Fast Rabbit takes vegan food off its high (tofu)horse and focuses on being an “Imbiss that serves junk food”. With bold style and globally-inspired wraps, this place has the special touch.
There’s something reassuring about finding out that the founder of a vegan cafe isn’t actually a vegan. Actually, Christoph, the founder of Fast Rabbit across the road from Mauerpark, isn’t even a vegetarian. He’s not on a moral mission to reform humanity’s eating habits.
But he does seem to care about Fast Rabbit’s image. No pastel hippie vibes here. Think more Brooklyn or San Fran than Prenzlauer Berg: a friendly North American lady with green highlights and a trucker shirt revealing some impressive tats behind the counter; some post-punk noise on the system; a mini Trödel corner offering random secondhand objects for sale; the liberal use of “fuck” in marketing materials. Christoph likes to call his place an “Imbiss that serves junk food” – which happens to be vegan, mostly because good meat would be too expensive for the average Imbiss-goer.
But there’s nothing junky about the centrepiece of the menu: Christoph’s Dirty Roll, a 100 percent handmade flour tortilla (which he rolls out on a pizza dough machine), so delicious you’d like to take it home and savour it with some butter or Nutella. Here it comes duly stuffed – with an Asian, Oriental or Mexican all-veggie filling — or a blend of the latter two. The light eco-footprint of wraps – “you eat the packaging” – was an important consideration.
A note on the speed of this ‘fast’ food: Burger King it ain’t. This is Berlin fast. The wraps (€4.50) are assembled fresh and can take about 10 minutes. If you want fast, get a soup (€3.80). When we went in November, we had two choices: the Snow White (cauliflower, coconut milk, coriander salsa) and the Orange Desire (carrot, orange and ginger, with bits of apple, chillis and radish thrown in), both served piping hot (rarely the case in Berlin) and exploding with intense flavour, in a bold style more common to the American foodie scene.
Wrap-wise, we munched a Mexican – vegan, i.e. free of any animal fats, it tasted like a health-food burrito packed with (little) rice, (much) lettuce, black beans, sweetcorn, cilantro and jalapeños. Missing only was the punch of a good hot Mexican salsa: as ersatz we doused it in some of the Vietnamese hot sauce on the counter. We also gobbled the Asian wrap, a medley of vegetables (including potatoes and courgettes) flavoured with a Thai-style curry containing a tastebudtinglingly high dose of peanut sauce. By the way, if you fancy a little raw food, salad (a mix of beets, herbs, tomatoes, hummus, etc.) will cost you just €1.50 extra in the super-satiating “A Rabbit” combo.
Christoph, not one to rest on his laurels, seems keen to experiment and push forward the art of vegan fast food. After making us try an invigorating espresso-sized hot chocolate-chilli “shot” (€1.20), he brings out a tray of luscious vegan chocolate cookies fresh from the oven. For €6 you can even buy a roll of cookie dough to bake at home. Not only the food is made with love: Fast Rabbit is full of those kinds of special touches, like the blankets you can buy for €5 if you want to cosy up with your rabbit food in Mauerpark, or those jars filled with huge preserved lemons – waiting to be consumed in a couscous salad or in some “Delicious-as- Fuck” wrap one day.
Originally published in issue #122, December 2013.