Going to a truly excellent raw restaurant reminds me of scratch ‘n’ sniff stickers. It’s not because of the smell of fresh greens, bananas, and citrus fruits madly whirring in Vitamix blenders that emanate from the restaurant’s door; although, that’s lovely too. (It’s the complete antithesis to that greasy, fried smell emitting from fast food joints.) Visiting Sun Café in Studio City, reminds me of scratch ‘n’ sniff stickers, because they take the essence of the dish that inspired their raw version and make those flavors pop. It has a spirit of fun and creativity, a feeling of “play”.
Their Raw Supreme Pizza, for example, doesn’t fit the mold of your everyday pizza. However, they gather the brightest flavors of pizza and bring them to life. The crust is made with sunflower seeds, giving a wonderful chewiness to each bite. It is layered with a raw marinara, dotted with marinated onions and red bell peppers, and then covered in creamy cashew cheese. The best part is the savory sausage that adorns it, made from nuts and seeds. Fresh oregano is sprinkled over the pie, and each flavorful bite bursts in the mouth. The pizza comes with a choice of sides: coleslaw, cookies, veggies with dipping sauce, green salad, kale salad, hummus with pita, or chopped seitan salad. Being somewhat of a kale maniac, I always choose the kale salad. The soft curly kale is covered in basil ranch dressing and peppered with pine nuts.
Another favorite at Sun Cafe is the Kale Colossus. This is the everything-but-the-kitchen sink of raw salads. It includes kale, marinated onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, bananas, dried cranberries, and their raw sausage. It’s covered in creamy cashew cheese and nacho cheese. I think the nacho cheese competes with the other flavors, and so I prefer to leave that out and add fresh avocado instead. This filling salad is always too much for me to eat in one go, which means I can make a second meal out of it.
For a more traditional lunch that isn’t raw, their lemony hummus sandwich stuffed with tomatoes, onions, cabbage, carrots, and romaine lettuce in a whole wheat pita is a basic choice. It comes with a choice of sides (see above).
Other favorites of mine are their raw nachos with jicama slices instead of corn chips, raw tacos with romaine leaves as the taco shells, and their pesto salad. They have pictures of most of their lunch and dinner items on their clickable online menu.
In addition to lunch and dinner options, they also have shakes and smoothies. The shakes are cashew based, and my favorite is their creamy Sweet Kale Shake. This delicious shake could win over even the most ardent greens-hater. It is huge and definitely big enough for sharing. The adjacent picture shows just my half. (They will put their full-sized portion into two glasses for sharing.)
Sun Cafe raised their prices recently, and it is a wee-bit high for lunch. However, raw food is time intensive, and they’re food is organic. They’ve also recently remodeled their dining area, giving a larger space and more appealing ambience.
On their storefront they don’t advertise that they’re a vegan raw restaurant, and they do have a few cooked entrees. A few times I’ve seen people come in, who are new to the restaurant, peruse the menu as if they’re reading a foreign language, and then say to one another, “Do you want to go?” It’s too bad, because I think they’re letting their preconceptions about “raw food” dissuade them. Maybe they think they won’t get full. Maybe they think raw food will be bland. Maybe the version of “raw food” in their heads is one of iceberg lettuce and shreds of carrot. I wish they’d come to the restaurant with a sense of play, like children to a scratch ‘n’ sniff sticker. The food at Sun Cafe has a feeling of lightness and creativity. Best of all, whenever I visit, I leave feeling revitalized and energized.