If you haven’t heard of Temple of Seitan, let me give you a rundown. Vegan fried chicken.
The cries of outrage in response to the word ‘vegan’ that aligns to the reaction towards the word ‘feminism’ is to be addressed in another article. For now, it is sufficient to say that in my opinion, the myths that veganism immediately equates to healthy, expensive and impossible, are just that – myths.
With a current rating of 4.6 from 617 reviews on Google, this Hackney-based vegan takeout place is undoubtedly a well-regarded and popular one. Ironically located next to a butchery, the small fast food-esque establishment often has lines of people queuing out the door. The no frills menu is based around their signature fried chicken which constitutes of seitan – a gluten, wheat based protein source that has a meaty texture and accommodates whatever flavours are introduced to it. A couple of sides and off-menu dessert items are also offered.
I got the Spicy Temple Burger – a steal at £6 or make it a meal with a side of fries and a cola as I did for an additional £2.
With the tantalizing smell of fried food in the air, the American diner-inspired store was crowded with people ordering food and waiting for it to be prepared. Every so often the cashier would call out a name that corresponded to the brown paper bag she held up, and the sea of heads would all turn towards her in hopeful excitement.
“One bite in and I was taken”
After what seemed like a tormentous time waiting (be patient McDonald’s frequenters!), my name was finally hollered. And there it was – a vegan burger that truly lives up to its rep. One bite in and I was taken. The chicken was the most realistic mock meat I’ve had with a texture vaguely resembling that of cheap childhood nuggets. The myriad of flavours were strong, salty with a spicy kick and did not shy away from the label ‘junk food’ in the best possible way. The bun too was impressive, soft with slight sweetness like brioche, complementing the ‘chicken’ well. The fries were standard (but good) and a generous portion, skinny and crunchy with just the lightest pinch of salt. Needless to say, the burger was savoured and gone within minutes and I left Hackney feeling very much fulfilled considering my wearing and hazardous journey there through the miserable English rain.
This place is a must try for vegans that are looking to explore the various culinary indulgences that modern plant-based technology can offer, for curious meat-eaters and especially sceptics. Plant-based foods need not be dubbed as ‘just salad’ – you can easily enjoy the same foods you experienced as a meat-eater as a vegan or vegetarian; various restaurants have already introduced vegan versions of foods such as pizza, Bolognese, fish and chips, and now, fried chicken!
Note: Hackney is far from Central London – blessedly, a second store has opened up its doors in Camden – called Temple of Camden, with the same offerings plus new beef-inspired burgers on the menu. I suppose it’s about time for another indulgence!