Vegetarian food in Tbilisi, Georgia (Part 1)
While I am researching on my destinations, on the availability of vegetarian food they had. The result as I had expected, is dismay. As below, my favourite and most capable assistant Happy cow shows nothing. Search on Lonely planet? well… same. Although Google search does turn up something, but it’s not much really… So? Does this mean Georgians totally do NOT eat vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts or plain loti aka bread??? 100% all dishes have meat or ingredients that are not suitable for me? And a healthy adult weighting 78 kg would probably end up coming back only with 45 kg? Well, The answer is pretty clear. In short, It is possible for all types of Vegetarian to get by in Georgia. Though, of course vegan would have to be a lot more prepared, for cheese and dairy products takes up very significant portions on the menus of all countries throughout the Caucasian region.
As above, Georgians do eat lots of prickles. Rather than just serving it as starter in a small plate as in Singapore, they offer it as a dish. In fact, people in the Caucasus region (including Georgia, Armenia, Turkey) makes prickles out of many different vegetables, as you will see from my following post on Armenia n Turkey. Score: 2.5/5 **IMO. Unless you are a fan of sour items, when you have other options. No need to specifically order this dish,
Throughout my stay @ Tbilisi of almost 7 days, I stayed in 2 hostels between Rustaveli metro station and Heroes Square, above is 1 of those restaurant nested along 1 of the many streets in this area. Looking @ the menu, how many veg dish can you find? 1 reason I had such a great time in Tbilisi, was that it gave me surprises every day. As in both the quantity n quality of vegetarian dishes this city has to offer. Noted the word “olive cheese” on the menu, who would have though somebody in Georgia would have come up with Vegan cheese made from olive oil? 2nd & 3rd pic is the dish Acharuli Vegetarian, Of course the olive cheese on top is the most attractive ingredient, the inside fillings are made of vegetables you had for salads, (on a negative note, the -0.5 marks is due the vegetables been too salty), and lastly the bread is excellent, fragrant n crispy. Score: 4.5/5. Pic 4 is their dumplings aka Khinkali, which could be served either fried or boiled. Other than the vegetables and potato fillings I had. They do offer other ingredients as fillings, such as mushroom and cheese All ingredients are salted. Do note it is very filling and can be taken as a meal by itself. Score: 3.5/5
Above is another BIG surprise of this trip, Vegetarian burger from Wendy’s fast food restaurant. Although I am not a fan of fast food, I am still pleasantly surprised that a Global fast food restaurant would offer Veg burger here. It is logical that you can find veg options in countries such as India, Britain and some parts of USA & Canada. But who would have expect to find this in a place that, till now vegetarian dishes are almost non-existent! In fact, a check on line shows Wendy does not offer this item in Singapore 😦 Anyway, as seen in the 2nd pic. within the mock meat patty, they have even put in vegetables which is another + point. And as understood from their staff, sales of this item is pretty ok. Score: 4/5
Next up is another dish suitable for Vegans – Beans in clay pot, aka Lobiani. Usually taken with bread (Asians, note Rice in that area is very expensive) as a meal.
On the above pic, the fried item is corn bread with cheese. Both Score: 3.5 /5
While waiting for my bus to Mestia, I walk around the market next to the bus terminal and chance upon this shop making traditional Georgian bread. I was standing outside looking at the master working, while 1 of the staffs in the shop came up to me. And Drag me in. What’s next, is the photos as above.
This article is written with gratitude and thanks, to the countless generous, courteous, friendly and positive Georgian, Polish, Czech etc friends I met in Georgia.