• January 26th, 2011quarrygirlhugo's restaurant, LA restaurants

    it’s a great time to be vegan in los angeles! this week hugo’s restaurant is introducing tons of new animal-free options, and i can say from personal experience that they are beyond delicious. they’ve permanently brought back and improved some of everyone’s old favorite monthly specials, as well as added some extra good stuff.

    the new menu will take effect in studio city today, and in west hollywood tomorrow. here is what you have to look forward to…

    vegan carbonara: mushrooms, veggie bacon and garlic sauteed crisp. deglazed with white wine and finished with scallions, vegan cream sauce, and italian parsley. $13.85

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  • Okay, so we’ve already posted about the best vegan and best vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles, but sometimes we vegans HAVE to eat in omnivorous restaurants. That’s a part of life. What’s interesting, though, is when we find meat-serving restaurants that we WANT to eat in. That’s a whole different story, and LA has a few outstanding omnivorous establishments that go out of their way to cater to vegans. Here are our favorites, updated from last year’s list.

    Tony’s Darts Away

    The first time I heard about Tony’s Darts Away, I thought somebody was messing with me. I mean, a craft beer bar with an over 50% vegan menu? C’mon, people, who are you kidding? When I stepped into Tony’s on the night it opened I had to pinch myself a few times to make sure I was awake and not dreaming. First off there was a HUGE selection of California craft beers, including many of my favorites and some that I’m very glad to have discovered. Next up, there’s a menu with a ton of awesome vegan offerings including a build-your-own vegan dog with three different sausage flavors.

    Vegan Italian Sausage with slow-grilled onions, sauerkraut, Vegenaise, and aoili at Tony's Darts Away

    Seriously, what better way to wash down some awesome vegan food than with an equally awesome craft beer? Tony’s Darts Away is one of the best places to open in Los Angeles in years. Vegans, omnivores and everything in between should not hesitate to check it out.


    Chili Addiction

    Although firmly omnivorous with its menu items, Chili Addiction is a vegan’s delight in every way. At any given time there will be at least two vegan chili dishes available, and the selection of vegan dogs, burgers, sorbets, fries and plain ol’ chili is to die for. This is one of those places where everything on the menu is so good that you have real trouble deciding what to order. I usually go for an order of Chili Mac, and a dog or burger sometimes with a side of chili fries to share, and everything I’ve ever had has been top notch.

    Chili Mac at Chili Addiction

    In fact, I think Chef Johnny, co-owner and genius behind the award-winning dishes at Chili Addiction, could be one of the most talented and under-rated chefs working in LA right now. If he’s in the counter-service restaurant when you visit, he’ll happily give you a taste of anything on the menu as well as run you through the ingredients and even explain the concept behind the dish. On a recent visit I enjoyed some amazing hominy chili while Chef Johnny explained how he had come up with the recipe and how he was challenged to get the hominy texture “just right”. On another occasion, I enjoyed the best vegan sorbet of my life, and Chef Johnny took delight in telling me about a special machine he had obtained to make it!

    Chili Addiction has parking out back, and is only steps from the Beverly Center in West Hollywood so there’s really no excuse to go there and eat. Just do it, you won’t be sorry.

    Pizza Cookery

    it’s no secret that we love pizza here on this blog. I mean, who doesn’t? There would have to be something wrong with anybody that didn’t love a perfect crust, tangy sauce, fresh toppings and a yummy vegan cheese, right? Well, assuming that you’re on the same page as the above, you need to get over to Pizza Cookery in Woodland Hills ASAP. Unceremoniously accessed through a side entrance of a somewhat decrepit 70s-era shopping mall awaits some of the best vegan pizza you can get, as well as an environment and ambiance that feels more like Old Chicago or New York than deep in the 818. A combination of funky retro styling (old cast iron soda vending machines) and sawdust on the floor along with faux-gas lamps everywhere really evoke an intimate atmosphere that’s as suitable for a first date as it is an office party.

    Vegan Pizza with Daiya at Pizza Cookery

    The menu is hugely vegan-friendly with a selection of salads and breads most of which can be made vegan. Everything is stunningly fresh and very well prepared, from the vegan caesar salad to the amazingly tasty and filling cheesy rolls. The pizza crust is soft and chewy, while the brick oven takes care of nicely charring the bottom. All the toppings were bright and colorful and the sauce and Daiya cheese mixed perfectly together.

    Pizza cookery is the best pizza place in LA that serves vegan pizza and is dine-in. You’ll feel like you’re in a real pizza parlor of yesteryear, and leave very full and very satisfied.

    M Cafe

    With a totally vegan menu except for fish, M Cafe has a chic urban appeal, backed up with an A-list of ingredients (and clientele) all layered over an efficient kitchen and fair pricing, considering how great the food is. While the last year or two M Cafe’s items have been prepared by kitchen staff rather than chefs, their menu items are still some of the best in town.

    Vegan Benedict at M Cafe

    The Big Macro is arguably LA’s best vegan burger. The broccolini pepporochini is without a doubt LA’s premier broccolini, and the Vegan Benedict is constantly voted one of the “best” breakfast items on any local menu. There are plenty of vegan options at all times of the day, and the rotating menu constantly keeps one coming back for more. The deserts are out of this world, along with some of the best vegan tiramisu known to humanity. Check it out!!

    Hugo’s Restaurant

    With two locations (West Hollywood and Studio City), and a full-on meat-oriented menu, one might be surprised to find that the Hugo’s chefs have created some seriously innovative vegan cuisine. Not only do they have loads of options, but the menu has several clearly marked animal-free alternatives, as well as dishes that can be optionally veganized. If you can get past the trendy atmosphere, long waits and constant celebrity sightings you’re in for a vegan treat.

    Although I’ve long been a fan of the tofu scramble, I also love the Very Green Casserole (one of the best vegan burgers I’ve ever tasted atop stewed vegetables and sauce in a pot) as well as the salads, tikka masala veggie patties, stir-frys and wraps. Make sure you specify “VEGAN” clearly when you order, while the restaurant is extremely vegan-friendly, there may be butter hiding in unsuspecting dishes.

    Vegan Pasta Carbonara Special at Hugo's Restaurant

    Since the last time we voted Hugo’s onto this list, they’ve introduced some astounding vegan specials that rotate in and out, and usually stay on the menu for a week or two before being replaced with something new. This is a very welcome addition, and the specials have been some of the best vegan dishes we’ve eaten anywhere.

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  • September 2nd, 2010quarrygirlhugo's restaurant, LA restaurants

    september is a great month by any measure. fall (the best season ever) is upon us; it’s cooling down outside, and pretty leaves are starting to fall off the trees. the crazy summer is fading away, yet the cozy holidays are ahead. this september is particularly awesome though, because it marks the 30th birthday of hugo’s, one of our favorite restaurants. and to commemorate this occasion, they are offering a very unique specials menu which celebrates the food of the past, while looking forward to the food of the future. meaning: there are tons of old school, meat/dairy-heavy dishes, but EVERY ONE THIS MONTH CAN BE VEGANIZED! partaaaaaay!

    yesterday i was fortunate enough to try out 7 (yes, SEVEN) of these 10 brand new specials craftily created by chef nabor, and all i can say is…i know i will be a regular customer at hugo’s this month. these dishes need to be eaten several more times, by me, before october comes and they are no longer available.

    vegan pasta carbonara: house made pasta cooked with veggie bacon, house-dried smoked mushrooms, scallions, garlic, parsley, chili flakes, white wine and a vegan cream sauce. $13.50

    first up i tried the vegan pasta carbonara, an animal-free version of a hugo’s classic. the original comes with prosciutto, bacon, and parmesan cheese—while the new version is loaded with veggie bacon, house-dried smoked mushrooms and a vegan sauce made from sunflower seeds. my oh my, this dish blew me away. chef nabor’s secret recipe of homemade pasta, topped with all the goodness of meaty mushrooms, scallions, parsley and chili flakes was almost too much to handle. anyone who craves a hearty, creamy meal would be pleased by the vegan carbonara. i’m so thankful that hugo’s decided put a cruelty-free spin on this favorite dish. BTW the mushrooms are what make it; they are pure magic, i tell you!

    next up, i tried a veganized version of the “caprese potato pancake sandwich,” which came with sliced tofu rather than cheese.

    vegan tofu potato pancake sandwich: tofu, sliced heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and Kalamata olive relish between two crispy potato pancakes. $12

    i knew i would love this the moment it arrived at the table, and one of the hugo’s peeps quickly explained to me, “this is our vegan version of the double down.” brilliant! instead of being the grossest sandwich known to man, this little beauty took the healthy/vegan route, and was absolutely delicious! it came with two perfectly crispy potato pancakes serving as “bread”, with thick slabs of tofu and in-season heirloom tomatoes in the middle. not to mention fresh basil leaves, and chunky kalamata relish. to die for! and just LOOK at how beautifully crispy the potato cakes were… (i can assure you, they tasted even better!)

    by this time i was working up quite the thirst, so i quenched it with the september special basil ginger lemonade.

    basil ginger lemondade: fresh agave-sweetened lemonade blended with fresh basil and ginger. $3.25

    it was like sweet summertime in a glass, with hints of lemon, basil, and spicy ginger. extra refreshing and packed with a punch, this was one tasty beverage.

    onto the rest of the food, starting with the melanzane parmigiana (made vegan!)…

    melanzane parmigiana (veganized): layers of deep-fried crispy breaded eggplant, filled with tofu ricotta. topped with mushroom-vegetable bolognese sauce and daiya cheese. served with mashed potatoes and sauteed leafy greens. $13.50

    this meal by default comes sprinkled with real cheese but with one quick request to your waiter, you can get it daiya-style. it tastes like a very traditional scrumptious italian dish—layers and layers of rich, deep fried breaded eggplant atop eerily convincing tofu ricotta. it’s got the most amazing and luscious vegetable bolognese sauce as well; why anyone would get this almost entirely vegan dish with a dab of real cheese escapes me! the daiya tastes incredible, so be sure to specify vegan. it also comes with a side of hugo’s signature dairy-free mashed potatoes and sauteed leafy greens. perfection!

    the last entree i sampled was the “new age” version of hugo’s world-renowned pasta mama

    new age pasta mama: a vegan version of our signature classic represents our move toward plant-based recipes which better supports the health of the planet.: house-made pasta with scrambled organic tofu, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley and Hugo’s seasoning blend $11

    the normal pasta mama is served on hugo’s a la carte breakfast menu, and features a mix of fresh pasta, scrambled eggs, garlic, parsley, and parmesan cheese. this new age version is even better, and comes with scrambled tofu, bread crumbs, and the same delicious herbs and spices.

    the soft crumbly tofu really does taste eggy (in a non-nasty way), and i was eating this stuff up like crazy. so, so, SOOOOOOOO good. this only re-affirms my belief that hugo’s can successfully veganize ANYTHING, and their best work is always on the specials menu…so be sure to order from that whenever possible.

    just as i was reaching a maximum fullness, i was offered a chance to try this month’s “trio of sweet delights”. after all the amazing tastes i described above, i just couldn’t say no. within seconds, chef nabor appeared at my table with an gourmet style dessert platter that was nothing short of stunning.

    a trio of vegan sweet delights: a slice of torte Setteveli - Chocolate cake with hazelnut frosting and Frangelico liqueur. Poached pear in Port and sweet Marsala wine. Crispy rice paper basket with sorbet. $10

    the trio of sweet delights was all kinds of fancy. this is the type of dessert i’d expect to see on an upper class tasting menu. i mean—torte setteveli, poached pear in port, and sorbet in a crispy rice paper–come on! (beware, you must specify you want this vegan, otherwise the sorbet component will contain animal products.) the best of the 3 desserts, OF COURSE, was the torte. we are talking a homemade mini slice of cake filled with chocolate, topped with hazelnut frosting and frangelico liqueur. i die!

    hugo’s has really outdone themselves this month with the specials, and i am so happy that every single one can be veganized. be sure to get over to the restaurant this september and check them out!

    hugos’ restaurant
    8401 Santa Monica Blvd.
    West Hollywood, CA 90069
    (323) 654-3993
    12851 Riverside Drive
    Studio City, CA 91607
    (818) 761-8985

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  • September 17th, 2009quarrygirlhugo's restaurant, LA restaurants


    hugo’s restaurant is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to dine. even though they are an omnivorous establishment, hugo’s menu boasts several vegan options and even has a handy legend to help us determine what’s safe to eat. anything with a ▼ symbol next to it is vegan, and this (▼) means that the item can be veganized. this whole labeling system makes ordering at hugo’s a cinch.

    among the many appetizing vegan dishes the restaurant has to offer are tacos, burritos, tamales, casseroles, pastas, salads, burgers, wraps and sandwiches. on a recent trip to hugo’s with my mom, we tried out the veganized version of spaghetti and meatballs which came with thick house-made noodles in a rich tomato sauce, topped off with chunky artichokes and veggie balls. this dish was absolutely spectacular, and even won over my mom, who is a big time omnivore pasta lover.

    vegan spaghetti and meatballs: veggie balls made from our 'New American' vegetable mixture. Served atop our fresh house made spaghetti tossed with marinara sauce blended with diced tomatoes and artichoke hearts. $13.50

    vegan spaghetti and meatballs: veggie balls made from our 'New American' vegetable mixture. Served atop our fresh house made spaghetti tossed with marinara sauce blended with diced tomatoes and artichoke hearts. $13.50

    the sauce and vegetables in this dish were flavorful and perfect, but the real stars were the meat balls made up of hugo’s new american veggie burger mixture. a combination of “organic sprouted mung beans, organic brown rice, assorted fresh vegetables, mushrooms, pumpkin & sunflower seeds, herbs and spices fried crispy.” hugo’s uses this mixture in several of their dishes, and i gotta say it’s a winner. definitely the best meatball/patty replacement i’ve ever tried. they also offer it on a burger or in a wrap…which i’m sure is incredible as well.

    tikka masala vegetable patties: Made of organic, sprouted mung beans, organic brown rice, assorted fresh vegetables, mushrooms, pumpkin & sunflower seeds, herbs and spices. Covered in an Indian inspired sauce of tomato, onions and spices. Served with turmeric rice, leafy greens and cilantro-mint chutney. $13.75

    tikka masala vegetable patties: Made of organic, sprouted mung beans, organic brown rice, assorted fresh vegetables, mushrooms, pumpkin & sunflower seeds, herbs and spices. Covered in an Indian inspired sauce of tomato, onions and spices. Served with turmeric rice, leafy greens and cilantro-mint chutney. $13.75

    another item which hugo’s puts the veggie mixture to good use in, is the tikka masala vegetable patties. this dish is entirely vegan as it comes, and is one of the best things i’ve tried at the restaurant. the delectable vegan patties are fried up nicely and bathed in a sauce of tomato, onions, and indian spices. the dish comes with tumeric rice littered with nuts and raisins, as well as a side of succulent leafy greens. the patties are perfectly moist in the center and crispy around the edges, and absolutely amazing all mixed up with the creamy curry sauce. with two full-sized patties, this meal is huge…but it’s so damn good i don’t see how anyone could resist eating it all.

    vegan asian stir fry: marinated organic tofu, snow peas, fresh tomatoes, broccolini, mushrooms, jicama, green onions, cilantro and a mild sesame chili sauce served with a choice of quinoa, rice or kelp noodles. $13.50

    vegan asian stir fry: marinated organic tofu, snow peas, fresh tomatoes, broccolini, mushrooms, jicama, green onions, cilantro and a mild sesame chili sauce served with a choice of quinoa, rice or kelp noodles. $13.50

    if you are in the mood for loads of green vegetables, i highly suggest the vegan asian stir fry entree. this comes with mounds of broccolini, mushrooms, jicama, green onions, cilantro and tofu all mixed up in a sesame chili sauce. plus, you get to choose between quinoa, rice, or kelp noodles as a base. i prefer the protein-rich quinoa…hugo’s does it just right, all fluffy and soft like it should be. this whole dish just oozes with delicious freshness—it definitely gave me a healthy pick-me-up.


    another vegetable-rich option is the veganized very green casserole, a dish of broccolini, spinach, asparagus, zucchini and herbs topped off with a veggie patty and vegan cheese. this dish is awesome because you get lots of greens AND one of hugo’s amazing new veggie patties. score! the only thing i can fault with this entree is that the vegan version comes covered in follow your heart cheese (yuck). hugo’s actually somehow makes the cheese, which i normally can’t stand, taste pretty decent…but hopefully they will come to their senses one of these days and switch to daiya. are you listening hugo’s?

    very green casserole: Sautéed broccolini, spinach, asparagus, zucchini, with garlic and fresh herbs in a tomato basil pesto sauce. Topped with a veggie patty and melted goat and mozzarella cheeses. Served with organic mixed greens. Vegan cheese substituted upon request. $13.75

    very green casserole: Sautéed broccolini, spinach, asparagus, zucchini, with garlic and fresh herbs in a tomato basil pesto sauce. Topped with a veggie patty and melted goat and mozzarella cheeses. Served with organic mixed greens. Vegan cheese substituted upon request. $13.75

    although hugo’s can tend to be a bit pricey, the huge portions and incredible food ensure you get your money’s worth. i’ve never walked out of the place disappointed, except for when it’s been too crowded to get a table! hugo’s has two locations for your convenience, one in west hollywood and one in studio city. i’ve only been to the weho outlet, but i hear the food at the valley hugo’s is excellent as well, and you can read all about it here.

    so go check out hugo’s if you want some high-quality vegan deliciousness. there’s plenty of selection to keep herbivores and omnivores happy, and the food never disappoints. HUGO’S FTW!

    P.S. a few quick notes about hugo’s: the mashed potatoes ARE NOT vegan. remember that. also, at the time of this post, they don’t have a separate fryer…the french fries and chips hang out in the same place as the calamari. my advice would be to stay away. ALSO, be sure to specify vegan when ordering, they have been none to use butter on stuff that it doesn’t seem like there would be butter on. just tell ’em you are vegan and they will look after you.

    hugo’s restaurant
    8401 Santa Monica Blvd.
    West Hollywood, CA 90069
    (323) 654-3993

    12851 Riverside Drive
    Studio City, CA 91607
    (818) 761-8985

    Monday – Friday
    7:30 AM to 10:00 PM
    Saturday – Sunday
    8:00 AM to 10:00 PM

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  • June 16th, 2009quarrygirlcruzer pizza, LA restaurants

    recently i brought you the news that cruzer pizza in los feliz was offering pizzas topped with daiya cheese. now just a couple weeks later, i am happy to say they have not just expanded their menu and added many vegan pasta options, but they are also now serving up all their daiya cheese and fake meat creations at both the los feliz location and the glendale outlet. i hit up cruzer in glendale last week to try out their new vegan stuff, and i can tell ya that daiya is just as good (if not better) in pasta than it is on pizza.

    vegan chicken parmigiana. $9.99

    vegan chicken parmigiana. $9.99

    i’ve never had real chicken parmigiana, so i can’t really compare, but cruzer’s version of the italian classic was a bed of fat spaghetti noodles in a thick sauce, topped with soy chicken and covered in daiya cheese. they really piled on the cheddar and mozzarella daiya, and stuck it all in the oven so it melted up right nice.


    for ten bucks, the portion was huge. it’s definitely enough to share and even then have some left over. it was really great tasting daiya in a pasta…all scrambled in with the soy meat and noodles, you seriously wouldn’t ever notice that this is ‘fake’ cheese.

    vegan meat spaghetti. $9.99

    vegan meat spaghetti. $9.99

    we also tried out the vegan meat spaghetti, which was the same noodles as in the chicken parmigiana, but mixed up with soy ground meat and covered in cheese. again, the daiya was awesome; perfectly melty, stretchy and flavorful. this tasted just like an old school meaty cheesy pasta dish you get an italian restaurant…i’ve never tasted anything like it since becoming vegan.


    cruzer also has other vegan pastas that i haven’t tried yet, including lasagna and eggplant parmigiana. my only advice is to call ahead if there is something specific you want, because when i was there they didn’t have the lasagna. oh well, i can’t wait to go back and try it.

    vegan pasta menu at cruzer pizza

    vegan pasta menu at cruzer pizza

    of course in addition to pasta, both cruzer locations are offering up good ‘ole daiya vegan pizza as well. i tried out the thin crust from the glendale restaurant with tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic and vegan sausage. definitely some of the best vegan pizza around.

    large daiya cheese pizza with mushrooms, tomato, garlic and vegan sausage. $20.99

    large daiya cheese pizza with mushrooms, tomato, garlic and vegan sausage. $20.99

    by now you all probably know how i feel about daiya, but just to remind you, this stuff is amazing on pizza. it melts, stretches, and feels just like real cheese. cruzer also mixes the cheddar and mozzarella together to give it more flavor, and it makes for an absolutely delicious pie.


    just to be clear, cruzer is take-out pizza place, so while there are a few stools to eat at inside, it wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. do what i did, call for your pizza and pasta in advance, take it home and relax with a good movie and a bottle of wine, if that’s how you roll.


    rumor is, cruzer is gonna keep adding more vegan stuff to the menu. i hope that’s true, because everything i have tried there has been excellent. go check it out if you haven’t already, now you have a cruzer in the valley AND los feliz to choose from.


    cruzer pizza
    1200 N Pacific Ave
    Glendale, CA 91202
    (818) 500-1289


    cruzer pizza
    4449 Prospect Ave
    Los Angeles, CA 90027
    (323) 666-0600

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  • June 3rd, 2008mr meanerproducts, quick meals, recipes, tofurky

    One of the glorious things about pasta is that it’s really quick and easy to cook. It takes a lot of practice to get amazing pasta, but you have to try almost as hard to screw it up completely (overcooking it is about the only sin). One of our favorites is extremely fast to prepare and can be adapted in a multitude of different ways. Like most Italian recipes it’s simple and leaves little scope for error.

    Tastes even better than it looks!

    The key is to prepare everything separately, and then bring it together into a tremendous crescendo of flavor and texture right at the last minute. In that way you’ll keep the sausages crispy, the pasta firm and the sauce just tangy enough.

    Yummy pasta in a bowl!

    This is so simple to cook, you could do it with your eyes shut, but I don’t suggest you try that in case you get burned. That’s not good.

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  • If I feel like spending around $70 on dinner for two in a nice restaurant where I can take my time to enjoy good wine and awesome vegan food, the Il Fornaio chain is always a good bet. I’ve been to outlets in San Francisco, Denver, Vegas, NYC, LA and, most recently, Seattle. Each has a slightly different atmosphere, but the same menu, quality and good service. AND, they understand what “vegan” means.

    Capellini al Pomodoro: Angel hair pasta, chopped fresh roma tomatoes, marinara sauce and fresh basil. $12.95

    While my main dish is always the Capellini al Pomodoro, I usually order a bottle of wine, and pig out on the fresh bread and olive oil they serve upon arrival. In fact, this is the BEST fresh bread and olive oil available in any restaurant I’ve ever been to, especially the outlet in Vegas (its bakery is adjacent).

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  • May 6th, 2008quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA)

    this weekend i wound up in my hometown, santa clarita, visiting my omnivore parents and treating them to dinner. scv is great but when eating there, it’s definitely a lot harder to find a safe restaurant than in los angeles…so out of desperation, we chose to dine at the (somewhat) vegan-friendly macaroni grill.

    before heading to the restaurant, i did my research and found that peta and various vegan blogs had confirmed the veganocity of certain mac-grill menu items.

    i decided to give them a try and i gotta say, pretty good. pretty, pretty, pretty, PRETTY GOOD!

    spaghetti with garlic and olive oil, broccoli, mushrooms and diced tomatoes

    the wonderful bread was vegan as well, and dipped in olive oil it made the perfect appetizer.

    peasant bread to start with

    we also enjoyed glass after glass of the house chianti, which was left on our table to refill as we wished using the “honor system”. oh, macaroni grill, don’t TEMPT me!

    as a vegan, i was happy as could be in this huge chain restaurant surrounded by meat-eaters…not something i can say very often. everyone had a great time, and our whole table ordered vegan as well!
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