On August 7, 2022, Bodhi, known for its plant-based take on yum cha, served its last faux Peking duck pancakes, mushroom dumplings and sweet-and-sour “chicken”. But, unlike when Bodhi opened in 1988, Sydney now has loads of plant-based places for those who follow vegan diets. There are plenty of spots to drown your Bodhi-is-closed sorrows. Here’s just a few to check out.
Yellow, Potts Point
Dining at Bodhi has always been a pleasant experience – on sunny days there are few better al fresco tables in Sydney than those under its Moreton Bay figs. Yellow in Potts Point, which many consider Sydney’s first vegan fine diner, offers a similarly lovely space. While Bodhi is bright and open, Yellow – housed in a former gallery – is moodily lit and evokes European bistros. The menu changes with the seasons; currently it’s offering polished plant-based dishes such as buckwheat pancakes with brussels sprouts; Jerusalem artichoke with hazelnut and shiitakes; and, for dessert, yuzu parfait. And because Yellow is from the team behind Bentley and Monopole – both notorious for their amazing wines – you can expect some outstanding vino options to knock back with your tasting menu.
The dumplings at Bodhi have always been a fan favourite. Not too far away, though, you’ll find a silky, spicy dumpling stuffed with Fable (faux meat made from shiitake mushrooms) and served in a pool of Sichuan chilli oil at the Ovolo Hotels’ fully plant-based restaurant, Alibi. But the vegan fun doesn’t stop at the dumpling – you’ll also find chargrilled okra with an XO sauce made with mushroom, a “cheese” burger and smoky eggplant with a romesco sauce.
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Bad Hombres, Surry Hills
Bad Hombres has done for vegan tacos what Bodhi has achieved with vegan yum cha. While it started out serving meat, it quickly switched to a plant-based menu and has been a hit ever since. Soft corn tortillas are packed with your choice of delicious fillings – think chipotle potato with salsa verde, miso eggplant with a pineapple-habanero salsa and miso-caramel, and a faux fish number with coriander mayo and mango salsa. The spice-laden cauliflower with cashew cream is also a must-order, as is its vegan take on Tiktok fave birria. (And a spicy Marg never goes astray.)
Little Turtle, Enmore
Over the years, Heaven Leigh – current owner of Bodhi and daughter of its founder Lee-Leng Whong – has expanded Bodhi’s menu, and is responsible for adding a range of curries. The curries at Little Turtle in Enmore may be Thai – but they’re just as delicious. Think plant-based takes on Thai standards (which often contain ingredients such as fish sauce and shrimp paste), such as green curry, panang curry with grilled eggplant, and hor mok (a northern Thai steamed-fish curry, made here with tofu). You’ll also find fantastic vegan spins on other popular Thai dishes, including pad see ew, tom yum and corn som tum (green papaya salad).
Khamsa Cafe, Erskineville
Vegans and non-vegans alike flock to Bodhi – and the same goes for Khamsa Cafe, which serves vegan versions of Palestinian dishes smack-bang on King Street’s vegan mile. Owner Sarah Shaweesh says meat is often only added to many Palestinian dishes towards the end of the cooking process, so veganising them isn’t too tough. Enter the bright cafe for crunchy falafel packed with green herbs (they’re great dipped in a garlic-tahini cream, or piled on a wrap with herbs and pickles); a rainbow of dips, including hummus, baba ganoush, ful medames (fava bean dip) and muhammara (roasted red pepper dip); and a vegan knafeh (a sweet, shredded-filo pastry usually made with cheese). Like Bodhi, it’s unlike anything else in Sydney – in fact, it’s the only Palestinian eatery in Sydney.
This article was originally published on July 27, 2022 and was updated on August 18, 2023.