Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Pleasant Meal At Pine Garden

On my recent trip to South Florida, my grandma and I ventured to one of the few vegan friendly establishments, a wonderful Chinese restaurant in Boca Raton with a completely separate vegan menu. We dined there during lunch and took advantage of their spectacular lunch special.

First, we had the soup of the day, which was hot and sour soup.

This soup was fantastic. It had a lovely tangy, vinegar taste and was very spicy. The tofu was soft and luscious. My only complaint was that the soup was overwhelmed by mushrooms (which I loathe).

Next, we had some egg rolls, which accompanied our entrees.

The egg roll was very good. It was deep fried and crunchy and lightly coated in oil. The inside was filled with a lovely blend of savory vegetables.

Next, I tried my entree: Orange "Beef".

The faux beef was too chewy and rubbery, but the sauce was wonderful. It had a superb citrus flavor and a fantastic spice. There was a subtle sweetness.

Next, I tried my grandma's entree: Cashew "Chicken".

This dish was also enjoyable, but the faux meat had a similar problem of being overly chewy and having an odd texture. Nevertheless, the sauce was very scrumptious and had a beany flavor. The vegetables were sauteed to perfection and were soft and delectable. The cashews added a nice crunchiness.

Overall, the meal was very good. The dishes were flavorful and not too oily. The food also did not have any MSG in it, which is a great benefit. The lunch special was a great deal, since each meal only cost $8 and included a generous portion of food. My grandma and I were stuffed, but not to the point of feeling sick. I will definitely visit Pine Garden again on my next trip to South Florida.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Huge Meal At Tara's Himalayan Cuisine

On lovely fall evening, I decided to be adventurous and try some Nepalese food. Since I had a $20 voucher to Tara's Himalayan Cuisine that I purchased for $10 through LA Voice Deals, I drove to Culver City to try the place out. I was a little nervous at first, since I had no idea what it would be like, but I'm so happy I dined there.

While I looked over the lengthy menu, the waiter brought over some complimentary pappadum.

The pappadum was a wonderful way to begin the meal. It was very light and crispy and had a lovely lentil flavor.

Next, I had the Vegetable Steamed Momos ($6).

These were magnificent. The outside was soft and doughy and the inside was filled with a savory vegetable mixture. The tomato dip had a mild spice and added a subtle sweetness to the momos. The accompanying salad was fantastic and coated in a tangy vinaigrette.

Next, I had a bowl of the Tomato Spinach Soup ($4).

This soup was lovely. The spinach and tomato provided great contrasts to one another. The spinach was slightly chewy and bitter, while the tomato was soft and succulent. There was a moderate spiciness to the soup and it was very flavorful.

Lastly, I had the Aloo Chili ($7).

This dish was fantastic. The potatoes were soft and juicy and had a meaty taste. The bell peppers and onions were sauteed well and coated in a scrumptious sauce. This vegetables were perfectly seasoned with a moderate spiciness. The accompanying rice was very light and absorbed the flavors of the dish very well.

The wash down the meal, I had a Himalayan Iced Tea ($3).

The iced tea was very refreshing and had a lovely minty flavor. My only complaint is that it wasn't very sweet, so I had to add some sugar.

Overall, the food was fabulous. I was happy to learn that most of the Vegetarian options are in fact Vegan (except for the ones with cream sauce and paneer). The food was very similar to Indian food, although the spices were a little more intense. With the discount, my meal cost about $14 with tax and tip. The food is very reasonably priced and the portions are pretty generous. I will definitely return again and hoping they will have another deal soon!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Vegged Out Week With Vegin' Out

A few weeks ago, I delightfully ordered a week's worth of food from Vegin' Out. Thankfully, I had a Living Social Voucher that only cost me $58. I redeemed it during a fairly easy week and the convenient and tasty food made my week even more enjoyable.

I started with the Harvest Soup.

The soup was delicious. It had a lovely tomato broth and had soft, chunky delectable vegetables. It was very hearty and filling.

Next, I had the Creamy Butternut Linguini.

This dish was so fantastic. The doughy linguine was coated in a scrumptious sauce that was creamy, cheesy and had such a succulent taste. The broccoli and spinach added a crunchiness to the dish and absorbed the flavor perfectly.

Next, I had the Farro Salad.

This was very good. The bulgar was slightly chewy and coated in oil. The dried cherries added a lovely sweetness to contrast the bitterness of the green onions.

Next, I had the Yellow Split Pea Dal.

This was concoction was lovely. The dal had a wonderful mixture of authentic Indian spices and was very fragrant. It had a moderate heat, balanced out by the quinoa.

Next, I had the Italian Chickpea Salad.

This salad was one of my favorites. The chickpeas were very hearty and mixed with a lovely assortment of vegetables. The sauce had a subtle sweetness and mild spiciness.

Next, I had the Acapulco Black Bean Tamale Pie.

This pie was wonderful. The black beans gave it a savory taste and the corn added a sweetness. There were layers of vegan cheese, which greatly enhanced the saltiness of the dish.

Next, I had the Kale With Golden Beets.

The kale was fresh, well-massaged, and easy to chew. The beets added a lovely sweetness and balanced out the bitterness of the kale. The pumpkin seeds added a nice crunchiness. The dressing took the salad over the top and was creamy with a slightly tart flavor.

Next, I had the Carrots with Maple Caramelized Onions.

This dish was my least favorite and needed more flavoring. The carrots were a little too crunchy for my taste and the caramelized onions became wilted in my fridge.

Lastly, I had the Maple Pecan cookies for dessert.

Normally, the cookies are the highlight of the food, but these cookies tasted a little off to me. They had an odd bitter taste and became too hard too quickly.

Overall, the food was spectacular. Each dish was very flavorful and kept me satisfied throughout the day. I really enjoy that the food is fairly healthy and allows me to get all the nutrients I need very easily. The week's worth of food ended up lasting me about 9 days, so it cost about $7 a day. Vegin' Out is already pretty reasonably priced at $117 for a week's worth of food, but to get an even better deal, customers can double up their order or pay ahead of time. They also have a great referral program to help you save money on your orders. I cannot wait to order from them again!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Shabby Meal At Souplantation

I used to be a huge fan of Souplantation. As a buffet lover, I enjoyed going through the line of food several times and sat there eating food until my stomach was about to burst. While there are plenty of options for vegetarians, the options for vegans are slim. Nevertheless, I headed over there about a week ago to try it out again, since I received a coupon in the mail for a free meal. I reasoned that even if it was a bust, at least it wouldn't cost me anything.

I created my own salad from the salad bar. The vegetables were fresh and tasty and I particularly enjoyed the sugary beets and savory beans. The balsamic vinaigrette was tangy and brought out the flavors of the vegetables. The only vegan soup option was minestrone, which was pretty good, although a little too watery for my taste. The tomato broth had a nice flavor, but lacked spices. I added some scallions to enhance it. There was also a lovely sweet potato concoction that was sweet and luscious, made even better by the succulent dried cranberries and walnut chunks. For dessert, I had some oreo bits and fruit that were in the ice cream sundae area.

Overall, the meal was decent, but I don't think I would return again, unless they added more vegan options. I would love if they added vegan baked goods and dairy-free ice cream. Still, Souplantation offers many coupons if you sign up for their e-club, including a buy one get one free meal. Ironically, it's called Club Veg, which should indicate that they may be open to adding more veg options.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Some Fresh Food From Farm Fresh To You

Everyone who knows me knows I'm no chef. My definition of cooking is throwing food in the microwave and hoping it doesn't burn. Nevertheless, I tried to be adventurous and order a CSA box filled with fruits and veggies from Farm Fresh To You. I noticed them on Google Offers a few months ago and after conducting some simple research on the company, I was sold. The box only cost $15 dollars with the deal and came loaded with a lovely mixture of fragrant fruits and veggies delivered right to my door in the middle of the night. The website allowed me to customize my order in a sense, by selecting which fruits and veggies I did not want to receive. I also chose the Mostly Fruits box, which was primarily composed of fruits with a few vegetables.

The fruit was so succulent and delicious. My favorites were the apples, pears, and kiwi, but I was pleasantly surprised to find pomegranate, which was exciting and enjoyable to eat.

The intriguing mixture encouraged me to be adventurous. I made a variety of smoothies and soups using a variety of combinations. It was fun to see how the fruits would work to balance the vegetables out and inspired me to experiment with a variety of seasonings. One of my favorite concoctions was an apple pear kiwi lettuce smoothie with a hint of lemon and celery stalk.

Surprisingly, everything I made was delicious and I had no idea how well vegetables and fruits worked together to create tasty meals. My meals throughout the week were energizing and allowed me to eat healthily for way cheaper.

I highly recommend Farm Fresh To You, but I do have to caution that it is a subscription program that you must cancel or your credit card will be charged (which is such a hassle). Nevertheless, even at the regular price, the service seems worth the price and I feel great supporting local farmers. The company even has some great promotions, especially their referral program, which allows customers to save money on their boxes for each customer they refer.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Review Of The Favorites At Rahel Ethiopian

One of my favorite restaurants is Rahel Ethiopian. I know I have a lot of favorite places, but Rahel is truly special and an experience unlike any other. Ethiopian food is a cuisine I recently discovered not long after going vegan and I find myself craving the salty concoctions. The ambiance at Rahel is a mixture of fun, cozy, and relaxing, from the upside down umbrellas hanging from the ceiling to the low to the ground funky seating arrangements. On my previous visit there with a few friends, we ordered our beloved dishes and reminisced about our past dining experiences there.

We began with the sambussas.

These are pretty much the same as samosas but with a milder flavor. The outside is very crisp and flaky and the interior is filled with savory lentils. The appetizer is very hearty, but not too filling.

Next, we had the Millennium Special for four, which combines all of the dishes on one plate.

This dish is fantastic and is highly recommended. There are a variety of fantastic curries made from fresh vegetables. Many of the tastes are similar and include tangy and slightly sweet flavors. I love that the textures are so different, from mushy to crunchy.

Lastly, we had baklava, which came with the Millennium Special.

The baklava was a little too dry, but the phyllo dough was perfectly crispy. It also had a lovely sweetness and tasted very heavenly.

Overall, the meal was fantastic. We used the $25 gift certificate, which greatly reduced the cost of the meal. Rahel is also currently running a deal on Groupon for $15 for $30 worth of food or drink. I cannot wait to return again soon.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Spotless Meal At The Spot

The Spot is a wonderful cafe just steps away from the gorgeous beach in Hermosa. The air was crisp, with a salty scent as my friend and I entered the quaint establishment. We opted to sit on the patio, which has a fun, Mexican fiesta theme. I had been to The Spot twice before, thus on this visit, I opted to try something new. My friend, who lives nearby, also hadn't been to the restaurant in quite a while and was excited to eat the food again.

The first entree we had was the Chili Burger ($9) veganized.

The burger was delicious. The chili was so savory and hearty. There was a lovely mixture of beans and soy meat. There was also a thin layer of Follow Your Heart Cheese, which was a little awkward on the burger, as it wasn't very melty. The tomato, lettuce and onion were very fresh and crisp and took on the flavors of the chili very well. The accompanying almond rice was also very good and perfectly salted.

The next entree we had was the Savory Garden Burrito ($11).

This burrito was fantastic. The beans and rice had a wonderful smoky flavor and were soft and delectable. The savory sauce was so scrumptious and very creamy. It had a subtle garlicky taste and was perfectly spiced. I seriously wanted to order the sauce to go, it was just that good.

Overall, the meal was very good. Everything was very flavorful and while the dishes were very simple, they were also unique. The savory sauce is a must and I have found myself craving it constantly. We used a $10 for $20 Yelp deal, thus the meal cost about $8 per person (with tax and tip). I will definitely return if I find myself in the area again.