Under the Sun Cafe Makes Raw Vegan Food Taste Good, and Not Just for Vegans

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Photos by Asia Morris.

Rainbow Juices co-founders Dawna Base and Chrissy Cox are changing perceptions of what a plant-based diet can be through Under the Sun, Long Beach’s first raw vegan food eatery. Whether you subscribe to a vegan, vegetarian, raw food or ravenously carnivorous lifestyle, the pair’s creative take on preparing satisfyingly healthy meals for everyone has been the talk of the town since their soft opening in late April.

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Take the Spicy Papaya Roll (pictured below) as an example. The papaya mimics the texture of fish meat, and also provides a subtly sweet and sometimes tangy flavor. To focus on both the flavor and texture may seem like a no-brainer to any chef, raw vegan or not, however, the pair’s extensive experience trying out other raw vegan food restaurants has not always been up to par, ultimately giving them the confidence to try out their own culinary venture.

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“I can see a photo of a veggie roll and know that doesn’t have any flavor, nothing in there is seasoned, but [for] some people that’s enough for them, but that’s not enough for me,” said Base. “It’s not ever going to be enough for me for my food to just be decent.”

“It’s also a little technical to try to make something we don’t want to taste like meat, because it’s not meat, but we want people to have an experience of being fulfilled and full and like it’s not just a bunch of lettuce on a plate,” Cox added.

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The Celestial Rose smoothie.

From the bread, to the pates, to the kale chips, to the “cheese” everything is made inhouse and nothing is prepared over 118 degrees, in order to keep every nutrient possible within the food. It’s a similar concept to their first business, serving cold-pressed, nutrient-rich juice, as opposed to using a more common and heat-producing method which doesn’t retain as many nutrients within the produce-turned liquid. At Under the Sun, the food you’re eating is still very much “alive.”

“Everything takes a lot of time and care,” Cox said. “It’s holding it to the highest standard. It’s selfless and selfish, we want all the people around us to feel good and it’s nice to be around people that feel good.”

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The LBC Sandwich and the Tu-Nah Wrap.

It’s certainly not inexpensive to maintain a raw food diet, especially if you’re paying experts to prepare your meals every day. Ordering the LBC Sandwich and a Solstice supercharged smoothie will cost you about $25. However, obtaining the best quality, organic, local and regional ingredients, and not to mention, when everything is hand crafted to the enth degree onsite, like how Under the Sun does it, your meal ought not to be cheap. Comfortingly, it’s an investment in your health and well being, and a delicious one at that.

“We have hard times that we have to live with a lot more stress [...] on our bodies that we don’t even realize,” Cox said. “We need the most vital medicines to protect us and that’s the super foods. And you get more nutrients in a smaller dose, you get some help with your cells and you get some energy and the flavor is there and all that vibrancy tells you how potent the food is.”

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In the near future, the two look forward to having Under the Sun be a place of education, where demos will be held, such as simple culturing and smoothie-making classes, said Cox. And as far as the empty shelves you see to your right when entering, those will soon be filled with health-minded products from local makers and business owners (those interested should contact the owners).

“[...]I want people that aren’t vegan or vegetarian or raw foodist or whatever to still feel like they want to come here and eat the food,” said Base. “I don’t want people to [think that] vegan food tastes basic. That’s not what we’re about. I want to get it out there that it’s another type of cuisine, it’s just Italian food, or there’s Mexican food or there’s raw food. It’s another type of cuisine, and I want people to realize that they can try it and not have to be vegan.”

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Under the Sun is now open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00AM to 7:00PM. For more information on the grand opening celebration, set for May 28, visit the event page here

Under the Sun is located at 244 East 3rd Street.



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