The following three restaurants have been chosen for their selection of vegetarian dishes in particular settings. These are selections based on quality rather than quantity and for value for money alongside ambiance and attention to detail.
By Giles Eldridge
First up is Simbio at Strada Negustori Nr. 26 open Monday to Sunday, 10am to midnight located within a rather austere looking Neo-Romanian style building. This type of architecture is, admittedly, an acquired taste but don’t be put off, stepping inside one is struck by a visually intriguing main space with smaller rooms beyond. Key aspects of the interior have been retained and house an array of new elements incorporating bespoke lighting and furniture with a range of materials and colours. Downstairs there is a bar and beyond there is a walled garden with 10 or more tables set amongst quince trees. Simbio is as much about its look and feel as it is about cuisine; both aiming at quality. As for the menu Simbio offers a number of good and well priced vegetarian dishes for every meal from Breakfast to Dinner. For example French toast with fresh fruit and sauce, 15 Lei, Spring salad with new potatoes, fennel and Bocconcini, 30 lei and seasonal fruit crumble with ice cream, 14 Lei. The menu is small but well balanced.
My next choice is Voilà at Strada Gen. Constantin Budisteanu Nr.18, open every day except Monday, midday to 11pm, where again architecture and setting is the first thing to mention since the building is of a strikingly attractive Art Nouveau style; not over the top Nouveau but distinctive and it certainly sets the tone and provides the atmosphere of this modest bistro. One could easily miss the venue as it is accessed via a short drive way off the street and walking past one might simply mistake it for a private party. This tucked away position makes for a very easy going vibe, day or night as one enters through the garden of around 12 small tables. Inside there is one large room with elegant tall doors and an unusual coloured glass ceiling with three smaller rooms leading off for more cosy dining. The furniture and lighting is an eclectic 20th century mix, reflecting the building’s former vintage shop usage. The cuisine is, as one might expect, essentially French, which is often bad news for the vegetarian diner but here there is always something to select from, for example a lunch special of Asparagus poached egg with truffles, 30 Lei or a nice twist on a Romanian classic, Zacuscă with grilled goats’ cheese, 25Lei.
Finally there is the Japanese restaurant, Yuki at Strada Puțul lui Zamfir Nr.5 open Tuesday to Friday midday to 3pm and again from 6pm until 10pm and Saturday from 1pm to 10pm. From the street it may not look particularly noteworthy, but don’t walk past otherwise you will miss the best Japanese restaurant in Bucharest. Enter through the traditional Noren curtain into a beautifully subtle interior that gives the sense of being in a different city. The attitude from here on in is completely Japanese with a graceful and warm sensibility. The staff wear traditional dress, not as a theatrical gimmick but to maintain the overall feel of the place. The décor is reserved and almost domestic, befitting the home style menu, not simply sushi which is particularly welcome in terms of the vegetarian selection of dishes such as Oboro, homemade tofu, 35 Lei, Japanese, sautéed Kidney beans, 25 Lei, Yasai Tempura, 43 Lei or Kimpira, sautéed vegetables in a sweet and spicy sauce, 25 Lei. All served in a beautiful array of differing plates and bowls.