“Before we sit down, I’ll be sure to clarify if they can prepare vegan food,” I reassured myself and Co as we entered. A spunky woman eyed us from the register. With my (always) friendly smile I asked “Can you make vegan Thai food? You know, like no fish sauce…”
I am not creature of habit. But after nearly 5 years working in NYC’s Murray Hill there were two things you could count on:
Finding me at the Patrick Kavanagh Pub after work
Eating mujadara from Kalustyan’s at least once a week
When I moved to Los Angeles, the crisp onion and smashed lentils of Mujadara exited my life. But two years later, thanks to an invite to try a new vegetarian/vegan friendly menu at Urban Garden, it’s back in my common rotation! But, while UG’s mujadara is decent, what sends me over the edge here the Garlic Sauce! … Urban Garden (Los Angeles, CA) [CLOSED]
It began years ago. Aloft in New York, I’d fly down to Los Angeles for family and friends… but not for the restaurants. STREET almost changed my mind. I’ve checked in periodically over the years, the menu in a constant flux of evolving blends of modern and traditional street foods. But it has finally come to a beautiful fruition the newest menu revision. Focused on small dishes and with a heavy nod to vegetarians and vegans, STREET is now totally worth a cross country flight… but now in my case, a 20 minute drive.
After 8 years in Brooklyn (Bed Stuy! Do or Die!), I kissed my favorite pizza good-bye and flew home to Los Angeles. A few months later I was hired at Slice. I didn’t know much more about pizza then the average NYC foodie. But that’s considerably more than the average LA foodie… and probably how I got the job. This past year I’ve devoured the Los Angeles pizza scene, learning a simple truth: There is awesome pizza in LA!
The day I moved (back) to Los Angeles was wrought with peril. But a cross-country flight, two terrified cats and the abandonment of life as I’d know it could not quash my higher function: Hunger. As vegetarian-orientated as California is, the caliber of the local vegetarian options simply does not compare the echelons of New York. I was ready for disappointment. Fortunately, I was met at LAX by my parents and a Thai Chickin’ salad from The Veggie Grill.
Mobbed every Sunday brunch, many people forget about Larchmont Bungalow when heading out to dinner. At night, this spacious café become a quite sanctuary for a casual meal with friends. The menu is fairly meat heavy, but a pretty hand written board highlights all their NEW vegan options! The obvious choice is the easy to share Vegan Nachos ($9.95). Light and crispy homemade tortilla chips are topped with vegan cheese (Daiya, the best band out there), whole black beans and thin slices of fresh jalapeno. With the perfect amount of salt and heat we could not stop eating the nachos, especially when loaded with the pico de gallo and fresh guacamole.
On a sunny spring/summer/fall day in Manhattan, there are few pleasures that can match the joyous decompression of a picnic in the park… especially when that picnic is catered by a madly delicious vegan dosa food cart. Hidden in plain sight among the pretzel and hot dog venders of Washington Square Park, 2007 Vendy Award winning Thiru Kumar’s made-to-order dosas, idly, and uthappam are a spicy treat!
My first time here I was clearly a newbie, but being an educated newbie, I ordered the Jaffna Lunch — 4 small pancakes made with “natural herbs” topped with spicy dried chutney and served with a Samosa ($6). Why not the Pondicherry Dosa? Well, despite the excessive online praise for this dosa, when I saw the guy in front of me receive his, all I could think was that it looked like a salad in a crepe… and that wasn’t going to cut it , because I was HUNGRY!
Whatever my relation may or may not be to the one of former owners of Eat Records, I’ve never had mixed feeling over its conversion into a localvore sanctuary. Jordan Colon, the head cook and owner of the revamped “Eat,” has dressed up the typically crunchy-granola seasonnique-style of cooking in a white-walled minimalistic quasi-classy restaurant!
Few restaurants in New York who tout the localvore heritage actually look, taste, and feel the part… more often their “commitment to farm-to-table” or ”sustaining self-reliant food economies” and other modern hippy jargon are practiced only behind the kitchen door. But at Eat, when you look down unto the tomato pulp covered hands of the chef or over towards his well worn bike, you can feel the sweat of the ride to the local Greenmarket through which he brings you the sunshine and soil of “food is purchased directly from organic farmers in the northeast region.” … Eat (Brooklyn, NY)
In Kyoto I failed to convince my travel companions to dine at the famed Kanga-an, a temple serving some of the finest fucha ryori (Buddhist vegan temple food) in the world… at least that is what I’ve been told. I wouldn’t know, would I…
Back in New York I found some solace in the newcomer Kajitsu, a shojin ryori (Zen vegan temple food) restaurant nestled in the East Village. Located in an austere and spacious basement, it is a distinct Japanese/NYC hybrid; the large wooden bar where diners can watch the chef artfully prepare each dish could easily fit 16 people, but at Kajitsu the arrangement allows a maximum of 6. We were seated at the (seemingly much too large for our group of three) front window’s organically undulating slice of hefty wood, the only bold object in the otherwise restrained dining room, but in this restaurant we are arranged with purpose, and negative spaces becomes a part of the $70 (+$30 Sake pairing) eight course Hana menu experience.
Course 1: The meal began with the artful Steamed Hearts of Palm with Plum Sauce, Daikon Radish, and Menegi. It is fragile sculpture of white rings standing in succession crossed by a young green sprig like a beauty queen’s sash. The hearts are delicate and do not struggle to slide from my silver chopsticks and I slowly made them disappear. … Kajitsu (New York, NY)