a meaty korean bbq restaurant in hollywood has shut down! oh shit, turns out it was the only korean bbq place in LA (that i know of) with not just legit vegan items, but insanely good vegan items. like, bucket-list good vegan items. i’m talking about shin bbq. the website is still up; but the restaurant has been closed during business hours, the twitter account has been deleted, yelpers are saying they’re out of business, and the phone rings through to a disconnected message. thanks to veganinla for the tip. i know i’m gonna miss the fuck outta shin bbq’s vegan food. a moment of silence for the seitan bulgogi.
September 28th, 2010elf, flore, LA restaurants, mandoline grill, masa of echo park, native foods, pizza cookery, shin bbq (closed), shojin, tender greens, zpizza
While we usually cover LA’s extraordinary selection of vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants (vegan, vegetarian and vegan-friendly), some individual menu items in our city stand out as exceptional, and we thought they deserved their own post. We also opted to choose entirely new menu items from those of last year’s list as there are so many new things to check out on the LA vegan scene.
We chose no-compromise vegan foods: menu items that make no apology for being vegan and that, with only a couple of exceptions, you can order pretty much any time.
Have some things to add to the list, or stuff you don’t like? Let us know in the comments!
Masa of Echo Park Chicago deep dish pizza with Teese
Undoubtedly my favorite new thing on this year’s list. The combination of Masa’s 100% authentic Chicago crust, super tangy and chunky sauce and cooking method combined with real Chicago SoyDairy Teese (yeah, even the vegan cheese is from Chicago) is a mighty fine dish. The thing tastes almost the same as the real Chicagoland staple (and I should know, I’ve eaten a LOT of them over the years) but can be prepared entirely vegan (sub Teese for cheese, and ask that they use olive oil rather than butter in the pan).
I advise going for the medium or large even though you’ll not be able to eat it all, but it travels well, re-heats like a champ and will even freeze for weeks. It’s especially nice with a couple of low-key toppings like spinach or mushrooms, but the real star here is the crust and texture.
Native Foods Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger
There are a lot of vegan burgers in LA. Most of them are pretty darn good, but one stands head and shoulders above all others: The Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger from Native Foods. It seems as though Chef Tanya has studied those high-end burger joints and gone vegan mediaeval on the recipe. She’s taken the Native Foods Seitan (perhaps the best money can buy), sliced it thinly and soaked it in a special sauce topped with crunchy tempeh bacon, lettuce, two types of onions, ranch dressing, BBQ sauce, carrots, tomatoes and even crunchy fried dill pickles.
Yes, this burger has every ingredient you can think of perfectly proportioned and excellently presented. A meal unto itself, the burger is heartily filling yet not unhealthily so.
Shojin Dynamite Roll
The dynamite roll started out as a special item available only on Monday sushi nights, but the dish was so popular that Shojin quickly added it to the normal menu. Having eaten this roll several times, I can say without a doubt that it’s some of the best vegan sushi I’ve ever tasted, and definitely the best in Los Angeles.
The rice-based roll is filled up with avocado and Shojin’s genius spicy “tuna” mixture – a creamy, hearty blend of vegetables and soy that’s so good I could eat a bowl of it straight. Each slice is then topped with a dollop of spicy vegan mayo and slivers of green onions. Usually when dining out on sushi, I like to get a several rolls and share them around the table. At Shojin, however, I always make sure to get a dynamite roll just for myself.
Elf Cornmeal and Herb Dusted Spicy Oyster Mushrooms
Every once in a while, you come across a dish that changes the rules of cuisine a little. You get exposed to something new, perhaps a taste, texture or presentation that’s so different and tasty that you remember it forever. The Spicy Oyster Mushrooms at Echo Park’s Elf is just such a dish. It’s described on the menu in a low-key way that almost makes it sound unappetizing: “Our version of ‘hot wings’ – crispy oyster mushrooms served with marinated celery salad and bleu cheese cream reduction”. Clearly, it has to be ordered without the bleu cheese for the vegans, but I can tell you this dish can stand on its own with or without the cheese.
The texture is crunchy yet soft and the flavors are so complex and delicate that this will be quite a unique experience. Even the celery is amazing – I don’t know what it’s marinated in, but I can tell you that I could eat a plate of just the celery any time! My only beef with the dish is that there’s no vegan substitute offered for the bleu cheese. I mean, some vegenaise and herbs wouldn’t go amiss, would it?
Pizza Cookery Vegan Bread Rolls (they’re FREE!)
Yeah, one of our top omnivorous restaurant choices also carries a bucket list item, and it’s actually something served for free when you show up to get a pizza. Just be sure to ask for the vegan bread rolls, as the default ones are filled with dairy cheese. BE WARNED, though, these rolls are so freakin’ amazing that you are in danger of filling up on them (as did I) and not wanting to eat any of your pizza (as did I) and so end up taking it home (as did I). Assuming that you can exercise restraint here, these rolls are an awesome way to start off your meal.
Perfectly cooked, stuffed with vegan cheese (Follow Your Heart as it happens, but this is one of those occasions where it actually works very well) and dipped in garlic olive oil with real garlic bits these will take you to a different place for sure.
Flore Biscuits & Gravy
Take two humongous biscuits, perfectly crunchy on the outside yet smooth and steamy on the inside then cover them with juicy and tasty gravy (with sausage bits!). That’d be a meal on its own, but Flore lets you add a serving of their legendary tempeh bacon, fruit or potatoes, and the dish comes with a delicious bed of steamed kale to boot. All for $9.95. All organic. And all fucking amazing! Unfortunately, this is a weekend brunch only dish, so you only have 2 days per week to get your fill.
Mandoline Grill Tofu Banh Mi
There are a few vegan Banh Mi’s out there, but nobody does it like Mandoline Grill, and I’m really pleased that this vegan-friendly food truck has a menu item that made it into this list. First off, the Banh Mi is absolutely HUGE. It’s a 12″, vegan French-style baguette with all the usual Banh Mi fixin’s including cucumber slices, pickled carrot and daikon, cilantro, jalapenos, vegenaise and scallion oil. Despite the fact that the bread and ingredients are fresh and tasty beyond belief, the real kicker is the slyly named “lemongrass marinated tofu”, which comes in thick chunks and is unquestionably one of the most tasty things you’ll ever eat. I don’t know how chef/owner Mong Skillman can prepare such a gourmet experience from a tiny food truck, and frankly I don’t care how she does it. I’m usually too busy eating the thing to worry about the details!
Zpizza The Tuscan (veganized)
Yes, we’re pizza obsessed. Yes, there are two pizzas on the bucket list and YES, this one is damn good, but couldn’t be further in concept, taste and style than the Masa Chicago Pizza up top. The Tuscan is going for that Italian intersection of thin crust, oils and mushrooms that Zpizza does so well. The regular pizza isn’t vegan, but they will sub Daiya for the mozzarella and leave off the feta if you ask, and you will be home and dry with an absolutely stunning pie.
This thing has a bunch of ingredients. In addition to Z’s incredible crust, there’s homemade roasted garlic sauce, Daiya cheese, three kinds of mushrooms (cremini, shiitake and button), sweet caramelized onions, drizzles of truffle oil and fresh thyme. If you think this SOUNDS delicious, wait until you taste one – you will be blown away. For extra spice, pile on the dried chilies (they go especially well with the muted tastes of the oils and shrooms).
Shin BBQ Seitan Bulgogi
I was as shocked as the next guy to discover Shin BBQ’s vegan-friendly options, headlined with the incredible Seitan Bulgogi. Although clearly modeled on meat-based entree, this dish has a character all of its own, and even omnivores are ordering it regularly now. Slices of chewy seitan are marinated in something called “Shin’s secret marinade” – I have no idea what this is, but all I know is it’s 100% vegan and 200% tasty. The dish goes perfectly over some rice and don’t forget to pile on some of the excellent kimchi that will arrive in abundance at your table.
Tender Greens The Happy Vegan
This is another dish that I feel the need to eat on a regular basis, so I’m really happy that the WeHo Tender Greens is on my way home, and I can park for a dollar! Tender Greens is an upmarket, salad-oriented restaurant where you order at the counter, they make your salad and then bring it to your table. The Happy Vegan is so aptly named, as I don’t believe that any vegan would be something other than very happy post-consumption.
There are a ton of seemingly exotic ingredients in the salad: tabbouleh, hummus, pasta pearls, farro wheat, young kale and the eponymous “tender greens”. There’s also some crispy baguette slices dribbled with extra virgin olive oil to boot. For a salad, the price of $10.50 may seem high at face value, but I’d think nothing of paying $20 or more for this dish in a fancy restaurant.Tags: Bucket list, burger, pizza, sandwich
It’s no secret that Korean BBQ restaurants are the most vegan unfriendly places on earth. There’s never anything vegetarian (let alone vegan) on the menu, and the ritualistic cooking of meat at the table in front of you can be quite disconcerting, especially if one goes with omnivorous friends who are chowing down on ribs, wings and all sorts of unspeakable animal parts.
Shin BBQ in Hollywood, though, has reached out to its vegan customers and offers an outstanding set of vegan options all carefully cooked separately in the kitchen. And I’m not talking about the usual mainstay of vegan Korean BBQ dining: Vegetables and rice. No, I’m talking about a full-on Korean BBQ experience where an incredibly tasty marinade is burned on to succulent proteins, combined with delicious sides to be enjoyed in an environment of relaxed, classy attention preferably with alcohol served intravenously (the best way to consume Soju, trust me).
After being lobbied by a couple of vegan friends we opened up Shin BBQ on a sunny Saturday afternoon to check out the vegan offerings. We emailed in advance, though, to make sure that we could eat the food without it being marinaded and BBQd in meat juices. Within a few minutes of our request, we received the following reply from Mr Shin himself:
Well, we checked again upon arriving and our server “Dan” (more on him later) was quite positive about the whole vegan thing: “Oh, yes, we have a kitchen policy for our vegetarian and vegan customers. Everything will be cooked separately – we take that very seriously.” So, we were stoked to say the least, to begin ordering vegan Korean BBQ for the first time ever. There were three firmly vegan things on the menu, and we couldn’t help but get one of each.
First up was the “Tofu Steak”, a chunk of extra firm tofu that had been flash charred with marinade (making it deliciously crispy on the outside, and surprisingly flavorful on the inside) served with diced kimchi and a luscious green salad, pickled beets and spicy bean shoots. Despite the size of this dish it was gone in about 5 minutes, such was the amazing tasty tofu, perfectly cooked and served.
Next up we had the signature vegan dish, “Veggie Bulogi Seitan” which I’m telling you was out of this world.
Small seitan slices and onions had been marinated and barbecued in a cast iron dish, and arrived at the table still cooking and steaming right in front of our faces. Despite the fact we’d just eaten one entree, we fought over every last piece of seitan, and yet another side of kimchi, sprouts and beets arrived to help satiate our rapidly waning hunger.
Seconds after the Bulogi Seitan arrived, the most enormous plate of grilled vegetables known to man or beast arrived at the table. Layer upon layer of squash, asparagus, king oyster mushrooms and carrot were perfectly grilled and spiced for our enjoyment. And enjoy them we did. Mouthful after mouthful of seitan, tofu, vegetables and the sauces and tastes of traditional Korean BBQ rushed on in and were very much welcomed.
Our server, Dan, was beyond perfect. He was not only knowledgable about the vegan offerings, swift on the delivery and just the right about of attentive, but he occasionally stopped by to ask how things were, and we could tell that he really cared about our experience.
The location of Shin BBQ is very convenient, located in between Sunset Blvd. and Hollywood Blvd. and just steps away from all the fun stuff that Hollywood has on offer. Now, despite the amazing food and service, a word of caution on Shin BBQ: It is a KOREAN BARBECUE, and the majority of the customers will be eating meat, much of which will be cooked at the table in front of them. If you’re squeamish over the sights and sounds of meat preparation, be warned!
1600 N. Wilcox Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90028
6pm -12am Tuesday – FridayTags: bbq, hollywood, kimchee, korean, seitan
5pm – 12am Saturday
5pm – 10pm Sunday