Two young chefs have set out to "change the perception of vegan food".

Dom Sherriff and Amy Bennett, owners of Bonsai Plant Kitchen in Baker Street, Brighton, said the restaurant has "exceeded" their expectations since it opened in March last year.

Vegetarian Dom, 28, and his vegan business partner Amy, 23, serve "Asian fusion" food.

The Argus: Dom and Amy outside the shop in Baker StreetDom and Amy outside the shop in Baker Street (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

Dom said: "We've done away with the old fashioned tablecloths and pretentiousness. People want good food in a fun setting.

"The restaurant looks great. We had a rough idea of what we wanted to do when we set out but it changed constantly - and it keeps evolving."

With concrete floors, heavy oak tables and stools rather than chairs, the restaurant is a nod to the fast-paced street food culture in South Asia. Customers can see into the open plan kitchen.

The Argus: The restaurant is illuminated by a large neon Bonsai-shaped lightThe restaurant is illuminated by a large neon Bonsai-shaped light (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

Dom said he was inspired while working in Australia and South Asia.

"Up until then I'd only ever worked in classic French kitchens or British fine dining. So when you walk into a Vietnamese restaurant where everything is different, it's quite an eye opening experience.

"We cook our food over the bincho grill, letting the coal work its magic." 

The Argus: The menu frequently changes at BonsaiThe menu frequently changes at Bonsai (Image: Bonsai)

The menu is a blend of South Asia, bringing delicacies from Vietnam, Thailand and Japan under one roof.

Dom saidd: "Everything is pretty much vegetable. We're not afraid to break boundaries and change traditional concepts.

"At the moment, we've got a tempura pumpkin and cauliflower dish, and we'd just stopped selling bao burgers.

"We look at what vegetables are in season and bring them into our dishes."

The Argus: It's not just rice they blowtorch...It's not just rice they blowtorch... (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

Dom prides himself on the signature "sushi-grade" blow-torched rice at the restaurant.

He said: "We wash it about ten times before steaming and seasoning it.

"We blow torch our rice, and we use a really good sesame oil to char it.

"I won't say everything as I don't want to give away the secrets.

The Argus: Dom prepares a chilli ahead of the restaurant's openingDom prepares a chilli ahead of the restaurant's opening (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

The menu requires hours of prep before the kitchen opens."

Dom said: "Cooking is unbelievably labour intensive. It's very, very prep heavy because you're working with vegetables.

"If you're working with meat, it's less forgiving when you're cooking it but it's more forgiving in terms of prepping. Veg is incredibly hard in the prep, but more forgiving when cooking - since you can just get it on the bincho grill.

"We have around five or six hundred different ingredients in the building, and we go through over 100 kilograms of veg a week.

"An average dish has got about 30 ingredients in it."

The Argus: A cocktail at BonsaiA cocktail at Bonsai (Image: Bonsai)

Amy works closely with the bartending team to create the drinks menu.

The ever-changing cocktail menu includes sake, rice ales, or specials that are "thought up on a whim".

Dom said: "We have a chalkboard and something new is on there nearly every day.

"We work closely with Sussex wine producers and breweries to produce an experience that means people keep coming back."

The experience at the restaurant doesn't end with the food. On Friday nights, the pair invite young artists to DJ, giving them a platform to share their music.

The Argus: Amy and Dom looking through the kitchen 'pass'Amy and Dom looking through the kitchen 'pass' (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

Since its opening in 2022, the restaurant has become popular with vegans and meat-eaters alike, serving more than 1,000 plates each week.

Dom said: "Brighton's got a booming vegan food scene, and it's only getting better.

"If people keep supporting the small places like us, it will encourage more people to do things like this."