Gorilla Food (Raw, Vegan & Organic Restaurant)

Restaurant: Gorilla Food
Cuisine: Vegetarian/Vegan/Raw/Organic/Salads
Last visited: July 7, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Downtown/Gastown)
Address: 436 Richards St
Price Range: $10 o

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 3 (based on what I tried)
Service: 3
Ambiance: 3
Overall: 3
Additional comments:

  • 100% raw, vegan & organic
  • Live food
  • Vegan friendly
  • Vegetarian friendly
  • Healthy
  • Local ingredients
  • All natural ingredients
  • Home made
  • Extensive menu
  • Shakes/drinks
  • Home made desserts
  • Eco-friendly
  • Nut environment
  • Dairy free
  • Eat in/Take out/Delivery
  • Catering available
  • Mon-Sun 11am-8pm

**Recommendations: International Maki Roll, Pesto Pizza, The Great Gorilla Salad, Avocado Pie
Oh crap. No I’m not referring to the food, but I feel like I just lost 80% of my readership. Okay maybe even 90%. Yes, I’m a girl that surrounds herself with carnivores, but despite what you may think I actually love vegetables too. I’ll opt for a grilled sablefish, duck confit or braised beef short rib before I would the vegetarian lasagna, but I do appreciate vegetarian dishes.

On the other hand, I’m not talking about just vegetarian food in this case. Gorilla Food serves raw, vegan and organic live food, so this is hardcore vegetarianism, or I guess vegan-ism… or raw vegan-ism? Uncooked. No dairy. No honey. No ingredient that even comes from an animal. Hello? Are you still there?

I’ve been meaning to try Gorilla Food for ages, but opportunities for meat and seafood kept playing a higher priority. The last time I embraced this culture of food was when my cousin and I did a private cooking class with a raw and vegan chef – see here. During that class I was exposed to lots of new ingredients and raw vegan recipes, and I learned that it’s an expensive lifestyle to keep up, especially if you plan on keeping it organic too; hence Gorilla Food can get quite pricey.

Raw and vegan is not a cuisine I’m very familiar with, but I’m not uncomfortable with any of the ingredients either. Part of the reason I actually really like raw and vegan food is because I love how creative and interesting it gets. I’m also a huge fan of coconut, nuts, grains and seeds, and this is a significant part of the diet. If you’re familiar with my blog then you may notice that I enjoy menu items that may contain those ingredients, especially with desserts. If you don’t like these things, then you can almost forget about even trying raw and vegan food. Yes, it is a healthy diet, but it can also be high in fat. Mind you the fats are healthy fats, so you do get full and the food can get quite filling.

I’m going to approach Gorilla Food from a perspective of someone who has been exposed to it, likes it, but would never choose it as a lifestyle. I would actually initiate a vegetarian restaurant for dinner, and I’d love to try more raw and vegan restaurants, but just not on a daily basis.

As for Gorilla Food, there’s nothing else really like it in Vancouver, BC except for OrganicLives, but their styles are quite different. These are pretty much the only completely raw and vegan restaurants in Vancouver. The limited choices in this category is surprising since Vancouver is known for its active and healthy lifestyle… and hippies.

Pretty much everything is made in house, from savouries to sweets, and I almost wanted to lend a helping hand since it felt more or less like a friend’s kitchen… on Commercial Street. Okay, all jokes aside, I appreciate the effort, because raw vegan food is hard to master. I mean no animal by products and nothing can be cooked (only dried), that’s a tough challenge for any chef. However from a flavour perspective, I wanted more and I wish everything wasn’t so itty bitty, pureed or mashed all the time.

I came in with more than an open mind as the online menu really sparked my interest. Everything sounded so creative, different and nutty, so I was actually excited to try it and it was hard for me to narrow down my choices. The food is quite good, but I found a lot of the items very similar with ingredients, one dimensional in flavour, and at times a bit bland. I’m not asking for bacon, but I just wanted a bit more salt and more variety of fresh herbs and exotic spices.

Basically it sounded a lot better on the menu and I felt a lot of things were “mix and match” type items or variations of the same thing. Raw and vegan food can get better and more flavourful than this, but in the context of Vancouver, Gorilla Food is likely as good as it gets… well it has a 50% chance as the only other option is OrganicLives, which I still need to try… and a few weeks later I did! See here.

On the table:

Strawberry Bliss Shake- 3.5/6

  • Almonds, strawberries, bananas, hempseeds, coconut oil, vanilla, date $7
  • They ran out of vanilla so she replaced the vanilla with some energy powder called Maca. I don’t know what flavour it has and I didn’t taste anything unfamiliar.
  • This was pretty much a meal in itself and the glass is pretty big. For $7 it should be though.
  • It was thick, creamy and stronger with banana flavour than strawberry. I actually couldn’t taste much strawberries and it was pretty pale in colour too.
  • The texture was a bit grainy and powdery with the ground up hempseeds and the flavour was delicate and light and not too sweet.
  • I couldn’t tell there were dates in it and the coconut oil came unnoticed as well.
  • It’s not icy, or slushy, and not as thick as a milkshake, but it is filling and could be a light dessert.
  • It’s sweeter and more refreshing than the Choco-Gorilla.

Choco-Gorilla Shake3/6

  • Almond, cacao, bananas, hemp seeds, date, coconut oil $6.50
  • This was also a meal in itself.
  • This isn’t very cold because there’s no frozen fruit in it to make it that cold, so the Strawberry Bliss is colder.
  • The Strawberry Bliss was sweeter and this one was actually not that sweet at all, but more nutty.
  • I could taste the banana and the raw cacao and it had a bitter aftertaste especially with the ground hemp seed combination.
  • It was thick and creamy with a bitter sweet flavour, but I couldn’t taste the date or coconut again.
  • The texture is grainy and a bit powdery with a malted like texture from all the ingredients.
  • For me it could have been a bit more chocolaty and I wish the slight bitter aftertaste of the hemp seed was more masked.
  • The drink is good, but I prefer the drinks at East is East, which are similar, but more flavourful.

Zucchini Hummus & Ital Tomato Herb Flax Crackers2/6

  • $2.50 for Zucchini Hummus + $4 for Ital Tomato Herb Crackers = $6.50
  • I love zucchini and I love hummus. So could this pass for hummus? No, not exactly, but it’s a fair imitation. I’d prefer actual hummus and some raw zucchini sticks.
  • It was a generous bowl of zucchini hummus, but it was a bit bitter and not strong enough with sesame flavour.
  • It was very garlicky, a bit tangy and full of what seemed like pureed alfalfa sprouts, parsley, sesame seeds, chives and raw zucchini.
  • There was a bitter aftertaste from the hemp and zucchini skins (or zucchini itself) and it wasn’t as savoury or nutty as I wanted.
  • Follow Me Foodie Tasty Twist: I brought some home and mixed it with some chopped raw pistachios and that was 5/6. It still makes it raw and vegan too!

Ital Tomato Herb Flax Crackers2/6

  • $4
  • You had to purchase these separately, and these were the recommended house made crackers to go along side with the hummus.
  • It’s a very crunchy dehydrated flax seed cracker and its very woody and nutty, but not as nutty or flavourful as sesame crackers.
  • There was some dried oregano, a sun dried tomato tang and then a bitter after taste, but overall it was mild and I expected them to have more flavour.
  • I wouldn’t chose to snack on these alone, and I wish this hummus was served with this raw vegan onion bread instead – see here.

Thai Fresh Wraps1.5/6

  • Three collard leaf wraps filled with sprouted sunflower seed and veggie pate, sesame seasoned coleslaw and a side dip of raisin chutney $6
  • This is their most popular leaf wrap, but I didn’t get it.
  • Thai flavours are so aromatic, strong and bold with salty, sweet, tangy and spicy flavours, and I found this very under seasoned and a bit boring.
  • I was expecting flavours of Thai peanut sauce or Japanese goma-ae sauce and it wasn’t even close.
  • The collard leaf wrap was very thick and plastic like in texture with a very grassy aftertaste.
  • The inside was filled with a regular cole slaw and the sunflower seed and veggie pate just tasted like a puree of itty bitty carrots, sunflower sprouts, cabbage and maybe ground sunflower seeds.
  • It was a very mushy pate and it lacked flavour and sounds more interesting than it really was. I found this common with all the pates I tried here.
  • The wrap just tasted like a plain nutty and crunchy sesame cole slaw salad and the pate didn’t stand out and seemed more like a filler.
  • The dip was very sweet, very tangy from vinegar and had a strong gingery presence. The raisins were all pureed and it gave the wrap flavour, but not one I particularly liked.

**International Maki 4/6

  • Rolled nori seaweed with a savoury-sweet sprouted sunflower ginger pate, cut veggies, mango-concoct and fresh sliced avocado $8
  • This is the most popular sea wrap and one of my favourites from what I tried.
  • The nori wrapper is wet and very thick and chewy and it can get quite slimy, so I didn’t really enjoy that part though.
  • The wrap is fresh and as a whole it has texture, but it is on the soggy, wet and mushy side.
  • It’s about the size of a Vietnamese salad roll so this I found more like an appetizer.

  • It was very creamy from the pate and avocado which seemed more like guacamole than fresh slices as suggested.
  • I got a sweet ginger flavour in the beginning, and it’s also a bit sweet and tangy from the thin layer of fresh pureed mango. I kept looking for coconut flavours, but it’s a mango – concoct, not coconut. It would be good with coconut though.
  • There was a nice fresh crunch from a cucumber stick, shredded carrots, and sweet red bell pepper to balance out the almost overwhelming amount of creamy mushiness.
  • The sunflower ginger pate tasted like the pureed carrots, cabbage and sunflower seeds, and this time I could taste some sweetness and ginger.
  • I still think the pates generally sound more interesting than they really are. In most cases it just blended in without coming across as a significant ingredient.
  • The International Maki is creamier, sweeter, and wetter than the Ocean Wrap, but it carries more flavour and I could taste the mango more too.

Ocean Wrap 2.5/6

  • A nori seaweed wrap rolled with a salty dulse (seaweed) and walnut-hemp-sunflower pate, seasonal vegetables, sprouts and some salty mango-concoct $7.50
  • The International Maki is better and has more flavour.
  • Again I found the seaweed wrapper thick, soggy and chewy and the filling was quite soggy, wet, and mushy again.

  • The Ocean Wrap was earthy from the hemp, briny from a bit of dulse (mildy salty seaweed) and has a grassy aftertaste from the alfalfa sprouts, so I felt like I was taking a bite of the Earth… I may have taken a large gulp of Strawberry Bliss after this.
  • The roll is filled with pate and wet alfalfa sprouts so thank goodness for the crunch of a fresh cucumber stick, sweet red bell pepper and shredded carrots to give it much needed texture.
  • There was some unexpected fresh avocado slices which again was almost like guacamole, and it had a slight sweetness from the mango, that was also quite tangy alone.
  • I wouldn’t call the mango-concoct salty at all and the wrap isn’t even salty per say.
  • It’s the same mango-concoct in the International Maki and it tasted like a sweet and tart pureed fresh mango paste.
  • I would have preferred actual mango and even shredded coconut instead of having it as a thin layer of mango-coconct sauce.

  • The walnut hemp sunflower pate is what I wanted to try and that’s why I ordered the Ocean Wrap.
  • They give you a lot of it, and I like all the ingredients, but it didn’t work for me.
  • It was almost all hemp with very little walnut and it was completely pureed so it had no nutty crunch of walnut or seeds unless you ate it alone.
  • In the context of the wrap it was just mushy and a bit overpowering.
  • I could taste the walnut very subtly, but overall the pate was earthy, bland, mushy and carried a bitter after taste from the hemp seed.
  • Basically it sounded better to me than it tasted.

The Great Gorilla4/6

  • A grand combo salad of delish and mineral rich leafy greens, veggies, chili, almonds, pate, olive, sprouts and a creamy avocado, almond, hempseed, super-food dressing $13
  • This is the most popular salad and it’s a huge salad.
  • I did really enjoy it, except I wish not everything was cut up so itty bitty and I did miss biting into actual chunks and pieces of vegetables besides leaves.
  • It was a very nutty, crispy and crunchy salad with lots of texture and preserved olives on the side.
  • The pate seemed like the same sprouted sunflower seed and veggi pate used in the Thai Lettuce Wrap and it was on the bland side.
  • The super-food dressing is very tangy and almost mustardy and there was some heat coming from the almonds, but it was very mildly spicy, if even.
  • The avocado seemed like a thin drizzle of avocado sauce and I wanted wedges of avocado.
  • The bed of tiny chopped up greens were I think kale, romaine, cabbage, dulse (seaweed), diced cucumber, collard greens and two mounds of alfalfa sprouts at the ends. It was very crunchy, earthy, grassy, and healthy tasting.
  • I loved the textures and it did have very nutty flavour that was a bit tangy, a little sweet and at times gingery, but it wasn’t salty enough until you had some dehydrated olives.
  • It was all very bitty and crumbly and I just wanted more substance to this salad. I wanted some sweet fruit, whole veggies, or even whole nuts I could bite into.
  • Are there better raw vegan salads for $13? Yes, but this was still unique and enjoyable.

**Pesto Pizza4.5/6

  • Topped with a savoury sun-dried tomato sauce and a smothering of aromatic hempseed basil pesto, generously sprinkled with a walnut “cheez” crumble and fresh tomato slices $6.50
  • It’s served luke warm since it’s dehydrated and not baked.
  • The topping is the best part. The magical ingredient to their pizzas is the walnut “cheez” crumble. It’s all about the “cheez”, as it usually is.
  • This was my favourite of the night and it had the most flavour that was actually similar to a real deal pesto pizza.
  • I could taste the basil pesto and I could taste the imitation of parmesan “cheese”.
  • The walnut “cheez” crumble tasted like clumps of nutty buttery salty cottage cheese rolled in crumbled walnuts. There is no cheese in this though because it’s vegan.
  • There’s a generous amount of walnuts which were coarsely chopped and they gave a lovely crunch and aroma to the pizza.
  • This actually tasted even nuttier than a traditional pine nut and parmesan pesto.
  • The slice is more like an appetizer, but it’s quite filling with the nuts.

The crust was soft, very nutty and made with carrots and seeds. Although it looks like cardboard, it doesn’t taste like it and it has flavour, but it’s mild. I find it’s more like the texture of a German Rye bread meets the texture and flavour of a sunflower seed flat bread.

**Morroccan Rawkin Olive Pizza3.5/6

  • A variation again on the Ital veggie pizza, but with a layer of black olive tapenade and spicy crushed chili almonds $8
  • This had lots of flavour, but I liked the Pesto Pizza more.
  • The Pesto Pizza has more walnut “cheez” crumble, which is the best part to their pizzas.
  • This tasted like a leafy fluffy bed of wet and cold kale on top of a soft grainy, nutty sunflower flatbread.
  • It had a little diced zucchini and diced sweet red bell pepper in the mix of leafy greens and it was topped with lots of crunchy almonds.
  • I loved the salty bites of olives and the nutty crunch of chili almonds and the heat was mild and only came after a few bites.
  • If you like olive tapenade and Mediterranean flavours, then you’ll love this. It was the only thing that was actually salty enough too, along with the Pesto Pizza.
  • Again the topping was better than the crust, and the crust only looks like cardboard, but it doesn’t taste bad.

Desserts

They have a large variety of home made desserts, but I was craving ice cream so I passed. I wanted to try the Avocado Pie the most, and also the Chocolate Hemp Seed Pie & Carrot Cake. Next time! They also have chocolate truffles, an assortment of cookies, and flavoured sweet and savoury snacks to go.

…One day later

So I came home and tweeted about my experience at Gorilla Food and mentioned the Avocado Pie. I had people telling me I missed out so I actually went back to get it the next day. It was worth the trip and probably the best thing I had there.

**Avocado Pie5.5/6

  • $6
  • This is amazing! It’s even something I’d crave.
  • It helps that I love coconut and avocado, but it also reminded me of the amazing Raw & Vegan Coconut Lime “Cheesecake” I made during my vegan cooking class – see here.
  • It does not taste like guacamole and it’s not savoury.
  • It’s similar to a cheesecake, but it’s not even because I’m not huge on cheesecake unless it’s light like Tiramisu. This pie is also dairy free.
  • The avocado filling had the texture of a denser mousse or Mascarpone cheese.
  • It was a rich, decadent, creamy smooth, thick and indulgent and it tasted like a tangy lime and coconut yogurt avocado pie.
  • It doesn’t even really taste like avocado, but the avocado gives it the buttery flavour and texture.
  • It had a strong “yogurt” tang and coconut flavour and I’m sure it’s made with coconut milk and coconut oil and it’s not even that sweet.
  • The crust is a soft nutty coconut crust and it could have been even better had it been a bit chewy with pieces of crunchy nuts throughout. I could bite into flakes of dried coconut though and I loved that.
  • It’s still a great crust all around and it’s actually sweeter than the avocado coconut filling. The filling is quite tart and aromatic.
  • I ate the whole piece in 5 minutes and wanted seconds even though it’s so incredibly rich.
  • Follow Me Foodie Tasty Twist: Take a piece home and freeze it. It’s better fresh, but enjoyable frozen and it’s almost like ice cream!

Jungle Peanut Bu-Er-Ups1/6

  • $3.36
  • The lady in front of my ordered 5, so that was convincing enough for me to try it.
  • Of course there is no butter in them because butter is dairy – remember vegan.
  • These are a house favourite, and I really didn’t get it.
  • It was the size of two chocolate coins stacked together and I didn’t find it worth it.
  • The whole thing just stuck all over your teeth and the roof of your mouth and I felt like Mr. Ed the talking horse trying to dissolve it.
  • It’s not even like caramel, but more like very thick and gluey “substance” that coats your entire mouth like non-dissolving paste.
  • The chocolate cup and topping don’t even mix together when you try to mix it in your mouth. It’s almost because the “peanut butter” was too oily so it just separates.
  • The peanut “bu-er” topping taste like pureed hemp, flax and/or sunflower seeds and it’s gritty and doesn’t have the saltiness or sweetness of real peanut butter. I was not a fan.
  • The chocolate cup was more like those chocolate energy bars. It had no filling, was one texture, and it was chewy and grainy and not an actual piece of chocolate. I bet this had pureed dates as a sweetener and pureed hemp seed in it too. It was bitter sweet and barely sweet with a bitter aftertaste, but I could taste the sticky dates and cocoa nibs it was made out of. I thought it was actually going to be chocolate, and not a soft bar, so it was unexpected.
  • Did it taste like a Peanut Butter Cup? No, not even close. There’s just no sweet and salty factor at all. I’d rather have a chocolate and peanut energy bar, or just give me two avocado pies.

Carrot Cake – A fresh live carrot cake frosted with a creamy spice cashew cream $5.50. This is probably the most literal I’ve seen a carrot cake look, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Fresh Apple Pie – $6 – This is supposed to be a seasonal pie, but I think they always have apple. The top looked dry, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Even though I haven’t tried either, the Apple Tart at Brioche Urban Baking and Catering a couple blocks away looked a lot better. This one is not raw though.

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19 Comments

  • vivian says:

    Couldn’t stop laughing when I saw you did a post on this! I never thought you would want to try this place. When I took my husband here I think that was the last time he ever followed my suggestions.lol I thought the food was OK for what it was. And you are right, it’s tough to make true vegan food taste and look good, you definitely need to be creative. mmm now i’m craving that avocado pie:)

  • k says:

    first time commenter here . . . so, i read your blog even though i’m a raw vegan myself! i love that raw veganism is inching its way towards becoming slightly mainstream. the fact that someone like yourself would try gorilla food is proof! i’ve had the great gorilla there and it was tasty for sure.

    also, a potentially boring side note that raw veganism actually falls into two camps . . . high fat and low fat. high fat raw uses a lot of nuts, seeds, coconut oil, etc, uses dehydration as a “cooking” method and can be as high as 70% fat. low fat (aka high carb) raw is essentially just fruit and veg in its natural form (ie you won’t find a food dehydrator in a a low fat raw vegan’s kitchen) and is less than 10% fat. for instance, my diet is around 92% carbs, 2-3% fat and the rest protein.

  • Kathryn says:

    would it be wrong to say that the only thing that appeals to me in this post is that apple tart at Brioche Urban Baking? 😉

  • Tanya says:

    Mijune, thank you so much for this post! I love all your posts, I’m not vegan but I am vegetarian and I really enjoyed this!
    much love,
    Tanya

  • Mijune says:

    @vivian – have u had the avocado pie?!? Omg I’m scared to take any carnivore here… it just doesn’t work for them. yes it will take a long time to get any carnivore to trust you again lol… i brought one here and that was a “Follow Me Foodie Fail” 🙁

    @k – thanks for commenting!! AND reading especially since you’re raw vegan!!! Have you tried OrganicLives? I’m going to try that for comparisons sake! Thank you so much for that high fat/low fat thing! I image if someone ate ONLY raw veggies and fruit… yowza… I don’t imagine them looking too healthy.. balanced diet right? Don’t you think vegan food gets better than Gorilla Food though? What’s your favourite item here?

    @Kathryn – LOL aaannndd that’s why I posted it!!! Doesn’t it look good though? Especially next to that very carroty looking carrot cake?

    @Tanya – Thanks Tanya! I thought you might like this! Let me know what you think! Personally I prefer vegetarian to vegan… and raw vegan… cheese is too good lol

  • vivian says:

    I wasn’t thinking of heading back there but after reading your post on the avocado pie, I’m craving it too!

  • munchkie says:

    The desserts look interesting… I’m not sure if I would like it here but I’m curious to try it. Did you know Katie Holmes ate here when she was in town: http://justjared.buzznet.com/2011/02/07/katie-holmes-gorilla-food-with-isabella-cruise/

  • LotusRapper says:

    @Vivian – maybe Mijune was merely re-balancing her ying/yang after all that meat consumption at the Hilltop Diner and at Estrella’s !! LOL 😀

  • Ed says:

    To me, vegetarian food is just a waste of time. Raw, vegan food even more so.

    Simply put, why? Especially when meat (…and cooking) is so delicious?

  • Mijune says:

    @Vivian -…. just go for the pie… lol that’s what I did! Call ahead though because it’s not always there! Oh god.. it’s freaking good. It freezes well!

    @munchkie – I’m not surprised! It’s so “celebrity diet” food lol. Yeah the food certainly sparks an interest!

    @LotusRapper – lol yes! one raw/vegan meal balances out all the other stuff I put into my body everyday… meat… fat.. sugar… I’m on no “celebrity diet” that’s for sure! 😉

    @Ed – You are part of the carnivores that would never forgive me for taking you here…

  • ideahotel says:

    What a neat post! You had me at “Avocado Pie”. I do not follow vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, but my hubby and I don’t always have to have meat either. I am interested in this kind of dining because we sometimes have guests with special food needs, thus it is nice to know what is available in Van. Now I have a better idea what I would order. I think I will head down sometime (after calling first I see) to just sample the pie. Thank you for always sharing your tips with us!

  • k says:

    from the few things i tried at gorilla food, i do agree that it may not be the best representation of raw gourmet. i haven’t tried organiclives and probably won’t. . . high fat raw food doesn’t agree with my tum-tum anymore. i hope you try it though, so i can read about it!

    i’m actually one of the crazies who only eats raw fruit and veg now, ha. i’ve been doing it for awhile and i’m the healthiest i’ve ever been. i don’t get sick anymore, had some chronic health problems vanish, i’m pretty much in a great mood all the time and i’m physically fit (doing an ironman triathlon next month!). as long as you eat enough, it’s a perfectly balanced diet (no vitamin or mineral deficiencies).

  • Mijune says:

    @ideahotel – I’m with you! I don’t HAVE to have meat at EVERY meal.. but I do enjoy it! I actually like the sound of a lot of vegetarian food. Lol… yes the pie is the pull it has! and you’re most welcome!! Thank YOU for reading!!

    @k – I certainly will! it bothers me to write about a restaurant without a link back to the experience.. so OrganicLives will be blogged about :)… I’m really specific lol.

    oh I don’t think you’re “crazy”… but it’s just so foreign to me lol. Like the chef that taught me the raw cooking class… I wanted to feed him… he’s a sweetheart, but I just couldn’t help thinking “is this really a healthy lifestyle”… you know what though? I think it’s a lot to do with the person and the genes. You probably have to ease your body into it and you’re right… eat enough! 🙂 Thanks for helping ME ease into this type of cuisine with all your helpful tips and facts! Helps me understand better!

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