I never thought I would say this, but I think I died and went to vegan heaven when I went to Umami Gorilla. Even funnier is that it’s legit in the middle-of-bumblefuck-Pennsylvania; this vegan oasis that serves up genuinely finger-licking, tastebud-rockin’ plant-based REALNESS. I had to capitalize that (and you know I never capitalize anything so it’s a big deal) for emphatic effect, because they deserve it.
Umami Gorilla is located in Wilkes-Barre, a town I randomly selected for a getaway because it had cheap and nice airbnbs, hiking trails and small-town charm and was only about a 2-3 hour drive from the city.
The real reason I loved Umami Gorilla is their dedication to making nearly everything in-house. They told me during COVID that a lot of the food items they needed from the supplier was not in stock, so they ended up making their own seitan, cheeses and mock meats. I am definitely not complaining, because IMHO I feel like every restaurant should do this, or else it’s like I am paying for something that was just taken out of the package and reheated with sauces.
Besides the phenomenal food, everyone on staff (a family-owned restaurant; mother (Delinda) and son (Kyle) team) was a delight to talk and interact with. We spoke at length about animal rights issues and even politics with both Delinda and Kyle, whose passion for veganism really shines through their creations.
I found that their pricing was more than reasonable for the amount and quality of food you receive; plus, I was more than happy to support a small vegan family business. It just made me sad that I don’t live closer (though probably a good thing because I would quickly become a fatass).
Jerk chicken nachos (left)
Even the most finicky diner will appreciate the insane portion size of UG’s entrees. The texture of the jerk seitan was something new; the pieces were thinly sliced and soft and flavorful. I especially loved the nacho sauce, which had a creamy, earthy taste that complemented the sweet and spiciness of the cherried jalapeños and saltiness of the rest of the dish. It really is an explosion of texture and flavor!
Hot Honee (No Bees) Burger (right)
Whew, this burger really hit the spot! I am a fan of sweet, salty and spicy and this burger hits all those flavor profiles. I also enjoyed the slaw which gave it a nice creamy flavor (and I usually hate slaw!). You can taste the homemade honee just subtly enough to not render this a dessert; it complements the savoriness of the slightly crispy patty perfectly.
Motionless Buffalo Chick’n Cheezesteak
In the very back of this photo, you can see the scrumptious Motionless Buffalo Chick’n Cheezesteak with a bevy of house-made soy curls and a generous squizzle of ranch sauce. For those who aren’t quite in the mood for a burger, this sammy really hit the spot! The curls are saucy, soft and supple to the palate and the cherry jalapenos, scallions and creamy ranch are like an implosion of textures and flavors in your mouth.
Bonus item: KFC Bowl
Of course, being a sucker for free stuff, I just HAD to spend $40 for the free KFC bowl. It definitely did not disappoint. Loads of creamy mashed potato, crispy seitan, corn, cheez and a large dollop of mushroom gravy made me feel like I died and went to fatty tatty heaven! Unfortunately, this special isn’t typically on their menu, so if you do see it being offered up, ya gotta have it!
Cake batter milkshake
Cake batter never tasted as good as it does in a shake; this coconut and almond milk-based shake is the stuff bdays should be made of. It was creamy, not too sweet and tasted like the perfect diner shake to celebrate Juan’s bday weekend.
I appreciated that it was served in a non-disposable cup with a metal boba straw; all restaurants should do this.
Oddly enough, my favorite item on the entire UG menu was its mac and cheese (or I guess not so odd since I am a huge mac n cheez fan). The sauce was not too runny, perfectly creamy with the right amount of cheezy sauce and garnished with delicious fried onions.
In the back, we also got a side of chili, which had freshly chopped scallions and jalapenos on top as a garnish. It was just as stellar as the mac and left me wanting more! These sides are included with any burger order, making it a great value.
Speculoos cream puff
Delinda had told me she started her foray into the vegansphere by baking, so I was really looking forward to trying her pastries and boyyyyy did it not disappoint! I savored every bite of this flakey, not-super-sweet puff and you definitely will too if you are lucky enough to snag one. This pastry pillow is topped and filled with a combination of speculoos paste and super-light whip cream that melts in your mouth. Dangerous for anyone who loves a crispy, flakey pastry without a side of cruelty.