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vegetablesquid

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mmmm gingergrass [Apr. 26th, 2007|09:00 pm]
vegetablesquid
My pals Diane and Ed selected this hip Eastside new Vietnamese spot for the Caron lab ethnic food night a few weeks ago. Famous for its long lines, dissing celebrity customers and its low cost (which is a relative term.) I wish Paul had gotten to go with me, it was amazing. Lots of vegetarian options in the appetizers and entrees. Surprisingly few among the salads. *Lots* of vegan options, but not if you're allergic to peanuts. I recommend the Bo Bian rolls, the current Noodle Dumpling appetizer special, and the Gingergrass tofu. The current sauteed eggplant (miso glaze) special was good, but not as good as some I've had in Japanese restaurants, and it was overwhelming in flavor as a whole entree (usually it's just an appetizer). The Gingergrass slaw, which comes with many dishes is a little uninspired in my opinion. I mean if you really love napa cabbage without much dressing, by all means, have at it. I haven't tried the pho, but it is served with all the ingredients added in already, unlike the customizable one at Pho Cafe. But it's all about the tofu for me; cubes of deep golden fried tofu on a bed of braised shitake and baby bok choy. Banana spring rolls for dessert, natch. That's my new obsession. I had hoped for some vietnamese pancake but it's not on the menu. In summary, more interesting than Slanted Door in SF.

And remember boys and girls, those incredibly tasty pink chips have shrimp in them. Oh when will someone use artificial shrimp flavor???


http://www.gingergrass.com

2396 Glendale Boulevard near intersection with Silverlake Blvd.

Served by the 92 bus.

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an ongoing thread--mock chicken satay [Nov. 19th, 2006|03:29 pm]
vegetablesquid
[mood |determineddetermined]
[music |Know your Chicken, Cibo Matto (natch)]

I didn't realize how much I missed mock chicken satay until I finally found it again in LA. I think the ones from Lucky Creation in SF were my first love, after the tasty homemade beef ones my mom used to make. Her satay had the peanuts mixed right into the satay marinade, so there was no need for extra peanut sauce.

So here's a list (that will be continually updated as I gather new entries) of places that serve mock chicken satay on skewers
Busaba Thai Vegetarian Kitchen 7168 Melrose near La Brea (10/11 Melrose lines)
Greenleaves Vegan 1769 Hillhurst at Melbourne (Hollywood Dash)

On the menu, but haven't tried it yet:
Vegan House (just opened!) on Sunset in the same mall as the Sunset Foot Clinic (yes, the one with the happy foot/sad foot sign. If you don't know this sign, then you need to get out of the WestSide more often)
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brunching in the shadow of Scientology [Nov. 19th, 2006|03:20 pm]
vegetablesquid
[mood |quixoticquixotic]
[music |too much conversation at the alcove, quiet at Square one]

If you've been hiding under a palm tree stump or you don't read Jonathan Gold's columns (which if you live in LA, must be one and the same) then you haven't heard about The Alcove Cafe and Bakery, or Square One. They're both situated across from a Scientology building, allowing one a clear view of the mysterious goings-on should one lack entertaining company.

The Alcove is squarely situated in Los Feliz at 1929 Hillhurst (Hillhurts) and Franklin. They have a great cheese store next door, which on occasion has the most amazing swiss ruby grapefruit yogurt. The desserts, mimosas and entrees are quite divine; the brie-apple sandwich and the potato pancakes are highly recommended (brunch only). The ice tea from last weekend was also really good. They've got a slightly sadistic seating system, so if you have pugilist friends, you can put them in charge of scoping out a table. Another plus is that they're open late, so if you're looking for something fun, but slightly more refined than Fred 62, they're a great choice.

Square One is across from the great-grandaddy Scientology HQ on Fountain Ave, just a block from the intersection with the ominously-named "L. Ron Hubbard Way". 4854 Fountain is more civilized on the seating, but has fewer seats, and the ones outdoors may be inadequately shaded. There's already been tons written about it, but I have to recommend the egg baked on grits with whatever seasonal toppings; for me it was mushrooms, cheese and young fava beans. It was really one of those incomparable food orgasms in my mouth. The pancakes with the amazing chocolate orange sauce is also excellent, but there's still that fruit butter with french toast I have yet to try. They're only open for lunch and breakfast, but they're so worth it, especially when you see their fruit salad has everything you were ogling over at the Hollywood Farmer's Market. Sadly the fruit salad is probably the only vegan thing there I have to recommend, as they're egg dishes are really really good.

Bus info:
The Alcove is accessible from any bus that gets near the Los Feliz area, but it's still a 5-15 min walk away unless you catch an elusive Hollywood DASH. The 180/181 stop at Vermont/Franklin. There's also the Sunset/Virgil intersection, serviced by the 2, 217, and 26.

Square One is really close to Vermont/Fountain, so the 204/754 and 217 will get you there.
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agra cafe [Jan. 11th, 2006|03:55 pm]
vegetablesquid
[mood |celebratory]
[music |usually disco bhangra]

I keep ending up here because it's so close to my apartment and it's sooo good! It's the eastside antedote to Tantra and Electric Lotus, which while OK, are far more about atmosphere than the food. Here you get the most bland abstract paintings ever which look as though they were painted on dumpster-dived chipboard. But decor aside, the service is great, and the vegetarian selection is excellent. I think vegan's might have a bit of a more difficult time here since every other dish has ghee to start with. I think I tried it for the first time one night when I thought I just *needed* Raita. Their raita is good, but lacks cucumber, dill, mint or copious amounts of garlic, all of which may be more of a greek style, but I think are my favorite ingredients in raita. As for the veggie dishes, I recommend anything with paneer (cheese), mushrooms or the dal turka. I typically order everything mild, but I think those who like heat can get sufficient amounts. The veggie samosa is as good as anyone else's, but the onion bhaji is really amazing--just a cloud of deep-fried onion heaven. I also love the mushroom rice--it's biryani style, and the amazing Paswari Naan. It's a "stuffed naan" with a near homogenous mix of coconut, raisins and almonds. By itself, it's intensely sweet but as an accompaniment to any of the dishes, it's divine. The vegetarian dinner for two is a deal, as it comes with appetizers, two entrees, rice and naan, dessert and chai at only $25.95.
An added bonus, it's still relatively unknown and hidden away so there's always tables available. It's usually pretty empty even, but the food is great.

Agra Cafe (tucked in the corner of the minimall! Look for Tang's Donuts on the corner) 4325 Sunset Blvd, (323) 665-7818
Take the 2 bus and get off at Bates or Fountain; from the 4, get off at Sunset Junction (Santa Monica/Sanborn/Sunset intersection) and walk over the overpass to the mall on the East side of Sunset; from the 26, get off at Fountain/Virgil and walk east on Fountain until you cross Sunset; from the 175, get off at either Sunset or Hoover
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eggplant caponata @ the Kitchen [Dec. 21st, 2005|04:16 pm]
vegetablesquid
[mood |gratefulgrateful]
[music |usually too much ambient noise]

have I mentioned that I love The Kitchen? open fairly late, has the fabulous occasional crabtastic host Lars and waitress Wonder Brite, and delicious modern Ameri-Cali-Itali-comfort food. Aside from occasionally spotting the local Scientologist B-list actor, I've also run into a Swedish genomics coalescence theorist dining with his Japanese primate evolution biologist spouse. Aside from the tofu saute to which I'm addicted (they must put crack in it) they have now added an eggplant caponata, which was previously only a special back in September. Thick crusty bread piled high with roasted eggplant, tomatoes, kalamata olives, caramelized onions and chunks of fresh mozzarella. It's a huge appetizer, so make it your dinner or share with friends--you get four hefty pieces, usually with a bit of leftover topping. It's greasy, messy and fulfills some great inner need I have for salty-sweet appetizers. It's one of those dishes I might almost want a cigarette after (if only I smoked), it's that *satisfying*.

The Kitchen, corner of Hoover and Fountain Ave, just next to Akbar.
4348 Fountain Ave acessible from the 2, 26 and 175 (see also Agra Cafe directions)
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the spinach orgy at Zen Zoo Hollywood [Sep. 15th, 2005|10:52 am]
vegetablesquid
[mood |bouncybouncy]
[music |post-Dengue Fever Cambodian 60's pop perfection]

I've discovered Zen Zoo in the Sunset+Vine mall as the perfect pre-/post-Arclight/Amoeba Music snack spot. I took beardboi for dinner post-Amoeba. Their spinach dumplings are DIVINE. They approach the perfection of the pea greens dumplings at Yank Sing in San Francisco, but of course being made with spinach they can't quite achieve the delicacy of pea greens. They also have a phenomenal spinach and shitake mushroom salad. This is highly recommended, especially over the tofu salad, which while the greens mix is generous and fresh, is largely standard and uninspired. The one I had last night was a touch overdressed for my taste, but I find that to be the case pretty often. The problem was the tofu:salad ratio was woefully low. A good tofu salad should have generous quantity of tofu to complement the texture of the salad and absorb dressing; salad with four meagre squares of tofu is a salad with a tofu garnish, not a tofu salad. I tried one of the herbal tonics last time--they're being very true to the asian tonic style in that it's a strong medicinal shot, not some green tea frappe with herbs that you'd find at some local natural grocers. I also tried a half size "barley tea espresso" latte. For those of you who are new to this concept, it's similar to Postum, where someone has decided that burnt cereal grains steeped in hot water can serve as a coffee substitute. Their latte was pretty good considering it tasted nothing like coffee. It was more like a very rich warm oat milk with a nuttier flavor; not unpleasant, but highly disappointing if you're looking for something that tastes remotely like coffee.
Sunset at Vine: from east or west via the #2/302 busses, from the north or south via the Vine St. bus 210.
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Canter's deli and bakery [Nov. 10th, 2004|07:12 pm]
vegetablesquid
[mood |satiated]
[music |none, but overhearing the waiters dish on each other was fab]

I was in the Fairfax 'hood to catch the latest Jon Moritsugu flick and I went to Canter's for dinner. Where else can you get bagel chips on the side with your soup? The only vegetarian soup was the vegetable, sadly (I wanted to try the Kasha and the split pea), but let me just say--onion bagel chip made from day old bagel + Canter's vegetable soup = sublime. I ate myself into a light-headed stupor. I didn't have any salad though their selection looks good, and I suspect that orange almond one has little canned mandarins (mmmmmm!) I can't resist a potato pancake, but I opted for a small order since I was having soup. It was a little on the dense side that night, and I like mine with a little more chewiness and lightness. But nonetheless, it was the real deal, and a shiksa like me has to stick with what she can get, since my grandmother isn't going to make them for Chanukah. I topped it off with a cherry phosphate--a soda with red food coloring I haven't seen since red Brainwash. And it was the perfect cough syrup flavor with just a slight acrid finish--pretty astounding.
On my way out I walked off with some poppy and prune hammentashen. Where else are you going to fulfill your hammentashen fix at 3am but Canter's? They even deliver, but sadly not east of Highland!

Canter's deli
419 N. Fairfax Ave (almost at Beverly)
(and also strangely, in Las Vegas...)

The 217 and the 14 busses will get you reasonably close.
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Tofu Burgers from the Erewhon deli [Apr. 18th, 2004|07:55 pm]
vegetablesquid
[mood |chipperchipper]
[music |some sort of techno-lite]

Substitute meat burgers vary widely in quality. I used to make the classic Natureburger by hand from the box mix--I was terrible at it because I'd get the patties too thin, and they'd fall apart while I was frying them. Then they came out with all the frozen variants: Boca, MorningStar, Gardenburger(ADM), Amy's and Dr. Praegers (and various trader joe's house brands which I will admit, I used to make in the toaster.) But Erewhon deli makes their own--tofu mixed with fresh(?) carrots, celery and onion in small but recognizable chunks, with a little parsley thrown in. It's been lightly deep fried to give it that all-over golden color, but it's not greasy. And it's damn good. Truly the tastiest non-meat burger I've had. It's a thick patty, but it's fairly soft and easy to chew, not like those frozen patties that turn into dried mealy disks or squishy tepid mush (when thawed but not dried by cooking.) Sometimes I get the whole sandwich, but usually I just buy the patties so I can put my own random assorted condiments on it at home.

Erewhon Market
7660 Beverly Boulevard, wedged between the post office and the CBS studios
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vegetarian pho @ pho cafe [Apr. 8th, 2004|08:07 pm]
vegetablesquid
[mood |hopefulhopeful]

I was raised in a household where every Asian cuisine was vastly inferior to southern Chinese cooking so we didn't even think of eating anything but the latter. So it is somewhat sad that I never did try much sushi before becoming vegetarian, and I'd certainly never had any pho. Pho is a big deal in LA, and everyone has their favorite hole in the wall for pho. The newest hipster secret in Silverlake is Pho Cafe, tucked discretely in a minimall on Sunset just south of the intersection with Silverlake Blvd. If you blinked, you missed it. There's no sign, just the street number above the door. The interior has that mid-century modern minimalist styling typical of Silverlake or parts of Beverly Blvd, but not most Vietnamese restaurants. Their menu has the typical appetizers, an comprehensive list of pho and some other noodle dishes, but most importantly, they have an all-vegetarian pho. I did takeout (they also do delivery) and came home with one container of soup, with three kinds of mushrooms and slices of fried tofu; a container with rice noodles, cilantro and scallions; and a baggie with sliced jalapenos, mung bean sprouts and lime wedges. A full IKEA ready to assemble pho. After dispensing with the cilantro, I tossed most everything in except the jalapenos and set to work. While the noodles probably would've been better at their peak of freshness, and I could've gone for extra tofu, it was quite satisfying. Definitely worth a return trip for a bowl in-house. Open til midnight, so if those guava-cheese pastries from Cafe Tropical are gone, and you're between sets at the Silverlake Lounge, it's just a leap across the intersection.

Pho Cafe
2841 W Sunset Blvd
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Vegeking brand "vegetable tofu" [Feb. 26th, 2004|11:44 am]
vegetablesquid
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |no music fortunately...]

I shop Ai Hoa when I'm in Chinatown because they carry decent lychees in summer, they have Vegetarian bow and a wide assortment of fake meats in the frozen section. Mostly Vegeking brand products. Recently I found the frozen "vegetable tofu", which were frozen triangles of tofu with little vegetable bits embedded in it.
I cooked it up last night and it was surprisingly good. It is vegetarian, but NOT vegan (shockingly it contains some whey), but it also lacks any alliacious vegetables (i.e. onions, garlic etc.) so it's Hare Krishna-/ Hindu Krishna-safe. My response was to stir fry it up with a whole onion.
Needless to say, it's surprisingly tasty, leading me to suspect that it has MSG or some similar compounds referred to only as "Natural Vegetable Flavor". It also has no claims for the organicity of its contents so it's probably 99.99% ADM product for those of you who watch your corporate farming conglomerate/GMO calories. It has little bits of carrot, and what appear to be peas, but seem to have this pleasant water-chesnut-like crunchy quality. Needless to say, the tofu has very good textural qualities, and I'd buy it again provided I can find it (Ai Hoa's selection tends to be on the inconsistent side.) It would probably be really good deep-fried too.

Ai Hoa 860 N. Hill St. in Chinatown. The entrance from the Broadway side is across a parking lot; the entrance on Hill St. is just a deceptively small doorway.
The 2 and 4 lines down Sunset get you reasonably close. The Chinatown DASH will get you closer. You'll have a bit farther to walk from the Chinatown gold line.
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