Sunday, June 21, 2009

Vashon Saturday Market

Vashon Island has a wonderful summertime Saturday market located at the Village Green. In addition to various crafts and art and fresh fruits and veggies, there are often at least two excellent options for buying hot cooked-to-order food.

One booth makes made to order omelets with local farm fresh eggs, a veggie lasagna, a tofu scramble and other interesting fully vegetarian (and some vegan) options, and the other booth is sort of Asian themed and makes (in addition to some non-vegetarian dumplings and hum bow and smoked salmon sushi) a vegetarian curry and a bowl of thin noodles in a vegetarian mushroom broth with green onion and pickled daikon.

I was unfortunately not super hungry, and the bowl of noodles was all my appetite really desired. They were simple and tasty and $3.

Noodles and Lazy Jane Slippers

I'll know next time to go with a bigger appetite because some of the tofu options looked fantastic!

Vashon Island Saturday Market

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stellar Pizza

When not in the mood for hit-or-miss Napoleon style pizza, a natural south end pizza choice is Stellar Pizza in Georgetown. These guys make cheesy American style pizza with a thicker (by thin crust standards) crust and non-traditional toppings. They also serve beer and hard alcohol, become adult-only after 9pm, and are open and cooking late (midnight on the weekends and most of the week).

After a recent Georgetown Artwalk I stopped in with some friends and got lucky with an outside table. We had some beer and an E-27 Firefighter Pie, which is topped with salami, green peppers, red onions & black olives and jalapenos. They kindly put the (generous helping of) salami in a side bowl for the meat eaters to eat at their discretion.

Forgot to take pictures til the very end. Lone remaining salami slice.

I love spicy pizza, and I love a good condiment basket. Here they give you parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, black pepper, garlic powder and tabasco.

I'm not sure about vegan options (vegans should just hoof it over to Squid and Ink or the Georgetown Liquor Company to be assured an awesome meal!), but they have plenty of interesting stuff to satisfy a vegetarian, including various pizzas, a hummus plate, a vegetarian calzone, salads, and an eggplant sandwich.

Thanks K for the camera phone usage!

Stellar Pizza and Ale
(206) 763-1660
5513 Airport Way S
Seattle, WA 98108

Stellar Pizza & Ale on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sichuanese Cuisine

When I'm in the mood for the spicy, oily, strong flavors of Sichuanese food (which I nearly almost always am), a satisfying option is Sichuanese Cuisine Restaurant on Jackson (I read that the Chinese name for it actually reads, "Old Szechuan Restaurant," referring to their alleged tendency to cook in an old and authentic way).

The menu is definitely meat biased, including a fair share of the "weird" meats, but has enough vegetable and tofu options to keep me happy.

I recently ordered the MaPo Tofu, vegetarian style, and it arrived as I had hoped: silken tofu simmering in a mildly spicy oily red gravy with green onions on top.

Also ordered the dry cooked green beans, which were scorched (in a good way) with browned garlic and roasted chili peppers, and coated in some spicy oil.

My dining companion ordered the beef chow mein, which was a fantastic plate of fat, chewy square shaped noodles covered in the most delicious spicy oily sauce (there was some beef involved too, obviously). One of the better (non-vegetarian) deals at this place is the plate of 20 perfect little potstickers for under $5, which comes with the same sauce that was on the chow mein. I believe this pot sticker/chow mein sauce is one of my favorite flavors at the restaurant.

A few succulent noodles teased apart from the beef

Something that I appreciate about this place is that they don't make you pay extra for rice, nor do they dole it out in tiny scoops. Instead they give you a big rice basket with plenty, and let you take what you need.

The rice is not an issue

It seems that one of the specialties here is a spicy hotpot, and there have been times when just about every table but mine has its own camping stove and is covered with plates of raw meat, dry noodles, fresh cut veggies, and cubed tofu just waiting to be dropped into either the red or the clear broth boiling in the special divided cauldron. It looks like so much delicious fun, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the broth options are meat based. Need to find out for sure.

Sichuanese Cuisine
(206) 720-1690
International District
1048 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98104

Sichuanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Park Chow

For our last night in San Francisco we followed a friend's recommendation to Park Chow, a popular sister of the other Chow restaurants located in other parts of the city.

It was busy, and we waited with a crowd under outside heaters for our table. Inside, the waitstaff was friendly and hip, and the vibe was very much slightly-upscale, well loved neighborhood bistro.

We started with a beet salad ,which came with roasted beets, endive, greens, hazelnuts, oranges, feta (substituted for the usual goat cheese) and olives.

The menu isn't specifically vegetarian oriented, but there were plenty of vegetarian choices (baked eggplant, pastas, pizzas, garden burgers, etc). I ordered the wood fired spinach lasagna. It wasn't bad, but wasn't the most interesting thing I've ever eaten. Maybe it could have used something to vary up the texture a little?

D ordered the daily sandwich, which was some sort of fancy fish, and it came with exquisite french fries. The presence of these on the table possibly had something to do with my lack of appreciation of my lasagna.

Overall a quality dinner and a fun evening. Thanks N for the recommendation! (And now, back to Seattle!)

Park Chow

(415) 665-9912
1240 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122

Park Chow on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Golden Era

Today I found my way to the Golden Era vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco. I had read on-line reviews that spoke wearily of the neighborhood, and as I walked there today by myself I initially thought that everybody was overreacting until eventually the ratio of me to people laying on the ground, mumbling, stumbling, talking/hollering to/at me became fantastically disfavorable. I probably wouldn't have wanted to do the same walk at night. It is always hard in an unfamiliar place to know how bad a place really is because everything has that "Is this even real?" feel to it. Anyhow, I made it and was strangely relieved to enter the dark below ground restaurant and be greeted by none other than the Supreme Master herself on a large TV. (The Supreme Master also has a presence at the Vegan Garden in Seattle).

The menu reminded quite a bit of the Vegan Garden, which is full of good looking dishes. I ordered the Jalapeno Tofu, which was described as "Best tofu with jalapenos, onions and bell peppers, served with steamed broccoli." Sounded perfect.

The meal arrived and was as described... soft tofu triangles with finely diced onions and bell pepper, and then succulent, lightly steamed slices of fresh jalapeno on top. Yum.

I thought that the Supreme Master connection was interesting... makes me wonder if there are followers all of the country (world?) who are starting up similar Chinese vegan restaurants in her vision? I'm not complaining.

Supreme master is a blond now

Golden Era
(415) 673-3136

Civic Center

572 O'Farrell St
San Francisco, CA 94102

Golden Era on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Herbivore is exactly what I was hoping to find during my trip to San Francisco. It is a warm, mildly trendy, reasonably priced vegan restaurant with a large, varied, and delicious menu.

Started the meal off with a Green Papaya salad, which I love but generally have a hard time finding without fish sauce. Here it was huge... perhaps more dinner proportioned than appetizer proportioned. It was a little on the bland side, could have used some more lime and spice, but we managed to enhance it a bit with table condiments (lemon wedges, crushed chili flakes, black pepper and salt) and make it really good.

It really was that giant

Mint tea and fresh juice to go with the salad

Our dinners each came with a wonderfully large side salad, which consisted of mixed greens, tomatoes, and beets in a garlicky vinaigrette.

The menu was so appetizing we both had a tough time choosing. I ended up with the lentil loaf with mushroom gravy, tomato sesame salsa, mashed potatoes, and a humongous pile of sauteed red chard.

He got the grilled portobello mushroom over creamy polenta with sauteed spinach.

We both ordered sort of "meat and potatoes" style food, but the menu was all over the place. There were lots of Asian influences (Indonesian noodles salad, sweet and sour soup, Kung Pao tofu, red curry, etc), Italian influences (lasagna, ravioli, gnocchi, other pastas), Middle Eastern (moussaka and falafel) etc. Just about everything sounded amazingly delicious, and never felt like it was doing any weird compensation for want of meat or dairy.

The quantities were huge, and the value felt fantastic. Makes me wish I had a bit more time in San Francisco to go back and try some more things!

(415) 885-7133

Western Addition

531 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117

Herbivore on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 7, 2009


(In San Francisco) I love a good neo-hippy cafe. I think the defining factors for me are:

1. The people who own it (or their friends or their family) also work at it
2. There is something artsy and homemade about the decor
3. There is an emphasis on local/organic/in season ingredients
4. There are healthy but delicious menu choices with a strong vegetarian/vegan presence
5. The staff and regulars are friendly and kind

Outerlands in the Sunset area of San Francisco provided all of these beautifully.
Nice work with the driftwood

The restaurant is owned by a young surfer couple who took over the space after the previous resident (the vegan restaurant Feel Real) disappeared and left a hole in the neighborhood.

There were many cool things about this place, including homemade bread and some fancy driftwood mosaics, but the detail that impressed me most was the extremely limited (and daily changing) lunch menu (they have a more "normal" dinner menu with many choices). Sometimes, I am a huge fan of the limited menu (assuming I like the general theme of a place) because it focuses efforts and reduces waste. When I visited, the lunch menu consisted of:

* Vegan cream of celery soup
* Grilled cheese sandwich
* A big green salad
* A broiled open faced sandwich with pears and some sort of meat and cheese

I had the soup and grilled cheese, and the sandwich really stole the show due to the huge thick slices of fresh, soft homemade bread that had been buttered and grilled to perfection. Yum.
It is hard to tell from this picture how thickly sliced that delicious homemade bread was. Look at the notebook and pen for scale.

All in all, a very pleasant lunch at a good feelings place.

(415) 661-6140


4001 Judah
San Francisco, CA 94122

Outerlands on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Followed the recommendation of a local member of the San Francisco clan and went to Sanraku for a sushi dinner.

The menu was as vegetarian friendly as a typical, no concessions Japanese sushi menu is. There was agedashidofu, edamame, miso soup (with bonito), avocado rolls, cucumber rolls, a tofu salad, and a veggie roll. Missing was the "this is a little something special for the vegetarians" tofu roll. I ended up ordering a veggie roll and a spicy tofu salad to get some protein.

The spicy tofu salad was a beautiful, carefully arranged spread of steamed vegetables and a small brick of fresh firm tofu smothered in a salty, spicy black bean sauce. I found the sauce to be too salty, but the artful arrangement compensated for that deficiency.
The veggie roll was nice enough. It was a large roll (a challenge for the one bite per slice routine) full of green beans, steamed carrot, sprouts and miso. No complaints.
As a vegetarian eating sushi, it is hard to get into the "OMG, this is AMAZING" mindset that fish eaters can get into when eating a piece of really exquisite sushi. I think this is because the qualify and freshness of vegetables and tofu isn't quite so varied as the quality and freshness of fish. Sometimes veggie rolls are better or worse in one place over another, but it is hard for me to declare that one place has AMAZING sushi the way that fish eaters can when they come upon something really spectacular.

The waitress brought out two unexpected plates of fruit to finish the meal, which I thought was a nice touch. Of course the remaining 5 folks at the table had so stuffed themselves on beautiful fish, eel and softshell crab rolls that I more or less ate it all myself.
(415) 369-6166

101 4th St
San Francisco, CA 94103

Sanraku on Urbanspoon