Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

blaze pizza sideview 1

Unlimited Vegan Toppings at Blaze Pizza

Believe it or not, my best friend and I exchanged holiday gifts just last week. My best friend, Lhen visited the Philippines so I had to wait for her to come back. Meeting up for the holidays has become our tradition; we would meet up, eat good food, exchange gifts, catch up with what’s new, and reminisce the good old days. This year, we went to Blaze Pizza in Fremont.

I heard that Blaze Pizza has good vegan options. Good thing Lhen was down for whatever and didn’t mind my suggestion. She later admitted though that at first she was doubting the vegan pizza would taste good. Despite her doubts, she ordered a half vegan pizza so she could share it with me. Much to our surprise, vegan pizzas at Blaze taste phenomenal.

outside of blaze pizza

Blaze PIzza in Fremont (By the Automall, Pacific Commons)

inside of blaze pizza

 

The staff was very knowledgeable about what’s vegan and what’s not. In fact, the server asked if I want her to change her gloves so it won’t be contaminated with meat. I was taken aback then happily said yes. The only time when somebody asked me that was at an ice cream place called C.R.E.A.M. I guess times are changing? I certainly hope so!

I went on Blaze’s website to double-check if the vegan options are indeed vegan. Here’s what it says under the FAQ page: “our traditional pizza crust is made simply from filtered water, unbleached flour, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and a touch of sugar. (Our gluten-free dough is also vegan). We offer a vegan cheese option (soy-free), and, of course, none of our vegetable toppings contain any meat, egg, or dairy products”.

blaze pizza stack

Seamless assembly line of staff makes it quick and easy to order

blaze pizza sauces

With the “build your own pizza” option, you could choose any sauce and any number of toppings for one set price.

blaze gluten free dough

Blaze’s Gluten-free dough.

Blaze Pizza prides itself on its fast service including the baking process, which takes only three minutes! I guess the secret is the combination of super thin crust and extremely hot oven. But for me, I don’t really mind waiting. I think the best part aside from the vegan options is that you could keep asking for more toppings at no extra charge! Okay…I’m not sure if it was just that server being extra nice that day but I kept asking for more olives and artichokes and I wasn’t charged extra for them. It felt like a buffet. The toppings got thicker than the dough.

blaze pizza counter

 

My 11-inch pizza came out with my favorite toppings including mushrooms, extra servings of olives (black and kalamata), extra servings of artichokes, basil, roasted garlic, classic red sauce, and vegan cheese.

blaze pizza side view blaze pizza side view close upblaze pizza wide shot

And just like that, it was gone, with few roasted garlic left. Oh, did you notice that? It says “vegan cutter” marked on the paper. It’s nice to know that the staff uses a separate cutter for vegan pizzas. I think I may have found my trusted vegan pizza place!

blaze pizza all gone

 

Lhen also finished her pizza. For her vegan half, it had mushrooms, pineapple, artichoke, olives, roasted garlic, vegan cheese, and red sauce -with a little of bit of extra serving of each.

As for our gifts, I gave her a set of cruelty-free skin care and a box of my homemade Bibingka; she gave me a nice package of gloves, purses, vegan eye shadow palette, and a style book from the Philippines.

After our lunch, we headed to a nearby beauty store, Ulta and browsed around for bargains. I bought a vegan hair conditioner that was 50% off plus a free pump! But I’ll save that review for a future post.

 

Blaze Pizza
Multiple locations
www.blazepizza.com

I went to this location:
43831 Pacific Commons Blvd. Fremont, CA 94538
(510) 651-2171

Open Daily:
Sunday-Thursday:
11am – 10pm
Friday-Saturday:
11am – 11pm

 

 

millenium closing wide shot

Dining at Millennium Before It Closes Down

Bittersweet news. The vegan fine dining restaurant, Millennium in San Francisco is closing down. Bittersweet because it won’t be renewing its lease but it will move to another location, possibly in the East Bay. So while it’s not really goodbye but see you later, my friends and I still decided to have dinner here for one last time in its original location.

 

crusted mushrooms app at millennium 2

My must-have, Crusted king Trumpet Mushrooms appetizer with “Arborio rice dredge, cabbage salad with lime vinaigrette, citrus-habanero jam, Szechuan pepper sesame salt”

Seared Brussels Sprouts appetizer with "pickled chiles, smoked tofu, orange miso".

Seared Brussels Sprouts appetizer with “pickled chiles, smoked tofu, orange miso”.

stuffed dates appetizer at milllennium 1

Pistachio Stuffed Dates appetizer with “orange, cinnamon, Aleppo chile”.

red potatoes at millennium

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes appetizer with “roasted garlic-chile Urfa tahini, Castelvetrano olives, zaa’tar”.

january salad at millenium

What our friend Cobi ordered, January Salad with “little gem lettuces, watermelon radish, tarragon, caramelized garlic, Prosecco-Meyer lemon vinaigrette, croutons, fried capers”.

What our friend, Whitney ordered, Rendang Tempeh. I believe the menu had it originally as Rendang Tofu but she kindly requested to sub tofu for tempeh.

What our friend, Whitney ordered, Rendang Tempeh. I believe the menu had it originally as Rendang Tofu but she kindly requested to sub tofu for tempeh.

What our friend, Abigail ordered Seared Artichoke with “pumpkin seed picadillo filling of Castelvetrano olives, lacinato kale, farro verde, cranberry beans & currants, creamy cashew-pumpkin polenta, almond-espelette chile Romesco, toasted alond gremolata, frisee & citrus salad”. She requested to have it gluten-free to which Millennium happily complied.

What our friend, Abigail ordered Seared Artichoke with “pumpkin seed picadillo filling of Castelvetrano olives, lacinato kale, farro verde, cranberry beans & currants, creamy cashew-pumpkin polenta, almond-espelette chile Romesco, toasted alond gremolata, frisee & citrus salad”. She requested to have it gluten-free to which Millennium happily complied.

What our friend, Rosie ordered: Vegan Tamales. One of the winners of the night.

What our friend, Rosie ordered: Vegan Tamales. One of the winners of the night.

What I ordered, Mushroom En Papillote served on top of barley risotto. Black chantrelle and trumpet mushrooms were baked inside the paper bag or the “papillote”.

What I ordered, Mushroom En Papillote served on top of barley risotto. Black chantrelle and trumpet mushrooms were baked inside the paper bag or the “papillote”.

What half of the table ordered for drinks, a vegan Creamsickle with “Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice, Vanilla Agave, Coconut Milk, Soda”.

What half of the table ordered for drinks, a vegan Creamsickle with “Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice, Vanilla Agave, Coconut Milk, Soda”.

We were feasting and having a great time and next thing we knew it was almost midnight and we were the last table left! Our server didn’t rush us at all. In fact, we even got a complimentary dessert to go with the dessert drinks we’ve ordered.

Complimentary dessert! Seasonal Sweet Ending with “chocolate-peanut butter buckeye, coconut-pineapple biscotti, peach, brown sugar & pecan oat crumble, orange brandy & mint chocolate truffles.

Complimentary dessert! Seasonal Sweet Ending with “chocolate-peanut butter buckeye, coconut-pineapple biscotti, peach, brown sugar & pecan oat crumble, orange brandy & mint chocolate truffles.

My dessert drink, Digestive Elixir with chamomile, lemon, ginger, agave, and mint.

My dessert drink, Digestive Elixir with chamomile, lemon, ginger, agave, and mint.

Empty Millennium after closing time. Apparently we were the last ones to leave. Time flies when you’re having fun. We’ll miss you Millennium!

millenium closing wide shot

millenium closing 3 millenium closing

 

It was my first time meeting Whitney at Eco Vegan Gal and Abigail at The So Abby Show. Both of them were so nice and friendly, it felt like we’ve already been friends. Of course, it’s always fun to see Cobi at Veggietorials again. She’s super awesome and personable online and in person. And the one on the far right is one of my vegan partners in crime, Rosie at @rose_petalz.

 

millennium group shot with friends

 

After 20 years, Millennium will be closing its doors on April 30, 2015. If you’d like to catch it before it closes, I highly suggest to make a reservation.

Thanks again for the memories Millennium! I’ll never forget them. Looking forward to your revamp at your new location!

 

 





chickenfriedcauli wide shot

Fourth Year Anniversary Date at Millennium San Francisco

For our fourth year anniversary, Chris and I celebrated at the place where we had our first date, Millennium restaurant in San Francisco.

Millennium is one of the best vegan fine dining destinations in the country if not the best. It offers innovative, inventive, and artisanal vegan concoctions.

Every dish at Millennium has an element of surprise-in a good way. I thought I knew what the mushroom dish would taste like until I took a bite and got blown away by its delicious complexity. You would scratch your head wondering how the heck Millennium does it.  Even if you have a slight idea because Millennium has released a cookbook, it would be wise to leave it to the chef to create such complicated work of art.

You might think because Millennium seems gourmet it’ll serve tiny portions. You’d be surprised that the servings are hearty, filling, and multi layered yet very gourmet in taste and flavor.

Because of Millennium’s popularity, I recommend to make a reservation to avoid waiting in line. I called ahead of time and mentioned that it was going to be for an anniversary. Luckily the host got us a somewhat secluded spot, away from the tight tables and compact corners.

Tricky parking is probably the only downside because it’s almost impossible to find a parking spot in San Francisco. After circling around to no avail, Chris dropped me off so I could claim our spot while he continues to search for parking. I recommend heading there early to give yourself cushion to park your car. You could also take public transportation.

While waiting for Chris, I went ahead and ordered us starters. I asked for bread with a side of spread (lentil pate at the time), which are complimentary but available only upon request. I also ordered the “Crusted King Trumpet Mushrooms”, Chris’ ultimate favorite dish at Millennium.

crusted king trumpet mushrooms

Crusted king Trumpet Mushrooms Arborio rice dredge, cabbage salad with lime vinaigrette, yuzu ponzu, citrus togarashi.

Chris also loves their carbonated water so he was bummed out to learn the carbonated water machine was broken. The server then offered endless club soda from the bar for free, which I thought was a nice gesture.

I don’t really drink alcohol so I ordered the “Love Potion no. 9″ which is a nonalcoholic mix of pomegranate juice and lemonade. The drink had the perfect balance of sweetness and tart.

The mushroom appetizer arrived and did not disappoint our high expectations. I think this dish could rival calamari and would win.

love potion 9 millenium

Love Potion #9: Pomegranate Juice and Organic Lemonade

We also got “Black Rice” dish which reminded me of the flavors of the Filipino Bistek. This hearty dish tasted savory and slightly sweet with a firm bite.
black rice cake millenium

The second entrée was ” ‘Chicken’-Fried Cauliflower”, with battered and fried cauliflower, grilled mushrooms, butter beans and pecans, cashew remoulade, and pickled persimmon salad.

Although Millennium named this dish to highlight the flavor and texture of cauliflower, I thought the grilled mushrooms stole the show. The mushrooms had a dry rub seasoning instead of a liquid marinade which may have transformed the mushrooms from good to exemplary. The rest of the components on the plate was also delicious but the mushrooms were the superstar.

chicken fried cauliflower millenium

“Chicken”-Fried Cauliflower sweet pepper étouffée, butter beans, pecan & mushroom dirty red rice, collard greens, grilled oyster and maitake mushrooms, Aji chile cashew rémoulade, pickled Fuyu persimmon.

chickenfriedcauli wide shot
We would have ordered desserts but we were so full. Plus I had bought Chris four cake slices as surprise gifts after dinner. I tried to make him skip dessert for the big surprise. Each cake slice has it own flavor (carrot cake, chocolate, vanilla, and mocha). I bought four to commemorate the number of years we’ve been together. I got the cakes from Whole Foods.

The bill came and it wasn’t cheap which is expected at such fine dining establishment. Entrees run from $22- $24 each, which are not bad when celebrating a special occasion like an anniversary. Maybe not so much for a first date. Well…yes, we did go to Millennium for our first date but I was bluffing when I dared Chris! Obviously the bluff turned serious and four years later, we’ve become inseparable.

couple photo millenium

Chris and I, celebrating our fourth anniversary at Millennium SF

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Vegan Restaurants and Food Demo in LA

After my first successful demo at Savor Filipino, I was excited to do more. And do more demos I did. I got a Facebook message from a friend who said he knows a professor asking about me and asking if I could teach a demo showcasing my vegan Filipino recipes. I thought about it and said no. Just kidding! Of course I said yes.

The class is on Filipino American studies at Pitzer College in Southern California. I was thinking it would be a piece of cake- the job, not the dish. ANYWAY, I was getting confident until I saw a new email asking that not only I’ll do one dish, the class is asking for at least three dishes to veganize, live, face to face. Three courses? That’s like picturing a worst case scenario multiplied times three. But one thing I learned at “Savor Filipino” and from what I do at Astig Vegan, a challenge is just another opportunity. So I took on the challenge and featured: Vegan Roasted Eggplant Salad (Ensaladang Talong), Vegan Sisig, and Vegan Bibingka.

Professor Todd Honma, who organized the whole thing, asked me to emphasize the health aspects of my cooking so I did adjustments to my recipes by replacing natural sugar to agave, rice flour to coconut flour, and white rice to quinoa.

Below are snapshots of the demo:

pitzer-demo-wide-shot wp pitzer-sisig-cooking wp

pitzer-sisig wp

pitzer-eggplant-salad wp

pitzer-demo-the-students wp

I love that the students were so receptive. The workshop took about four hours and they paid attention the entire time! The students asked tons of great questions and remained inquisitive all throughout the demo.

I felt so lucky and fortunate to have been there sharing what I learned about vegan Filipino cooking. I’m grateful to Pitzer College as well as Professor Todd Honma for their interest in my work.

pitzer demo

Before heading back to the Bay Area, of course I had to check out some vegan restaurants in LA.

It’s safe to say that there’s no shortage of vegan restaurants in LA. In fact, a new one just opened a couple of months ago. The Springs LA, an all raw vegan restaurant houses a wellness center as well as an office for the organization, Farm Sanctuary. It also has sections for cute shops which I’m assuming also sell vegan products.

Here are some of the nice exteriors and interiors of The Springs:

the springs facade widethe spring mural wp

the-springs-sign wp

the springs stores

the springs entrance

the-springs-tableset wp

For food, we got the raw vegan carbonara, hummus and crackers, raw tea leaf salad, raw rangoons (made of dried coconut skin wontons!) as well as raw vegan green curry.

springs-coconut-appetizer springs-raw-appetizer spings-color-carbonara

the spring carbonara wp

springs-salad

For dessert, we got the raw cheesecake with blood orange ice cream, ice cream trio (black sesame, peach, and chocolate), and chocolate cake.

the-springs-desserts the-springs-ice-cream the-springs-cheesecake

the-springs-chocolate-cake

The place was spacious but homey. It also has a feel of both a luxurious loft and a tropical resort.

the-springs-ambiance wpthe springs dining

I went with my sister, my boyfriend, my uncle, and why yes, that’s Hiram Camillo at hiramc.com and Yvonne Ardestani at My Ecclectic Kitchen.

It was my third time meeting up with Yvonne and my first time meeting Hiram who was very nice and friendly in person.

the-springs-dinner wpThe executive chef also came out to meet us, Chef Michael Falso.
the-springs-with-chef-yvonne-michael

The next night, my family and I went to Bright Star Thai Vegan restaurant. Interestingly enough, the sign “Bright Star” looks way too small compared to the sign “Thai Vegan”. I think that’s cool though that they’re proud to be a vegan establishment.

thai-vegan-facade

bright star interiors

Bright Star reminds me of the vegan Thai restaurants in the Bay Area. It offers a variety of fresh vegetables and tofu as well as mock meats.

I highly recommend getting the orange tofu.

bright star orange tofu

bright-star-dish

bright star meal combo

bright-star-thai-soup

bright-star-young-thai-coconut

Bright Star restaurant is a personal recommendation of my sister and her husband who both frequent this place.

On top of my photos, I also shot some videos from the trip. Please feel free to watch it out below.

Thanks for watching!

Have you been to LA? What’s your favorite vegan spot?

 

Part 2: Vegan Finds in LA: Real Food Daily, Seed Kitchen, Viva La Vegan

REAL FOOD DAILY

899 E Del Mar Blvd, Pasadena, CA

Real Food Daily was our first stop on our vegan LA food trip so you could just imagine how excited my friends and I were after long hours of driving.  The one we went to is in Pasadena (it also has other locations in Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Pasadena and LAX airport, T4). The verdict? I have to say, Real Food Daily did not only not disappoint, it wowed us.

My friend Rosie had the “Not-chos” , it’s gluten free and had “melted cashew cheese, black beans, pico de gallo, tofu sour cream, guacamole.

I heard great things about this dish and now I know why. The “Not-chos” was super hearty with its generous layers of ingredients. It’s listed under the appetizer section of the menu but I think this will fill you up on its own. Heck, we were sharing and it was still very hearty for us!

 

imageI ordered the “Under the Tahitian Moon”, a gluten free dish that had “coconut risotto, seared chili-lime king oyster mushroom scallop, baby bokchoy, coconut curry cashews, red pepper couli, scallion“.

The coconut risotto alone was already a winner because of its mildly sweet-savory creaminess, then add in the rest, oh man, it’s like a symphony of awesomeness in every bite. It was nice touch to add cashews for crunchiness. How I wish someday I could get hold of the recipe.

image

My friend Jen had the “Carribean Quesadillas”, a soy free dish that has “Island coconut lentil purée, spinach, caramelized onions, pepperjack cheese, whole wheat tortilla with coconut cilantro cashew crème, mango salsa, guacamole, grilled plantains“.

We all shared dishes so I was lucky enough to have a taste of this dish. Usually when it comes to combo meals, there’s one part you like and one that was either bad or just okay. This dish was not one of those combos. All of the parts were a winner. And with the sweet plantains, you don’t really need to order dessert. Actually, this was almost like a four-course meal all in one plate.

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The facade of Real Food Daily.

imageThe interior of Real Food Daily. Cozy, industrial, modern.

imageReal Food Daily also has smoothies if you’re not feeling like pigging out.  Here we had the “Power Green”  (“Macro Greens, kale, strawberries, banana, flax seeds, almond milk”), and “Banana Maca” (“Banana, maca, cinnamon, dates, hemp milk”).

At first, I was skeptical about the smoothies. I thought they’ll taste bitter or sour, only because that’s how I usually make them at home. But these smoothies were rich, sweet, refreshing, and does not taste bitter at all.

imageLook even their straws are compostable!imageMy friends and I were so full that there was no room for dessert but I thought of snapping some pictures for the blog. This one was their Lemon Curd Tart.

imageTheir variety of cupcakes on display.

image

 

SEED KITCHEN

1604 Pacific Ave., Venice CA

Going to the other neighboring city of Los Angeles, Venice Beach also has vegan places to offer including Seed Kitchen.

I ordered the “Tempeh Chorizo Tacos”, which had “3 crispy corn shells, lettuce, pico de gallo, salsa, avocado“.

The vegetables in the ingredients were super fresh however I was a bit disappointed with the tempeh because it tasted a bit too “beany” in a mild bitter way. Probably I’m just not used to eating a low fat dish.

taco tempeh seed

My sister tagged along with me and my friends. She ordered the “Seitan Pepper Steak”, which had “(chef) Eric’s original seitan pepper steak with broccoli and carrots“.

Once again, the veggies like the carrots, kale, and shredded lettuce were enjoyable to eat because they were fresh and organic. The seitan was a bit too chewy though.

seitan bowlJen had the “Southwest Burger” , which had “(chef) Eric’s original bean & grain burger with lettuce, vegan soy cheese, guacamole and ancho chili spread“.

She said that the burger was super good and tasty. I heard that this dish was the most popular at this joint. If I come back to this place, I’ll order this one. The only thing she said was that the burger was sort of falling apart when she was was eating it. Otherwise, Jen said she enjoyed her meal.

(photo courtesy of Jen at @whollyvegan on Instagram)imageRosie got the “Saisai Donburi Macro Bowl”, which had “kabocha, kale, shiitake, sea vegetables, bean sprouts, daily bean, sauerkraut and balsamic-miso sauce  with tempeh“.

Rosie said she thoroughly enjoyed her meal. From the menu description, it seems like it’s a nice bunch of healthy ingredients that will make you feel energized and charged for the day. This dish is very fitting for its location, as Venice or Muscle Beach is known for its fitness-conscious vibe.

(photo courtesy of Rosie at @rose_petalz on Instagram)

In case you don’t know…

seed descriptions

Interior of Seed Kitchen.

seed interiorCounter of Seed Kitchen.seed orderingWe opted to sit outside so we could enjoy the weather.seed wide shot

 

 

 

 

 

VIVA LA VEGAN GROCERY EXPRESS

2723 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, CA

After Seed Kitchen, we walked around Venice Beach then headed to Viva La Vegan Grocery Express.

viva la vegan wideViva La Vegan is located in a small shopping complex so it was pretty easy to spot and there was ample parking.

We found rare, one of a kind vegan products as well as the popular kinds.

There was only one guy working at the store but he was super helpful.

viva la vegan grocery wide

Here we were, all happy with our vegan finds.

viva la vegan grocery

Please stay tuned for Part 3 of my vegan finds in Los Angeles (and its neighboring cities).

Part 1: Vegan Finds in LA: Donut Friend and Crossroads

Lately, Los Angeles has been kicking butt producing vegan and vegan-friendly establishments. Not to mention, most of these places are organic and macrobiotic. I’m not usually a big fan of trends but this healthy vegan trend is something that I hope will never go away.

My friends, Rosie and Jen, and I drove down to Los Angeles and its neighboring cities to explore these vegan places.

Donut Friend

5107 YORK BLVD., LOS ANGELES

Donut Friend is definitely worth the six hour drive. This place is not fully vegan but it has TONS of vegan selections.donut friend store facade

Most of their donuts are vegan, and those that aren’t could be made vegan. Look at these selections!
donut friend donut spread

raspberry donut friend

donut friend donuts

I was in vegan donut heaven. There were so many selections that my friends and I took forever to choose which ones to order. A good problem to have.

Finally, I went with (see photo below) L-R: “S’morrisey”  (“A chocolate donut filled with chocolate ganache and toasted marshmallows, topped with chocolate glaze and graham cracker crumbs“) , “Vegan Bacon 182″  (“Maple glaze and vegan bacon on top of our traditional donut.”),  DagNutty  (“A moist cake donut with chocolate icing and topped with nuts“), and “Nutellavision” (“A chocolate hazelnut spread and a dash of olive oil inside our traditional donut, topped with a sugar glaze and a pinch of kosher salt.”).

vegan donut friend

vegan donut friend

donut friend store

My friends, Rosie and Jen, posing by Donut Friend’s cute mural wall.

donut friend mural

Crossroads

8284 MELROSE AVENUE, LOS ANGELES

Don’t be fooled with the two knives logo, this is no steakhouse. Crossroads is an all vegan, fine dining restaurant owned and operated by vegan chef Tal Ronnen.  I’ve been hearing great  reviews about this place so I was thrilled to finally check out this place myself.

crossroads facade

crossroads interior

Our server explained that Crossroads is Mediterranean cuisine-inspired and the dishes are served tapa style or in small plates. Interestingly, there was no mention of anything vegan, not even on the menu. Any meat eater could be fooled.

My friends and I didn’t drive all the way down to SoCal just to have one small plate so of course we ordered a spread! For salad, we had the “Kale Caesar Salad”. The kale was fresh, crunchy, and delicious- but I was a bit confused as to why it’s called caesar when it didn’t have any caesar dressing.  I think it should have been called something else.

crossroads caesar salad

Probably one of the most creative vegan dishes I’ve seen, the “artichoke oysters” blew me away. This dish was probably the polar opposite of the kale caesar salad in the creativity department. According to the menu, the artichoke oysters had “artichoke purée / crispy oyster mushroom / yellow tomato béarnaise / kelp caviar — (GF)“. Simply wow.

The “oysters” were served on a bed of rock salt, I assume to mimic ice. While I thought it was super creative to use rock salt, I thought it was a big waste of salt to have it for presentation only especially because the salt tasted wonderful too. I doubt they reuse it. Anyway, this dish was definitely my favorite from “Crossroads”, hands down.

crossroads oyster app

We also had “Tortelloni”, which is tortellni shaped pasta stuffed with almond cheese, oven roasted tomatoes, parsley frisee salad and spinach cream. The pasta had a nice bite while the filling was very creamy.

crossroads tortellini

“Vegan Crab Cakes”. According to the menu, it has “hearts of palm, charred corn relish, and basil aioli“. I thought it was fitting that it had three pieces, just enough for me, Rosie, and Jen.

I was missing the crab taste part which I thought could be brought by adding nori seaweed. In any case, I thought this dish was tasty and I would definitely order it again.crossroads crab cake

“Wood Fired Meaty Lasagna”. I figure that chef Tal Ronnen probably wants to attract many omnivores to his restaurant and be as welcoming as possible because he would rather call his dish, like this one, “meaty” than “vegan”. But oh, I  don’t mean that in a snarky way. I think it’s commendable that he wants to invite as many omnis as possible to his place and if that means not mentioning a word of vegan, then so be it.

This “meaty” lasagna wasn’t only meaty, it was cheesy too! This is the part when I hate that it came only in a small plate. I know, I know, we’ve been warned by the server and I should have expected it. But with this good of a dish, I wish it came in a huge casserole.

crossroads lasagna



Please stay tuned for Part 2 and the rest of the vegan finds from our trip to Los Angeles!

Instagram Meetup at Anzu, Hotel Nikko SF

I had the pleasure and honor to be invited to an Instagram meet up with Cobi Kim, the woman behind the YouTube Channel, Veggietorials.

I joined my friends Jen (@whollyvegan), and Rosie (@rose_petalz) in meeting Cobi at Anzu Restaurant inside Hotel Nikko San Francisco. Cobi lives in Hawaii and is visiting San Francisco for a short time. She leaves on Monday so I was happy to catch her during her brief stay.

Cobi was just so sweet and lovely in person as she is on her YouTube videos. Upon meeting, she greeted us “Mahalo” and asked us to take a seat at the elegant dining set up at Anzu.

As it turns out, Cobi’s brother is one of the chefs at Anzu. Together, they had planned and put together a customized menu for us.

cobi and her brother the chef

Cobi and her brother, one of the chefs at Anzu Restaurant SF.

cobis offering

The customized vegan menu.

For starters, we had a beautiful spread of vegan rolls. Each roll has its own touch of creativity and playfulness. The rolls gave refreshing flavors and texture, not to mention they look just too pretty.

sushi rolls

vegan sushi

Variety of vegan rolls: “Yasai Roll” (Inari, yamagobo, kaiware, soy paper), “Veggie Dragon” (Romaine, Meyer lemon, asparagus, oshingo, cucumber, beets), “Spicy Green Lantern” (Shiso, seaweed, cilantro, tomato, jalapeno, onion)-my favorite.

Honestly, I thought we were supposed to order something from the menu. I had no idea all of them will be served on the table!

mushroom crostini wide shot

mushroom crostini

“Roasted Forest Mushroom Crostini” (truffle white beans, crostini, mushrooms, micro basil, tondo drizzle).

curry“Curry Cauliflower Soup” (sliced almonds, red grapes, kaffir lime oil, etc.),

The soup was served in the cutest little cup that you’ll sip straight from. The soup was an absolute delight from the creaminess of the broth to the mild “buttery” flavors that just sings in your mouth. For the record, we were served a collection of these little cups so we happily helped ourselves to seconds-and more.
tofu salad

“Silken Tofu Salad” (toy box tomatoes, shaved radish, carrots, muki-edamame puree, yuzu citrus drizzle)

The salad was another refreshing treat. The tofu had a custardy, melts-in-your mouth texture. And the vegetables were simply elegant, a work of art.

And as if it wasn’t enough to eat and enjoy every dish on the menu, the servers came out with more vegan offerings, off-menu!

sweet potato fries

Sweet potato fries and sweet peppers with vegan dipping sauce. Comfort food meets gourmet.


mango sorbet

For dessert: Mango sorbet with berries, garnished with mint leaf.

The servers checked with us consistently and made sure we were taken care of. Needless to say, we enjoyed a splendid feast. Even more splendid was the conversations we had on the table. We chatted about food, life, and all things vegan. Cobi’s friends also joined us. They weren’t vegan but they were very gracious and grateful to the wonderful dinner that Cobi and her brother had organized. After all, anyone would be blown away with the planning and execution of our dinner. We didn’t even have to open our wallets much to my surprise. That night was just all about good food and good company, and life was good indeed.

Cobi had mentioned that any of the vegan offerings we had could be ordered off the menu at Anzu anytime. If you happen to be in San Francisco, I highly recommend to give these dishes a try and treat yourself every once in a while, or often, whichever you prefer.

Thank you so much Cobi! Have a safe trip back to Hawaii and I hope to see you again soon. Maybe next time, it’ll be my treat. Mahalo!

Anzu Restaurant at Hotel Nikko SF
222 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 394-1100