoothie bar as well as a display case with homemade dishes to take-out.
The atmosphere is very Zen and hippie. The walls are adorned with decorative wooden masks from all around the world. The colors are neutral and it’s a very relaxing atmosphere. The staff is very nice; they are willing to listen to your special needs (i.e. food allergies) and are great at recommendations.
All in all, Kaya’s Kitchen is one of my favorite vegetarian/vegan restaurants I have ever been to, not to mention that it is one of the only ones on the Jersey Shore. It feels great to walk into a place knowing that all the food prepared there is vegetarian; it’s extremely comforting. The food is totally legit and I would recommend for every one to try this place -- vegans, vegetarians and carnivores alike.