Healthy as a Motha (234 Union Ave.), or HAAM, is a full-service, plant-based Caribbean eatery opening on Wednesday, November 15 in Williamsburg. HAAM will join the neighborhood’s growing range of vegan options that include Jungle Cafe, Garden Carver and Plantega, to name a few.
Healthy as a Motha originated as a cloud kitchen in Queens with a takeout-only model. After selling some of her vegan Caribbean specialties at a number of festivals and pop-ups throughout the city, chef and owner Yesenia Ramdass decided to expand.
Ramdass is a born and raised New Yorker who became a vegan at 17. Growing up, she developed recipes that stayed true to her Dominican roots, but also followed her plant-based diet.
The menu at HAAM is inspired by Ramdass’ Dominican heritage and her husband Randy’s Trinidadian background and blends tradition with innovation and celebrates the vibrancy of the Caribbean in a healthful, sustainable, and approachable way.
HAAM’s menu is extensive for an entirely plant-based restaurant. The first page starts with diverse and flavorful appetizers that include a trio of empanadas, ceviche made from hearts of palm, and a Caribbean-inspired Japanese rice ball with BBQ oyster mushrooms, sweet plantain, avocado mousse and spicy mayo.
Next are salad options that include a kale caesar, the mango calypso chow with cucumber, arugula, red onions, chadon beni, lime, and spices, and the “Motha Earth” salad bowl with quinoa, walnuts, crispy onions, sweet plantains, and avocado.
The menu continues with a large selection of entrees like a yucca mash with king oyster mushroom “scallops” and broccolini. There’s a dish called “Yuh Motha’s Mofongo” with lions mane mushroom chicharron in a curried cream sauce, and a “Buss Up Shut” roti plate with vegan chicken, pumpkin, and curry mango.
For dessert, HAAM offers a few options including guava cheesecake, coconut flan, and arroz con leche made with cashew milk, plus one of the neighborhood’s most original desserts, a cassava cake with homemade ice cream made from soursop fruit.
The drink menu includes unique options like 100% natural fresh cold-pressed sugarcane juice, homemade tamarind juice, and sorrel juice, which is a hibiscus beverage native to Jamaica. There’s also a traditional Dominican drink made of milk and orange juice called morisoñando, as well as vegan wine, beer, champagne cocktails, and non-alcoholic spritzes.
HAAM’s 1,000 square foot restaurant, designed by Melissa Anderson of Brooklyn-based OAD Interiors, exudes Caribbean charm in a modern and polished way with wood and straw accents and black and white marble floors.
The restaurant’s bright, white walls feature heirlooms that hold meaning to the Ramdass family, plus a hand-painted mural by Brazilian artist Livia Mourao, “that serves as a tribute to the matriarchal figures who brought the HAAM brand to life,” according to Ramdass.
Healthy as a Motha is open Tuesday through Thursday 1 p.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday noon – 10 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.