The finalists have been named for the Taste of East of England Award, sponsored by Adnams, at the East of England Tourism Awards 2023-2024.

This category recognises businesses within the tourism industry that offer food, beverage and service innovation and excellence. 

Namaste Village Norwich

Established in 2016, Namaste Village in Norwich, Norfolk, is a family-run business that aims to combine Indian cuisine with innovative plant-based cooking.

Beginning its journey as Lily’s Café on Magdalen Street, it has grown under its current ownership to open branches in London and Cambridge.

It works to challenge perceptions of vegan and vegetarian food, introducing mock meat substitutes that elevate the flavours in its dishes and aim to shatter the stigma around plant-based food.

With a dedicated team of 50 staff, Namaste Village is committed to delivering exceptional dining experiences, and its commitment to excellence has been recognised by bodies such as the TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Award, the British Curry Awards and the Norwich Eat Out Awards.

It also has a charity initiative called Dosa on the Wall, which has been providing free meals to those in need for the past 10-plus years.

The judges said they were “delighted” with their visit to Namaste Village, adding that “from the second we walked in, it was clear that this was a high-quality establishment set in a beautiful building, with passionate team members who were full of desire to help customers have an excellent experience”.

They felt that the food was “beautifully presented” and tasted “absolutely delicious”.

Eastern Daily Press: River Green Restaurant became fully vegan in 2017River Green Restaurant became fully vegan in 2017 (Image: Keith Morris)

River Green Restaurant, Norwich

Overlooking the picturesque Trowse village green in Norwich, Norfolk, River Green is a vegan restaurant that aims to produce delicious food that doesn’t harm people, animals or the planet.

Established in 2011 as a vegetarian restaurant, the business became fully vegan in 2017 when chef and director Chris Avey, who had joined in 2015, bought out the other directors and set about transforming the menu.

During the pandemic, the restaurant served the local community as a shop and takeaway while also trialling new dishes and approaches.

It reopened with a smaller, more spaced out dining room with a relaxed style and a menu that champions local produce and changes daily with inspiration from all around the world.

Key dishes include the popular okonomiyaki and mushroom Wellington, all created in-house.

The restaurant also includes a cookery school, where Chris shares his years of experience with budding cooks.

Praising the “inventive dishes” throughout the menu, the judges called River Green “a celebration of seasonal and locally sourced produce”.

They said that “impeccable service experience is delivered by staff who are tangibly in tune with the restaurant’s ethos” and that their food choices “were beautifully presented and were of high quality”.

Eastern Daily Press: Yalm Foodhall showcases some of the best independent chefs and kitchens from the regionYalm Foodhall showcases some of the best independent chefs and kitchens from the region (Image: Josh Cooper)

Yalm Foodhall

Yalm is a new food hall in Norwich’s city centre showcasing some of the best independent chefs and kitchens from the region.

Named after the old Norfolk word to ‘eat hungrily’, Yalm has been trading since late November 2022 in a two-storey Grade II listed building in the Royal Arcade.

The seven independent kitchens offer breakfast, lunch and dinner options, with a huge variety of dishes inspired by cultures across the globe and showcasing local producers.

With a mission to create a premium food destination in Norwich and a platform for local businesses to collaborate and create something truly unique, Yalm aims to offer something for everyone and is “all about occasion”, whether customers want a quick coffee before work or a celebration dinner with friends.

The business has served over 100,000 customers and has big plans for the next 18 months, which include additional outdoor seating, a ground-floor extension, more guest chefs and kitchens and a full programme of various events.

After entering the “beautiful” building which Yalm calls home, the judges said that “the hall buzzes with a lively atmosphere, creating an inviting hub for food enthusiasts and families alike”.

They noted the “unique” concept and experience at Yalm and called the amount of choice “amazing”.

The winner of the Taste of East of England Award will be announced at the East of England Tourism Awards ceremony at Snape Maltings, Suffolk on Thursday, February 15. For more information, or to purchase tickets for the event, please visit

To see the finalists in all categories, click ​here.