Boston has experienced its list of vegan and vegetarian eateries expand exponentially within the last few years. While relatively recent restaurants like Veggie Galaxy and Refuge Cafe do a good job catering to the cruelty-free crowd, veganism has never tasted so sweet as it does now with the welcome addition of the alternative ice cream shop, FoMu.
FoMu (which stands for Faux Moo in case you were wondering), comes from the culinary prowess of Deena Jalal and Hin Tang – a hardcore foodie, wife and husband super duo. For nearly a year before FoMu came to fruition, the two had been making non-dairy desserts for other vegan, vegetarian and health food restaurants.
The dairy-free café resides in Allston’s Union Square, a location with a precedent for successful vegan businesses, like the Asian cuisine mainstay, Grasshopper, and the plant-based pizza parlor, Piece o Pie. Jalal and Tang live only a mile from the Allston locale, and when they found out that there was vacant spot in Union, they seized the opportunity to open up shop, despite the fact that Jalal was nine months pregnant and they only had one month to open.
The interior of FoMu, is sleek and subtle with a contemporary, minimalist vibe accentuated by a twisty metal sculpture hanging on the wall, and serene indie music that croons through the speakers. There is adequate yet non-congested seating with a few high top metal tables and window-counters toward the front, as well as a large wooden bench and additional metalic tables in the back. Artwork by the talented Boston illustrator Andrew Jerz whose pieces depict eccentric characters with a vivid mish mash of color, adorn the white walls.
Like most ice cream shops, FoMu offers cups, cones, shakes and soon-to-come soft serve. While the dairy-free cafe has the typical vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavors, it wades into unique waters with selections like avocado and thai peanut, which can be complemented with toppings such as organic agave gummy bears, coconut, almonds or Oreos. You can also grab one of the ready-to-go pre-packaged pints in an easily-accessible fridge across from the cashier.
My first time at FoMu, I tried the cinnamon coffee cake flavor. According to Jalal, the ice cream is coconut cream-based, and is sweetened with agave and unrefined cane sugar. It is prepared in a commissary in Arlington, where a new batch is made and delivered every couple of days, so it’s always fresh. One taste, and it’s apparent that FoMu’s product is not a mere substitute for ice cream, but a tastier and healthier alternative.
For those with a penchant for pastries, behind the glass-encased front counter, there are a slew of cellophane wrapped blueberry muffins, chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon buns and brownies.
FoMu further distinguishes itself with appropriately named, craftily concocted smoothies, like the Green Monster–made from avocado ice cream and spirulina flax, as well as the Mango Lassi, which contains mangoes, vanilla ice cream and masala spice. You can pick from soy milk, almond milk and rice milk to be added to the mix. Additional beverages include fresh coffee from Boston-based roaster George Howell.
While every vegan and health-food enthusiast is rooting for the success of this dairy-free dessert establishment, it’s an unfortunate fact that similar ventures have faltered in the past, notably Wheeler’s Black Label Vegan Ice Cream on Mass. Ave. That was nearly half a decade ago though, and Boston’s vegan market has grown tremendously within the last five years.
If prospective success could be gauged by the owner’s confidence, then FoMu will be serving non-dairy delectables for years to come.
“We are really proud of our recipe and believe in the health benefits of coconut. I think we are really just scratching the surface,” Jalal says via email. “The community has been so supportive and appreciative of what we are providing and are travelling from near and far to try our tasty concoctions! We own the process from creation to customer, and enjoy every bit of it.”