casa de tree is a newish japanese/french organic bakery and vegan deli that’s sprouted up near the venice area of los angeles. they used to have a location in torrance with a full-on menu, but for now the los angeles storefront just offers a few specials and a long pay-by-weight vegan buffet. my husband and i checked them out a few weeks ago and filled up on loads scrumptious vegan goodness. buffet, entrees, sides, we got it all.
my husband made his rounds through the deli, gathering tons of appetizing vegetables, savory tofu, crispy seitan and steamed dumplings. i helped myself to his plate and everything was amazing. strangely, the large trays of buffet food that lined the walls of casa de tree were completely unlabeled, however the woman behind the cash register was more than happy to explain each dish in detail. there was so much to choose from, and it was all delicious and completely vegan—the food was much higher quality than that in the standard whole foods pay-by-weight buffet of the same price.
i decided to go with the special of the day from the blackboard above the buffet, two crunchy tacos. they were very tasty, and came with a bunch of stuff that looked familiar from my husband’s buffet selections.
i thought the tacos were incredible. the breaded seitan katsu was perfectly cooked, the organic corn shells were light and crunchy, and both side salads were superb. the soy sour cream was sinfully good as well. my only complaint about my meal is that it took ages to arrive, and since my husband went with the deli option, he was done eating long before my food was served.
casa de tree also offers a counter full of ready-made items and take-away bento boxes that looked very appetizing, and wide array of mouth-watering desserts. my husband and i split the tofu quiche, which turned out to be the highlight of the meal.
i have had a few vegan quiches in my time, and this was the best one ever. it was warm with fluffy tofu and spinach on the inside, and slightly burned and crunchy on top. quiche perfection.
so overall, i had a pretty good experience at casa de tree. the food was not only tasty, it was all organic, vegan and nutritious. the recipes were creative as well, i loved the blending of japanese and french styles—the dishes really reminded me of stuff you’d find at m cafe, minus the dead fish. i just hope casa de tree gets a proper menu at some point in the near future. while the deli/salad bar option would be great for grabbing stuff to go, i’d rather have more choices for a dine-in experience. plus, i prefer my food to be fresh and warm as can be.
if you want a quick bite on the west side, check out casa de tree. and eat some dessert for me, because i didn’t get a chance to try any!
casa de treeTags: casa de tree, deli, french, japanese, quiche, salad bar, seitan, tacos, tofu, west side
3741 motor ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90034
the best tofu you will ever eat lives in reseda.
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.
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.
and, ummm….not to sound like a broken record, but the veggie spring rolls were also the best ever.
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.
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 tofuTags: asian, noodles, soup, spring rolls, tofu, tofu robot, vietnamese
18625 Sherman Way #101
Reseda, CA 91335
the interim cafe on wilshire in santa monica is a gem for the vegan community, and it doesn’t get nearly enough attention. we all know about the awesome and star-studded (recently shut down for a cockroach infestation) newsroom cafe, a trendy joint on robertson boasting a vegan-friendly menu and high-class clientele. well, the interim cafe has the same calibre food as the newsroom (by that i mean, the menu was created the same chef), and even more cruelty-free options than its vegan-friendly cousin.
check out the menu here:
the interim cafe offers a huge menu, and sooo much of it is vegan. they have plenty of meat, don’t get me wrong, but they also have huge sections dedicated to only animal-free items. they even offer a slew of vegan baked goods and even vegan soft serve frozen yogurt. if i lived in santa monica, i would be eating here constantly. there is so much to choose from, it’s kind of overwhelming.
my husband and i ate at the interim cafe over the weekend and were both overall pleased with the selection, service, and quality food. out of the 5 vegan burgers to choose from, my husband went with the nyc veggie b.
i had a bite, and the burger was pretty tasty. i wouldn’t say it’s one of the best vegan burgers in los angeles, or anything like that…but it was simple, pleasant, and healthy-tasting. the mushrooms definitely added some deliciousness, and it was a pretty good deal at nine bucks with a side salad.
i decided on the tofu breakfast burrito with vegan sausage, and it was excellent.
if you hit up the interim cafe, i highly suggest you do it before noon so you can order a dish with organic hemp tofu. the way they cook and season the tofu is absolutely incredible. their breakfast burrito is off the chain and the vegan sausage is some of the best i’ve ever had. my only qualm with this dish is that it’s pretty small for $8, and i think they forgot my side. i didn’t realize until long after i’d eaten that the menu says it comes with your choice of breakfast potatoes, sliced tomatoes or a fresh fruit cup. the breakfast potatoes would have gone down really well with this burrito. either way, i am looking forward to going back and eating up more stuff from the breakfast menu.
lastly, i couldn’t leave the interim cafe without trying one of the many tempting vegan desserts. it was a tough choice between a chocolate chip cookie and some frozen yogurt, but i ended up going with the soft serve as its such a rarity. deeeeeeeelicious.
the fro yo at the interim cafe was fucking great. it was so delicious and tasted really smooth and healthy at the same time. it didn’t taste like ice cream, it wasn’t creamy like the soft serve at hugo’s tacos. this stuff was more dense and flavorful, and the texture reminded me of the frozen yogurt i used to get as a kid at penguins. the serving was small, but fairly priced at just $2.50. it was the perfect size, considering i was stuffed with so many other things the vegan-friendly menu had to offer. even on a cold day, this soft serve was by far the highlight of my meal.
so if you haven’t eaten at interim cafe already, get your ass over there as soon as possible. the food is great, the prices are reasonable and the selection is unreal. plus, they’ve had a make-over and now have tons of comfy seating. i really love this place and will be hitting it up again very soon. i can never ever ever get enough vegan soft serve.
530 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
hours:Tags: breakfast, burger, burrito, frozen yogurt, ice cream, santa monica, soft serve, tofu
monday – friday 8am to 8pm
saturday and sunday 9am to 3pm
if you read my blog, you probably know i’m pretty nuts about follow your heart. i’ve had a few breakfast items, as well as their signature burger, and everything has been memorable. fyh is a tiny little vegetarian restaurant in the valley with heaps of tasty food and a real hippie vibe, shoved into the back of a natural foods supermarket. while a lot of menu items contain dairy, virtually almost anything on the crazy-long menu can be made vegan with the help of their own brand of nondairy cheese.
on my most recent visit, i decided to steer clear of my beloved follow your heart breakfast menu, and opt for one of the lunch entrees…the braised tofu soft tacos. omg, they were awesome. i really wonder what else is hiding out in that thick encyclopedia of a menu that i haven’t gotten around to sampling yet.
at follow your heart, they just don’t fuck around. if you order an entree, you get enough food to feed you and 3 of your friends. i mean, just look at the description. you get 2 tacos, a side of black beans, a mound of rice and a big scoop of guacamole for under $12. i am repeatedly blown away by just how much they give you at follow your heart and just how good it is.
all the sides were very tasty, and the main dish was absolutely insane. the braised tofu was a whole new experience for me.
according to wikipedia, braising “is a combination cooking method using both moist and dry heat; typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a particular flavour.”
whatever that means, it turned the tofu into a whole new deal. by the time they were done with it, it didn’t taste or look like tofu. instead, it reminded me of a really good tvp or seitan meat substitute. you really oughta try it.
so count on follow your heart to provide surprisingly great meals time after time. from breakfast to lunch, scramble to burrito, this place has got it nailed.Tags: tacos, tofu
well, my dear readers, it’s about time for your humble narrator’s vegan culinary tour of manhattan to come to a stop. and what better way for me to end the string of quarrygirl nyc posts than to leave you with my absolute favorite meal from manhattan: brunch at an awesome little restaurant called counter.
like most places worth eating at in new york, counter is trendy. counter is pricey. counter is maybe even a bit pretentious. but counter is sooooooo worth it. i read about this swanky little restaurant originally on one of my favorite la based blogs, huggerfood, and i decided that i had to dine there on my trip, no matter what. when another new york based blog backed it up as being the best brunch spot in town, i dedicated an entire saturday morning to trekking across manhattan in search of the perfect post-hangover eats.
i found my way there and…..wow. wow. wow!!!! counter was fucking incredible. it’s a snazzy vegetarian joint where most of the food is vegan, the service is friendly, the digs are posh, and the ingredients are top-notch.
i ordered the frittata alla fiorentina, because the tofu patties and vegan hollandaise sauce sounded absolutely divine. the dish lived up to its hype and so much more. a firm vegetable-tofu medley was formed into two succulent patties and topped with the most incredible eggless creamy sauce and made for the perfect late morning meal. plus, the course came with an ample serving of dark leafy greens and thick, fried potatoes. they also gave me a serving of vegan nutella on the house. i just had to have it after reading about it on huggerfood. even without any pastries to spread it on, counter’s vegan nutella was delightful, and acted as a great condiment for all my food.
the brunch was amazing—everything was out of this world. the real kicker is, the tofu patties actually contained bell peppers (which i hate) and i was still able to eat them. there’s absolutely no logical explanation for that…the food was just THAT FUCKING GOOD! i am still trying to rationalize it.
being seitan obsessed, my husband was thrilled to see the east side burger on the brunch menu at counter. he didn’t let the fact that it was 11 am stop him from ordering a slap-up meal consisting of a huge vegan burger and thick, juicy, sliced potato french fries.
there was nothing at all to fault about the east side burger. i tried it, and it was one of the best vegan burgers i’ve ever had. the patty was absolutely huge, and obviously homemade….none of that freeze-dried shit. this was the real deal. vegetables, grains, soy protein, all blended together perfectly to taste hearty and slightly unhealthy. if we lived in new york, we’d be at counter every weekend for brunch, most def.
after wolfing down two incredible brunch items at counter, i was super satisfied…but also extremely disappointed that i wouldn’t be in town long enough to sample their plentiful dinner menu. i guess there’s always next time.
wrapping up my tour of nyc, i gotta say, counter was the most bitchin’ place i ate at. a dripping saucy tofu breakfast, chunky and rich clumps of vegan nutella, lush & fried perfectly seasoned potatoes and a juicy thick vegan-grain burger patty made for the most amazing meal i’ve had in quite some time. when in nyc, get your ass to counter.
thanks for reading, now i’m back home…so you’d better get ready for a shitload of cool posts about vegan los angeles.Tags: brunch, burger, fries, frittata, NYC, tofu, veggie burger
quarrygirl’s tour of nyc continues! in this installment, we’re here to tell you all about a cozy little chinese joint in manhattan called zen palate.
you see, here in los angeles when you hear “vegan asian food”, you probably think of one of the 975,000 vegan thai restaurants that are so popular here. well, nyc is packed full of vegan options that aren’t thai food: chinese, korean, malaysian, you name it! what a relief.
granted these places are usually a lot more expensive than the thai ones i’m used to here in la, it’s usually pretty easy to sneak in on a lunch special and get a fixed price meal for not a lot of money. zen palate, a semi-fancy chinese vegetarian restaurant located right in the hustle and bustle of midtown, has a pretty good deal going where during the day, you can get an appetizer, rice and a tasty entree for just under ten bucks. plus, the menu has tons of vegan options and anything that contains dairy or eggs is clearly marked. my husband and i had to check it out.
my husband ordered the shredded melody, which was definitely the favorite at the table. it had so many vegetables, delicious and garlicky sauce with thin strips of soy meat. plus, it came with pine nuts…which i love and have never ever eaten an asian dish. seriously, so good. the taro rolls were delicious as well, albeit fried and pretty unhealthy tasting.
i opted for the tofu delight, because i love black bean sauce, and it was pretty good as well.
the tofu was soft and silken, but cooked sooooo nicely. i think they must have fried it, because the outside got kinda crispy and developed a bit of a skin, but the inside stayed fluffy and white. the black bean sauce was delicious as well, and perfectly coated the yummy array of vegetables. so lovely to have vegan chinese food for a change, and not have to worry about anything icky like fish stock or even cross-contamination.
overall, zen palate was lovely. judging by the menu, it may be a bit pricey for dinner, but their lunch specials are a deal and a half! the service is great as well, they were happy to accommodate my obsessive orders that nothing contain bell peppers, and they were quite knowledgeable about veganism upfront about their ingredients. plus the food came out in like 5 minutes….now that i like!
so check out zen palate when you visit nyc for some fast, tasty, no-brainer chinese food. ahhhhh, such a welcome rest from all this los angeles thai fare.Tags: asian, broccoli, NYC, tofu, tomatoes, zucchini
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.
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.
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.
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.Tags: broccoli, curry, korean, noodles, NYC, spring rolls, tofu, vermicilli
recently i took a little tasting tour of new york city, what’s considered to be by many the best vegan-friendly place in the usa, right up there with portland. i had a whole list of neat restaurants i wanted to try, and couldn’t even begin to fit them all in. i mean, check out happycow or supervegan, there are just sooooo many. over the next few posts, i’ll be bringing you several installments of quarrygirl eats nyc, and tell you about all our cool (and not so cool) dining experiences.
of all the well-reviewed eateries, one place i knew i absolutely had to check out, was sacred chow. it came with a very high recommendation from the folks at vegan-la, and was said to serve the best breakfast ever. unfortunately, i went on a friday just before noon without realizing that they only offer breakfast/brunch on the weekends. it all turned out for the best though, because the lunch was out of this world. i’m sure i missed out by not trying their brunch, but hey, it just gives me another reason to return to nyc!
although sacred chow wasn’t serving up the weekend brunch when my husband and i visited, they did have a weekday special bowl that was customizable. they had different proteins, carbs and vegetables to choose from all served up in a pipin’ hot little package for i think around 8 bucks. we opted for the western tofu on soba with a mixture of collard greens and broccoli. it was absolutely delicious.
the entire bowl was filled with succulent vegetables and the most firm and luscious tofu ever, all slathered in the creamiest of tahini sauces. the waiter even brought us and entire bottle of squeezy hot sauce, which we used to drench everything in the bowl. the soba noodles were cooked just right, and there weren’t too many of them…which was great. so many times in restaurants, bowls come almost filled to the top with carbs, with a pitiful amount of protein and vegetables that look more like a garnish. not this sucker. it was freakin’ filled right up with the good stuff and the noodles were almost an afterthought. just enough to swirl around and soak up the yummy sauce, without being overwhelming.
the best thing about this bowl though, was definitely the western tofu. i’m talking huge firm slices that had a completely different texture than the tofu i’m used to. i don’t know how sacred chow made such a simple dish so mouth-watering. hearty long strips of protein grilled on each side and bursting with flavor. if you are ever in manhattan, you gotta try this.
next up, we decided to share a hero sandwich, also made with western tofu. mmmMMMMMmmm. just as good as the bowl, for sure.
the photograph doesn’t really do this sandwich justice at all. there was so much thick and tasty tofu inside, and some of the best vegan cheese i’ve ever tasted. not to mention the insane dill mayo, this sammy was off the hook! crusty bread, creamy sauce, melty cheese and spongey yet crispy tofu made for the yummiest combo ever. and the chow slaw was incredible as well. i think it was cabbage mixed up with a mystery concoction of curry powder, vegenaise, and other savory flavors. this hero is one of my favorite sandwiches ever. seriously, the same irresistible tofu from the bowl above took on a completely new life in this dish. it would be hard for me to return to sacred chow and order something else. it so hit the spot.
on top of all the great food, sacred chow also has a very sweet and inviting atmosphere. oh yeah, and TAP BEER! not to mention tapas, tons of wine, and a huge selection of baked goods, including cupcakes, bars and brownies. that’s right, there really is nothing not to like about this place. if i lived in nyc, i’d be hitting up sacred chow AT LEAST once a week. seriously, we need more joints like this in los angeles.
so while i’m bummed that i didn’t get to try anything off of the huge appetizing brunch menu, i’m glad i got to try some of the awesome lunch items at sacred chow. eating there was one of the highlights of my trip, and knowing i missed out on brunch just means i HAVE to return.
so remember this place when you are in new york city, and make it your mission to eat here.
vegan bistro – tapas, wine and beer on tap
227 sullivan street
nyc, ny 10012
(212)337-0863Tags: bowl, NYC, sacred chow, sandwich, soba noodles, tahini, tofu
It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of Indian cuisine. Growing up in the UK where it is, of course, the national dish has enabled me to be quite discerning when Indian food is placed in front of me. So, I was delighted at the prospect of visiting the Samosa House in Culver City this past weekend to try their extensive vegan selection (they have seven vegan and three vegetarian entrees).
Well, I can tell you that the experience started off really well. The restaurant is deli-style, where orders are placed and served from heated containers right in front of you in a very clean and orderly environment. The service is excellent – the nice man behind the counter described all the dishes, including which were vegan. We could not decide which of the seven to taste, so we ordered them all as two 3-side samplers (with rice and bread) for $7.99 each, and one side (for the odd man out, final entrée: more to come on that).
The seven dishes were as follows:
Potatoes: Pretty much as the name suggests – lightly spiced potatoes served dry in no sauce
Chickpeas: Your common chickpea curry served in a light sauce
Lentils: Usually my favorite side, lentils served in a dark, creamy sauce, of which more later
Potatoes with Long Beans: The name says it all – again, not a very saucy dish
Bitter Melon: Seemed to be small fruits in a tangy sauce. Much more of a condiment than a side, if you ask me
Spinach Tofu: Creamed spinach and small tofu chunks (although there were al most no tofu chunks in ours)
Jackfruit: Pure Luck style jackfruit in a dry curry sauce
We also had a very hearty serving of rice with each sampler (in fact, the rice accounted for around 60% of the volume of each container) and two small chapatti breads. Of course, we couldn’t help but order two of their signature samosas which were wrapped and fried right there. No microwaved samosas wrapped in foil here!
We ordered the dishes to go, and hightailed it through West LA as fast as we could to get home – largely because carrying Indian food in your car leaves a lingering odor that lasts in direct proportion to how long you carried the food for. Although our journey was only about 20 minutes, I could still smell the curry in my car the following morning — even though we carried it in the trunk!Tags: chickpea, curry, indian food, jackfruit, lentil, melon, potatoes, samosa, spinach, take-out, tofu, veganmofo
it’s no secret that i’m always on the lookout for new and delicious vegan food. i try to hit up as many vegan-friendly restaurants as i can in search of that perfect tofu scramble, veggie burger or burrito. that’s why i can’t believe sante la brea has been right here in hollywood, under my nose for the longest time, and i waited until yesterday to try it out.
it first came to my attention when someone from sante delivered the menu to my work. i skimmed through it and one thing immediately caught my attention. right there, printed on the menu was the fact that sante can prepare ANY item vegan by substituting fake for real meat. hell yeah. plus, i did some research and saw that vegan-la had some nice things to say about sante, and that pretty much sealed the deal.
so yesterday, the husband and i headed over to give sante a shot…and everything about it was absolutely amazing: the food, service, atmosphere and presentation were all impeccable. sante la brea gets an a+!
we arrived at around noon, so sante was serving both their brunch menu and their normal dinner menu. their brunch menu isn’t available online, but it was filled with really appetizing stuff. tons of scrambles and omelettes, and of course tofu could be substituted for egg in any dish. we shared the tofu scramble and it was incredible. the fluffy tofu was mixed in with tons of garden vegetables and a delicate seasoning. it was the perfect texture and tasted out of this world healthy. you know, the kind of feeling you get when you are eating stuff that’s super good for you. this tasted really good, and i know it was guilt-free. not much oil or fat, just the right ingredients. it’s so refreshing to eat a meal like this, because i am used to eating way too much junk food!
we also ordered off the dinner menu, and what we chose happened to be vegan, without any substitutions. yay us! the macro ended up being just as tasty, and probably just as healthy as the scramble. i love being married, because it means i get to try two different meals at lunch!
because it’s easier to share, we opted for the wrap, and man-o-man was it scrumptious. it was so simple, yet so full of flavor. the exotic vegetables mixed together with the seasoning and tofu perfectly, and were covered in tangy dripping tahini sauce. so divine. better than anything i’ve ever eaten over at m café, the los angeles macrobiotic headquarters. sorry, m, this shit was so much tastier.
not to mention, both meals came with breakfast potatoes that were unbelievable. it’s so great to have a side (that at most restaurants is so full of disgusting grease) be so light AND delicious. i don’t know how they do it, but sante really puts the time and effort into making genuinely healthy food that doesn’t sacrifice taste in the slightest. we need more restaurants like this.
not just the food is da bomb at sante though, the service and atmosphere are killer as well. the place was empty on sunday at lunch time (a total crime, considering how great sante is!) but our waitress was all over us. very attentive, friendly, and quick when it came to refilling our water glasses. the outdoor seating area was quite lovely too, big wooden tables shaded by curtains and benches with huge fluffy cushions. it was great relaxing in the sun and enjoying our lunch as calming chilled-out electro music played softly in the background.
overall, sante was a great find. they have TONS of vegan options, plus anything they offer can be made vegan. oh yeah, and a grip of vegan desserts as well. hmmmm. i can’t think of a reason not to try them out asap. delicious all the way around.
Tags: breakfast, brunch, potatoes, scramble, tofu, wrap
i have long been a fan of the vegan house in silverlake on sunset. it’s been a staple of my diet for years as a quick, cheapish meal before countless late night gigs at spaceland. they have genuinely good vegan thai vegan food, quick service, a large menu, and low prices. so, of course, i was beyond stoked when via some random googling, i realized they’d opened a second location much closer to my own hood: a vegan house 2 on wilcox near hollywood blvd. yipeeeeee! i had to try it out.
after some hardcore drinking at the blue palms ale house (our new favorite bar), we skipped down the lane to vegan house and continued home with 3 steamy boxes to go.
vegan house 2 aka hollywood vegan house is just as groovy as its cousin over in silverlake, perhaps even groovier. they have the same menu, plus some additional delights…and a much more welcoming atmosphere. the vegan house in silverlake is filled with awesome food, but it’s kinda dingy and i think they have an air conditioning problem. every time i’ve eaten there, whether it be june or january, i’ve always been shivery-cold. seriously, i know i live in southern california, but that doesn’t mean i want to feel like i’m dining at the north pole. additionally, the east-side location is pretty dimly lit and a tad depressing. sparse tables, located right underneath a comfort inn in a strip mall, no frills. the wilcox location, on the other hand, looks like a hip little sushi bar that has been converted to a vegan restaurant. bright colors, a sweet comfy bar with counter-top grills and stools, and tables that line the window. super-pleasant. i’m really looking forward to dining in sometime.
PLUS…as far as take-out, vegan house on wilcox has it nailed. the food was ready in record time, the counter man was smiley, and the the tasty factor was pretty high for a vegan thai place. you gotta realize going into these places, you are gonna get canned faux-meat from chinatown, serrated cucumbers in your salad and more tahini dressing than you could ever eat. i mean, i don’t know why all these thai-vegan places in los angeles have the same handbook, or why they are on every corner…but the food is mad decent (albeit super similar), so i gotta love ‘em.
let’s start with our appetizer…the bbq tofu. to be honest, although this was mighty good, it wasn’t what i expected. i had high hopes for some fancy bbq tofu a la a taste of life, but this was just a simple sliced variety with some sugary southern sauce drizzled on top. the tofu was well cooked…slightly crispy on the outside, spongey on the inside. but it wasn’t quite integrated with the sauce, which was kind of an afterthought and a tad to sweet. that being said, we wolfed the appetizer down anyway. for a vegan fix within walking distance from hollywood blvd. (aka tourist central), i really cannot complain.
next up, and much more to our delight, we had the grilled soy chicken salad. this is one of the premium “grilled meat” salads at the vegan house and it’s totally worth it. between two people it was more than enough! the vegetables were fresh and crisp, the tahini was tangy, and the soy chicken was beyond succulent. i mean look at this stuff. do you ever wanna eat meat again?!?!? i didn’t FUCKING THINK SO!
lastly, as an entree, we went with the thai mainstay of the quarrygirl household: pepper garlic with pepper steak.
this was pretty good, but like certain other thai places, the pepper steak was way too sweet. they shared the same sugary taste as the pepper steak down the road at truly vegan. if i wanted a sweet meat, i’d search for a faux slice of honey-baked-ham, not steak. i dunno. the fresh vegetables were absolutely superb, but all that sugary meat was kind of a let-down. i don’t hold it against the vegan house though, it’s probably just that one soy meat that isn’t to my liking. the same dish prepared with grilled tofu or soy chicken would have been divine. shame on me for ordering fake steak, when i know half of these vegan thai places opt for the sugary brand. overall, it was still beyond edible. not a MORSEL was discarded, no matter how much i bitch!
so…a couple of legitimate downsides about the vegan house in hollywood. well, they aren’t always open when they say they will be. the hours on their site are a great guideline; but if you are driving from far or just want to be sure, call ahead. if they don’t pick up, they prolly aren’t around. ALSO, for take-out peeps like me, there is SO MUCH AWESOME FOOD that isn’t even advertised on their website. only if you go there and eat off the in house menu will you see all the magical offerings! i mean, just ask my fellow vegan blogger foodeater! she went there and ate some awesome food, all of which is not represented on their internet menu. i’m totally jealous. just keep that in mind.
overall, the vegan house rocks. hit it up in hollywood or silverlake when you are looking for one of the better los angeles vegan thai places, with the word vegan in its title! it’s cheap, cozy, and delish. stick to the asian dishes, and you can’t go wrong!Tags: appetizer, bbq, hollywood, pepper steak, salad, thai, tofu
after having a somewhat sketchy experience recently at the taste of life divine vegan foods storefront, i decided to give their farmers market stand in hollywood a try. after all, even though my prior experience was rough around the edges, the food was absolutely incredible. plus, fellow bloggers and local vegans have been known to rave about the soul food served up sunday mornings at selma & vine. boy oh boy, lemme just say what i found was a tray full of delicious.
granted, there’s absolutely nowhere to to have a comfortable, seated meal at the hollywood farmers market…so we had to enjoy our vegan soul food atop the nearest electrical transformer. what we herbivores do for a good safe lunch! …am i right?
sharing with the husband (as usual) we opted on the “dinner combo” which included our choice of 4 dishes and a slice of corn bread for $12. please note that it was only like 10am, so don’t let the name “dinner combo” fool you. it’s basically a taste of life’s way of saying, “instead of 1 awesome dish, get 4 awesome little dishes for the same price.” also, fellow stingy vegans please note that the price charged at the farmers market is less than that which is on the menu of a taste of life’s storefront location. the fountain outlet advertises a dinner combo for $15, not $12.
all bullshit and price fuckery aside, a taste of life at the hollywood farmers market is beyond wonderful. they’ve got everything ready to go in huge catering-style heated containers and serve that shit up quickly with a smile. the only thing that might hold the line up and keep you from your delicious comfort food is some know-it-all vegan who wants to hob nob with the chef or a tourist who can’t interpret the confusing menu…both violations understandable (i mysef am a smug vegan who is often on vacation).
let’s get to the food, shall we? starting with a dish i have been looking forward to forever, but was sold out when i visited the taste of life storefront on fountain. THE KALE.
people have raved about the kale from a taste of life, and every word is true. i can see why late on a sunday night (especially after a day at the grueling farmers market) a taste of life was out of the magic greens a few weeks ago. this shit is definitely something to write home about blog about. i love that the most memorable dish from the ridiculously tasty combo meal was a straight up vegetable. just plain kale rivals all the fake cheese, seitan, tofu and soy dishes in the world. obviously this stuff is in high demand, so be sure to order it. leafy greens have never been so yum.
next up, the black-eyed peas are a definite must. i feel like the first time i visited a taste of life, i wussed out because i was intimidated by the menu. i got some sandwiches and stuff, not really splurging for the real soul food. hopefully, any one who reads this can have a look at the menu and gather their thoughts before being thrust into a customer service transaction. i will definitely be ordering these again…they were so succulent and juicy. not much oil at all, but a ton of flavor.
now, some really huge props go to the lasagna. i ordered it because i wanted to try all new things, and i’d already indulged in the delicious and unmatched mac and cheese prepared by a taste of life. lemme just say, the lasagna was nothing to be scoffed at: sheets of pasta, chopped up vegetables with clumpy and cheesy flavored tomato sauce. my only guff was that in contained bell peppers, WHICH I HATE. to it’s defense, though, this delicious lasagna was edible to me even though i abhor the bell pepper family. somehow i was, miraculously, able to pick around the peppers (which all came in big chunks) and genuinely enjoy my meal. personally, i will always prefer the mac and cheese, but this lasagna was excellent.
lastly, even though the kale was awesome, the best thing on my plate ended up being the bbq tofu. this dish was so tasty, i was licking my fork and sopping it up with every last crumb of sinful cornbread. and even as good as it tasted, it probably wasn’t that artery clogging at the end of the day. just perfectly cooked blocks of tofu coated with a tangy and amazing runny sauce. it was all so wonderful…i wish i could tell you more about it, but it was in my stomach before i bothered to create a memory. i just know enough to recommend you don’t pass it up.
A TASTE OF LIFE DIVINE VEGAN FOODS rocked my world. you gotta check ‘em out as soon as you have the opportunity.
hmmmm….not to sound like the cynical vegan that i am, but let’s weigh the pros and cons in my experience.
store front: super sketchy at night, out of kale but tons of nice sandwiches and more expensive, possibly some tables to eat at if a someone isn’t passed out and sleeping in the seats.
farmers market stand: safe and easy, tons of kale but no custom items (like sandwiches), less expensive, and nowhere to eat except on the curb or an electrical transformer.
either way, the food is awesome. so go get it while you can. i am looking forward to my next visit.
you can check out their menu here:Tags: black-eyed peas, kale, lasagna, soul food, tofu, veganmofo
follow your heart never ceases to amaze me. they are this awesome entirely vegetarian health food supermarket attached to a kick-ass vegetarian cafe, where almost any dish can be made vegan. the more i shop there, the more i realize how freaking special it is. i mean, it’s been around since 1970, which means they must be doing something right. then they go ahead and offer one of the most extensive, mouth-watering menus in the land. and everything i’ve eaten in their cafe is amazing. sunday’s breakfast was no different. a slice of vegan perfection, indeed…except for one thing. a quarrygirl pet peeve, un-advertized ingredients arrived on my plate. in this case, it was bell peppers (which i despise) sneaking into my side of breakfast potatoes. grrrr.
despite the bell peppers, this mini-feast was absolutely wonderful! i had really high standards for a tofu benedict, after trying flore’s variation, but i can definitely say that follow your heart brought their A game with this one. the little tofu cutlets were topped with thick, fresh slices of tomato, slathered in the creamiest sauce and topped with slightly cooked leaves of spinach. as if that wasn’t enough, there was a clump of breakfast style scrambled tofu on the side and a mound of perfectly seasoned soyrizo. of course the first thing i did after snapping these photos was cover the whole plate in brother bru-bru’s, the insanely spicy african hot sauce supplied at the cafe.
i think i am in love with tofu benedicts. vegan hollandaise sauce is some of the most rich and sinful stuff i’ve ever eaten, a perfect compliment to all the fresh vegetables and the modest slices of tofu. the tofu just needs to be heated, not cooked elaborately or even seasoned. once the sauce is poured on, it infiltrates and turns the tofu into a tasty little protein sponge. it doesn’t stop there either, it oozes down and gets totally soaked up by the porous english muffin as well. i’m telling you, this sauce improves everything it touches. thankfully, they basically drown the plate in it, so there was enough hollandaise to scoop on top of the scrambled tofu and soyrizo as well.
luckily, the bell peppers were confined to a small section of the plate. while it could have been a lot worse, unfortunately the whole side of breakfast potatoes had to be quarantined.
so there ya have it, another awesome breakfast at follow your heart. i’ll give it an overall A-, points were deducted for unadvertised ingredients. if you hate any food, you should check to make sure it won’t be arriving on your plate. (the burger also comes with unadvertised pickles!)
definitely a favorite sunday breakfast spot, so i’m sure you’ll be reading about again sometime soon. and i really gotta try out their lunch and dinner menu as well! oh and when you check out the cafe, don’t forget to fill an entire cart with vegan groceries from their market on your way out.Tags: breakfast, hot sauce, tofu, tofu benedict
ah yes, it’s time for another installment of vegan-thai-restaurants-w/ the word “vegan” in their title, located in los angeles. this time we bring you vegan plate of studio city.
first off, the presentation at vegan plate is great—all the food looks beautiful and appetizing. i was quite happy with my luscious tofu burger, and didn’t mind paying an extra buck for avocado, considering the dish was so cheap to start out with. two fat slices of tofu with fresh vegetables and a warm bun meant this burger tasted great, and was a hell of a deal.
you see, vegan plate is a place i avoided forever. i guess i went through that “jaded LA vegan” phase of not wanting to indulge all the similar, thai-inspired eateries that litter my stomping ground. plus, it’s located in a strip mall and just doesn’t look too inviting from the outside. however, one lunch out with my parents at CA vegan and a post about my dad’s love of fake orange chicken inspired fellow blogger foodeater to leave me a comment, stating that the best fake orange chicken around was served up by vegan plate. i had to follow up on this, and decide for myself let my dad decide if she was right.
of course i had to sample his fake orange chicken (for the sake of the blog) and decided that this was, indeed the most awesome fake orange chicken i’ve ever had. the thick, sweet, crispy battered shell wrapped perfectly around the soy-meaty insides and made each bite the perfect combination of sugary and scrumptious. my dad was a little harder to convince. at first, he missed the soft gooey texture of the orange chicken at CA vegan, but by the end of the meal, he agreed that this was better. (points off though, because vegan plate doesn’t offer it as a lunch special!)
compare to CA vegan’s orange chicken here. as you can see, vegan plate’s orange chicken is more crunchy and thick…real restaurant quality. less slimy. i would compare this to orange chicken at a fancy chinese joint, and the stuff at CA vegan to orange chicken from panda express. both have their place. this just didn’t taste, well, microwaved.
also at the table, mr. meaner opted for the garlic pepper lunch special with seitan. the thick wheat meat tasted more like juicy pepper steak, and was seasoned to please the extreme garlic lover. on trips to the restroom, we could see into the kitchen and witnessed the cook chopping up whole fresh cloves of garlic to be added to the dish. when a restaurant uses the right ingredients, it really shows. nothing tasted canned or stale, all the flavors were spot on. probably the tastiest and most attractively presented lunch special i’ve ever tried at one of the many thai-vegan restaurants in los angeles. highly recommended! even though this wasn’t my meal, i claimed the spring roll as my own and devoured it. also a winner…piping hot, crispy, and just oily enough to taste great but not make me feel racked with guilt.Tags: orange chicken, sandwich, seitan, tofu
with pure luck under construction lately, i’ve been searching for new ways to get my fancy beer/vegan food fix. over the weekend i discovered a pretty great alternative: flore. but they don’t serve beer, you say? nope…but the good, located right across the street, does. the good offers tons of beer on tap and like a million bottles, so it’s a great place to get a buzz before walking over and soaking up the drunk with pure vegan awesomeness. i just cannot get over flore’s amazing food…and the menu is freakin’ huge!
the wrap is enormous, delicious and satisfying—filled with delightfully seasoned tofu and very tasty dressing. it comes cut in half, so it’s perfect for sharing. hell, get 2 wraps and switch it up! the potato salad hit the spot as well—light, fresh and not too soggy.
i really, really, REALLY love burritos. when i was a vegetarian they were my second favorite food, and now that pizza is gone, they are definitely #1. seriously, when i eat at a restaurant that has a burrito on the menu, i find it very difficult to order something else. that being said, flore’s vegan burrito is one of the best i’ve ever had. they cram so much stuff inside, i almost can’t handle it. they’ve got the fake meat, beans, fake cheese, vegetables and even fake creamy stuff as well. with most vegan burritos, you are lucky to get any kind of protein along with the standard rice and beans…not to mention fake cheese! this burrito really takes it to the next level.
i mean look at that. it just belongs in your face, right? and it’s not just crammed full of cool shit, it also tastes really good. all the ingredients are so fresh and juicy, your mouth will have a party. thanks a lot flore, now i am gonna have a really tough time ordering anything else off your majorly enticing menu.Tags: beer, burrito, ipa, potato salad, tofu, wrap