Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ramen Underground

The tofu hunter spent a short and delicious period in San Francisco, a city that never fails to provide interesting vegetarian fare! 

One of my favorite meals from this recent trip was at Ramen Underground, a teeny, tightly packed ramen house on the border of Chinatown and the financial district. I was seated with a bunch of strangers at a postage stamp of a table and ordered by filling out an ordering sheet. My order: vegetarian broth, tofu, veggies, and chili paste.

It was a nearly perfect bowl of ramen. The tofu was fresh and soft. The veggies were abundant and fresh. And the house-made chili paste was slightly spicy, deliciously roasty, and out of this world delicious (I was stoked to see that it wasn't just a blob of sambel olek).

My only complaint was that this amazing bowl eventually came to an end.

Ramen Underground on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Shanghai Garden

This is a small rant against the Shanghai Garden where I recently stopped for lunch. The Shanghai Garden has full-paged lunch menu, which includes a huge variety of entrees with rice and soup for a more "lunch friendly" price than the traditional dinner menu. After scouring this menu I found nothing with tofu. I asked the waitress if there was any dish in which tofu could be substituted for the meat. To this she rudely flipped my menu open to the "bean curd" section and pointed. Apparently these were my options.

I foolishly ordered the Szechuan bean curd (for some reason I had high hopes, even though I've eaten it before and it is excessively sweet and not very szechuan-y at all). It was as before... fantastically textured and fried custardy tofu in a cloyingly sweet cornstarch sauce. The obnoxious part of the story is when my bill came and I saw that I had been charged for a dinner entree (I was, after all, ordering from the Bean Curd section on the dinner menu), and that my humble lunch, with rice, was $15 (with tax and tip).

Let me be a little whiny for a minute: It really didn't feel fair that my lunch was significantly more expensive than the lunches of the people eating meat all around me. Tofu is cheaper than meat. Most of the lunch entrees could have easily subbed tofu for the meat. If I were prone to feeling sorry for myself as a vegetarian, I would have after this meal because there was an injustice done (minor as it is in the scope of the world) where I, as the vegetarian, got the short end of the stick.

Shanghai Garden on Urbanspoon