• 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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  • January 20th, 2010quarrygirllas vegas, more restaurants (not LA)

    hey everyone, time for another vegan field report written by vegankitten! here ya go:

    This is my last night is Vegas and I wanted to get a little creative for my final dinner. I ran across a Las Vegas Restaurant Guide site called lvvegan.com and noticed they had a tab for Japanese food. My omnivore traveling companion has been talking about miso soup non-stop for days, as it was her only experience up ’til now eating tofu. I got pretty excited when I read that Miko’s Izakaya Sushi & Tapanese has their own vegetarian menu and I knew we had to check it out.

    It didn’t disappoint. The proprietor was also our waiter and his eyes lit up when I mentioned I am vegan. I grabbed a vegetarian menu for me and a regular menu for my buddy. He asked how I heard about the place, where we were from and was generally very chatty. He was very excited to tell us that he is discussing teaming up with Red Velvet Cafe to offer their cupcakes. Hopefully the excitement of my non-vegan dining companion at this news was enough to convince him it is a great idea!

    The sushi bar was packed and the diners were enjoying sports highlights on the big screen TV. The atmosphere was really relaxed and the staff was super friendly! They were playing Social Distortion in the bathroom and the lotion on the counter was not tested on animals. Yay!

    On to the food: I am not used to having so many vegan sushi options. The menu was front and back and very overwhelming for me, as it included many ingredients I wasn’t familiar with. I left it up to the owner and he chose the Age Tofu Roll. I added Inari and Edamame to the order. My buddy ordered the miso soup she was so excited about and the owner was kind enough to let me know I couldn’t eat it that day, as they has added bonito fish flakes.

    The edamame was particularly delicious. Each bite was coated in salt and pepper. I’ve never had edamame with pepper before, so this was quite a treat. It was beautiful, too!

    The Inari was some of the best I ever had. Fresh, sweet and moist.

    Sadly, the Age Tofu Roll left a bit to be desired. The roll consisted of deep fried tofu, green onion and miso. I guess I was just looking for a little more excitement, because it was kind of bland. My biggest complaint was the sushi rice was very mushy in two out of the eight pieces. It was really strange and the other six had perfect texture. Next time I am going to be more adventurous and pick out something myself.

    The absolute highlight of the meal was the tempura bananas. The owner happily explained their tempura batter is vegan and they do not use eggs, which I had also read online. We were in no way planning to eat desert, but can I really say “no” when the owner is offering us a delicious VEGAN option? We decided to share. Embarrassingly, sharing involved my friend gracefully eating two pieces while I wolfed down the other six. Ooops! They were delicately crisp on the outside and oh-so-warm and gooey on the inside. It was heavenly! The only thing that could have made it better was a vegan ice cream option on the side. Maybe next time???

    I think Miko’s is one of my new favorite places. The staff was awesome, they love vegans and I love sushi. It’s a match made in heaven.

    Miko’s Izakaya Sushi & Tapanese
    500 E. Windmill Ln. Ste. 165
    Las Vegas, NV 89123
    (702) 823.2779
    Open Monday-Thursday 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday 4 p.m. to midnight, Saturday 5 p.m. to midnight, Sunday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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  • January 16th, 2010quarrygirllas vegas, more restaurants (not LA)

    hey readers, this is a very special guest post from none other than vegankitten who spent the last couple days in las vegas! she was kind enough to email me some great blog posts, so here’s the first one! take it away…

    If you’re ever stuck at the Mandalay Bay for a convention, I suggest checking out the Burger Bar. The Vegas Vegan Burger came highly recommended, so I didn’t spend much time looking at the other options, although I should have for the sake of this review. There appeared to be another veggie burger on the menu, but I doubt it was vegan. However, there is a “build your own burger” menu that looks pretty do-able. (List of potentially vegan options at the bottom)

    When we arrived, there was a 45 minute wait. The good news is Lush was directly across the walkway from Burger Bar and they were having a big sale. I did some shopping while we waited for our pager to buzz.

    I went with an omnivore who has eaten her first two faux meat meals in the past two days and claimed to be “craving real meat” on our walk to the Burger Bar. Once were were seated and she browsed the menu, she ordered the Vegas Vegan, too. I would say that speaks volumes! Here’s the description per the menu:

    Slow roasted eggplant, marinated and grilled roma tomato, grilled zucchinis, sauteed peppers. All sandwiched between two portobello mushroom caps.

    The burger is served with skinny fries, but I requested mine with sweet potato fries. My eating companion kept the skinny fries and added a side salad. The burger arrived sliced in half, each half held together with a toothpick. This was necessity, as the veggies were slippery and smothered in juices. The second you removed the toothpicks, the whole thing fell apart. This was fine, because it was a delicious mess! The portobello mushroom caps were massive, fresh, firm and full of flavor. The veggies inside were cooked to perfection. The side of sweet potato fries was very generous and they were a perfect compliment to the burger. One of the most exciting parts was that I was not charged for substituting the sweet potato fries. It was $12.00 for this delicious lunch and, in Las Vegas, that’s a smokin’ deal!

    The only thing which I found kind of odd was the garnish – but I often find garnish strange. Included on the plate was all the “fixin’s” for a burger – onion, lettuce, tomato and pickles. Not exactly appropriate for the type of burger we ordered.

    Last but CERTAINLY not least, they have a pretty massive beer selection that takes up two pages of the menu. They have over 100 bottles of beers and about 25 on tap. I had a Pipeline Porter draft from Kona Brewing Company. Thank you Barnivore for letting me know if is vegan, too!

    So the bottom line is this: Burger Bar is a fun place with good food and lots of tasty beer. I will definitely go here again!

    Burger Bar
    Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino
    3950 Las Vegas Boulevard South
    Las Vegas, NV 89119-1005
    (702) 632-9364
    Open Mon-Thu 10:30am-11pm; Fri 10:30am-2am; Sat 10am-2am; Sun 10am-11pm

    Build your own Burger menu after the jump…

    Read the rest of this entry »

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