House of Vegano, a restaurant specializing in plant-based, Japanese-inspired cuisine, has officially expanded to a new, larger location in the Florida city of St. Petersburg. But what makes this eatery unusual is its show-stopping take on animal-free sushi – from vegan caviar and “lobstah” to mushroom-based crab, tomato tuna and eggplant eel – House of Vegano’s fearless reinvention of vegan sushi has attracted a cult-like following from near and far, and is overturning conventional ideas on what sushi can be.
“I wanted to make the transition to a plant-based diet, but without the sacrifice of taste, flavor and enjoyment”
House of Vegano was created by Thalia Tathum, a mom of five who decided to change her diet in an attempt to combat frequent pain from lupus, an autoimmune disease. Six months into a plant-based diet, she experienced significant improvement in her symptoms and began seeking ways to create satisfying vegan versions of her favorite food: sushi.
“I wanted to make the transition to a plant-based diet, but without the sacrifice of taste, flavor and enjoyment,” says Tathum. “I wouldn’t be happy eating salad every meal the rest of my life. I wanted to create healthy food that wasn’t bland or boring.”
Despite her lack of culinary training, Tathum began experimenting with recipes and soon launched House of Vegano with a dazzling menu of sushi innovations. In addition to classic offerings like California and Philadelphia rolls, it also offers an extensive selection of original creations such as:
- The Volcano Roll – Avocado, carrots and cucumber opped with Spicy Lion’s Mane Mushroom and vegan caviar.
- The Lewis Hamilton Lobstah Roll – Spicy Krab (King Oyster Mushroom) topped with scorched avocado, vegan caviar and lumps of Vegan Lobstah (Konjac Root & Yam Flour) poached in garlic butter.
- Caterpillar Roll – Marinated eggplant, avocado and cucumber topped with spicy mayo and vegan eel sauce.
- Royale Roll – Butter Poached Vegan Scallops with cream cheese and avocado.
- Tom Kha Ramen topped with Vegan Vork Belly.
Along with alt-seafood made with mushrooms, jackfruit and eggplant, HOV also features fish-free caviar from Danish brand Caviart. According to Tathum, two of the most popular dishes are the Volcano and Caterpillar Rolls, and customers often marvel at how realistic the fish and seafood alternatives taste.
Each week, House of Vegano hosts a “Test Kitchen” where diners can pay a fixed price to sample new and experimental menu items.
With a new, spacious location and an enthusiastic fan base, House of Vegano is primed to reinvent the sushi scene in Central Florida and beyond. As a former EMT, Tathum takes note of the stark contrast between her previous and current profession.
“In my old job I used to be with people at the worst times of their life,” shares Tatham. “Now, it’s such a blessing and an honor to help people transition to a healthy way of eating and be a part of the best time of their life.”