• February 9th, 2011quarrygirlfresh east, LA restaurants

    over the past couple years, we’ve seen west hollywood grow into quite the little vegan mecca. santa monica boulevard, west of la cienega specifically, has been just blowing up with options lately—from zpizza, to tender greens, to millions of milkshakes, to o!burger—everyone is serving up cruelty-free cuisine. the latest addition to the list is fresh east, a quick casual asian eatery that specializes in healthy fare with loads of meatless options.

    after scoping out the menu online, we decided to check out fresh east for a fast weeknight dinner. when we walked in, i was immediately smitten by the bright, clean interior—colorful yet simple with lots of comfy seating.

    we approached the counter to place our order, and i noticed that fresh east’s menu was even more vegan-friendly than i thought. there’s a little V symbol next to each item that can be veganized, including several dishes where tofu can be subbed for the meat. unfortunately the vegan symbol isn’t shown on the online menu right now, but trust me, there are loads of options.

    after much deliberation, we decided to share a noodle and a curry dish, both of which were exceptional…

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  • August 26th, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, shojin

    oh shojin, i love you to bits! but who doesn’t?! i think we all can agree that the modest restaurant located in the little tokyo shopping center in downtown LA is one of the best vegan places to eat in this city, with its constantly changing menu and always inventive japanese cuisine.

    i hit up shojin recently with some friends, and as usual, the food was delicious. but i’m not here to tell you ONLY STUFF that you already know, i’ve also got news that shojin has added a new sushi roll to their regular menu. but more on that later, first let’s talk about our dinner!

    spicy rock shiitake tempura: tempura shiitake mushrooms tossed in spicy wasabi mayonnaise. $6.95

    we started with an order of the spicy rock shiitake tempura as an appetizer, because everyone is kind of obsessed with this dish…and you will be too once you try it. the small plate comes loaded up with little nuggets of breaded and fried mushrooms, all soaked in a scarily good spicy mayo-style sauce. holy shit guys, it’s unreal. no joke, everyone i know who has tried these has proclaimed them to be the “best mushrooms ever,” and i’m no different. there’s something about the crispy shell and the creamy mayo that makes these babies irresistible. trust me! order ’em!

    spicy seitan bbq roll. $7.50 shiitake & avocado roll. $5.95

    next, of course we got some sushi plates. shojin has by far the best vegan sushi in los angeles, and no visit to the restaurant is complete without a roll or two. pictured above are the shiitake avocado roll, as well as the spicy seitan bbq roll. the shiitake avocado is as you’d expect: rice tightly wrapped around big hunks of cool avocado and sliced mushrooms. what makes it special is the delicious marinade they soak the mushrooms in, as well as the added kombu cooked in soy sauce. the spicy seitan bbq roll is even better—shojin’s homemade wheat meat along with greens and kaiware sprouts mixed with spicy soy sauce and vegan mayo. i die!

    clear shio ramen: simple, delicate and profound. sea salted. sweet vegetables, baby bok choy and mushrooms. $10.95

    for my entree, i went with the clear shio ramen. the menu describes it as “simple, delicate and profound,” which is pretty accurate. in fact, this dish was a little too simple for my palate. the vegetables were fresh (i loved the kale!), and the noodles were spot on, i just found the broth to be a tad too basic for my taste. i chalk it up to a bad ordering decision—i should have gone with the “hot and spicy ramen” or the “creamy sesame ramen”, both of which sound divine. next time!

    so, let’s talk about that sushi roll i mentioned earlier in the post. according to their twitter page, shojin recently added the MOTHER FUCKING DYNAMITE ROLL TO THEIR MENU! pay attention!

    this roll started out as a special for shojin’s weekly sushi nights, and when i tried it, i was instantly smitten. it’s spicy mock tuna mixed with avocado, then wrapped in rice and topped with spicy mayo and green onion. seriously dude, seriously, the BEST VEGAN SUSHI I HAVE EVER HAD. i was ecstatic when i saw that shojin added this to the regular menu. so please, please, PLEASE go eat it and help keep it around. i’d hate to see this item axed due to low demand.

    that’s about it, kids. in closing: shojin still rules as one of the best restaurants in LA. always order the spicy rock shiitake tempura, fill up on sushi, and get adventurous with your ramen choice. oh yeah, and THE DYNAMITE ROLL IS AVAILABLE. i’m done.

    333 S. Alameda St. Suite 310
    (Little Tokyo Shopping Center 3F)
    Los Angeles, CA 90013
    Tel: 213-617-0305

    Monday, Tuesday
    5:30pm – 10:00pm
    Wednesday, Thursday
    11:30am – 2:30pm,
    5:30pm – 10:00pm
    11:30am – 2:30pm
    5:30pm – 10:30pm
    12:00pm – 10:30pm
    Sunday, Holidays
    12:00pm – 10:00pm

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  • February 5th, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, viet noodle bar

    today is one of those rare cold rainy days here in los angeles, and what better way to spend it than with a big bowl of warm comforting noodles? if that sounds like a plan, viet noodle bar is your place. the small minimalist asian cafe located in atwater village has long comfortable communal tables and a vegan-friendly menu. the service is friendly, the food is good, and they know what the word “vegan” means. i first learned about viet noodle bar from a positive review on cute and delicious, and after just one visit there i can tell you i’m a huge fan.

    jackfruit noodle bowl: jackfruit, fried tofu, rice crackers, and noodles. $8.50

    viet noodle bar has a couple clearly marked vegan items on their menu including a tofu banh mi and a tofu noodle bowl. they also have a jackfruit and tofu noodle bowl (pictured above), which the chef confirmed was vegan. as this place serves lots of dishes with fish sauce and mayo, i would urge you to be safe and re-iterate many times to your server that you are vegan. that’s what i did.

    anyways, about the noodle bowl…it was absolutely delicious. i was expecting it to be all liquidy and soupy, but it wasn’t. instead it was just a huge pile of soft, thick noodles covered in hunks of jackfruit and fried tofu. plus the crispy rice crackers, fresh cilantro and little bits of onion all added to the amazing combination of flavors. at only $8.50, this thing was way too much food for one person to eat—i was seriously filled to the brim just half way through it.

    if you want a big hot mess of tasty asian noodles for under 10 bucks, free of fish sauce, in a chilled out environment…well then definitely check out viet noodle bar. i know i am gonna make an excuse to go there next time i’m anywhere near silverlake.

    viet noodle bar
    3133 Glendale Blvd
    Los Angeles CA 90036
    323 906 1575
    Open Daily 11am to 10pm

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  • January 27th, 2010quarrygirllong beach, more restaurants (not LA)

    hey everyone, time for another field report from vegankitten. this one comes all the way from long beach, and reviews some vegan pho at number nine noodles! here you go:

    When Number Nine opened on Retro Row in Long Beach a few years ago, I couldn’t help myself from stopping in to see if there were any vegan options. The Vietnamese restaurant is housed in a narrow building with white walls, modern, minimalist decor and big sign advertising NOODLES & BEER, all of which is very appealing to me. I was so excited to see the tiny menu was teaming with vegan options, including one of my all time favorites – PHO!

    Let’s start with drinks: They offer 6 beers, 5 white wines, 4 red wines and 4 cocktails. Their menu is like their decor – minimalist. Our waitress was about as far from friendly as they come. She was awkward, uncomfortable and seemed suspicious of me and my camera. She asked for our drink orders and I asked her for a red wine recommendation. Keep in mind, they have FOUR RED WINES and she really gave me a hard time. If I ask for a recommendation, just give me your personal opinion, I’m not going to send it back! After asking a bunch of questions about my wine preferences, I settled on the Red Rock Merlot. If I would have taken a few seconds to check Barnivore I would have known it was not vegan-friendly. Sad. My dining companion ordered the Tiger Beer, which is vegan and only $4.00!

    We had a few choices for our appetizer, but we chose the vegetarian spring rolls and Russian root vegetable salad. The spring rolls were amazing! The delicate rice paper was packed with tofu, mushrooms, lettuce, vermicelli and carrots. They were crispy, fresh and perfectly chilled. They were served with the sweetest, most delicious peanut sauce and Sriracha sauce, which I avoided. The peanut sauce was so delicious that, if I hadn’t been on a date, I would have eaten it with a spoon.

    Vegetarian Spring Rolls. $7

    Not surprisingly, we did not receive our russian root vegetable salad. The waitress didn’t write down our order and it was quite obvious to me from the get-go she wasn’t capable enough to take an order without writing it down. Unfortunately, we were in a bit of a rush trying to make a movie at The Art Theatre across the street and didn’t have time to ask for it.

    Vegetarian Pho. $8

    My dining companion and I both ordered the vegetarian pho as our main course. Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup, generally with a beef broth. I’ve rarely seen vegan versions of this delicious dish and have only had the pleasure of eating it at one other place – Gingergrass in Silverlake. I like interactive food, so I think that may have something to do with my attraction to pho. Along with your soup, you are brought a plate of garnishes to add to your soup at your discretion. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, I usually find garnishes odd and the pho garnishes are no exception. They are intimidating, but I’ve eaten this dish enough times that I now embrace them. Number Nine offers the traditional pho garnishes: basil, lime wedges, bean sprouts, chili peppers, one sweet paste (Hoisin) and one spicy paste (Sriracha).

    Although almost impossible to eat, Number Nine’s pho is delicious. The rice noodles at the bottom of the bowl are tied in a knot. Armed with only a pair of chop sticks and an asian soup spoon, breaking them apart is like solving a Rubik’s Cube. I recommend bringing a hair tie, as well! The ingredients included mushrooms, cilantro, onions, huge chunks of carrot and radish and the same amazingly seasoned firm tofu found in the spring rolls. From our garnish plate, I added the juice of one lime wedge, a bunch of bean sprouts and all of the Hoisin Sause. It was so tasty and the perfect meal for a blustery Southern California day. And would you believe it’s only $8.00? I can’t…just look at the huge bowl!

    This is the third time I have been to Number Nine and I’m definitely going back. The service has always left something to be desired, and this time was the worst, but the food truly makes up for it. Plus it’s located on the coolest street in Long Beach. Number Nine is located in the heart of Retro Row and a block away from the beginning of Alcohol Alley. What more could you ask for 🙂

    Number Nine
    2118 East 4th Street
    Long Beach, CA 90814
    (562) 434-2009
    Open Sun-Thu 12:00pm-9:30pm; Fri + Sat 12:00pm-10:00pm

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  • October 13th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, street

    as you may know, on this blog we’ve been compiling a list of restaurants that can accommodate vegans during dineLA restaurant week. recently, i decided to put this info to use and hit up susan feniger’s street with my former dineLA partner in crime, jennshaggy.


    when we arrived, the restaurant wasn’t very crowded and we leisurely sunk a few cocktails before placing our order. the pink drink above was mine…and it was so damn good, i can’t even remember its name. if you like fancy drinks though, street is your place. their cocktails and sangria are absolutely amazing, and they even have a drink made with absinthe on the menu!

    our waitress presented us with the special dineLA menus, and when we told her we were vegans, she rushed to the kitchen to speak with the chef. she returned quickly with a list of modifications we could make to each item in order to veganize it, and our restaurant week experience was underway!

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  • March 21st, 2009quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    for vegans who find themselves in london on the hunt for a quick meal, i highly recommend popping into one of the many itsu shops located around the city. itsu offers japanese-style light fare including sushi, soups and salads that as they say on their website is “full of goodness & won’t make you fat.”

    while the menu at itsu has a lot of icky fish on it, they do have some great vegan options that are a welcome break from all the heavy chips and curry i’m used to consuming while in the uk. we always make sure to hit up itsu at least once when in london for their delicious dumpling soup…we even like it so much, we figured out how to make it at home here in los angeles.

    itsu dynamite vegetable dumplings with miso broth. £4.95

    itsu dynamite vegetable dumplings with miso broth. £4.95

    when ordering the dumpling soup off the menu, be sure to specify that you want it with miso broth. the miso broth is vegan, while some of the other soups at itsu contain bonito (fish). although you can’t see them in the picture, the vegetable dumpling soup comes packed with fresh vegetables including spinach, mushrooms and bean sprouts, all atop a big pile of fat udon noodles and stacked with plump and juicy vegetable dumplings and crunchy seeds. everything that’s shoved into this soup is fresh and amazing, my only tip would be to eat the dumplings first because if they get too soggy they start to disintegrate. this stuff is so bloody yummy, it will have you wondering why you haven’t been eating it every day for years. seriously, so simple and so good.


    in addition to a really stellar vegan soup option (don’t forget to specify that you want vegan miso broth!), itsu offers a damn good salad.

    hip & healthy: avocado, itsu salad, tenderstem broccoli, itsu rice with chives, soy pumpkin seeds, beetroot angel hair and shallot dressing. £4.25

    hip & healthy: avocado, itsu salad, tenderstem broccoli, itsu rice with chives, soy pumpkin seeds, beetroot angel hair and shallot dressing. £4.25

    the hip and healthy is packed delicate leaves, perfectly prepared vegetables, hearty seeds and even fluffy white rice. it’s seriously a produce lover’s dream…all so fresh and tasty. while the vegetable dumpling soup with miso broth is by far the best thing i’ve ever tried at itsu, the hip and healthy salad is a perfect choice if you don’t want to stagger out with half a gallon of liquid in your belly.

    to sum it up, itsu is a great choice if you are looking for a nourishing and tasty vegan meal in london. it’s one of our regular uk haunts, and i always feel energized and guilt-free, even after eating a ton. the japanese have got the healthy and simple food down. eating this food will make you feel so good, you won’t even miss the fried and greasy chips or oil-filled indian food.


    one thing to look out for, if you are eating in and not getting your food to go…be sure to hit up one of itsu’s SHOP locations, not one of the RESTAURANTS. the shops are quick with a vegan-friendly menu and have cute little booths to eat at. the restaurants are larger and offer a mainly fish menu, with the soups and salads only available for takeaway. basically don’t bother with the restaurants. check out the itsu website for all the shop locations…they are seriously scattered all over london. the pix in this post are all from the piccadilly shop. address and hours below.


    so hit up itsu! because as they say, “you can eat lots without guilt, sorrow, and pain”! woo!

    167 Piccadilly
    London W1J 9EG
    T: 020 7495 4048
    F: 020 7495 4645
    Mon to Fri: 10am – 8pm
    Sat & Sun: 12pm – 5pm

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  • March 16th, 2009quarrygirlinaka, LA restaurants

    located just down the street from all the hustle and bustle that is the melrose m cafe, there’s a much less crowded unassuming macrobiotic restaurant called inka. the natural foods restaurant is almost entirely vegan, except for some seafood options, and the food is prepared entirely with healthy and organic ingredients. while the cuisine is light and simple, it isn’t lacking in taste, and is provides a welcome rest from processed and artificially flavored food.

    i took a trip to inaka recently with fellow vegan food blogger/vegan chef/vegan baker jennshaggy, and we both enjoyed our meals tremendously.

    yakisoba noodles sauteed garden vegetables with soba or udon noodles. $13

    yakisoba noodles sauteed garden vegetables with soba or udon noodles. $13

    we ordered a few dishes, and naturally ended up sharing everything. jennshaggy went with the yakisoba noodles, with the choice of udon rather than soba. i’m used to udon noodles being thick and round, like the stuff i get in packages at the supermarket and put into soups, but these noodles were much more wide and flat. they tasted slightly fried and a little oily, but still very light at the same time. the vegetables which included carrots, celery and broccoli were crispy and perfectly cooked. the only thing this dish could have used in my opinion is a huge bottle of sriracha sauce, but hey, i use that stuff like ketchup. overall very tasty.

    hijiki (sea vegetables) salad: hijiki seaweed over green salad. $7

    hijiki (sea vegetables) salad: hijiki seaweed over green salad. $7

    we also got the hijiki salad, which was basically a mixed green salad piled high with the dark sea vegetables. everything was extremely light and tender, and incredibly fresh. the salad had little to no dressing, so the sea vegetable taste was very prominent. i think this salad ended up being the best thing at the table, just because it had a pure and unique vegetable taste.

    wok fry vegetables lightly sauteed fresh garden vegetables cooked with sesame oil, onions, broccoli, nappa cabbage, sprouts, carrots. served with bowl of brown rice. plus tofu. $15

    wok fry vegetables lightly sauteed fresh garden vegetables cooked with sesame oil, onions, broccoli, nappa cabbage, sprouts, carrots. served with bowl of brown rice. plus tofu. $15

    i ordered the wok fry vegetables and added tofu to them for an additional 2 bucks. while this dish was delicious, i can’t really say it was worth $15. sure, everything was well prepared and the vegetables were crunchy and flavorful..but the tofu was a bit soft and boring. i dunno, it tasted like something i could make at home. next time i hit up inaka, i will opt for something with loads of exotic vegetables, you know, macrobiotic-sounding things i can’t pronounce rather than onions and napa cabbage. however, if you are looking for a simple and mild stir-fry…this dish is your man.

    overall, i thought inaka was pretty decent. jennshaggy, an extreme foodie was very impressed with the place, and that goes a long way. while some of the food at inaka is a bit boring and arguably overpriced, they make up for that with simple dishes containing delicious vegetables. stuff like the hijiki salad stands far above meals i’ve gotten at other restaurants. i guess it just depends what you order.

    i will be back to inaka again very soon to partake in some fine macrobiotic vegan cuisine. try this place out next time you can’t get a seat at the crazy-popular m cafe…at least at inaka you can relax and have a quiet meal.

    131 S La Brea Ave
    Los Angeles, CA 90036
    (323) 936-9353
    hours: tues-fri
    lunch 12:00 noon to 2:30 p.m.
    dinner 6:00 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.
    sat 5:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.
    sun 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
    Closed Monday

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  • March 4th, 2009quarrygirlkung pao bistro, LA restaurants

    los angeles vegans, i know you’ve had your fill of vegan thai food. on every corner there’s a vegan express, vegan house, vegan plate, or vegan-whatever-the-fuck…all dishing out indistinguishable pad see ew, freshy rolls and garlic pepper entrees. well now if you need an asian fix, you can put the thai habit on hold and grab some vegan-friendly chinese food from kung pao bistro.

    the asian eatery has two locations, one in studio city and one in weho, and both serve up loads of vegan options. they have an entirely separate vegetarian menu, plus the option to make any meat dish vegetarian by subbing faux for real meat at a $3 charge. while some of the fake meat has milk powder in it, plenty of it doesn’t, so rest assured…there are plenty of vegan options.

    i’ve been to kung pao bistro a few times. the weho location is close to my office, and has ample parking, so it’s usually a pretty no-brainer place to meet my mom for lunch when she’s in the area. while the vegetarian menu looks pretty inviting, we always get the same thing off the omnivore menu and veganize it for an additional 3 bucks…because it is so damn good.

    soy beef pan fried noodles. $13.50

    soy beef pan fried noodles. $13.50

    the pan fried noodles are like nothing i’ve ever had. they are the weirdest middle ground between soft and fried…they are crunchy yet soak up all the sauce, brittle and chewy at the same time. i love ordering them because they taste nothing like the vegan asian cuisine i’m used to, which of course consists mainly of thai food.


    the soy beef is delicious as well. it isn’t too sweet like it is at many asian places, and the texture is realistic and hearty but not gross. another good thing about the soy beef is it is definitely vegan. kung pao bistro clearly states on their website: “Not all dishes are vegan. Some of the vegetarian meats are made with milk or whey protiens. Please make sure when ordering to ask which dishes are vegan friendly.” well, unfortunately the staff doesn’t know shit about what is vegan. seriously, the few times i’ve asked them, they said all fake meats were vegan. i got to the bottom of the issue and emailed the restaurant directly. the manager wrote back and confirmed that the soy beef, normal soy chicken, and soy fish are vegan. the breaded soy chicken items such as orange chicken and faux shrimp both contain a milk protein. the dude totally knew what vegan meant, and if you have any additional questions, totally email him. just be sure vegans, if you order chicken at kung pao to make sure it isn’t of the breaded or battered variety.

    i went with whiter-than-white, all-vegan beef and it was delicious! even my mom loved it! and she doesn’t suffer crappy meat substitutes well. seriously.

    we also split a side of broccoli which was absolutely delicious, but a bit of a butt-rape at $7.50.

    sauteed broccoli. $7.50

    sauteed broccoli. $7.50

    cooked to perfection and flavorful as can be, i really can’t fault this stuff. but come ON! over 7 bucks for a plate of broccoli?!?! this is a $4 plate, tops. anyhow, i keep coming back to it because it’s really good. but i know i’m getting the shaft every time.

    vegan fortune cookie. compliments of the house!

    vegan fortune cookie. compliments of the house!

    when you are all done eating, kung pao serves up not just the bill, but VEGAN FORTUNE COOKIES! yep. the one pictured was totally animal-free. read the label on the one you get before you eat it, because it coulda been just a lucky coincidence; i mean, who knows who their distributor is? if you are fortunate enough to have a vegan fortune cookie (ha ha), don’t waste that shit.

    that’s all, kung pao bistro is a great vegan-friendly find. it isn’t necessarily a destination to travel to for some amazing experience or anything, but it’s damn good chinese food that you can trust to be free of dead animal bits. that’s not something we vegans get to eat very often, as most places are beyond sketchy. i will continue to go back, and next time i will try to order something different. (but damn those noodles are GOOD.)

    kung pao bistro
    west hollywood
    7853 santa monica blvd
    west hollywood, ca 90046
    (323) 848-9888

    studio city
    11838 ventura blvd
    studio city, ca 91604
    (818) 766-8686

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  • February 7th, 2009quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    UPDATE 1/23/11: apparently, now the wagamama soba noodles now contain egg…even though they are still listed on the vegan section of the website. according to UK vegans, now you’ve gotta order the below dishes with udon or rice noodles, NOT SOBA NOODLES in order for them to be vegan. this might vary by location, so please let your waiter or waitress know that you are vegan when ordering to avoid any mix-ups!

    on our recent trip to england, we were completely overwhelmed by all the vegan options london had to offer. there were so many vegetarian restaurants, way too many to try, and even the chain restaurants and pubs had animal-free offerings. on our first day there, i received an email from a london reader named paul, who’d read about our trip and had a list of places for us to check out. at the top of his list was wagamama.

    if you’ve been to london, you’ve probably seen several wagamama restaurants, the pan-asian inspired chain noodle bars are on practically every corner. i was so stoked to read paul’s email and learn that they had plenty of vegan dishes on the menu. our first two nights were spent in a lovely pub in richmond, which happened to be just a 15 minute walk away from a wagamama location. kismet! i went to their website, and found they even have a whole list of everything on the menu that’s suitable for vegans. score!

    we pored over the vegan online menu, decided what to order and headed out for a wagamama feast. we started with the raw salad, which was excellent.

    raw salad: a combination of mixed asian leaves, thin cut mooli, carrot, spring and red onions. garnished with fried shallots and served with wagamama house dressing. £2.90

    raw salad: a combination of mixed asian leaves, thin cut mooli, carrot, spring and red onions. garnished with fried shallots and served with wagamama house dressing. £2.90

    while the raw salad was simple and cheap, it was probably the best thing about our dinner. seriously, so so so so so good. everything was just super fresh and went really well together. plain ingredients can taste amazing when very well prepared.

    next we got the saien soba, which was decent. i would probably try something different next time…i mean, it was pretty good but didn’t wow me.

    saien soba: wholewheat noodles in a vegetable soup topped with stir-fried courgettes, asparagus, fried tofu, red onion, leeks, shiitake and portobello mushrooms, mangetout, beansprouts and garlic. seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil and garnished with sliced spring onion. £7.50

    saien soba: wholewheat noodles in a vegetable soup topped with stir-fried courgettes, asparagus, fried tofu, red onion, leeks, shiitake and portobello mushrooms, mangetout, beansprouts and garlic. seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil and garnished with sliced spring onion. £7.50

    this dish was pretty salty, and a little bland, but all the fresh vegetables and delicious tofu made up for it. it did taste a little like something i could make at home, though.

    lastly, we ordered the yasai chilli men. very spicy and very delicious.

    yasai chilli men: stir-fried courgettes, white and portobello mushrooms, mangetout, green and red peppers and fried tofu in a sauce made from chillies, ginger, garlic, onion, tomatoes, lemongrass and sweet red peppers. served with wholewheat noodles. £7.50

    yasai chilli men: stir-fried courgettes, white and portobello mushrooms, mangetout, green and red peppers and fried tofu in a sauce made from chillies, ginger, garlic, onion, tomatoes, lemongrass and sweet red peppers. served with wholewheat noodles. £7.50

    the yasai chilli men was awesome. the sauce was tomatoey and sweet, kind of like pasta sauce…and it was all very hot. i got it without the peppers, and it was still covered in tons of vegetables. there were so many different flavors going on in this dish, and they all went together so well. nam nam nam.

    so, if you are ever in london and need a no-brainer vegan dinner, wagamama is a great place to hit up. no matter where you are, you are probably very close to a wagamama, so it makes for a great emergency meal. be sure to check out all their vegan options online, or ask your server. the staff seemed pretty knowledgeable about vegan stuff when we were there.

    the food is decent, the prices aren’t high, and the service is quick. thanks to reader paul for the tip! i know i will be back at wagamama again in no time.

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  • December 10th, 2008quarrygirlLA restaurants, vinh loi tofu

    the best tofu you will ever eat lives in reseda.

    fried tofu (lemongrass and chili) $1.25

    fried tofu (lemongrass and chili) $1.25

    it is a good time to be a vegan and live in the san fernando valley. they’ve got everything over there. follow your heart, madeleine’s bistro, hugo’s tacos and a slew of vegan thai huts. i didn’t think the valley could possibly offer anything better than all of that. well, i was wrong. after months of putting it off because i didn’t want to make the drive to reseda, i finally checked out the 100% vegan vietnamese restaurant and tofu factory, vinh loi tofu.

    you see, foodeater over at to live and eat in la (the vegan blog i frequent most) had been singing the praises of this place forever. she has gone on and on about the noodles, soups, sandwiches, even the non-GMO soy beans. i kind of took it all with a grain of salt, thinking, how good could some vegan asian food be….right? i get plenty of that! well, i was wrong. all the stuff she said was 100% true. vinh loi tofu is an odd gem in an a huge sea of fried udon, faux meat and salty broth. i can’t possibly describe to you how fucking good it is.

    it’s the kind of food that you start chomping on with another person and for the next half hour the conversation is littered with outbursts like, “no, really this is so fucking good,” “….i know, right? god this is amazing,” “wow, this food is much better than i thought would be…” and then various chewing noises.

    the best thing i tasted from vinh loi tofu was of course the tofu itself. created in the tofu factory within the restaurant by the mad scientists/chefs/magicians, the soybean concoction that vinh loi comes up with is utterly perfect. and when they fry it up with lemongrass and chili for just a buck 25, it’s enough to have you on your bloody knees begging for more.

    but that’s just the tofu. they have tons of other drool-worthy dishes on the big, vegan, vietnamese menu. stuff that looks like run-o-the-mill asian foodz like noodles, soups and rice dishes are completely reinvented.

    house special duck soup: yellow noodles with bean curd seasoned in a duck broth. $8.50

    house special duck soup: yellow noodles with bean curd seasoned in a duck broth. $8.50

    the duck soup (everything is totally vegan, so need to even ask) was insanely delicious. flavorful meat with delicately cooked noodles, swimming in a savory broth. garnished with fresh vegetables, this garlicky and spicy dish was honestly i think the best soup i’ve ever had. seriously, it’s true! i know you won’t believe me…unless you’ve had it as well.

    same goes for the stir-fried udon noodles. cooked up in the most scrumptious sauce, covered with thick faux meat and fresh chilis, this dish packed so much flavor and so much heat. i really don’t think we knew what we were getting into. a fight went down and spoonful was divided until the bitter end.

    stir-fried udon: wheat noodles stir-fried with chicken or beef, tofu and vegetables. $9

    stir-fried udon: wheat noodles stir-fried with chicken or beef, tofu and vegetables. $9

    and, ummm….not to sound like a broken record, but the veggie spring rolls were also the best ever.

    veggie spring rolls (3): green leaves and shredded fried tofu wrapped in rice paper. served with coconut sauce. $4

    veggie spring rolls (3): green leaves and shredded fried tofu wrapped in rice paper. served with coconut sauce. $4

    most spring rolls have a clear, thin and moist skin. not these. the wrappers on these were thick, tough and stretchy. the vegetables were crisp and the fried tofu was all kinds of wow. 3 of these could easily be a meal on their own. they are also packed with a lot more food than most rolls. all the ingredients must be shoved in so tight, because there is so damn much inside.

    seriously, if you are a vegan in los angeles you can’t say shit about anything until you’ve tried vinh loi tofu. they take a cuisine (vegan asian food) that is usually so meh, and they make it spectacular. i don’t think i’ve ever in my life eaten soup, noodles, spring rolls, or tofu that has gotten me so enthusiastic. i mean, i love talking shit on restaurants. but i just can’t with vinh loi tofu. there is nothing negative to say.

    even the owner, kevin tran was working the counter when we went in. chatting away to customers and answering all kinds of questions about the food, he was more friendly and helpful than any restaurant owner i’ve ever seen in action.

    PLUS, owner kevin tran was even sporting a shirt picturing the webmaster of quarrygirl.com, the one and only tofu robot. we knew we were in good hands. here is a spy iphone pic to prove it:

    kevin tran, owner of vinh loi tofu wearing a shirt picturing tofu robot, the mascot of quarrygirl.com

    kevin tran, owner of vinh loi tofu wearing a shirt picturing tofu robot, the mascot of quarrygirl.com

    so no matter where you live in la, vegans, make the bloody drive to vinh loi tofu. they are in the valley, so of course, they are located in a strip mall. kevin excitedly told us though, that they were planning on opening a restaurant in silver lake. oh how awesome that would be. we can only hope.

    vinh loi tofu
    18625 Sherman Way #101
    Reseda, CA 91335
    (818) 996-9779

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  • December 9th, 2008quarrygirlbulan thai vegetarian, LA restaurants

    for ages i have been meaning to check out bulan thai. it’s this all vegetarian thai place where most dishes can be made vegan, serving up food from two locations—one on melrose and one in silver lake. the melrose location is kinda near to my work, and it always looks so clean and inviting…for so long though, i was just never able to resist the urge to grab a panini or burger from m cafe instead. plus, on any given day of the week i’m probably already asian-fooded out, what with the ten million vegan thai places with the word vegan in the title, hawking their wheat meat and salty noodles on every major street in los angeles.

    bulan vegetarian is different though, it doesn’t adhere to the same rules as all these other thai vegan clones. there are no cowboy burgers, no wraps and no salads swimming tahini dressing. nope, none of that westernized stuff at bulan. the standard vegan cookbook that the other thai places have adopted, bulan completely ignores. it’s so refreshing to visit a thai food restaurant with food that both a.) is authentic and b.) i can trust. bulan is just that place, and i love it.

    the husband and i hit up bulan recently and decided to get a full on feast: 2 main dishes and an appetizer to share. we started with the summer rolls. so simple, but so exquisite.

    summer rolls: baked tofu and fresh vegetables wrapped in clear wrappers, served with vietnamese dip. $8

    summer rolls: baked tofu and fresh vegetables wrapped in clear wrappers, served with vietnamese dip. $8

    i’ve had rolls similar to this at a million thai places in the past, but none have been this good. the summer rolls were tiny and tightly packed with the freshest and most delicate of vegetables. the peanut sauce was also supberb and went down well with several spoons of chili powder. i would definitely order these again. the somewhat hefty price tag was made up for with the finest ingredients, great taste and beautiful presentation.

    we also shared the broccoli with dried chili and tofu. It turned out to be the perfect mix of greens and protein.

    broccoli with dried chili plus tofu: broccoli sauteed with dried chili and choice of protein in house sauce. $8

    broccoli with dried chili plus tofu: broccoli sauteed with dried chili and choice of protein in house sauce. $8

    this was a great light dish for 2 to share. the broccoli was fresh and crunchy, while the tofu was moist and well seasoned. the chilis provided some definite heat, but not enough for us. we of course had to drown our plates in spoonfuls from the hot sauce carousel. it was so tasty. plus, i love any thai restaurant that brings an impressive selection of hot sauce to the table.

    lastly, we split an order of the pad kee mao or “drunken noodles”. these were probably my favorite.

    pad kee mao "drunken noodles" plus veggie chicken: pan-fried flat rice noodles with carrots, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, basil, chili and choice of protein. $8

    pad kee mao "drunken noodles" plus veggie chicken: pan-fried flat rice noodles with carrots, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, basil, chili and choice of protein. $8

    the drunken noodles were thick, fried and slathered in the most impressive sauce along with nicely cooked vegetables and scrumptious “chicken” chunks. there was nothing about this not to like. everything was moist, crispy, and full of flavor. bulan really shows what quality thai is all about.

    i really can’t wait to go back to this place. the menu is simple and traditional, but truly outstanding.
    plus, who doesn’t want to eat at a restaurant with a sign as awesome as this posted on the window?!??!!

    you really ought to check bulan out asap.

    bulan thai vegetarian kitchen on melrose

    bulan thai vegetarian kitchen on melrose

    and for all you drunken vegans out there, as an added bonus, the village idiot is right across the street. this slick gastropub offers my all time favorite vegan lager, craftsman 1903 at the fair price of 5 bucks a pint. a few beers and some vegan food is just way too good to pass up. head to melrose now.

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  • November 4th, 2008quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), NYC

    quarrygirl eats nyc continues! more vegan-ness from our recent trip to manhattan.

    franchia is a fancy schmancy 100% vegan korean restaurant in manhattan, which is a sister restaurant to the even fancier schmancier gourmet restaurant, hangawi. judging by the prices at franchia alone, you’d never guess that this was the lower-rung, cheaper of the two (my entree alone was $18). but the food was delicious and healthy tasting, the atmosphere elegant & traditional, yet clean & modern, and the service was beyond attentive. plus, it’s located on park avenue, which i’m sure drives the prices up. overall, the extra bit of money was well spent and we left feeling perfectly replete and re-energized at the same time.

    when we arrived at franchia, the husband and i were full of three beers each from a local irish bar and feeling the drag of our recent 5 hour flight and various airport delays. we were thrilled when we peered through the windows and saw the vast, relaxing, beautifully decorated tea house beckoning us. we were escorted upstairs by a very kind host and seated at a quiet table in a dimly-lit section of the restaurant.

    needing food immediately, we quickly ordered the vermicelli spring rolls, which proved to be an excellent choice.

    vermicilli spring rolls: $8.95

    vermicilli spring rolls: $8.95

    as you probably know, great dinner ambiance usually makes for shitty photos. the food doesn’t have a chance of coming out in focus with all that moody lighting goin’ on. so bear with me and trust that it was amazing. the spring rolls came in a set of four with a tangy dipping sauce and a beautiful little radish cut up to look like a flower. although these were fried, they were still quite light. the skin was very delicate and thin, and the innards consisted of silky soft noodles and tender vegetables. they were just what we needed after the day we’d had!

    my husband, being a noodle and broccoli fan opted for the spicy franchia noodles. we both agreed that they were pretty tasty.

    spicy franchia noodles: $14.95

    spicy franchia noodles: $14.95

    the spicy noodles weren’t actually that spicy, but then again i drink hot sauce by the bottle, so the fact i needed to ask for some extra shouldn’t be a surprise. the portion was small and dainty, especially for $15, but the quality of the ingredients made up for it. the noodle dish was covered in fresh, beautiful-tasting vegetables such as thick broccoli, succulent mushrooms, and even juicy tomatoes. the perfect blend of flavors and gourmet taste justified the price and puny-ness. for all you la-ers, this place totally reminded me of shojin, a fancy japanese vegan restaurant located in downtown los angeles. if you dig shojin, you’ll love franchia.

    i opted for something a little more saucy and full of fake meat: the vegetarian curry hot pot. this turned out being by far the favorite dish on the table, and that’s a good thing because there was plenty to share with my husband.

    vegetarian curry hot pot: $17.95

    vegetarian curry hot pot: $17.95

    the hot pot was a scrumptious dish in a big stone container that was still sizzlin’ and bubblin’ away when it arrived at our table. filled to the top with the most rich and delicious curry sauce, it also boasted numerous vegetables and tons of protein, including both fake chicken and tofu. spooned out on top of a fluffy plate of white rice, this dish was absolutely divine. thick vegetables, tons of chunky chicken, soft tofu and incredible creamy sauce…it couldn’t get much better. the sauce was the perfect combo of hot spicey-ness, curry flavor and tomato undertones. i think it’s safe to say this is the best non-indian style curry i’ve ever had. our meals also came with a plate of kimchi for the table, which was so delicious, i forgot to get a picture of it! oops.

    so, the bottom line is: for upscale dining in nyc, franchia definitely delivers. you won’t leave this place feeling stuffed or guilty, you will just leave feeling relaxed with some delicious quality food in your belly. you pay a little extra for fancy atmosphere, central location, and awesome ingredients. in my opinion, it’s well worth it.

    sweet table at franchia. we opted for the more traditional chairs, but i still thought this was lovely.

    sweet table at franchia. we opted for the more traditional chairs, but i still thought this was lovely.

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  • May 27th, 2008quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), seattle

    seattle is sooooo the land of wonderful vegan food. if only it had better weather and an industry in which i was employable, i’d surely move there. even without those things, it’s so tempting to leave my sunny so-cal atmosphere and job stability for the rainy pacific northwest—with its overabundance of meatless eateries and brew pubs where cask ale flows (that seem to be inevitably taken for granted by locals who’ve grown accustomed to such pleasures).

    EXAMPLE: while in seattle, i stumble into a random hotel restaurant for some late-night eats, and the menu happens to brag about it’s vegetarian options. it doesn’t stop there—the friendly server knows all about the difference between vegetarianism and veganism, and assures me that i’ll be taken care of. even in liberal hollywood, i’ve not seen this type of vegan acknowledgement. sure there are some la omnivore establishments that cater specifically to my kind, but other than that, whenever i ask about animal stock in my entree, i’m greeted with a completely clueless dumfounded gaze…to the point at which i don’t even bother eating at places that aren’t specifically vegan-friendly, for the most part.

    but in seattle, even in the confines of a hotel bar/restaurant, i still feel completely safe, and possibly even understood. for instance, dragonfish.

    tofu veggie roll: tofu, cucumber, kaiware, avocado, cilantro, and yama gobo $8

    dragonfish yakisoba: soba noodles tossed with vegetables and your choice of chicken or tofu $13

    this food was bloody incredible. i’m talking “11pm, late night snack, hotel bar food”…not “6 pm, i sought this really cool vegan restaurant out, and wanted to try it food.”

    yeah, this shit was on-point…and hassle-free for a passing hotel-diner vegan-customer like myself. the food itself tasted good, i trusted it, and it arrived in no time. what else could i possibly ask for when my meal was pushing midnite?

    plus, i’d never even tried tofu sushi before. forget that lame, boring avocado & cucumber roll—finally some sushi i can identify with! my only guff with these rolls is that they may have spoiled me; hopefully i can continue to appreciate old school sushi from here on out.

    yep, dragonfish totally brings it….especially for so little $$$$ in the late night hours. if you want a post-dinner snack in downtown, or if you are a vegan dining with picky omnivores, this is definitely a spot to add to your list.

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  • May 27th, 2008quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), seattle

    quarrygirl.com has moved to seattle, at least for the next few posts. we recently took a trip there for mr. meaner’s birthday, and were so absolutely overwhelmed with all the vegan options, we thought the least we could do for us, them and you was to blog all about it. plus, it gave us a really good excuse to eat like 5 meals per day. bam.

    first up, the legendary teapot vegetarian house. in the mid-90’s, before i ever met my husband, seattle was his home…and this was his favorite vegetarian restaurant. suffice to say, when he first showed me around the city in late 2005, this was virtually our first stop. our subsequent/most recent trip to seattle was no different. we arrived via virgin america, had a few pints in a lovely brew pub, and made a beeline for the teapot vegetarian house.

    steamed dumplings: traditional northern chinese dim-sum made of fresh diced vegetables and spices hand wrapped in an envelope of flour. steamed and comes with a dipping sauce of vinegar and sesame oil. our pride and joy. $6.95

    broccoli tofu: a perrenial favorite, fresh crunchy chunks of broccoli florets stir fried with slices of wheat gluten in dark, savory sauce. $13.95

    fried wide noodles in dark sauce: we use wide rice noodles, fresh bean sprouts, scallions and add a delicious dark rich syrupy sauce to make this traditional Singapore “roadside” dish. $8.95

    i must admit, despite my pleasant encounter with the teapot in ’05, this time i wasn’t expecting much. 2 and a half years later, i consider myself a much more seasoned vegan-restaurant-connoisseur, and my disdain for the los angeles vegan thai food boom has made me the ultimate skeptic toward any faux-meat asian cuisine. but, as usual when i take a vehement stand against something, i was completely proven wrong. this restaurant was fucking spectacular—inventing each dish as it went along, not borrowing from or copying any other asian vegan restaurants. this place left me genuinely impressed and wanting more.

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  • April 1st, 2008mr meanerhealth, vegan stuff

    I have a busy office life. There’s always some lunch meeting to sit through, usually with the requisite pizza, Quiznos, Chinese food or (horrors upon horrors) KFC being delivered to tide ‘us’ over. Compounding that, I rarely get the time to go out and pick up a healthy snack for lunch so I’m often left to my own devices. I’ve learned over the years that desk drawers can be put to much better uses than holding files and the usual crap (cell ‘phone chargers, staplers without staples, boxes of staples that don’t fit in the aforementioned stapler etc.).

    MY desk drawer (real picture):

    Vegan Desk Drawer

    …contains a life support system for the busy office vegan. The things that meat-eaters dread (carbs and sodium) don’t really matter to us vegans as much since we tend to be less fat and have lower blood pressure through a lack of meat intake.

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