You’ve probably noticed by this point that this issue is about a variety of healthy themes with a particular focus on nutrition. This was our motivation behind bringing Boden Norberg to Root Pop. As a six-year-old student from Springboard International Bilingual School (SIBS) with a fondness for soccer, swimming, and the occasional video game, he happens to, like most kids, come from a family of meat lovers. So needless to say, we hoped this vegan restaurant could lead to a life changing experience.
The Norberg family originally hail from Alaska, and like most people that come from those northern latitudes, meat is an essential ingredient to just about every meal for them. After all, it’s a solid source of protein and essential fats.
We thought the vegan comfort food menu that this small Baiziwan cafe is famous for would be an interesting treat. We were a bit torn because we wanted him to know about everything he was going to stuff his face with. But we didn’t want to spoil the experience by explaining in detail about the various philosophies of veganism and how these meat substitutes were made. Instead we opted to have him read through the menu, pick what he thought were the most delicious items, and finally allow him to enjoy.
Boden started things off with an order of nachos. They were loaded up with a variety of toppings including salsa, olives, jalapeños, vegan cheese, and a sour cream substitute. They likely didn’t taste the same as the nachos he was accustomed to due to their vegan ingredients, but we didn’t see him complaining in the least as he crunched away chip after chip. He did however save his olives in a little pile on the side for momma as he was not a fan.
Next up was the burger, the RMB 40 Animal Style, made with griddled onions, lettuce, tomato, a mustard toasted bun, and cheese and Root Pop special sauces. This fella was the star in Boden’s modest opinion. It came out to the table and his little eyes just lit up with excitement. It’s funny when you’re that age and every hamburger you get still has that little bit of that special occasion feeling. You know what we mean. Fireworks, dad in an apron near the grill, a waft of bug spray in the air, and finally a big meaty hamburger filling your plate. We got that impression anyway, and there were no animals harmed in the process.
As he unabashedly attacked the burger, his mother and I didn’t have the heart to explain to him that he wasn’t eating meat, but rather vegetable protein. I have the feeling that we were both thinking the same thing. Maybe the reveal would do more harm than good. The good thing though is at least he had a full day’s worth of veggies, masked in junk food like sheep in wolf’s clothing due to these thoughtful items provided by Root Pop Cafe.
Daily 11am-10pm. 3-22.22 International Art Plaza, Pingod, Baiziwan Lu (across from Bldg 3, Today Art Museum), Chaoyang District (5826 3201)
Photos: Kipp Whittaker
This article originally appeared in beijingkids October 2017 issue.
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