Archive for the ‘3.5 tofu puffs’ Category

Flying Apron (Seattle)

Vegan-friendly

Cuisine: Bakery
Tofu puffs: 3.5 out of 5
Price range: $$
Time visited: Once
Location: 3510 Fremont Ave North (between N 35th Street and N 36th Street)
Hours:  Monday to Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday to Sunday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Contact: (206) 442-1115
Website: http://www.flyingapron.com/

Flying Apron - OutsideWe have to admit that the last time we visited Seattle, we skipped the Flying Apron. This was entirely due to us having read several reviews in which patrons complained about the so-called dubious quality of the bakery’s goods. Now, this was three years ago. We’ve no idea if Flying Apron has improved spoon over spatula since then or if it was always good. It’s possible that the negative reviews were from peeps who simply didn’t know what to expect of gluten-free baking.

We will also admit that it was really silly of us to have avoided Flying Apron. It’s good, you should go there, and you’ll probably end up staying a while. They have free WiFi too, so if you’re not the people-watching patio-sitting type you’ll definitely appreciate cosying up with a tea and a cookie and your laptop at one of their indoor vintage tables.

As with our review of Mighty-O Donuts, we say that Flying Apron is vegan-friendly, not 100% vegan, because they offer cow’s milk for those patrons who would like it in their coffee and tea. For those of us who would rather not drink cow’s milk, there’s the more palatable options of soy, rice, and almond milks available. Their delicious feast of offerings include sweets, savouries, soups, salads, and house-made breads that are all vegan and entirely gluten-free.

Chocolate Chip Cookie - Flying Apron

Chocolate Chip Cookie

Since we were still pretty full from breakfast the morning we visited Flying Apron, we indulged in just two treats: the pecan cinnamon roll and the chocolate chip cookie. Usually it’s pretty tough for us to judge a place having tried only a few of their foodstuffs. But the roll and the cookie were more than good enough to make it certain that the next time we’re in town Flying Apron will be at the top of our to-visit list.

The chocolate chip cookie, made from brown rice flour and potato starch, had a great crispness and held together much better than other gluten-free cookies we’ve had. Not everyone likes their cookies crisp, but this particular cookie has great dunking potential. It didn’t have that home-made taste, as if it had been made in your own kitchen. It did, however, have all the taste of a well-made bakery-bought cookie that was worth every penny we paid for it.

As for the pecan cinnamon roll, it was denser than we would have liked due to the chickpea flour used in the dough. This denseness wasn’t really a bad thing at all; it’s just a result of the nature of the gluten-free ingredients that were used. In retrospect, we had no idea there was any chickpea flour at all in the roll, and this is something we would usually notice (chickpea flour has a flavour neither of us is fond of). The roll was toothsome and had the perfect smattering of pecans and icing sugar. And it held together just as well as the cookie while having a perfectly moist crumb, which you might know is a bit of a feat if you’ve ever tried to bake gluten-free.

Pecan Cinnamon Roll - Flying Apron

Pecan Cinnamon Roll

We also tried their coffee and ordered a soy mocha latte. The beans Flying Apron uses are from the Ballard-based Seven Coffee Roasters. While we’re not sure if it was the chocolate syrup or soy used in the drink or the way the barista made it, the coffee was regrettable. It lacked almost any coffee taste and was pretty weak. We’re sure this can’t be what their coffee is usually like, because a lot of people in the bakery were happily knocking back cups of it.

At the moment we give Flying Apron a hopeful 3.5 out of 5 tofu puffs because we’ve been there just once. We’re sure the next time we visit the bakery will get an enthusiastic 4 out of 5 puffs.

BaoQi Vietnamese Eateri

Vegan-friendly

Cuisine: Vietnamese
Tofu puffs: 3.5 out of 5
Price range: $
Times visited: 1
Location: 620 Davie Street, Vancouver
Hours: (winter hours) Sunday & Monday – closed; Tuesday to Friday – 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Saturday – noon to 9:30 p.m.
Contact: 604-568-7980

Tofu Bahn Mi - BaoQi Vietnamese Eateri

Tofu Bahn Mi

The moment we walked into this place, we were in love.

BaoQi is an adorable little Vietnamese restaurant tucked away between several sushi joints on Davie Street between Granville and Seymour streets. It’s easy to overlook, and we have, in fact, walked by it on a few occasions without any notice. Even from the outside, it still doesn’t look very striking. But walk through the door and the cozy atmosphere will have you thinking you’d like to stay for quite a while.

While seeing the huge, beautiful goldfish in a floor tank just inside the doorway left us a bit unhappy, there was nothing else about the restaurant we didn’t like. Although it is a small space, there is a large booth with seating for eight and a long, beautiful wood table with wood stools that seats 12.  One of the most interesting aspects of the restaurant’s decor is a wall decorated with vintage frames and black and white photos of two striking Vietnamese women from the 1940s and 50s.  Other small touches, like a shabby chic bench and coat hooks, as well as the delicate glass cylinders on the tables holding sleek black chopsticks, give this place a charming character.

Vegan Cuon - BaoQi Vietnamese Eateri

Vegan Cuon Rolls

The menu boasts two delicious vegan options, a Tofu Bahn Mi (a Vietnamese sub sandwich) and Vegan Cuon Rolls (rice paper salad rolls). Now, before you think “Not all vegans like tofu”, this is not the kind of tofu you’re likely thinking of. The tofu in the bahn mi and the cuon rolls is a fried, minced, marinated bean curd that mingles with a mixture of juicy, crisp, and fresh ingredients. 

The lone server’s warm greeting endeared us to the place, and we were totally smitten when he brought us a deliciously fragrant cups of tea as we waited.  Less than 10 minutes later, with everything made fresh to order, he smilingly presented our carefully packaged food – all of it for less than $11.50, including taxes.  Wishing us well on our way out the door, we gleefuly exclaimed how excited we were about the food. He chuckled and smiled from ear-to-ear, wishing us well once more.

So, how was the food? Oh my goodness gracious! It was good. The bahn mi’s bread had the perfect crispness on the outside and pillowy softness inside. The filling was layered with lightly pickled daikon and carrot, fresh cucumber and cilantro, and spiked with a wee bit of jalapeno. The bahn mi was so good our toes curled with happiness. (Yes, our toes curled. Cats do it too when they’re happy.)  And the cuon rolls?  Just take a lookie-loo at that picture! More delicious, shredded tofu surrounding layers of crisp lettuce, more lightly pickled veggies, and vermicelli noodles with a not too sweet peanut dipping sauce. The final touch is the fresh basil leaf just inside the top of each roll.

It’s obvious that we’ll be back many, many times. As for the veganizable menu options, we’re not sure. But we’re definitely going to be investigating them tout de suite!

OrganicLives

100% vegan

Cuisine: Raw
Tofu puffs: 3.5 out of 5
Price range: $$$
Times visited: 4
Location: 1829 Quebec Street (at 2nd Avenue), Vancouver
Hours: 7 days a week, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Contact: 778-588-7777
Website: http://www.organiclives.org/

Creamy Zughetti - OrganicLives

Creamy Zughetti with Earth Salad.

However you choose to pronounce the name of this place, it really doesn’t matter. Once you’ve taken a bite of their delicious fare, all you’ll remember is that you must come back for more.

With a take-out deli and juice/smoothie bar, grocery section, and sit-down dining, you really can’t go wrong with whatever catches your eye at OrganicLives. It seems that almost from the moment this place opened last spring, it’s been a hit with most everyone who’s walked through their doors. Owner Preet Marwaha told us that some folks like the food there so much they drive in from dozens of miles away just to stock up on supplies and  satisfy their cravings for a little bit of organic raw goodness.

And if you’re not local but you’d like to see what they have on offer, head on over to their website and peruse their online store. In addition to a number of food ingredients, they also have the much sought-after VitaMix blenders for sale, as well as books, DVDs and a larger selection of dried fruits and other goods not available in the store.

The location Organic Lives occupies is part of a large former warehouse that’s over 100 years old. Various architectural features of the original building structure can still be seen throughout the restaurant. It’s a very simple space but clean, with seating for 16 people and plenty of room to maneuver about the other customers with your shopping basket. There’s also some bar seating available in front of a picture window with a full view of the behind the scenes preparation. There are two entrances on Quebec Street (one with stairs, one without), and a large bathroom at the south end of the restaurant, roomy and accessible, with a few turns.

Raw Pizza - OrganicLives

Flatbread Pizza with Caesar Salad.

If you can get past gawking at the unusual selection of raw ingredients displayed in-store, you’ll find an extensive selection of gourmet dishes on their sit-down menu. Rather than muck about with creating silly names for things like “cheese” and “milk”, the menu gets straight to the point, calling mock dishes by their not so vegan names, such as the chive foie gras in the French Country Feast. Not to worry, everything on the menu is 100% vegan, so order with abandon!

The offerings in the deli section are equally tasty, with wraps, sushi, prepackaged dessert nibbles, freshly juiced concoctions, smoothies, and more available for toting away. And lest your eyes and hunger get the best of your reason, know that the smoothies are large enough to be meals themselves. So beware when you’re thinking of ordering a smoothie, lunch, and dessert. You’ll likely not be hungry for many hours after eating that much food.

When you see the desserts you’ll be sorely tempted to start with those first. Staff say that customers have named the desserts themselves, calling one of them “heaven in your mouth” (this is the cake slice simply known as Ganache). There’s a dessert for nearly every taste and craving, some of the most delicious being the pecan pie-like Caramel Cinnamon pie, the Chocolate Cashew Cheesecake, and the walnut-studded slice of fudge. The dark, dense macaroons are also popular, as is the unusual strawberry shortcake. It may just be that after seeing their resolve-weakening creations, you might just skip the main course altogether and just have desert instead. Paired with their delicious Almond Chai Latte (either hot or cold) or and espresso, dessert will leave you as pleased as a cat with catnip.

Raw Caramel Pie - OrganicLives

Caramel Cinnamon Pie with Pecans.

If you can’t decide what entrée to go with, we can promise you the pizza, which is much like Hawaiian pizza, is an excellent place to start. The pizza’s accompanying Caesar salad’s almond croutons are a delicious surprise. If pizza’s not your style, the Lasagna’s tasty combination of herbs with nutmeg-macadamia-pinoli cheese, sun-dried tomato sauce, and hemp basil pesto will definitely have you wanting to dance on the spot with happiness. The Mexican Spirals and Thai Curry dishes are also quite tasty. Want a dinner for two? Many of the entrees are easily sharable, though we think you’ll want to have many of the dishes all to yourself.

The appetizers on the menu are perfect for sharing, especially if you have several friends dining with you. The delicious Crackers and Cheese are belied by their simple name, and the staff swear the Bruschetta & Peruvian Olive Platter, though small, is very popular and worth a chance. It’s a good thing most of the appetizers are small, because you’ll need the room for the main course.

Speaking of the staff, they’re some of the most sincerely nice and attentive servers you’re likely to encounter in a restaurant. They’re observant, thoughtful, quick and eager to offer menu suggestions and a “tour” of the desserts displayed in the deli case. In fact, the servers very much cultivate the pleasant and relaxing atmosphere, the absence of which would make Organic Lives an otherwise sparse space. Preet and his staff are always excited about striking up a conversation and giving you honest answers to any questions you might have.

And one last note: be prepared to spend some time here. Most dishes from the sit-down menu are made from scratch when they’re ordered, and this may take a little time. We assure you – you’ll be more than pleased you waited. If you’re in a hurry, then visit the deli section and have a look at take-out options for quick to-go options.

This is a place we hope to visit many more times to come, and we think that once you give OrganicLives a try, you and even the most anti-raw person you know will want to come back for seconds too.

Raw Lasagne - OrganicLives

Lasagne with nutmeg-macadamia-pinoli cheese and Caesar salad.

Raw Nachos - OrganicLives

Nacho platter.

Raw Mexican Spirals - OrganicLives

Mexican Spirals.

Raw Crackers and Cheese - OrganicLives

Crackers with three cheeses.

Raw Strawberry Shortcake - OrganicLives

Strawberry Shortcake.

Chocolate Cashew Cheesecake - OrganicLives

Chocolate Cashew Cheesecake.

Raw Tiramisu - OrganicLives

Tiramisu.

Dharma Kitchen

100% vegan

Cuisine: Asian
Tofu puffs: 3.5 out of 5
Price range: $$
Time visited: Several
Location: 3667 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC V6R 2B8
Hours: 7 days a week, noon to 10 p.m.
Contact: 604-738-3899

Dharma Kitchen

Dharma Kitchen.

You know how some restaurants play their music so darn loud you almost can’t hear yourself talking to your friends? Dharma Kitchen is definitely not that kind of place. It’s a humble little space that doesn’t seem like it has much going on. In fact, if you’ve never been there, it’s unassuming facade can make it easy to miss. But, as the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover. Well, most of the time anyway. And this is very much the case for Dharma Kitchen. Hidden behind the modest blue exterior is an inviting, tranquil atmosphere. This tranquility is embodied by the very polite and attentive staff. Yeah, the place looks a little tatty, but simply put Dharma Kitchen is like a warm, fuzzy blanket, especially on drizzly, chilly Vancouver evenings, when all we wanna do is hibernate.

Dharma Kitchen differs from many Buddhist eateries in that its fare is not the typical Chinese cuisine laden with mock meats. And it uses both onions and garlic, unlike most strictly Buddhist eateries. The simple Thai-inspired menu offers rice bowls, burgers, salads, soups, fresh juice cocktails and smoothies, hot beverages, and a few desserts. It’s not fancy food, but the simplicity is quite refreshing if you’re someone who gets overwhelmed or indecisive when there’s too many options on a menu. And the prices are reasonable as well. A typical meal for two with entrees and chai will cost less than $30, including taxes and a 15% tip.

Indochine Bowl

The Indochine Bowl with miso gravy.

So, what about the food? Honestly, it might not knock the socks off most people. In fact, it could be said that The Naam has better comfort food than Dharma Kitchen, that is if you like your table grimy, your servers a tad disinterested, and your food run-of-the-mill. But Dharma Kitchen offers comfort food that is prepared with care and attention. That’s more than obvious when you finish your meal and, for a brief moment, feel serene and as if all is right with the world. Well, that’s how we’ve felt anyway. A bonus is that, like the Naam, Dharma Kitchen is one of those places you can bring a meat-eater to and they’ll probably leave just as pleased with their dinner as you are.

We highly suggest beginning your meal with a large steamy cup of their delicious soy chai. Like any masala chai worth its name, the Dharma Kitchen’s chai is perfectly spiced black pepper with a bit of lemongrass. Yes, we said black pepper and lemongrass. Never mind how weird that sounds. Just try it. We’ll bet you won’t be disappointed.

The appetizers, such as the Tamarind Soup, Dharma Miso Soup, and the garlic and lemongrass sauteed mushrooms are also light but tasty. They’re the perfect size to keep you from totally gorging on the main course, though we can say that, along with a drink and main course, getting an appetizer pretty much means no room for dessert. This is fine, though, if you aren’t a fan of pudding-like desserts. We’re particular fans of Chinese-inspired tapioca desserts, and the warm Banana Tapioca Pudding definitely won’t disappoint. Dessert like this is comfort food at its finest. If that’s not your taste, there’s also the equally tasty Sweet Rice Pudding with raisins, cinnamon, brown sugar, and coconut milk.

Blue Jean Buddha Bowl

The Blue Jean Buddha Bowl with coconut gravy.

As entrees go, our favourite by far is the Indochine Bowl with its mouthwatering marinated and grilled tofu, freshly grilled veggies, and perfectly savoury miso gravy. Dharma Kitchen’s miso gravy could win a kitchen brawl against the Naam’s miso gravy any day. The lip-smacking Buddha Bowl with its marinated tofu cubes, fresh veggies, and a Thai peanut sauce is also worth a try. Then there’s the Thai Burger with Thai peanut sauce, cilantro, bean sprouts, and green onions, as well as the Bengal State Burger topped with a curried peanut sauce, fresh spinach, and tomatoes. Burgers are accompanied by your choice of roasted potato slices or a fresh salad. We’ll admit that sometimes the “roasted” potatos leave something to be desired. We think they’re just boiled sliced potatoes that are browned a little under a broiler. So go with the salad instead—you’ll feel the better for it when thoughts of dessert come around. That said, the Blue Jean Buddha roasted potato bowl with sauteed bean sprouts and onions, marinated tofu, and your choice of four gravies or sauces is pretty good. The yummy Red Curry Tofu dish is large enough for two people and is laden with freshly grilled bell peppers, tofu, and mushrooms, all on a bed of freshly cooked brown rice.

Although the Spoonies are not big salad people, we have tried a few of the salads. The Dharma Salad is pretty good, and like many of the salads offered it’s large, fresh, and simply adorned with grilled baby portobello mushrooms, artichoke hearts, grilled eggplant, bell peppers, and zucchini with a tasty dressing served on the side. The Buddha Salad’s marinated tofu cubes, steamed spinach, and grated beet and carrot also make it worthy of a nosh. The salads are pretty much meals themselves, albeit light meals.

We know Dharma Kitchen’s not everyone’s favourite. It’s uncomplicated food in an uncomplicated restaurant. Go expecting it to be what it is, and you’ll enjoy it. The servings are decent sizes, and you’ll leave feeling plenty full. And since there aren’t too many 100% vegan eateries in town, this is one place where you can satisfy your hunger and not worry about what objectionable ingredients might be making it into your food.

Continental Coffee

Some vegan options

Cuisine: Coffee and Tea
Tofu puffs: 3.5 out of 5 (what are tofu puffs?)
Price range: $
Times visited: 7
Location: 1806 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC V5N 4A5
Hours: Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Contact: 604-255-0712

Continental Coffee

Continental Coffee on the Drive.

Honestly, the brew at Continental Coffee on the Drive has got to be the best coffee either of us at The Vegan Spoon has ever had. It was adoration at first sip. Seriously. We don’t mess around with this kinda stuff. It does Starwhoever to shame, hand over mug. The lattes at Continental Coffee are so good we take a one-hour return trip across town just to get a cup. We’d even bet you it is some of the best coffee to be had in all of Canada. Go ahead—prove us wrong.

The prices are fantastic: less than $3.50 (including taxes) for a 12-ounce cup with soy milk (they use Vitasoy). And they even offer rice milk, which is a rare option at coffee bars in Vancouver. Unlike some places we’ve sipped at, the folks at Continental Coffee are wise enough to use unfortified original Rice Dream, which doesn’t separate/curdle as much in your coffee as other brands of rice milk. If you wanna take some bean home with you, you can buy it right there; one-half of the back of the cafe is a retail beanery.

Our enduring favourite—the decaf latte with rice milk—is like the ambrosia of coffee, and this is why: there is a smooth, rich molasses-like note to the brew that is not at all bitter. The taste will make your tongue high-five your mouth. Yup, we’re talking coffee here, not wine.

And if you’re of the dogma of tea, you’ll find plenty of options in this regard too.

For people-watching, this is one of the best places in town to do it. With near floor-to-ceiling windows surrounding almost half of the cafe, and seating inside and out, this is a place where you can park your caboose and read a book, peruse the paper, or surf the free Wi-Fi. Nobody’s gonna hurry you out the door. If you’re inclined to mosey on down the street with your coffee, there are few places in town more funky than the Drive.

This, sadly, is where the love ends. Continental Coffee has no vegan munchies, the addition of which we think could only make the cafe that much greater. And recent remodeling of the inside did away with the cozy little nook that the new prep area currently occupies. A few coats of paint have really brightened the place up, and it looks great, but we preferred it the way that it was—a little incognito. Staying open past 6 p.m. on Saturdays would be a mighty sweet bonus too.

But really, we’re playing tiny violins here. The place is beyond awesome, and there’s little need to question why this place has been a veritable landmark for almost three decades.