Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Bitter Meal At Better Life

On a warm summery afternoon, I ventured to Santa Monica to dine at Better Life Cuisine. I had taken a break from this restaurant for a few months and decided I was ready to dine there again. Their food items taste very similar, as they use the same spices and seasonings for each dish. Nevertheless, the food is tasty, affordable and invigorating. I used the Scout Mob app on my Android to take advantage of their 50% off coupon. The app was easy to use and hassle-free.

I began the meal with the Italian Wrap ($11.25).

This wrap was pretty good. I'm not a huge fan of collard greens, which made up the outer layer, but it added a nice crunch. My biggest complaint about the wrap was that there was too much lettuce. There were huge chunks of romaine lettuce inside, which made the wrap taste even more bitter. It also overpowered the scrumptious pesto sauce and juicy croquettes. The accompanying "cous-cous" salad was tasty and cooling. It also had a bitter flavor, though, which made it a poor supplement for the wrap.

For dessert, I had the cacao cheesecake ($5).

I really wanted the cinnamon bun, but sadly they were all out, so I ordered this instead. I am not a huge fan of Better Life's desserts, but of all the cheesecakes I've had there, this one is the best. It has a wonderful creamy texture and the vanilla and chocolate sauces are rich and decadent. The cake itself is slightly sweet, but the bitterness of the cacao dominates the flavor.

Overall, the meal was pretty good. These dishes are not representative of the delicious food that Better Life has to offer. I much prefer Better Life's "pizzas" and "pastas", as these are way more flavorful. With the Scout Mob discount, the meal only cost $8. I will return again soon, in hopes that they have my beloved cinnamon roll.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Fantastic Meal At Follow Your Heart

On a sweltering afternoon in the valley, I dined at Follow Your Heart. Since there was a wait to dine inside, I bared the heat and sat on the patio. Thankfully, there were cooling misting sprays, otherwise I would have definitely passed out.

To start out, I had the non-dairy Peanut butter shake ($5).

This shake was so decadent and very refreshing. The peanut butter flavor was very strong and it had a lovely sweet flavor. The consistency was frothy and creamy.

Next, I had the Chile Rellenos ($9), which was the special of the day.

This was very delicious. The poblano pepper was filled with a spicy concoction of soy chicken, vegan cheese and a red sauce. The soy chicken was very meaty and the sauce was so scrumptious. The vegan cheese was barely noticeable. I am not a huge fan of rice and beans, but I did enjoy these hearty accompaniments, as they were seasoned very well. The guacamole added a wonderfully rich flavor.

Lastly, I had some Carnival Cake ($5), which I brought home with me.

This cake was superb. The chocolate cake was very moist and there were layers of cream that were so luscious. The orange cake was also very decadent and had a lovely flavor. The strawberry frosting took the cake over the top and had a wonderful sweetness,

Overall, I really enjoyed the meal. Everything that I have eaten at Follow Your Heart has always been amazing and this meal was just as spectacular. With the $10 for $20 Gather Green voucher that I used, the meal only cost $12.50 total. I cannot wait to return again soon.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Not So Rawsome Week Of Raw Food

A couple weeks ago, I ordered a week's worth of raw food from Rawvolution in Santa Monica. The food was packaged very poorly and on my ride home, many of the dishes had spilled. Some of it was salvageable, but I completely lost one of the soups and the other soup partially spilled. The solid dishes were a little easier to put back in their containers, but the food did not taste the same. I was very upset by the poor packaging. I emailed Rawvolution and they assured me they would make the packaging better. Despite using a Gather Green voucher, which cost me $60, I still felt ripped off.

The food I was able to try included the following:

I first had the Pesto Pizza.

This was very good, although the lettuce was a little dominating. The cashew cheese was so luscious and  creamy, I only wished there was more of it. The red pepper chunks were sweet and crunchy. The pesto sauce added a wonderful garlicky flavor. The onion bread was crispy.

Next, I had the Big Matt With Cheese.

This was also very good. The patty had a very savory, meaty taste and there was a layer of perfectly salted cheese. The lettuce and bread added a lovely crunchiness.

Next, I had the Bok Choy Salad.

This was disgusting and barely edible. It tasted very bitter and the dressing made the bok choy soggy and wilted.

Next, I had the Egg-less Egg Salad.

This was also not very good. The salad tasted very sour and burned my mouth when I ate it. It had an interesting consistency and the celery and bell peppers were nice and crunchy.

Next, I had the Scarborough Fair Soup.

This soup was very good. It had a mild spiciness and was very smooth. I liked that it was cool and refreshing and was perfect for a hot summery day.

Next, I had the Sloppy Joe Sandwich.

The sandwich was very good. The patty was very meaty and mildly spiced. It was very dense and filling. The lettuce and onion bread worked well together and absorbed the flavors of the patty.

Next, I had the Summer Corn Salad.

This was the only salad that I liked. The corn was very juicy and had a succulent taste. There was a wonderful creamy dressing that enhanced the flavors of the salad.

Next, I had the Strawberry Cream Parfait.

The parfait was pretty good. I really enjoyed the whipped cream topping and strawberry concoction, although I wish it had been sweeter. This worked well for lunch, but was definitely not a dessert.

Lastly, I had the Chocolate Torte Balls.

These were fantastic. The raw balls were soft and luscious, with a rich cacao flavor. They had a a nutty taste and a hint of coconut.

Overall, the food was decent. It would have been a good value, had I been able to have eaten all the food. I am willing to give Rawvolution another try, but I now realize I must bring loads of tape to ensure the food will not spill all over my car again.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Boozy Deal

Mohawk Bend in Echo Park is having a fantastic boozy deal for a luscious brunch/lunch.

                          Mohawk Bend Deal

While I have never been there (sad, but true), I have heard fabulous things about it. They have tons of vegan options (about 2/3 of the menu is vegan, I believe) and everything from buffalo cauliflower to pizzas to decadent s'mores. The deal includes bottomless booze, an appetizer, two entrees, and one dessert for $44. While this deal is only 32% off (far less than the typical Groupon deal), it still provides a significantly cheaper way to dine at a lovely bar.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Salivating Dinner At Streets of India

One of the things I love most about LA is the Indian cuisine. I have had the most amazing, authentic food at one of LA's many veggie Indian establishments. One of my favorites is the very vegan friendly Streets of India in Encino, that I constantly rave about. I have never had a bad meal here and I am confident that I never will. This place more than makes up for the horrific LA traffic and smoggy air.

We started out with Samosas ($4) for our first appetizer.

These samosas are fantastic. They are perfectly crispy on the outside with a savory curried concoction on the inside. They are the perfect way to begin a meal.

Next, we had Vada Sambar ($5).

These lentil donuts are delicacies and were very delicious. They were light and airy and slightly crispy. They had a lovely lentil taste, which was very hearty. I loved the accompanying sauces, especially the coconut chutney. They had the perfect balance of sweet and spicy.

Next, we had the Baingan Bertha ($8).

I was hesitant to try this dish, as I am not a huge fan of eggplant. Yet, the spices completely overpowered the awkwardness of the eggplant and I could barely notice its odd texture and slight bitterness. The tomatoes added a lovely sweetness and the onions and green peas added a nice crunch.

Next, I had the Gobi Manchurian ($9).

This is one of my favorite dishes and for good reason. The cauliflower was deep-fried and took on a similar texture as fried chicken. It was crispy on the outside and slightly chewy inside. The chili garlic sauce provided a tangy flavor and intense heat.

Next, I had the side of Daal, which accompanied the main dishes.

This daal was fantastic. The lentils were rich and hearty and the tomatoes provided a slight sweetness. This dish was loaded with spices and was perfectly seasoned.

Lastly, I had the Vegetable Korma ($8).

Being a vegan, I'm not used to eating such rich, creamy sauces, so I always get taken aback when I find a dish that mimics its dairy counterpart so closely. This dish is one of those that makes you question whether there really is dairy in it, despite the assurance of the staff that it is in fact vegan. The luscious taste and texture comes from the combination of coconut milk and cashews, which tastes so heavenly. I found myself licking the plate to get every last bit of the scrumptious sauce.

Overall, the meal was fantastic. Even though I was stuffed beyond means, I found myself continuing to crave their food long after leaving. With our $25 restaurant.com gift certificate, the meal cost about $20 total. I cannot wait to return.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Cautious Meal At California Vegan

After getting my haircut in Hollywood, I headed down the street to California Vegan for a late lunch. I was a little wary about dining there, since they had a "B" rating, but I was optimistic in hoping it was due to one bad inspection. I opted to take advantage of one of their lunch specials, settling on the Orange Chicken ($8), since this has always been one of my favorite vegan Thai dishes.

The server brought out a cup of miso soup, fairly quickly.

The soup was decent. I'm not a huge fan of miso soup, but this version was pretty good. The seaweed was very dominant and the miso flavor had a fishy taste. The scallions added a nice crunchiness.

Next, the main course came out.

The spring roll was perfectly deep-fried and crispy on the outside. The inside was a little too salty and bitter, though. The lettuce and cucumber mixture in the salad did not taste very fresh, although the peanut dressing was very scrumptious. It was very creamy and had lovely balance of sweetness and spiciness. The orange "chicken" was great on the first bite, but the sauce became very overwhelming. It was very greasy and oily and difficult to digest. I felt my stomach aching before I even finished the meal.

For dessert, I wanted to try a slice of the vegan cheesecake. Despite the signs all over the restaurant hyping up the cheesecake, they were sadly out of it. Thus, I ended up ordering the Tiramisu ($6).

The dessert was the highlight of the meal and almost made up for the mediocre food. The tiramisu had a lovely espresso taste that was balanced out by the rich chocolate. The dessert had a wonderful creamy consistency. The chocolate sauce took the dessert over the top, adding the perfect amount of sweetness.

Overall, the meal was not very satisfactory and left me with bad stomach cramps. The only good part of the meal was the heavenly dessert. If I were to return to California Vegan, I would probably just order dessert, although I regret not ordering Thai Iced Tea. With the Scout Mob 50% off deal that I used on Scoutmob's mobile app, the meal only cost less than $10 with tax and tip.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Brand New Leaf at Leaf Organics

I recently dined at one of my favorite raw fusion restaurants, Leaf Organics, in Culver City with some friends. The restaurant had been newly renovated a few months ago and now has a very sleek interior design. A few weeks ago, the restaurant decided to completely revamp the menu, adding an eclectic mix of innovative options. We were excited to test out some of the new options, using a $25 restaurant.com gift certificate.

First, we had a bowl of the gazpacho soup ($6), split into three smaller portions.

This soup was delicious. It was cool and refreshing and had a wonderful tangy flavor. The chunks of tomato added a wonderful sweetness and the onions added a slight bitterness.

Next, we had the vegan lasagna ($11).

This lasagna was very delectable. The brown rice noodles were perfectly cooked and slightly doughy. The layers were composed of a savory vegetable mixture and a rich, creamy tofu ricotta, coated with a smooth tomato sauce. The melty daiya cheese took the dish over the top.

Next, we had the raw pizza ($12).

The pizza was pretty good, but my least favorite of everything we ordered. The raw bread was slightly crunchy and coated in layers of tomato and pesto sauces. The mixture of pesto sauce, onions, olives and cheese made the dish taste a little too bitter and salty. It needed something sweet, such as pineapples, to balance out the flavors.

Lastly, we had the Saag in a baked potato ($10).

This dish was fantastic. The baked potato was perfectly cooked and had a succulent taste. The saag dish was a lovely spinach curry with a moderate spiciness. There was a delectable cream sauce that helped tone down the intensity of the curry and provided a slight cooling sensation.

Lastly, we had the Maca Chocolate Ice Cream Sundae ($6) split into 3 portions.

The sundae was pretty good, although I've definitely had better. The soft serve was a little icy in spots and the chia base was a little overpowering. Nevertheless, there was a rich chocolate flavoring that was very decadent and enjoyable. The whipped cream was light and airy. There were lovely crumbs that added a slight crunchiness to the sundae.

Overall, I really enjoyed the food. Everything was very flavorful, except for the pizza, and we left feeling healthy and uplifted. I love the mixture of raw and cooked foods, as it allowed us to have a nice variety for our dinner. The meal was quite a deal, only costing us about $34 total. I cannot wait to return and try more of the enticing options from the extensive menu.