• March 30th, 2009quarrygirlalibi room, kogi, LA restaurants

    if you follow this blog, you probably read about the vegan dramz that occurred a few weeks ago in regards to the kogi taco truck. the korean/mexican-style bbq is definitely the latest food fad to hit los angeles, and there can be up to two hour waits and a shortage of grub wherever the trucks decide to make an appearance. i queued up for like 45 minutes just to get a tofu taco which i assumed was vegan, only to find out that it almost was….other than “traces of lard” in the corn tortilla…after i’d already eaten it.

    i wrote a post about my kogi experience, which kicked up a minor stir…but it didn’t stop the la vegan drinks crew from organizing a meetup at the alibi room in culver city, the new brick and mortar home to the kogi taco truck cuisine. vegan drinks were arranged for saturday, march 28, with the selling point being that the word “vegan” is in fact on the kogi menu at the alibi (they offer a vegan taco wrapped in a leaf), plus the chef promised to create a “vegan special” just to appease our crew. i gotta admit, it was a pretty ballsy move on the part of vegan drinks. afterall, “kogi” means “meat” in korean and this is a place that has been known to have conflicting stories about the contents of their food. on the other hand, kogi is the latest culinary craze sweeping the town…why shouldn’t we vegans get to enjoy it as well? plus the alibi room is a hip bar with tons of vegan beer and a parking lot. having the vegan drinks meetup revolve around this controversial cuisine was obviously a good idea, because like 80 fucking vegans showed up!

    the place was jam packed, with vegans and meat-eaters alike…you could tell the alibi must fill to capacity even without a huge vegan party taking over the place. when we left, there was seriously a wait to get in. what is it with la and these bloody fads…once la foodies get wind of one, there really is no stopping them! anyways, on to the food!

    vegan sesame leaf tacos with tofu and asian pear. $5

    vegan sesame leaf tacos with tofu and asian pear. $5

    we started with the one and only main dish on kogi’s alibi menu that comes vegan as is: the vegan sesame leaf tacos. these tacos aren’t listed on the mobile kogi taco truck menu…but who knows, maybe they could make them for you if you ask. either way, they are always available at the alibi. they tasted pretty similar to the normal tofu tacos wrapped in lard, except these were wrapped in a delicate shiso leaf instead. the insides were a little bit sweeter than the normal tacos, and there was just a hint of hot sauce. they were pretty tasty, i just gotta admit i’m not a huge fan of eating tacos or burritos wrapped in leaves. i would have much preferred these to come in vegan corn tortillas, but oh well.

    vegan special of the night and tofu burrito after the jump.

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  • March 12th, 2009quarrygirlkogi, LA restaurants

    let’s just set the record straight on what us vegans can eat at the kogi truck…because the information presently available is confusing to say the least. here goes!

    if you live in los angeles, i’m sure you’ve heard of the latest food craze to sweep the city…the kogi bbq truck. kogi serves up korean/mexican fusion food on the cheap with a menu full of tacos, burritos, and daily specials. the little truck has gotten so popular in just a few months, that it has been known to draw crowds of hundreds and even run out of food. i have been wanting to try their tofu tacos since forever…so imagine my excitement when i saw on vegguide.org that they were in fact vegan.

    kogi truck roja!

    kogi truck roja!

    i ate the tacos and pretty much raved about them in a review i posted this morning. my party was ruined, however, when a very informed commenter named louise left the following in reply to my post:

    Sorry to break it to you, but you just ate a mouthful of pork fat. The tortillas Kogi uses have manteca (lard) in them. That’s one reason why the BF (vegan) never eats their regular tacos. The only vegan one they have is the one wrapped in shiso leaf.

    um…so the tofu tacos aren’t even vegetarian? that can’t be right. i messaged the kogi truck (who knew about my blog post) via twitter telling them i found out that there was in fact lard in the tortillas. they immediately replied, “U are mistaken. Im the roja manager steve. Come take a look anytime. We use canola oil” and i was like, “are you sure there’s no lard in them?” and he said, “yes.”

    to follow up on the matter, we emailed the chef and told him we’d been hearing conflicting stories about the lard, and that the truck manager was saying the tacos were vegan friendly. it’s then that we got the sad, sad news from the kogi’s very own chef roy:

    our tortilla itself contains hints of Manteca although we use canola oil…but we have a vegan taco with sesame leaf as the “tortilla”

    alright dude, thanks for being honest. but that’s fucking so nasty that i ate something containing “hints of lard”. almost immediately after i received that email, the kogi twitter account deleted its tweets saying that the tortillas contained no lard, and sent me a direct message via twitter:

    aLL the homemade corn tortiLLas are made with a touch of Manteca. The fLour tortiLLas aren’t. Hey! You can order an eggLess burrito! ^__^ (and cheeseless)

    so that settles it. what a shame. those delicious fluffy tofu tacos topped with sesame-chili salsa, romaine lettuce and cabbage tossed in korean chilli-soy vinaigrette, and cilantro-green onion-lime relish were wrapped in a tortilla contaminated with piggy fatz. as louise put it in an email to me, “It’s kind of stupid that they don’t make it a point to tell you. I don’t see the point of a tofu taco if it’s wrapped in lard. The tofu taco would have been a great option for vegetarians, but now it’s just, ‘Haha, just kidding guys. No tacos for you.'”

    sad tacos. they taste so good and vegan in the middle, but are wrapped in lard. :( :( :(

    sad tacos. they taste so good and vegan in the middle, but are wrapped in lard. 🙁 🙁 🙁

    so to take something good from this situation, at least we now know kogi does have some stuff that is vegan-friendly. i will definitely return to check out their lettuce-wrapped tofu taco, as well as their tofu burrito…minus eggs, cheese, and anything else unvegan.

    for those of you vegans who aren’t phased and want to give this inventive cuisine a try…but don’t feel like queuing up and want to drink alcohol while you eat your korean/mex, kogi has taken over the kitchen at the alibi room in culver city monday-saturday from 6pm to midnite. their vegan stuff is available there as well, and if you call in advance, they say they can whip you up some extra vegan specialties.

    in fact, lex over at vegan-la has talked to the chef and even arranged a “vegan drinks” session with alcohol and loads of kogi food at the alibi on march 28th. for more info on that, check out the vegan drinks site.

    the way kogi seasoned their tofu tacos was nothing short of incredible…they truly blend flavors to create a really unique and delicious taste. i’m willing to bury the hatchet and try something that i know is vegan for sure, from the chef’s mouth.

    for up to date times and locations of the kogi trucks, and for just some all around entertainment, follow kogibbq on twitter. also check out their website for more info.

    hit up kogi when you can, and get there early to avoid the lines! i know i will be back. just don’t eat any fucking corn tortillas!! YUCK. oh, and don’t believe everything you read on vegguide or on twitter.

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  • February 27th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, tierra cafe

    well, well, well, i have some good news and some more good news. the first bit of good news is, yesterday was my last day of jury duty. turns out the case got settled, they sent us home, and it was all just one big waste of time in the end. yipee! the next bit of good news is that on my last day stuck in downtown town los angeles, i hit up tierra cafe, a really great little vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurant in the wilshire promenade food court. i’ve been wanting to try tierra cafe forever, but the thing is, it’s only open monday thru friday from 7am to 3:30pm…hours during which i’m either asleep in bed or far away, working in hollywood. now that i’ve eaten at tierra cafe, i can tell you people who work close by and get to dine there often are very, very lucky.

    just check out the menu—it’s huge, cheap, and everything can be veganized!
    tierra-cafe-menu-front-back1 tierra-cafe-menu-inside

    seriously, i was so impressed with the menu, it took me like ten minutes to figure out what i wanted. there was breakfast stuff, soups, salads, taco plates, pizzas, sandwiches, wraps and a whole black board full of specials. i could eat there every day for a month and get something new each time!

    even though it was already noon, i went with the breakfast burrito…because it’s never too late to eat my favorite meal of the day, and seriously not enough vegan places have a breakfast menu.

    vegan breakfast burrito: black beans, vegan cheese, tofu scramble, pico de gallo and guacamole wrapped in a tortilla and grilled. served with chips and salsa. $5.50

    vegan breakfast burrito: black beans,vegan cheese, tofu scramble, pico de gallo and guacamole wrapped in a tortilla and grilled. served with chips and salsa. $5.50

    i would definitely order the breakfast burrito again, ’cause i loved every last bite. it came with some chips and salsa as well, and i’m talking like a ton of chips. i just took a few out of the bag for the picture, but there were seriously like 80 million of them. the chips were nothing to write home about, just tortilla rounds from a store-bought bag. i didn’t bother with them at all, so the burrito got my full attention.


    the burrito was huge and came stuffed with the most delicious insides. there were really thick juicy bits of tofu scramble, onions, tomatoes, tons of black beans, follow your heart cheese, and guacamole. there wasn’t a lot of seasoning in it, but it tasted so good covered in the fresh salsa and cilantro cream that came on the side. not only was the burrito massive and tasty, it was only $5.50! that’s such a good deal for this thing, considering it’s all high-quality vegan goodness.

    i also ordered a side of vegan bacon to round off the breakfast experience, and it was kind of meh. as you can see, it’s just the prepackaged vegan bacon you can find at the grocery store. definitely not worth $2.50…but hey, now i know.

    side of vegan bacon. $2.50

    side of vegan bacon. $2.50

    now for a bit of history on the place: it turns out that tierra cafe used to be owned by miranda, the chick who owns flore and flore cafe. that may explain why some of the food is kinda flore-esque and a lot of the menu items have the same names as ones at flore, like “the salad,” “the portabella panini,” and “the b.l.t.a”. now the place is owned and run by a cute and sweet older asian couple. while they don’t speak much english, they definitely know what the word “vegan” means, so be sure to specify.

    tierra cafe fills up at lunch time, but there’s plenty of seating. there’s basically no parking anywhere, so you are going to have to either walk quite a ways, or take the metro (there is a station conveniently located about 20 feet away). one tip people give on yelp, is to order your food in advance and then illegally park in the alley when you run in to grab it.

    tierra cafe in downtown los angeles

    tierra cafe in downtown los angeles

    so, if you ever find yourself in downtown during the week, definitely try out tierra cafe. the menu is huge and delicious. i just wish they were open on weekends!

    tierra cafe
    818 wilshire blvd. D
    los angeles, ca 90017


    open monday thru friday
    7am – 3:30pm

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  • January 5th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, real food daily

    a couple of weeks ago, i had the pleasure of eating a much anticipated lunch with fellow vegan blogger, foodeater of to live and eat in la. we had been planning a meal of epic proportions for quite sometime and finally chose real food daily in west hollywood as the location for our feast. after all, it’s pretty fancy and very well-reviewed. plus, i never get a chance to go there because mr. meaner, my dining partner and the other half of this blog, fucking hates the place!

    since we considered the lunching of quarrygirl and foodeater a pretty special occasion, we decided to share a decadent appetizer to start, the better with cheddar nachos.

    better with cheddar nachos: Tortilla chips, melted cashew cheese, black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, tofu sour cream. $11.75

    better with cheddar nachos: Tortilla chips, melted cashew cheese, black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, tofu sour cream. $11.75

    i have heard a ton of good things about real food daily’s nachos, and i can add to the hype by saying they were very tasty. the plate was huge and overflowing with crispy chips, black beans and guacamole. we just about finished it all off between the two of us, and i seriously have no idea how we still had room for any entrees.


    although we ate them right up, i gotta say, somethings about the nachos were a let-down for me. the cashew cheese wasn’t anything like real cheese; it had no melty texture, it was more of a just a yellowish sauce. plus, we ordered jalapeno cheese, and while there was a slight hint of flavor, it really wasn’t spicy at all. while the cashew sauce wasn’t bad, i was just expecting something more thick and well…cheesy. similarly, the tofu sour cream was a little disappointing. it was drizzled over the top of the nachos, when i was wanting something more like a big blob of sour cream. the guacamole and black beans were perfect though, and the nachos were overall yummy, even if they weren’t what i expected. worth 12 bucks?…maybe.

    after piling half a ton of nachos down my gob, i decided to stick with the mexican theme and order some enchiladas.

    el bandito rojo: Corn enchiladas, seasoned tempeh, salsa roja, Spanish rice, black beans, pico de gallo, tofu sour cream, guacamole $13.95

    el bandito rojo: Corn enchiladas, seasoned tempeh, salsa roja, Spanish rice, black beans, pico de gallo, tofu sour cream, guacamole $13.95

    i love ordering mexican food whenever i can, because in most restaurants the stuff is riddled with chicken fat and lard. real food daily’s fine-dining take on the classic enchiladas was pretty decent. the soft corn tortillas were delicate, filled with all kinds of unusual vegetables, and slathered in a rich red sauce. again, the tofu sour cream was almost nonexistent and a little disappointing. the guacamole and the salsa were amazing, as was the light and healthy-tasting enchilada filling. i can’t even place what it consisted of, but i know it was a blend of RFD’s delicious crumbled tempeh and assorted vegetables including onions and chilis. although this was a million miles away from the old-school mex enchiladas i’m used to, it was still tasty in its own right. but honestly, not worth 14 bucks.

    the lovely foodeater went a completely different route with her entree, but i will let her tell you all about it when she does a write-up on her blog. going into this lunch, i definitely planned on getting some dessert, especially since my last birthday cake from RFD was so bloody delicious. unfortunately, though, we were so full after all the nachos and main courses that we just couldn’t stomach it. oh well, i guess that just gives me an excuse to go back.

    overall, the food i had on this visit to real food daily was very tasty. it wasn’t incredible or spectacular though, and not worth the insane prices. i sooooo don’t mind paying a lot if i am getting something really special, and RFD just didn’t quite deliver. plus, they sat us at a really crappy table next to the bathrooms and kitchen, and there was a huge distracting ruckus going down right on the other side of the wall. the service was great though, and the presentation was beautiful, so i will definitely be back to real food daily to give it another try.

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  • September 11th, 2008quarrygirlhugo's tacos, LA restaurants

    well, i didn’t actually order a taco, but hugo’s tacos in the valley definitely scratched my mexican food itch. god, so good and so vegan…what a great place to intersect. this creative yet wonderfully traditional mex left me wanting more. string beans, white beans and zucchini all seemed a little out of my comfort zone, but when they came rolled up with some guacamole goop on seasoned rice or in a huge, thin white tortilla, i definitely remembered i was at a taco stand. superb.

    the food withstood the car ride home and was so much tastier than it looks.

    burrito: flour tortilla with spanish rice, white beans, choice of filling, choice of salsa, onion & cilantro. $5.95

    burrito: flour tortilla with spanish rice, white beans, choice of filling, choice of salsa, onion & cilantro. $5.95

    it’s so hard to take a picture of a taco stand burrito. you don’t want to cut it in half because it should be eaten whole, but then it just looks so boring. take my word for it, the thing was huge and there was a lot of exciting stuff on the inside. at hugo’s you pick and choose your salsa & filling for every dish, and lucky for us, they have two different vegan filling options. we got this burrito stuffed with zucchini, corn and string beans along with salsa habenero.

    not bad! the vegetables were well cooked, and even though the salsa habenero wasn’t quite spicy enough, some extra hot sauce solved that. at under $6, the best thing about this burrito wasn’t the taste, but that it was such a great deal. seriously, i’m used to paying like 9 bucks for a burrito of this enormousness. the bowl was pretty good as well…

    choice of filling, choice of salsa, lettuce, spanish rice, white beans and onion & cilantro topped with a dollop of guacamole. $5.95

    choice of filling, choice of salsa, lettuce, spanish rice, white beans and onion & cilantro topped with a dollop of guacamole. $5.95

    this dish originally comes with cheese, so vegans beware! the bowl pictured came covered in salsa negra with a soyrizo, potato & zucchini filling. i was stoked to try the soyrizo, because i love the stuff at home and have never heard of it being used at a taco stand. hugo’s definitely delivered—it was well seasoned, perfectly browned and juicy. one of the bestest fake meaty things i’ve ever had.

    while i can’t really ask for much more than a soyrizo option, there are definitely some things on hugo’s menu i would change. i’m really not sold on the white beans. while it mostly tasted like traditional taco stand food, the beans kept throwing me off. some lard-free refried beans, or even black beans would be appreciated. also, the zucchini, corn & string beans filling was kind of meh. i wish they had a mushroom option or something instead. string beans really don’t belong in a burrito, they belong with gravy and mashed potatoes and other shit like sprouts. but these are pretty minor annoyances…i like to nitpick.

    overall, hugo’s was a great find. i am gonna go back and try out some of their taquitos and tacos as soon as i get a chance. they are cheap, fast, serve large portions, and offer food that you can be sure is vegan. for a mexican place especially, this is very rare. no lard, no chicken stock, and they even have bloody soyrizo on the menu!

    come on, vegans! let’s give hugo’s tacos our support!

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  • April 30th, 2008quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), native foods, pizza

    as you may or may not know, i’m a huge fan of native foods. it’s a westwood vegan establishment with several original options whose ingredients i completely trust. imagine how delighted i was on my coachella vacation last weekend when i looked up the nearest vegan restaurant to my hotel in palm springs and found a native foods just 2 MILES AWAY!

    latino lover pizza: mexican marinara, soy taco meat, salsa fresca, corn, avocado, cilantro, and vegan sour cream. he cha-cha! $13.95

    yes, luckily my parents happened to be in town, and i definitely owed them lunch for saving my ass. so what better place to treat them to a meal at, than the quarrygirl.com approved native foods?

    now, while i LOVE native foods, my only problem with this restaurant is the ubiquitous unadvertised bell peppers which DRIVE ME MAD and are sprinkled all over most dishes. no matter what i do, i can’t seem to remember to ask for my meals without them. i digress. back to the wonderful food!

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