It seems inappropriate to use a fishing metaphor to describe a vegan restaurant, but Kaya's Kitchen asks for it. Only a 10-minute walk from the Atlantic Ocean and a beatific beach in Belmar, NJ, this restaurant is a great catch! Joselle and I shuffled down to this hip shore town late Sunday morning in an attempt to make it to Kaya's for brunch. We arrived just in time (before the staff actually announced an early-afternoon closing, since they were "out of food")---but the rush was definitely worth it.
With bountiful brunch portions, it's no wonder Kaya's runs out of grub. Fluffy vegan pancakes and french toast adorned our respective plates (Joselle's french toast was topped with fresh fruit and coconut flakes), along with full side saucers piled with perfectly-seasoned tofu scramble and roasted potatoes. If that weren't enough, some of the best mock ham and sausage I've ever experienced came with my meal, officially known as "The Hungry Vegan."
My only quasi-complaint is that I mistakenly received a more standard order of amazingly fluffy flapjacks infused with fresh banana, rather than "The Happy Hippie" peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-banana pancakes I'd originally requested. Considering my casual response to this mix-up, the server might've thought that I was, instead, referring to myself as a happy hippie; not their beloved dish (for the record, while I am typically happy, Joselle will attest to my non-hippie character). It also could've simply been a case of busy brunchtime service and too few hands and seats to meet the needs of the relatively meager masses. Hopefully, Joselle and I will get to the root of this happy accident when we return for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner before the end of the season.
Make sure to call ahead when planning a visit to this tasty spot, especially if you're taking the New Jersey Transit North Jersey Coast line from New York City or another town along the way (the Belmar station stop is located directly behind Kaya's business strip). A mellow atmosphere mixed with apparantly limited food resources at the restaurant makes for an unpredictable encounter. Reservations are highly recommended, along with a healthy appetite. Bring your beach chair for a stroll down 10th Avenue after your meal---and don't forget the sunscreen!