Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Best Raw Meal At Better Life Cuisine

Lately, I've been trying to eat raw food more often. The food gives me this amazing energy and consequently, I am able to be way more productive. One of my favorite raw places that I discovered fairly recently is Better Life Cuisine in Santa Monica. While I'm sure I must have passed it a million times on my way to the beach, it wasn't until I examined the list of participating restaurants on, that I thought to dine there. In fact, when I first came across it, I questioned whether it was actually vegan, since there were various types of fish and dairy products listed on the menu. It took a closer look for me to realize that the fish and dairy mentioned were in fact nut-based to resemble the real thing. Last week, my dining partner and I ventured to Better Life Cuisine to use our $25 gift certificate.

We ordered two entrees to share, each with a choice of a side. We opted for the Manicotti Rolls with a side of Seaweed Soup ($10.75) and Lasagna with a side of couscous salad ($11.50).

First, we dug into the couscous salad.

The couscous salad was very refreshing and had a soft texture. The assorted vegetables were lightly seasoned, with a slight crispness.

Next, we shared the seaweed soup.

Honestly, the thought of seaweed soup disgusted me, but this was the only option Better Life had on this day. Nevertheless, I found the soup to be oddly enjoyable with a slight tartness and bitterness to contrast the very creamy consistency of the broth. The pieces of seaweed floating in the soup were very soft and well-seasoned. The crackers accompanying the soup were very crispy and had a light, seedy taste.

We then tried the two entrees. First up, was the Lasagna.

The lasagna was very enjoyable. In place of noodles were cooling slices of zucchini along with fresh tomatoes, pureed to form a sauce. The sweetness of the tomatoes perfectly balanced the slight saltiness of the nut cheeses. The ricotta cheese was so creamy and decadent, while the mozzerella cheese was soft and heavenly. There was also a parmesan topping to add even more cheesiness and the basil garnish added an extra spice and crispness to the dish.

My favorite entree that I've had at Better Life is the Manicotti Rolls.

These are very similar to the Lasagna, only they are better portioned and are even creamier, since they are solely composed of ricotta cheese. Each roll is so well seasoned with the luscious ricotta cheese oozing out of the crisp zucchini wrapper, coated in a thick layer of soft tomato chunks, topped with a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese. This dish is so close to the real thing in taste, it's a bit of a surprise that it is completely raw.

Lastly, we finished our meal off with a bunch of desserts. First, we shared Chocolate Lover smoothie that another customer had been raving about ($8.75).

While this drink looked amazing, I did not enjoy it all that much. It was not very chocolatey and tasted too bitter. The smoothie also could have been frothier, although it was fairly creamy. The raw smoothies I'm used to have a sweeter taste and are more dessert-like.

We also had the pumpkin cheesecake ($7).

This was pretty good and the pumpkin taste was pretty strong. There were also notes of spirulina that gave it a hint of tartness. The consistency was very smooth and the chocolate sauce topping was sweet and creamy. The cheesecake itself could have been way sweeter and more decadent.

Lastly, we had a Cinnamon Bun ($4) to top off the meal.

The cinnamon bun was very sweet and sugary and had a soft, gooey consistency. The vanilla topping made it even creamier and was so rich and decadent. The splashes of cinnamon on top added even more flavor and provided a great balance to the vanilla sauce. This was so amazing and I cannot wait to order it again.

Overall, I really enjoyed my meal. I love that Better Life provides such a great value and is fairly inexpensive in comparison to other raw restaurants. They are the only raw restaurant I've been to that not only has decent prices for the entrees, but includes a side dish at no extra charge. The food is also very high quality and the dishes are quite innovative. My only complaint is some of the dishes taste very similar, so maybe they could vary it up. I also would love to see more decadent smoothies and desserts. Nevertheless, everything was so delicious and we spent less than $14 a person with the discount (plus tax and tip). I will definitely be back soon!

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