Hangry Health Bar -Amazing Hidden Gem with Vegan Options

I know, I know, a health bar. A place where you can get bowls and salads and wraps and probably a smoothie. But read to the end and you will think differently about my calling this a hidden gem!

Located on 102a Ave. just west of 154th, parking is a bit hit and miss. You can pay almost $4 an hour to park downstairs but the ap is shit and I couldn't get it to take my credit card. Better to just walk unless you have had knee replacement surgery less than a week ago but that is for another post.
On our first visit, we got a bowl, a wrap and a smoothie to go. The Bangkok Bowl came with a little bit of heat, peanuts and peanut sauce. You choose your base (brown rice) and your protein (tofu) so most of the dishes can be made vegan unless the sauces contain dairy. The menu is quite flexible that way. Also, most dishes can be prepared as bowls or wraps.
We ordered the Hawaiian Bowl as a wrap. Again, choosing tofu and rice, the Hawaiian comes with Teriyaki and pineapple for a little sweeter concoction. Nicely pressed, we enjoyed both of these items and there is quite a bit more we could have tired. 
Finally, we ordered a smoothie for the drive home. We think this was the Tropical Thunder because of the greenish colour but I honestly can't remember. I do remember being enthusiastic about it as we gulped it down on the ride home.
So if this was it, we would have been perfectly happy with a place where you can get a healthy vegan meal, at a reasonable price that is open all the time, b.t.w. (10 to 10, 7 days) and no need to pull into Guildford's nightmare of parking traffic but there were clues that led me to believe that there was more.
On the wall was a map of Eritrea and some basketry and art that was definitely not local. The big give away was a flyer offering free Injera Bites when you signed up for their newsletter. Injera Bites? This and Tshga's (our hostess) delightful accent led us to believe that Eritrean food might be available here too! And so with some confirmation, we returned!
There is no printed menu yet so we just asked Tshga if she could prepare us a Vegan Platter for Two. It came on Injera, the wonderful fermented bread or pancake from Eritrea, made from teff flour which serves as your utensil as well!
At the centre of the platter were stewed lentils flavoured with Berbere spice a flavour unique to the region. Berbere is full of dried chilis but also ginger, fenugreek etc. It is the principle spice mix of the area just as you may expect a garam masala to be used commonly in other areas. In addition to the lentils, there were other lentils, beets, carrots and kale. We were served another injera rolled up on the side as well and we ate everything! Wonderful . The platter was just over $20 but I hope that is just an informal, try it out price. I don't usually encourage restaurants to raise their prices but I hope that if they issue a formal menu, the price will be a little higher and it will still be worth it. 
Just as we were leaving, Tshga asked if we would like to try a coffee and what I expected was a paper cup to go. Instead, what we were presented with was an introduction to Eritrean coffee culture and a coffee ceremony! She explained to us that the women of a village would gather, to solve an issue together and the coffee would be central (an example of how the ceremony is used). With a little help from Copilot, I was able to sus out a few more details. It all starts with wonderful strong coffee redolent with ginger to which a little sugar is added. Incense is typically burned and don't worry, there was no side benefit other than a lovely calming smoke. Popcorn or some other small snack is typically served on the side. The multiple cups (in this case there were only 3 of us partaking) is symbolic of the host's generosity and hospitality. It is a way for the host to make everyone feel welcome. Later I read that each round of coffee has further meaning. Typically 3 rounds represent first, life, then next love or friendship and finally, blessings and good fortune. I did not know that at the time and being a boorish Caucasian, assumed we were done after the first cup. By partaking in the 3 rounds, you honor these symbolic aspects. I am barely scratching the surface here of this unique ceremony.
I get the impression that there is a significant Eritrean community in the area. Tshga told us that we are the first outside that community to pry (my word) into the whole Eritrean food thing and I hope we will not be the last. She assured us that it is here intention to add Eritrean cuisine to the menu but I expect that will be a lot of work and take some time. In the meantime, we were honored to be given a small look into this special culture and cuisine and I hope others will follow in our footsteps and at least enquire. This is a woman who seems to be working very hard and she deserves success! 

Food                              5 out of 5
Vegan Options              4 out of 5
Comfort                         4 out of 5
Service                          5 out of 5
Value                             5 out of 5


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Are you guys eating again? At some point Marie and I became the kind of people who take pictures of everything we eat, whether in a restaura...