vegetable diaries

Archive for January, 2010

a weekend full of mock meats, noodles & cabbages

Posted by vegetablediaries on January 26, 2010

bun bo hue at Vinh Loi Tofu

this might be vegan-sacrilege to say, but in general i’m not very fond of faux meats. i am vegan for so many reasons and one of them is that i have a strong aversion to meats, and another is that i adore plants and naturally vegan dishes, such as my mainstay, dal. however, i am always curious to try new things and my curiosity led my friends and i to experience Vihn Loi Tofu in reseda and Real Food Daily (RFD) in santa monica. i’ve been to RFD numerous times but i haven’t added them to my blog yet, so this is perfect timing.

bun bo hue at Vinh Loi Tofu

this was my first experience at Vihn Loi and it was really fun. first off, this tiny vietnamese tofu factory is located in a ubiquitous little corner mall in reseda, so parking is not ample but you can easily find street parking. there are about a bamillion things to order but we kept it simple and all got soups. one of my friends also ordered a roll.. i think it was a veggie roll but i’m not sure. it was good though and i really enjoyed the dipping sauce. for lunch i ordered the bun bo hue, which is rice noodles in a spicy broth with seasoned lemongrass tofu, shiitake mushroom, vegan chicken and beef, served with red & green shredded cabbages, bean sprouts, mint leaves, and lime. wow, when the soup is on at Vihn Loi, it is ON! the portions are humungous, i ended up taking more than half of the soup home. i loved the mint leaves and lime flavour.. it really makes the soup fresh. the vegan chicken and beef have interesting textures.. it’s not meaty, but i found them to be chewy, maybe like a dumpling. the noodles were really fun to slurp up. i noticed that the menu said to let them know if you’re allergic to gluten.. i’m not sure how aware they are of gluten allergies, so if you’re gf then you’ll definitely want to ask. also, everything at Vihn Loi is 100% MSG-free and they use certified non-GMO soybeans!

at RFD i ordered the yin yang salad with an add-on of blacked tempeh. there was cabbage, romaine, carrots, cucumbers, edamame, cilantro, sesame seeds, peanuts, and peanut dressing. this was also quite a large salad and i had to take it home, but it was delicious and i’m glad i got to eat it twice!

yin yang salad at Real Food Daily

one of my friends ordered the club triple decker, which is seitan, tempeh bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, vegenaise, and sourdough bread, served next to a big caesar salad. i had a taste and the seitan really does taste like meat, which for me, i’m not crazy about, but it was interesting nonetheless. most of the times i have been to RFD have been with omnivores and usually carnivores, and they almost always end up enjoying the food. and i usually hear how their plant-based meal made them feel energetic and not heavy. YAY! on my way out i stopped in the RFD bakery (which is next door to the restaurant) and i got the pecan sour cream coffee cake to go. i don’t have a photo, but oh my gosh, it was so scrumptious! it reminded me of those hostess cinnamon coffee cakes i would eat as a kid.. but A LOT better, and better for you.

the club triple decker at Real Food Daily

Vinh Loi Tofu
18625 Sherman Way, #101
Reseda, CA 91335

Real Food Daily
514 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(they also have another location in west hollywood)

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thank you, gracias madre

Posted by vegetablediaries on January 23, 2010

Gracias Madre

organic vegan mexican cuisine. what on earth could possibly be better? well, maybe a Babycakes donut for dessert, but i’m going to stay focused on my lunch here. the owner’s of Cafe Gratitude have recently opened Gracias Madre in san francisco and they seem to be doing quite well. they still offer community seating but there is no “question of the day.”  hooray! there is also bar seating available if you’re feeling shy, need to eat alone or drink (they serve alcohol).

guacamole con tostadas at Gracias Madre

for lunch i tried the enchiladas con mole poblano, which is mole enchiladas topped with mushrooms and cheese, served with sauteed greens and beans. it’s fantastic and i highly recommend it if you need something tasty and filling. i also ordered the guacamole con tostadas, which was great, too. the guacamole is a good size portion for two people, however the tostadas were beyond crunchy. if they could be just a bit less hard i think it would save on my teeth, but it’s still worth ordering.

enchiladas con mole poblano at Gracias Madre

i didn’t get to try any of the desserts because i was so full, but next time i go i will try something. the coconut-lime cheesecake sounds heavenly.

you can’t go wrong at Gracias Madre and it’s such a delight to have fresh, organic, VEGAN, mexican food in the bay area!

Gracias Madre
2211 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

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creamed cauliflower soup- recipe

Posted by vegetablediaries on January 17, 2010

creamed cauliflower soup

This recipe is inspired from Yamuna Devi’s recipe in her cookbook “The Vegetarian Table- India.” My version uses only cauliflower and no potatoes or rice. This is perfect for a rainy day or when your throat needs something soothing and your belly needs something delicious!

Serves 6 – 8


2 smallish cauliflower heads, cut into large florets
6 ½ cups water
½ tbsp ground coriander
¼ tsp turmeric
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
2 serrano chilies, chopped
1 ½ tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
fresh ground pepper (to taste)
½ tsp black mustard seeds
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped cilantro


1. Combine the cauliflower, water, coriander, turmeric, ginger, and serrano chilies in a soup pot. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
2. When the vegetables are cooked, use an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender) puree until the mixture is smooth.
3. Reheat the soup.
4. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add the mustards seeds to the soup and stir. Add the chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

creamed cauliflower soup

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ajanta on my brain

Posted by vegetablediaries on January 14, 2010

bheh, khumbi aur matar (lotus root) at Ajanta

if you are in berkeley (solano avenue to be exact) and are in need of unique and delicious indian food for cheap (lunch=cheap, dinner=moderate), then i highly recommend eating at Ajanta. i’ve been to many indian restaurants and none of them can compare to Ajanta’s varied menu and awesome preparation of regional dishes. although they are not a vegan restaurant there are usually a few vegan lunch specials from which to choose. your lunch will include yummy aromatic rice (brown rice is an option for a little more money), kala chana (black chickpeas), or saag (pureed spinach). Ajanta’s menu changes weekly, so there are always new and interesting things to try. some things stay on the menu depending on season and popularity (i think), so if you fall in love with their sambhar like i did, then rest assured it’s been on the menu for a couple of months now… and hopefully they will keep it on! i’m also quite fond of the bheh, khumbi aur matar (lotus root, shiitake mushrooms, and peas cooked with caramelized onions, ginger, garlic and spices). however i think my favourite is their hyderabadi baingan baghare (organic eggplant slices sauteed and cooked in a sauce made with onions, sesame seeds, tamarind, coconut powder, cashew paste, ginger, garlic, and spices). i don’t have a photo but take my words that you MUST order the baingan baghare if you see it on the menu. it is so rich and the eggplants are like tender little gems that explode in your mouth.

i’ve visited Ajanta for dinner, too but nothing can beat the fantastically cheap and filling lunch specials ($10 or less!).

brown rice & kala chana at Ajanta

i love the caramelized onions on the rice…

sambhar with vegetables at Ajanta

the sambhar is a south indian dish and includes toor dal (lentils) cooked with spices, tamarind eggplant, okra, carrots and potatoes. i didn’t mention this yet but Ajanta is prepared to serve your food spicy HOT if you so desire. i ordered the sambhar “hot” but for the other dishes i recommend ordering them “medium” if you’re not used to the heat. if you like the heat then by all means you should go for HOT!

lobhia aur khumbi (curried black eye peas) at Ajanta

1888 Solano Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94707

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a millennium moment- mm mmm mmmmm

Posted by vegetablediaries on January 13, 2010

pumpkin curry at Millennium

hi. i love Millennium! here are some more photos from a recent visit.

my pumpkin curry was supreme! i was shocked by the huge portion.. look at all that forbidden black rice. i actually couldn’t finish it!

brussel sprouts at Millennium

i was really impressed with these sprouts! they were so flavourful and were complimented by little bites of smokey tofu cubes. millennium’s b-sprouts were the inspiration for my brussel sprouts.

cajun style tempeh at Millennium

this was my chum’s dinner..

pear crisp with rosemary ice cream at Millennium

oh joy! i was so stuffed from my pumpkin curry that i really had a heck of time knocking back my pear crisp. but i did. YUM!

580 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

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ginger & garlicky tamari brussel sprouts- recipe

Posted by vegetablediaries on January 13, 2010

ginger & garlicky tamari brussel sprouts

welcome to my lunch! brussel sprouts are one of my favourites and this recipe is quick and easy to make. the results are amazing. for those people who aren’t fond brussel sprouts, i hope this recipe will turn you around!

Ginger & Garlicky Tamari Brussel Sprouts


1 lb. fresh Brussel sprouts, halved
3-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated with a microplane
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
lots of freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1 ½ tbsp wheat-free tamari (or to taste)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
freshly chopped cilantro for garish


Add the oil to a 10-inch skillet and heat the pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot add the ginger and garlic (don’t let them burn!). Next add the Brussel sprouts, cayenne and black pepper, then add the tamari and combine well. Turn the sprouts so that they are face down on the pan. Cover the pan and cook for five or so minutes, or until they start to brown. When the sprouts start to get nicely brown, stir and turn off the heat. I prefer my Brussel sprouts to have a nice bite (not soggy), so I don’t like to overcook them. A good rule of thumb is to aim for retaining their bright green colour. Add the sesame seeds and garnish with cilantro. Enjoy!

ginger & garlicky tamari brussel sprouts

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