Text: Nicole Baird
Photography: Abigail Varney
Despite today’s lines of hungry customers out front of Brunswick Street’s bustling Yong Green Food, the restaurant had humble beginnings. But there was one particularly keen customer right from the start. Yong Green Food is a vegetarian’s haven offering a diverse menu of raw, vegan, gluten free, macrobiotic and organic dishes, and is a much-loved stalwart of Fitzroy’s food culture. After opening in late 2009 it has consistently grown, expanding in 2012 and today attracting crowds from all over Melbourne.
“He lived around the corner,” says Seon Mi Lee, Yong’s co-founder, “and he’d come in every day.” For the food? Seon Mi laughs. “For the food. And for me!” Four years later and he’s still a big fan of the business albeit as Seon Mi’s partner. “He’s very supportive. He helps here a lot.”
The key seems to be integrity. From the (now 20) staff member’s positive attitudes, to the full of flavor wholesome food, to the laid-back homely atmosphere, everything has integrity. “We use as much organic and local food as possible,” says Seon Mi. “No chemicals.” The juices and desserts are raw and organic. Every dish is vegetarian, many also vegan and gluten free. And basics, such as almond milk, kimchi and Thai green curry paste, are all made from scratch on site. “I try to make a good atmosphere here so everyone is happy,” says Seon Mi. “Even when it’s very busy, I think we can cooperate and work as a team, having fun.” The ethos is evident on the contented faces of diners. “Food is not just about taste. The energy is really important too. People can feel the energy in the food.”
Signature dishes include the Rawsagna, made with layered vegetables, avocado, cashew cream and raw walnut Bolognese, the Macro Dragon Bowl, made with biodynamic brown rice, veggies, organic tempeh, seaweed and lemon tahini cream (and served with miso soup), and the Green Tea Ganache dessert, made from macha, brazil nut, Goji berries, coconut, agave and raw chocolate. There’s also a wide variety of curries, wraps, salads, smoothies and more.
“You can do so much with vegetarian food,” says Seon Mi. “It’s not necessary to cage and kill animals for our pleasure.” The environmental impacts of a carnivorous culture have been well documented and Yong Green Food is catering for individuals making conscious decisions about their lifestyle. “We wanted to create something healthy, unique and fun,” says Seon Mi, “a place where people feel good.”
Leaving Yong Green Food, you’ll likely have never felt better.
It's still faster than you could draw it