We sit down at a table in the corner of Noorish, a restaurant that opened just off Whyte Avenue on 109 street this fall. The tables on all sides are full on a Wednesday evening. Our waitress is so upbeat I’ve never heard anyone that enthusiastic about food. And I love food.
But she takes it to another level, looking at us with wide eyes and a knowing smile, saying she’s very confident we’ll enjoy ourselves. And, she says, we’re about to experience something we’ve never experienced before.
She’s setting the bar high. We laugh, anxious to see if the food will live up to the expectations. We’re off to a good start, because the menu doesn’t disappoint. Noorish creates vegan and raw food dishes, and the second half of our waitresses claims are already correct: both my friend and I have never tried dishes that are both raw and vegan.
My friend orders the Nearly Nirvana Nachos, a heaping plate of raw corn-hemp chips topped with marinated veggies, cashew chilli cheese, sunflower refried beans and green onions. But the piece de resistance is the goji berry salsa, which tastes even better when mixed with the second dip, a cashew sauce akin to sour cream.
I order the Mystical Mandalas Pizza. There are certain things I expect to see at a raw food restaurant: salads, vegetables, grains. But pizza? Pizza is the epitome of a cooked dish — baked bread and melted cheese. But the Mystical Mandalas Pizza, served with a side of kale salad, is not baked or cooked in any way.
The sauce, a sun-dried tomato pesto, but it's the only thing on the dish that resembles traditional pizza in flavour. The crust is made up of a seeded flatbread, and it’s topped with marinated and cool zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers and spinach. The vegetables and the cashew chilli cheese sauce give it a fresh flavour you wouldn’t experience with a traditional Hawaiian.
We plan on trying one of Noorish’s many drinks after dinner (the restaurant has an "elixir bar" with options such as the Citrus Swirl Elixir), but we are full. The portions are large and hearty — two words that are practically antonyms in the health food lexicon. But I'll be returning for drinks, and dinner, again soon.
And I'll hopefully save room for the coconut kiwi lime pie or layered cacao berry compote mousse, two desserts I spot on the table beside us.