I’m back

Wow.  I can’t believe it’s been this long since my last post.  A LOT has happened since then.  Let me get you updated.  At last post, I was in the process of opening my own vegan bakery!!  This was a dream I had had for a long time and I was finally making it come true.  I found a nice little spot for it and was refining the recipes of all the delicious baked goods I’d have there.  I even wanted to do some creamy soft serve ice cream there.  It was going to be fantastic!  Unfortunately, during the process I was realizing just how much was going to have to go into the space and how this passion for baking was completely dissolving into a sort of nuisance.  I’ve always heard of people who turn their passion into their job and then end up hating this passion.  I was beginning to see how this can be.  I decided to let the dream go (or at least put it back on the back burner again) and I got a job back in the corporate world.  I don’t regret any of this, though.  I have a nice job now working normal hours and have more time to spend volunteering with animals (which I absolutely love!).  This is something I would not have been able to do as a bakery owner – or at least not until the bakery was so successful that I wouldn’t have to be there all the time.  Would its great success have happened?  Maybe. For now, I love supporting other vegan businesses out there who did follow through on their dreams.  It takes a lot to take that risk and I have so much more respect for these people than I did at the beginning of this journey.

I also spent most of this time contemplating whether to continue this blog.  A part of me thinks it’s a lot of work taking, editing, and organizing pictures and then writing things about them on a consistent basis – I mean, are people even reading blogs anymore?  But then a part of me thinks that I want to get information out there that may not already be out there – promoting those vegan dreamers and their products.  So I sided with the dreamers.  I hope you will continue this journey with me and check back for upcoming posts about all the fabulous things that exist in this world.

You Can Eat More, Because It’s Healthy Junk, Right?

And I certainly did eat more on a recent trip to Healthy Junk in Anaheim.  As you may remember, I have been here before.  And as you may also remember, I completely stuffed myself at that visit, as well.

The No Fish and Chips ($9.95) are one of my favorites here (my other favorite is the nachos – which you can see at my previous post).  These strips of “Fish” are really crispy and actually have that fishy taste!  The tartar sauce is nice, but is about half creamy dip and half chopped onions.  I could have done with less onions and more creamy dip.  It is served with some potatoes, which were tasty but a little soggy.  That might have been my fault, though, since I may have let them sit too long.

Healthy Junk Fish and Chips

No Fish and Chips

I had a moment of weakness and decided to get a salad.  The thought of juicy, sweet mango overcame me and I ordered the Mango Tango ($7.95).  This salad is loaded with romaine lettuce, quinoa, jicama, tomato, mango, and avocado.  It is then drizzled with their mango dressing.  I liked this salad, but didn’t love it.  I thought there was too much jicama (which is kind of watery and dilutes the other flavors in your mouth).  I also don’t like raw onions or cucumber in my salad and this came with it (not mentioned on the menu).  I might get it again, but without all that stuff.  The dressing was very good.

Healthy Junk Mango Salad

Mango Tango

My entree (as if I needed to eat anything else!) was the BBQ Burger with Slaw ($6.45).  Their meat strips, I believe, are seitan which are covered in BBQ sauce and then topped with a cool slaw.  This was a good burger and I’d get it again.  The whole wheat bun was good and not too “wheaty” – plus it makes you feel healthy (hence the name of the place).

Healthy Junk BBQ Burger

BBQ Burger

The Strawberry Shake ($5.50) was kind of a let down.  It was more like strawberry non-dairy milk.  The flavor was ok, but just too runny for me.  Go with the chocolate shake – it’s a lot better.

Healthy Junk Strawberry Shake

Strawberry Shake

And I tried a healthy take on a vegan Brownie ($2.95).  Honestly, I don’t think this brownie was all that more healthy than a regular brownie.  No cholesterol for sure, but probably still quite a bit of sugar and fat.  Oh well – sometimes a girl just wants a brownie!  The brownie itself was not too phenomenal, but topped with that fudgy frosting – oh wow!  This was one of the better vegan brownies I’ve had – ’cause we all know how hard it is to find a good vegan brownie!  There were mini chocolate chips baked in, which made the chocolate explosion even greater.  I’ll be getting this one again, for sure!

Healthy Junk Brownie

Brownie

Healthy Junk is one of my new favorite vegan places in Orange County.  They mentioned once that they were thinking of opening a second location in South Orange County.  I hope they do – sometimes Anaheim is just too far to drive from Central/South Orange County.

201 Center St. Promenade Unit B
Anaheim, California 92805
714-772-5865

Monday – Saturday 11am – 8pm

Pub Food Made Vegan in LA

I had heard such great things about the food at the Pub at Golden Road Brewing.  The menu lists a ton of vegan options – and some of these options are very creative.  I was super excited to try it.  My vegan guy and I headed all the way over to the north-east side of Los Angeles to get some grub.

The Fritters ($4) were my favorite.  Fried wild mushroom risotto with a vegan pimento cheese?  Yum!  I love risotto on its own and had no idea that a crispy outer layer could make it a whole other thing.  Well done, Golden Road, well done.

Golden Bridge Fritters

Fritters

And the Pretzel ($7) was one thing that I read such nice things about prior to coming.  It was good, I’ll give them that, but I think it was covered in what would be the average person’s daily recommended intake of sodium.  Yikes!  Too much salt for me.  It was like ocean in my mouth.  I had to rub some of it off with my fingers just so I could eat it.  I wonder if one can order it lightly salted?  It came with spicy mustard and some more pimento cheese.  Still, the sauce was not enough to cover the flavor of all that salt!

Golden Bridge Pretzel

Pretzel

I appreciate the eclectic menu, which included some international dishes – like the Bahn Mi ($7).  The deep fried tofu was a little bland (I wish they marinated it in something more flavorful), but the pickled veggies were nice.  The sriracha mayo was way too spicy for me.  I’ve said this before, but I’m a weakling when it comes to spiciness.  Because the tofu was kind of bland, most of the flavor came from the sriracha.  I wouldn’t get this again.

Golden Bridge Bahn Mi

Bahn Mi

The Quinoa Burger ($9) is handmade and deep fried.  It’s served with lettuce, tomato, onion and a remoulade sauce.  To me, this burger was just so-so.  I liked the fried part of the patty, but the inside was just too mushy to be put on a bun.  It reminded me of a giant potato croquette.  The flavor was there, but I just wish they added some texture to the patty.

Golden Bridge Burger

Quinoa Burger

And for dessert, they actually had a vegan option!  It was a mini Gingersnap Cheesecake ($5).  Again, while I appreciate the effort, this cheesecake was just too chewy.  Maybe it was accidental and the baker just baked it too long, but I didn’t like it.  The strawberries were pretty tart (it wasn’t strawberry season) as well.  I think I’ll stick to baking my own vegan cheesecakes.

Golden Bridge Cheesecake

Cheesecake

I bet this place would be great to hang out with friend while sipping on some of their handcrafted beers.  It’s a nice place and I am disappointed I didn’t like their food that much.  There are a few more menu items I’d like to taste some day and maybe I’ll come back to give them another try.

Golden Road

The Pub at Golden Road

5410 West San Fernando Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90039
213-373-4677

Wednesday – Saturday 11am – 2am
Sunday – Tuesday 11am – midnight

Dim Sum at Susan Feniger’s Street

Happy Chinese New Year to everyone!  I may be a week late, but I still wanted to give you a re-cap on some amazing dim sum I had for the occasion.  It’s been a crazy week here in SoCal Vegan land.  This past week, I have moved to a new place and started a new job.  But the plus to all this craziness is that I get to see my vegan guy everyday now!  And it’s a good thing I keep him around, because he was the one who told me about a special Chinese New Year Dim Sum Brunch at Susan Feniger’s STREET.

 

We got a big group of friends together and ordered some of each of the menu items.  All of them were vegan, except the donuts (but could be made vegan).

Street Dim Sum Menu

Dim Sum Menu

The first in our marathon of eats was the Cantonese Style Radish Cakes.  These were one of my favorites (as well as my vegan guy’s).  Great tasting and lightly crispy on the edges.

Street Radish Cakes

Radish Cakes

The Sesame Fritters were filled with a red bean paste that kind of made these sweet.  I think I would have preffered these fritters filled with something more savory, because the outer layer was quite tasty.

Street Sesame Fritters

Sesame Fritters

The Mushroom Shu Mai were another one of my favorites (and among a lot of people according to STREET’s facebook page).  These had a bit of spice in the filling and were on top of a spicy mustard sauce.  It definitely had that burst of fire running up your nasal passage, but subsided quickly.

Street Mushroom Shu Mai

Mushroom Shu Mai

The Vegetable Potstickers were also good.  These were filled with yams and were sort of sweet, but went well with the crispy wrapper.

Street Potstickers

Potstickers

I liked the Jackfruit Bao, but I would have liked a lot more jackfruit.  We split this bun into pieces to share and everyone got a lot of dough and a tiny bit of jackfruit.  The jackfruit was well seasoned, but I just really wanted more of it.

Street Jackfruit Bao

Jackfruit Bao

The Mung Bean Crepes were nice.  Splitting this dish was hard, so I didn’t get much crepe part.  But the tofu scramble topping was simple, flavorful, and good on its own.

Street Mung Bean Crepes

Mung Bean Crepes

The Fried Rice was (by far) my number one favorite of the savory dishes.  I love fried rice dishes and this one had an intense amount of flavor covering the slightly sticky rice.  It seemed like the ingredients weren’t too uncommon – I need to learn to make something like this.

Street Fried Rice

Fried Rice

And my favorite of the sweet dishes (and, well, of ALL the dishes) was the Youtaio Donuts.  According to my vegan guy, these weren’t like the youtaio donuts he’s used to (those are not served sugared).  As for me, I’m glad they were served with soymilk and sugar crystals for dipping.  The fried dough was amazing – fluffy and not too greasy.  The sugar made it seem like I was eating a real fried donut at a state fair.  Yum!  This is really what I need to learn to make on my own (forget the fried rice!).

Street Youtaio Donut

Youtaio Donut

Sadly, the Coconut Tapioca Pearls with Shanghai Fruit were the big bummer of the night.  In fact, this dish was the only one that was barely eaten by the table (we devoured all the others).  I didn’t mind the tapioca texture – which a lot of the people at our table were against- it was just that the flavor was not to my liking.  It must have been the Shanghai fruit.  Not sure what that is, but I guess I don’t like it in my tapioca.

Street Coconut Tapioca

Coconut Tapioca

The Rice Batter Pancake was another one of the less-liked dishes at our table.  To me, the pancake had a funny flavor – kind of like there was too much leavening.  The sweet black sesame and almond syrups were delish, though.  I’d like to order some of that to dip more donuts in.

Street Rice Batter Pancake

Rice Batter Pancake

 

I hope they do this again – and before the next Chinese New Year!  They need to make it a monthly event, right?  I say let’s all badger them until they do it.  Ready?  Go.

 

 

Downtown LA’s Vegan Pizza

I’m actually cleansing as I write this post and have been craving pizza for about a week and a half.  So this pizza picture is killing me!  I remember it like it was yesterday.  Hot, cheesy, sweet, and full of bread… I think my stomach just growled.

But really.  Purgatory Pizza is so out of the way for me.  It’s this tiny shop in a random part of downtown.   One day, I just so happen to be on that side of town with some vegan friends.  I was determined to get it.  Luckily, my friends were up for a slice of the good stuff.  The pizza here reminds me of that greasy stuff you would get as a school kid after a game of soccer or little league.  The slice was thin, but the width was massive.  Oh the memories!   We opted for the very grown-up BBQ Chicken Pizza.  This large pizza set us back $20, but was delicious.

Purgatory Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken pizzas are one of my favorite varieties.  Sometimes it’s nice to have a sauce other than ordinary tomato.  And look at those nice hearty chunks of Gardein chicken and pineapple.

Purgatory Pizza

Pizza Slice

Purgatory Pizza has free delivery for orders over $15, but I’m not sure how far they will travel.  If you live in downtown, you should definitely give them a ring to find out if they will come to you.  And for everyone else – their address is:

1326 East 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90033
323-262-5310
Monday – Friday 11:30am – 11pm
Saturday and Sunday 12pm – 11pm

Casa Maya in Mentone

I know, I know.  I said I was back and then I disappeared again.  I promise this time I will be more consistent with my posts.  I honestly have a whole bunch of draft posts of things I’ve eaten the past few months ready to be finalized and brought to you.   Please forgive me.

 

My parent’s neighbor recently gave me a great recommendation for food in the area where they live.  I actually was quite surprised I hadn’t heard of Casa Maya before.  I grew up in the area and had spent a lot of my childhood as a vegetarian. This Mexican restaurant gets its unique cuisine from the Yucatan region and has a special vegetarian menu.

 

I went to visit my family and my mom and I decided to grab some lunch here.  We ordered two dishes and split them.  Our first dish was the Veggie Panuchos ($11.95).  What is a Veggie Panucho?  I had to read the menu to find out: corn tortillas stuffed with black beans, topped with marinated onion, cabbage, xnipec, and fresh guacamole.  It came with a side of beans and potatoes.  Wow – was this thing good.  I was hesitant about the marinated onions (the pink stuff in the picture), because… really… pink onions?  But they were great and (I think) essential to the dish.  And the sides!  Oh the sides!  Insanely good.

Casa Maya Veggie Panuchos

Veggie Panuchos

 

The second dish was just as good as the first!  The Potato and Avocado Empanadas ($11.95) were amazing.  How can you go wrong with dough filled with avocado and potatoes and then fried?  Again, I was hesitant about one component of this dish, but it wasn’t the onions this time.  The cream of balsamic vinegar was not too vinegary and enhanced the flavor of the empanadas (Phew! because I don’t like strong vinegar flavors).  And more beans and potatoes!  I need me some more of this.

Casa Maya Empanadas

Empanadas

 

There are a few other items on their vegetarian menu – a few don’t look too easily veganized.  It doesn’t matter, though, the two dishes we got were satisfying enough.

Casa Maya Menu

Casa Maya Menu

 

1839 Mentone Blvd
Mentone, CA 92359
909-794-7458

 

Loving Hut in Upland

Loving Huts are everywhere – and I mean EVERYWHERE!  The diligent disciples of the Supreme Master Ching Hai have opened these all-vegan restaurants all over the world.  Whatever may be the reason for their openings, I am glad they did.  Sometimes it is just hard trying to find vegan food – Loving Hut makes it easier.

I was in the Upland area and decided to support the local Loving Hut.  Just so you don’t think I am a total glutton (although I really am), I will tell you that I did eat some of this for lunch at the restaurant and some I took to work for dinner.  The Joyful Sate ($4.75) is marinated TVP (textured vegetable protein) grilled with a special traditional homemade sauce.  I wasn’t a huge fan of this.  The TVP was too chewy and the sauce was too soy-saucey for me.

Loving Hut Skewers

Joyful Sate

The Peking BBQ ($4.99) was more my style.  This dish is BBQ marinated seitan with a homemade sauce.  It was savory with a hint of sweetness and not as chewy as the first appetizer.

Loving Hut Peking BBQ

Peking BBQ

And I got one entree to nibble on – their Lemongrass Country ($7.75).  It’s deep fried soy protein chunks sauteed with lemon grass.  OK, so I said deep fried, but it actually wasn’t that greasy.  The lemongrass flavor was awesome – not overpowering.  The side salad came with a delicious sweet tropical fruit dressing.

Loving Hut Lemongrass Chicken

Lemongrass Country

They had some pre-packaged servings of dessert, too. The Blueberry Pie ($3.25) wasn’t the greatest berry pie I’ve had, but something I’d certainly recommend trying if you wanted a dessert here.

Loving Hut Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Pie

The Peanut Butter Dream Pie ($3.25) was my favorite of the two (you can’t go wrong with peanut butter!).  It was like a thicker, chewier cheesecake… but in a good way.  Very creamy and very peanut buttery.

Loving Hut Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut Butter Pie

There are so many more menu items I would like to try.  It is a very fake meat heavy place and if you can’t eat soy, don’t come here.  A few non fake meat dishes use tofu, but there is not much without soy.

The Upland location is at:

903 West Foothill Boulevard
Upland, CA 91786
909-982-3882

Tuesday – Saturday: 11 am – 9 pm
Sunday: 4 pm – 9 pm
Monday: Closed

Thai Vegan in Santa Monica

Thai Vegan calls itself a “kiosk on main st.,” and I would certainly have to agree.  Don’t let this tiny food operation fool you, though, because it boosts a large menu.  I spend a lot of time in Santa Monica, so when I heard about this new vegan place, I had to try it.  I liked the look of the menu, because it focuses on tofu as the protein and not the fake meats ubiquitous to thai vegan places in LA.

The Tofu Satay ($5) was delicious.  Five hearty chunks of marinated tofu with a wonderful peanut sauce.  It also comes with a small portion of cucumber salad.  Since I’m not a huge fan of cucumbers, I didn’t eat this.   But I will definitely be back to eat the tofu and sauce!

Tofu Satay

My vegan guy started off with some Dumplings ($5).  I think he really likes these little guys, because he’s been back on his own to get them a few times.  You can see from the picture they are nicely browned on one side.  It gives them a nice, crisp texture (or so my vegan guy tells me).

Dumplings

My entree was the Pad Thai ($7).  I love the price point and how easy it now is to get pad thai without specifying “no egg, no meat, no fish sauce, yadda yadda yadda” in Santa Monica, but here is where the “but” comes in.  I didn’t really like the flavor.  It was decent – and I would certainly order it again if I was in the area and needed a quick pad thai fix – but it sure wasn’t as good as Bulan or even the other vegan Thai joints.

Pad Thai

My vegan guy went for the Chowmein ($7).  Again – he didn’t really like it that much and preferred the appetizer.  I had a bite and agreed.  I’d like to try some of their other items, but if they don’t live up to my flavor desires, I think I’ll stick with the tofu satay.

Chow Mein

 

Here is the little window you need to order from.  There are only a few seats, so be prepared to picnic elsewhere or bring your food home.

Thai Vegan

2400 Main St.
Santa Monica, CA
310-581-4255

Monday – Sunday 11 am – 10 pm

Oasis Vegetarian Cafe in Riverside

Oasis Vegetarian Cafe is (in fact) an oasis.  This all vegetarian (and very vegan-friendly) restaurant is set in the middle of meat land.  It’s attached to a Seventh-Day Adventist grocery store and has seating inside.  You order at the window at the front of the store and they will bring your food to you if you are dining inside.  The menu is a mix between burgers/wraps and Mexican Food – my kind of place.  I definitely went a little crazy on the Mexican side of the menu when I came here with my mom awhile back.  I think the people at Oasis thought we were crazy by the amount of food we ordered.  I don’t think any two people have ever order this much (but we did take most of it home).

The Taquitos ($4.99) are served with veggie chicken, potato, lettuce, tomato, and guacamole.  Fried, tasty goodness.  And look at all the guacamole they give you!

Oasis Taquitos

Taquitos

I think my favorite item from our feast was the Pupusa ($4.69).  I’ve never had this before (probably because no other place I’ve been to has made it vegan).  I didn’t know what it was, but it was described as corn masa filled with beans and cheese served with sauerkraut and tomato sauce.  It’s like a giant stuffed tortilla.  Delicioso.

Oasis Pupusa

Pupusa

I’ve also never had meat Carnitas, but I got to try Oasis’ version of it ($3.49).  It was corn tortillas, fried steak, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, onions and tomato sauce.  I liked it, but I liked the other dishes better.  It was sort of hard to eat, and the steak wasn’t my favorite of the fake meats.

Oasis Carnitas

Carnitas

An Oasis Vegan Burrito ($5.69) was also ordered.  It was simply  rice, black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, and vegan cream, but was another one of my favorites.  I love bean burritos!  And this one had extra awesomeness to it (vegan cream?  yum!!).

Oasis Burrito

Burrito

My next photo doesn’t look that great, but, believe me, this Tamale ($4.15) was good.  Made with corn masa, steak, tomato sauce, olives, and bell peppers.  Even though this dish was filled with gross bell peppers, the steak tasted a lot better covered in corn masa.

Oasis Tamale

Tamale

I didn’t realize how much steak we ordered until I wrote up this post.  We got one non-Mexican entree: a Steak Wrap ($5.79).  It’s made with steak, hummus, spinach, and pico de gallo.  It’s a fresh lunch option, but since vegan Mexican food is so hard to find, I’d probably order one of the other entrees instead.

Oasis Pepper Steak Wrap

Pepper Steak Wrap

My mom decided to wash this all down with a Soy Milkshake ($3.99) which turned out to be just fruit blended with soymilk.  Not what I call a milkshake, but hey, whatever floats your boat.  My mom thought it was good.

Oasis Fruit Shake

Fruit Shake

11550 Pierce St.
Riverside, CA 92505
951-688-5423

Monday-Thursday: 8am – 7pm
Friday: 8am – 4pm
Saturday: closed
Sunday: 9am – 5:30pm

Happy New Year!

I’m finally back!  Thanks to everyone who have waited with bated breath for my return. I plan on a lot of new things for the coming year, so come back often to check them out.  Tomorrow I’ll have my first review of 2013 (and it’ll be so tantalizing, it’ll make you break your New Year’s Resolutions!).