Monday, July 29, 2013

A Sacred Meal At Shojin

It had been so long since I had eaten at Shojin (2 years!), so I was stoked to be able to dine there during my mom's visit to LA. We arrived just as they were opening and the well-dressed waitstaff smiled and greeted us as we opened the door to the quaint, sophisticated restaurant. As we took our seats on the large cozy pleather seats, the waitress unfolded the cloth napkins, placed it on our laps and put our purses in the bins below. The whole experience made me feel like royalty. A few moments later, the waitress returned to bring us a fizzy, fruity welcome drink and a complimentary appetizer.

This was scallions dressed in a lovely miso sauce. The bitterness of the green onions was enhanced by the saltiness of the miso sauce.

We began with the Osaka Ablaze ($14).

I am not much of a fan of brussel sprouts, so I was worried I wouldn't like this. The strong flavor of the ginger sauce and the various seasonings did a great job of disguising the brussel sprouts and I found that I barely noticed they were there. The sushi was so soft and had a slightly fishy flavor, which I actually enjoyed.

Next, we had the Pirates of the Crunchy ($14).

I have had my eye on this sushi roll since Shojin launched it last year and had been dying to try it. It was definitely worth the wait! This sushi was fantastic and truly was the standout of the meal. The tempeh was fried to perfection and seemed to mimic salmon really well. The corn flakes added a lovely crunch and a subtle sweetness. I normally detest mayo, but Shojin's homemade version was so creamy and scrumptious, I found myself licking the plate. I would order this dish again in a heartbeat. 

Finally, we had the Orange "Chicken" Seitan ($19).

This dish was delicious. The seitan had a wonderful chewy texture and was very meaty. The orange sauce had a spectacular balance of sweet and spicy. The vegetables were lightly seasoned and roasted, making them easy to chew. The tofu slabs were also very good and complimented the dish very well.

Overall, the food was amazing. Everything was tasty and had the perfect combination of seasonings and spices. I also love that the ingredients were all organic and macrobiotic, so I didn't feel weighed down by the food, as I typically do after eating Asian cuisine. The service was also impeccable. I appreciated that we were given some "freebies", ending with a complimentary cup of tea to end the meal. Since I am a subscriber to Shojin's e-newsletter, I received a coupon for a free sushi roll. The week we went it was a complimentary Osaka Ablaze roll, with the purchase of any entree. Thus we ended up saving $14, which was pretty significant. I cannot wait to return to Shojin again soon.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Creative Lunch At LA Vegan Crepe

For my mom's first meal during her visit to Los Angeles, we ventured to Beverly Hills to dine at the fairly new restaurant, LA Vegan Crepe. Despite that the cafe has been open since last December, this was my first time dining at the quaint establishment. The restaurant had such a relaxing atmosphere. When we arrived around noon, the place was nearly empty and the smell of freshly made pastries made my stomach growl. As we sat down, I looked over the menu and immediately settled on the crepe section. My mom and I opted to both get savory crepes for our meal and split a sweet crepe for dessert.

For my entree, I ordered the Savoyarde Crepe ($14).

This crepe was very delicious. The outside was soft and easy to chew. The inside was fantastic and the thin crepe absorbed the flavors so well. The meaty soy sausage worked perfectly with the hearty potato slices. The cheese mixture enhanced the saltiness of the soy sausage and helped bring out the flavors. The white wine sauce took the crepe over the top and had a great balance of bitterness and sweetness. The seasonings were fantastic and lingered in my mouth until dessert came. The accompanying salad was very good, although there were too many mushrooms. The salad was slightly creamy, but very light and refreshing.

My mom ordered the  Veggie Lover's Crepe ($12).

I got to try some of this crepe and it was fantastic. It was very simple in comparison to mine and the focus was more on the crisp vegetables. I enjoyed the melty Daiya cheese and the wonderful seasonings used.

For dessert, we had the Banana Chocolate Crepe ($8.50).

This crepe was not what I expected, but still very good. The waiter explained to us that the chocolate used had a bitter flavor and was unlike Nutella, which is traditionally used in crepes. I still enjoyed the crepe despite that it was not as sweet as I would have liked. The chocolate still had a rich flavor and the bananas added a natural sweetness. The crepe itself had a slight sugary taste. The ice cream made the dish even better, adding its own creaminess and heavenly taste.

Overall, the food was very good. It was a little on the expensive side, but considering that the food is completely vegan and it seems like they use organic ingredients, the food is definitely worth the price. Even better, I used my Green Menu card for a 10% off discount, which saved us a few dollars. I will definitely be back soon to try more of their lovely crepes. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Happy Birthday Real Food Daily!

Last month, my friends and I ventured to Real Food Daily for a delicious dinner. Their birthday celebration consisted of sampling some yummy juice concoctions along with the option of ordering from their original 1993 menu. We were delighted to scan over this special menu and find that the options twenty years ago were way different than those today. It's exciting to see this progression occurring and even more motivating to imagine how much improvement will happen in the next few years. While the original menu was a bit limited, I still was able to make a wonderful choice: The Real Food Meal. Today, this meal values at $15, but on the original menu it was only $7.50.

This entree was fantastic. The vegetables were fresh and crunchy and lightly seasoned. The rice and beans had a savory flavor. The best part of the meal was the creamy house dressing, which was a lovely miso tahini dressing. It had such a rich taste and really brought out the sweet and savory flavors of the various vegetables. The seaweed and greens especially added a wonderful bitterness that was greatly enhanced by the fabulous dressing.

For dessert, the owner brought us a complimentary piece of birthday cake, which despite being cold from the refrigerator, it still tasted heavenly. The cake was so moist and decadent and the sweetness lingered in my mouth for hours after.

Overall, the meal was superb, as is every meal I eat at Real Food Daily. I was so happy to be able to eat this great meal for half off. It was so filling and tasty, yet was healthy and invigorating. I highly recommend dining at Real Food Daily, and while their food is normally a bit pricy, it is definitely worth the splurge.