Ras, NYC Ethiopian plant-based restaurant, is breaking norms

Localish logo
Tuesday, November 21, 2023
Ras, NYC Ethiopian plant-based restaurant, is breaking norms
"The comment I always hear is, if this is plant-based food is, then we can definitely go vegan."

CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn -- Welcome to Ras Plant-Based, which offers Ethiopian-inspired cuisine with a vegan twist at restaurants in Brooklyn and Pier 57 in Manhattan.

"We get a lot of meat eaters, carnivores, usually they're dragged by their friends because their friends are plant-based and when they try it. The comment I always hear is, 'If this is plant-based food is, then we can definitely go vegan.' That's the greatest compliment I could ever get," said Romeo Regalli of Ras Plant Based.

"What we wanted for people to feel when you're walking into Ras is ... they're not in New York anymore, they're transported to Ethiopia directly," Regalli said.

Regalli showed off their dish called dulet, which is traditionally made with liver and tripe. At Ras Plant-Based, they make theirs with oyster mushrooms.

"This oil, grapeseed oil, but I spice it with the leaf ... that my mom grows at home so it gives it a very buttery taste," he said.

He spices it up with mimita.

"This dish is a lot of Ethiopians' favorite dish when they come here because it reminds them of the dish they're used to growing up," Regalli said.

He tries to keep the seasoning and spices as authentic as possible.

"A lot of our seasoning, if not most of our seasoning, comes directly from Ethiopia. We use a spice called berbere, a spice that has 30 different spices, it has cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, so many spices. We use that a lot."

If it's carbs you are craving, you can try a bread made with a super food.

"This is injera. Injera is a flat spongey Ethiopian bread made out of teff. Teff is the smallest grain in Ethiopia and it's a super food," he said.

A year and a half ago, the restaurant began serving their popular lunch bowls.

"The bowls have brown rice, turmeric, underneath the bowl and I make chips out of injera, crumble the chips and mix it with cilantro and that goes on top of the rice then on top of that vegetables, avocado salad in the middle and I added our homemade awaze," Regalli said.

He credits the matriarchs of his family for his love of food, and his cooking skills.

"My grandma was an amazing cook, also my mom, so I learned all of my skills from them," he said. "It used to amaze me how they made vegetables taste so good my mom and my grandma, I took that and I made it my own."

He said they are very proud of all of his success with the restaurants.

"My mother is so, so proud, they live in Ethiopia right now, they come here once to twice a year and she always tells me, 'I miss your food I can't wait to come to Ras and eat the food'," he said.