Archive for the ‘100% vegan’ Category

Hillside Quickie (Seattle)

100% vegan

Cuisine: American
Tofu puffs: 3 out of 5
Price range: $$
Time visited: Twice
Location: 4106 Brooklyn Street (@ NE 41st Street)
Hours: Monday, 12 to 5 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 12 to 7 p.m. (brunch served Saturdays from 12 to 4 p.m. only); closed Thursdays and Sundays.
Contact: 206-632-3037
Website: http://www.hillsidequickie.com/

Hillside Quickie - OutsideHillside Quickie is easily the greasiest greasy spoon we’ve ever been to, vegan or not.

Having first visited the Quickie location in the U-District in the fall of 2008, we recently returned for a second chow-down with eager expectations. Our memories of the towering sammiches seemed almost legendary, and the moment we walked in it seemed that not a thing had changed.

For those of you who cringe at less than sparkling prep spaces in restaurant kitchens, we’d advise you not to look to closely at the grill behind the counter at Hillside Quickie ’cause it is greasy, lemme tell ya. (And if you’re bothered by this kind of thing, well, you’re probably not reading this or any other restaurant reviews anyway.) The thing is, there are some places where the all the hoity toity stuff like decor and crisp table linens matter less than the food. When the Spoonies visit a greasy spoon, we don’t expect it to be pristine.

Where the food is concerned, you’d better be plenty hungry when you visit. The servings are as generously sized as they are (sometimes) oily, and even we have been hard-pressed to finish our meals. It may even be a good idea to split a sandwich or a sub with a friend, ’cause not only will your lunch be cheaper but you’ll avoid feeling a bit sick like we have after making our way through just half of a sammie.

Hillside Quickie - InsideThe mac & yease, served as a rather pricey $4.99 side order, is amazing. If you can get past its wee bit of oiliness, that is. We’ve thought long and hard as to how it’s made since it’s one of the best we’ve ever tried. Looking at it, the lumpy sauce doesn’t look at all appetizing. It doesn’t even taste like the typical mac & cheese most vegans are looking to recreate. But as soon as this onion-laden comfort food hits our mouths, the sauce melts into a perfectly creamy, lip-smacking medley of flavours reminiscent of a comfort food-like casserole. There are several other interesting sides we haven’t tried yet, like the Hush Puppies and the Many Types of Fries – apparently there is a fry menu that has somehow escaped our notice during both visits. We can, however, vouch for the delicious and perfectly seasoned potato salad frequently layered in the shop’s sammies, which is also available for purchase in to-go containers.

Although there are burritos, salads, burgers, wraps, and dinner entrées on the menu, we go to Quickie’s for the sammies. Amongst the offerings we’ve tried are the Freemont Philly Sub, the TLT with Tofustrami, the Seitan Sandwich, and the Flaming BBQ Burger. The sandwiches and burgers cost between $7.99 and $8.99, which, without any added side dishes, makes for a decent and moderately priced meal.

The TLT Tofustrami - Hillside Quickie

The TLT Tofustrami

In a cooler near the entrance, there are tasty-looking pizza slices wrapped up for take-out. And, if you find yourself totally enamoured with the tofu, tempeh, and seitan used in many of the shop’s creations, they’re all available for purchase by the pound to take home with you. On Saturdays only, several tempting brunch dishes are available at the U-District location. Most of the options are savoury, though there is a Waffle Sundae on offer, which seems over the top with its sides of mac & yease and country fried “steak”.

While they have great flavour, our main complaint about the sammies is that the grilled bread slices are often way too oily. On our second visit, the bread quickly fell apart once we tried to pick up the sandwich halves. This is mostly because there is so much stuff piled into the sandwiches, including entire Romaine lettuce leaves folded in half. Our hands, and faces, ended up covered in mayo, crumbs, and oil. Also, the seitan is also pretty oily too, though it has a good texture that isn’t too chewy. And we think the creamy, rich mayo is house-made since it has pretty much no salt or other seasonings in it that we can taste.

If we lived in Seattle, we have to admit that Hillside Quickie is not a place we’d frequent too often. The oiliness of the food makes it far too rich to eat very much of it, though it is a place with food that must be tried. We enjoyed our first visit more than the second, though we might go back when we’re craving really greasy spoon-style food.

The Seitan Sandwich with Mac & Yease - Hillside Quickie

The Seitan Sandwich with Mac & Yease

Hillside Quickie 2008

The Freemont Philly Sub (back) and the Flaming BBQ Burger with mac & yease (front), November 2008 (Stephen Hui)

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.

Gorilla Food

100% vegan

Cuisine: Raw
Tofu puffs: 3 out of 5
Price range: $$
Times visited: Way too many times to count
Location: 101-436 Richards Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 2Z4
Hours: Every day, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Contact: 604-684-3663; www.gorillafood.com

Gorilla Food

The entrance to Gorilla Food.

This review is a little one-sided. See, only one half of The Vegan Spoonies will eat at Gorilla Food. This is definitely not because there’s anything bad about the place. It’s just that some people don’t like raw food that much. That’s all good.

The original Gorilla Food was located just half a block north of its current location. It was a little takeout window that was perfect for cyclists and pedestrians. In the fall of 2008, owner Aaron Ash moved the restaurant to a larger space—a hip subterranean burrow with a decidedly cozy feel and earthy look. Below-street-level restaurants are unusual in Vancouver, but despite the radically different setting and menu options at Gorilla Food, this place attracts a diverse number of people—everyone from businessmen in suits and dreadlocked Rastafarians to punks and emo kids.

There is a small amount of seating, enough for about 15 to 20 people. Regrettably, the space is not really kid-friendly; there is little space to maneuver with a stroller, so you’ll have to pack it up before heading in. It may also be difficult for some people with accessibility concerns to get down the short but steep flight of stairs leading from the street into the restaurant.

As if it isn’t cool enough that a little raw-food vegan restaurant such as this is thriving in downtown Vancouver, Gorilla Food uses 100% biodegradable sugarcane-based paper containers and cups for most of its takeout food. And they use Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap in the bathroom! The hand soap is sort of a big deal when you think about it. We’ve been to many vegan and vegetarian restaurants that overlook the animal ingredient/animal testing aspect of products used in their bathrooms.

Thai Fresh Wraps

Thai Fresh Wraps.

Gorilla Food offers a decent selection of smoothies, fresh juices, sprouted snacks and crackers, appetizers, salads, and main courses. But keep in mind that its kitchen uses a lot of seeds and nuts, so this is not a good place for anyone with nut or seed allergies. Also—and we have to say it—this is not a place that most people we know like to eat at all the time. They say it’s the place they go when they need to feel more nourished and a little healthier. And it’s not cheap; the average price of most menu items is $6.50. And that’s not including a drink or dessert. Keep in mind that Gorilla Food accepts cash only, so don’t forget to arrive with cash in hand unless you want to leave with an empty tummy.

My favourite dish by far is the Thai Fresh Wraps. They are “Three collard leaf wraps filled with a sprouted sunflower seed and veggie pate, sesame seasoned coleslaw and served with a ginger raisin chutney.” They’re actually an appie, but I find them filling enough to eat on their own as a main. Another good main is the Veggie Burger. This is the best item to start off with for anyone new to this kind of cuisine. It looks impressive on a plate and is such an interesting combination of flavours and textures. The Falafel is surprisingly good, but I’d pass on the Green Taco and the Cashew Alfredo Zucchini Linguini—both of those dishes were oddly bland and too watery. And the pizza is an acquired taste, so it’s not the best item to start with.

Sprouted Chili Almonds

Sprouted Chili Almonds.

As far as appies and snacks go, the Sprouted Chili Almonds, the Sunny Ginger Nori dehydrated crackers, and the guacamole and crackers are hits. The guacamole is so creamy and perfectly seasoned with finely minced onions and lime juice that I wouldn’t miss a chance to get some.

The desserts are unusual, and by that I mean really good. There is a hemp-chocolate mousse-like cake not on the menu but that I frequently see in the dessert cooler. It’s lovely. The dark raw chocolate fudge, the Gorilla Biscuit, and the truffles (also not on the menu) are pretty yummy.

If you haven’t tried raw food before, this is a good place to introduce yourself to it. If you feel inclined to give it a go at home, Gorilla Food sells a small selection of staple items, such as cocoa butter, bulk nori and cashews, a spiralizer, and even raw-food cookbooks, to take home with you.