Clare Hu already owns three cafes: Stepping Stone in South Yarra, Bluff Town in Sandringham, and The Resident in Ashburton. But after dropping meat and dairy from her diet for eight months last year, she decided to open her new lunch spot V.

“I was a student of [the] vegan lifestyle last year,” Hu says. “I’m more aware of what I’m putting in my body. It doesn’t matter if you’re a full-time vegan or part-time … it’s still good to build awareness of what you’re eating.”

After setting up three anything-goes cafes, Hu initially found it difficult putting together a menu with tight dietary restrictions, but eventually found inspiration looking overseas.

Her two favourite dishes at V. are Japanese: a sushi roll and a vegan ramen that took chef Darius Sun a month to perfect. “He used a soybean base, plus mushrooms and a mixture of vegetables to make a very rich broth,” Hu says.

The sushi roll uses a unique mixture of enoki and shiitake mushrooms, black rice and barley, and a shitake teriyaki sauce. There are also jaffles, burgers, and rice paper rolls, with much of the produce sourced from Peninsula Fresh Organics in Mornington.

For something sweet, Hu suggests a dessert jar filled with silken tofu, peanut butter, raspberry and mango puree.

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The compact space designed by Blair Cooper of Noise, Noise, Noise is contained in what is essentially a glass box, with concrete, blonde wood and lots of indoor plants inside the tiny interior.

“It’s very, very small. It would be about 27 square metres. It looks like a fish tank,” says Hu.

Although primarily a take-out spot there is room to dine in, with bleacher-style seating to the left of the door.

“[Customers] can just take it easy, there’s no proper tables and chairs,” Hu says.

7a Claremont Street, South Yarra

Mon to Fri 6am–9pm
Sat to Sun 7am–9pm