HIGHLAND PARK — Figueroa Street has scored a vegan-friendly restaurant with Kitchen Mouse. Owner Erica Daking made music for a living before giving culinary school a try at the age of 30. She bounced around different kitchens, worked in catering and crafted her skill to the point where cooking became her main gig.
Daking and company remodeled the space (a former check cashing business) from the ground up. With an open façade looking out onto Figueroa, the dining room is flush with natural light that washes over the primary school chairs, tiled floors, wooden tabletops and benches, with the aroma of freshly baked pastries wafting in the air.
On a warm spring day, Kitchen Mouse happens to be serving a cool watermelon gazpacho with mint. And, according to Daking, their avocado toast with Dijon aioli, maple tempeh and cherry tomatoes is a hot seller.
All these meat-free options are offered by Kitchen Mouse, though Daking doesn’t consider herself a vegan. “With catering it’s about making your customers happy,” says Daking, whose restaurant includes a few non-vegan dishes.
“I prefer to eat healthy, and I hesitate to use that word, because we’re not sacrificing taste with our menu. Everything is lively and full of flavor.”
Kitchen Mouse will hold their grand opening Saturday, May 17, though they’ve been serving customers during a trial week as they futz with their menu. Daking sees the restaurant providing a nice respite for customers tired of driving to other neighborhoods to eat healthy or looking for vegan options.
On cue, a couple complement Daking on their meal, comparing it to one of their grandmother’s recipes.
“It’s been a good week.”
Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.