Chef Yasunobu Uchida goes vegetarian (vegan and gluten-free, too) at B Love.

Chef Yasunobu Uchida goes vegetarian (vegan and gluten-free, too) at B Love.

Raw deal made with love

Chef Yasunobu Uchida goes vegetarian at Be Love

I answer the call of the narrow patio at Be Love and enjoy the sun while awaiting chef Yasunobu Uchida for an early dinner. I peruse the menu as traffic flows by on Blanshard.

Raw designations on the vegan and vegetarian “thoughtfully sourced” menu tempt even this meatetarian. For example the ZLT – zucchini, lettuce, tomato, avocado, red onion and sprouts with honey mustard ‘mayo’ – sounds pretty darn tasty, despite the lack of bacon.

Uchida arrives with a cheery hello, and quickly settles down with the menu, professing his hunger.

The owner and chef at Uchida Eatery chose the locale because he enjoys a good vegetarian meal and the selections on chef Heather Cunliffe’s menu don’t disappoint. Be Love’s concept is similar to his, made from scratch using as much local and organic product as possible.

“I like when the chef try something different and new, and care about the ingredients,” the Japanese chef says.

Uchida’s quick to select spring rolls (those are raw) and the Green Bowl. “It’s popular here, lots of people order it, so I wanted to try it. Experiment,” he says with a grin.

Under advisement, and because he’s previously tried the lasagne (loved it), a Carmanah Bowl gets the final nod alongside a couple of house-made sodas.

“Nice atmosphere, not too fancy, not too casual,” Uchida says, glancing inside the fast-filling restaurant – a  decent crowd for a Monday.

Drinks arrive and Uchida prefers the sweet Quetzal cola while I’m digging the undertone of apple cider vinegar in the Lavender Strawberry Bush, a nice contrast to the pink berry colour.

Jasmine arrives with the appetizer that Uchida notes looks “more spring than the regular spring roll.” He grins at the brilliantly coloured bouquet of red peppers, orange carrots, mango, avocado and sprouts peeking from two halves of the bundle wrapped in brilliant green blanched collard greens.

The spiced Thai almond dipping sauce balances the sweetness of the fresh, raw veg perfectly, Uchida says, reaching for more.

Then the main.

The Carmanah carries a lot of flavours. Uchida starts ticking them off: wild nettles sautéed with shiitake mushrooms, onions and kale on steamed quinoa with local seaweed, house sauerkraut and hunks of roasted sweet potato. But they don’t combat, rather complement. Again, a light drizzle of the miso-ginger sauce provides the figurative cherry on top.

We both prefer the thick comfort of the Green Bowl with its creamy coconut texture. Baby bok choy, dark greens brocolini, mushrooms and veggies mingle in a coconut cream curry on steamed brown rice, topped with sliced avocado and toasted cashews, fresh cilantro and scallions.

The favoured plate has only a slight edge, and we have no problem polishing off the bowls, and the super seedy accompanying cracker.

The cracker nearly stole the show, and I’m willing to fight for the last bite, but the chef easily concedes.

Uchida settles back, a silly pat to his stomach. “It’s very light, you never feel like you had too much.”

My fear of the wheat, gluten, dairy and most of all meat-free meal is abated.

I’m full.

We deny dessert, despite the delighted sounds of the ladies at the next table sharing a slice of Matcha blueberry cheezecake.

“This food we ordered today, they wanted to make this food. Not just ‘here’s a recipe.’ They want to make it and they know how,” Uchida says. “I can taste the passion. They care about it.”

Living up to the Be Love moniker while sating the appetite.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Braden Holtby’s new mask designed in collaboration with Luke Marston and David Gunnarsson. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Vancouver Island Coast Salish artist unveils new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

Alan Tudyk stars as Alien Harry Vanderspeigel in the new series Resident Alien (Photo by: James Dittinger/SYFY)
Resident Alien brings Vancouver Island to the small screen with January premiere

Quirky series shot in Ladysmith will air every Wednesday on the CTV Sci-Fi Channel

Comox-based cinematographer Maxwel Hohn’s new documentary captures the lives of Vancouver Island’s coastal wolves. Photo courtesy Maxwel Hohn.
New mini-documentary shot on Vancouver Island echoes the ‘call of the coastal wolves’

Photography heavyweights from B.C. come together for Maxwel Hohn’s second wildlife documentary

The 2021 Victoria Film Festival includes Vancouver Island produced feature film All-in Madonna. The festival looks a bit different this year, but film-lovers can still expect a full and diverse lineup. (Courtesy of VFF)
Victoria Film Festival returns with virtual viewing

Lineup features 50 films including Vancouver Island-produced All-in Madonna

Joy Sharpe holds a picture of her late husband Ray while posing for a photograph with the Sybil Andrews painting ‘hauling’ before donating it to the Campbell River Hospice Society. (Submitted photo)
$6 painting turned into $10,000 charity windfall

A 1952 original Sybil Andrews painting donation fetches Campbell River Hospice Society a nice return

This weekend Amy Pye is holding a virtual book launch for her latest children’s book, <em>Bruce the Silly Goose</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Victoria writer and illustrator pens children’s book about COVID-19 safety

Amy Pye to hold online book launch for ‘Bruce the Silly Goose’

The pantomime ‘Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs’ has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Submitted)
Pantomime cancelled in Cowichan due to COVID restrictions

A partnership of the Cowichan Musical Society, the Shawnigan Players, and the Mercury Players.

A rendering shows the entrance planned for the Hornby Island Arts Centre. Image supplied
Work on Hornby Island Arts Centre to start this month

Community worked with award-winning architectural firm on design

Western Edge Theatre artistic director Brian March and local theatre artists Brianna Hamilton and Daniel Puglas (from left) make up Western Edge’s new team of “artistic associates.” (News Bulletin file photos/Courtney Harder)
Nanaimo theatre company adds younger, diverse voices to artistic team

Western Edge hopes new ‘artistic associates’ will help form new ideas, reach new audiences

Sara Lopez Assu says she’s relatively happy with how the Campbell River Art Gallery team managed to weather the storm that was 2020. File Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Campbell River Art Gallery director reflects on ‘maybe our hardest year ever’

‘It would be easy to look back and be disappointed … but that’s not going to get us anywhere’

Jean Crowder, former MP for Nanaimo-Cowichan, is the CVPAG honourary chair. (Submitted)
Art gallery group becomes registered charity in step towards realizing Duncan dream

Becoming a registered charity enables the CVPAG to greatly expand its potential donor base

From left to right; Jessica Kelly; Allaina Moore; Ben Rosnau; and Isaiah McAleese. Members of the ECHO Players Youth Group after they performed ‘Words, Words, Words’ by David Ives, in May 2019. (submitted photo)
Qualicum Beach youth theatre group looks at more livestream performances in 2021

Members stay active during pandemic with playwriting competitions and online play readings

Nanaimo artist Shawnda Wilson’s Jacana No. 1 is among the paintings she’ll have on display in her upcoming show at the Nanaimo Musuem. (Photo courtesy Shawnda Wilson)
Painting exhibit inspired by long-toed birds and jazz coming to Nanaimo Museum

Nanaimo artist Shawnda Wilson’s show ‘When Charles Speaks’ opens next week

Most Read