New Raw Food Cafe Offers Vegan Burgers, And Soon Colonics

rawvolution1Cristobal Rey

The East Village lost a raw food store when Jubb’s Longevity shuttered in 2008; more recently, it lost a vegetarian spot when Counter closed. Now, two doors down from the former Jubb’s, another raw food spot (this one a Los Angeles transplant) has opened its doors. Euphoria Loves Rawvolution soft opened at 504 East 12th Street last Thursday. Its grand opening is today, and in two weeks it will begin offering a weekly cleanse that can be supplemented with “emotional shamanic journeys” and colonics.

So what’s with the name? Euphoria Loves Rawvolution was born six years ago when Janabai Amsden merged the Euphoria Company (her Los Angeles supplement shop and “high-end gourmet raw food store”) with her husband Matt Amsden’s box-meal delivery service, Rawvolution. According to Ms. Amsden, their Santa Monica café now serves 300 meals per day.

For the past few years, the bicoastal couple has also shipped box meals across the country out of a commercial kitchen in Chelsea. So why did they look downtown for their first New York City cafe? “The East Village is becoming a destination for vegetarian [food] internationally,” explains Ms. Amsden. And, she says, “it still feels like New York in the 70s— it’s the only part of New York that does to me. It has a really authentic, non-chain store feeling.”

Ms. Amsden is showing off her self-described “passion for community gathering” by composting her vegetable scraps and other waste in the 12th Street Community Garden, partnering with local yoga studios, and seeking advice from raw-food luminaries such as Robert Dagger, the nutritionist who owns High Vibe. The 18-item menu features a walnut parfait inspired by Jubb’s. (The Amsdens’ homage uses a base of Brazil nut milk, contains fresh young coconut meat, is thickened with Irish moss and sweetened with coconut nectar, and can be flavored with chocolate, strawberry, or green tea.)

ravolution2Cristobal Rey

Compared to the Santa Monica cafe, this one is “more of an East Village experience,” says Ms. Amsden. There are five small tables, window benches left over from the space’s previous occupant Ciao for Now, and the food is mostly packaged to-go. “People want to get in and out whereas in LA we’re more of a full-service place,” says Ms. Amsden. Another difference: “People here also drink a lot of juice. It’s really big here in the East Village— more so than in LA.”

Unlike certain other vegetarian spots in the neighborhood, Ms. Amsden says she doesn’t use “meat substitutes” like tofu or seitan. She came to raw food while living on the Lower East Side in the mid-90s, when “it was still very much an underground trend.” Her diet of cooked vegan food was causing digestive problems (“too much soy,” among other things) so she switched to a simple diet of avocados and tomatoes, lightly salted and dressed with olive oil. She soon made the leap to raw foods, which are cooked at a maximum of 118 degrees (raw foodists believe that higher temperatures kill off nutritious enzymes; at the shop, the Amsdens keeps the temperature closer to 108 degrees, just to be safe).

“There’s only foods here that you’d find in the wild,” says Ms. Amsden. “And you’d be able to put them together with just a knife and a bowl.” The Big Matt with Cheese (the recipe for which can be found in Mr. Amsden’s cookbook, “RAWvolution: Gourmet Living Cuisine”) is a sort of faux hamburger consisting of a handmade flatbread with sunflower seed base; a patty made with soaked walnuts, sunflower seeds, and almonds; mushrooms; sundried-tomato ketchup; and homemade pickles.

Ms. Amsden says, “we spend our time looking for the most expensive ingredients, not the cheapest,” so don’t expect McDonald’s prices. “Maybe someone who’s used to getting a slice for $2.75 is going to balk at $7 for pizza,” she says. “But the bread is handmade, the pesto is handmade with walnuts and fresh organic basil, and then it’s got baby grains from a local farm, and it’s served in a compostable box. When you understand the value of it, the price is shockingly low.”

In two weeks, the shop will also offer weekly cleanses priced at $55 per day (the LA cafe sells thirty or forty of these a week). That gets you two dark green juices, two carrot-beet juices, a large protein shake, a Spirulina-coconut smoothie, a “superfood soup,” and a liter of mineral water in a glass bottle (“I’m not a fan of drinking water out of plastic,” explains Ms. Amsden). Customers can also add on consultations with a local shaman named Parashakti, or for a truly cleansing experience, sessions with a colonic therapist.