Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

where to eat vegan

Where to Eat Vegan in Napa

Call me lucky, but I have friends who are always the first to learn about upcoming vegan events in town and out. Six months ago, my friend Rosie alerted me that vegan cookbook author and vegan culinary celebrity, Isa Chandra Moskowitz will be in Napa on February 8th for a cooking tour. The event sold out quickly online and we were the first ones to get our tickets in. Time flew and before we knew it, we were driving on our way to Napa.

To the vegan world, Isa is a rock star that cooks. The vegan woman version of Jamie Oliver. Isa made vegan cooking “cool”. She was one of the first, if not the first to have a vegan cooking show, which was aired on public television pre-Internet days.

Isa’s event in Napa was scheduled on a Sunday night. My friends and I decided to go earlier in the afternoon to grab lunch and check out what Napa had in store for us. After researching “vegan Napa” online, my friend suggested a restaurant called Melted.

melted restaurantMelted had three vegan options: two vegan and gluten-free waffle sandwiches and a vegan smoothie.

Rosie and I got the “Aunt Weaver Stamper” with vegan swiss, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and walnut arugula pesto.

astig vegan waffle sandwich at meltedMy two other friends got the “Settin the Woods On Fire”, originally vegetarian but veganized for them with vegan cheese, tomato, avocado, salsa, cilantro.

astig vegan waffle sandwich at melted 4

 We all got the vegan smoothie (not pictured) called “Dan Rather” with peanut butter, chocolate, and banana.  From the description alone, we should have known that the smoothie would be too thick and heavy for a drink; it was more like a dessert.

We realized we also should have went with a half order instead of a full order because the portions were too big for us. My friends preferred the “Aunt Weaver Stamper” better than the “Settin the Woods On Fire”. 

astig vegan waffle sandwich at melted 1
After our lunch, we met up with more friends and went to a vegan-friendly winery at O’Brien Estate . We checked the online resource, barnivore.com to confirm if indeed O’Brien Winery offers vegan wines. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have gone! O’Brien Winery passed much to our relief. My friend Rosie had gone before and she said that the owners’ daughter is vegan and she gave her a tour around the estate.

Alas the daughter was not there when we arrived at the winery. Another bummer was that it had been raining that day so we weren’t able to roam around for a tour. Instead, we were seated in a nice dining area where we tasted various fine wines. When the rain stopped and the clouds calmed down a bit, we walked around with our guide, Julio, who poured us dessert wine while explaining the process of growing their grapes and making their wines.

The wine tasting was originally priced at $25 per person but it recently jumped up to $40. We were lucky that Rosie had reserved the wine tasting before the price hike so O’Brien Winery had to honor the old price.

o brien winery in napaThe O’Briens live right in the estate; that’s their house painted in grey color.

obrien city winery house of obriens

We also visited the room where barrels and barrels of wine were stored. Another group had its wine tasting here.

obrien winery barrels

 My gorgeous friend, Cassie.

my friend Cassie

Vegan red wine and raw almonds.
vegan wines at obrien estate

The O’Brien wines are grown, picked, fermented, and bottled within the vicinity. Everything is self-contained; in fact the wines are not distributed to any retail stores.

As you could tell, some of us have turned red. Oops. 

obrien winery in napa with friends

I’m not going to lie; I got pretty buzzed from all the fine wines. I don’t usually drink so unfortunately I didn’t feel well after the tasting. I was hoping the next place we visit would make me feel better. I thought perhaps caffeine would help (ha!).

Next, we headed to Oxbow Public Market. We found several artisan vendors that sell vegan products and other creative stuff.

oxbow store in napa

Ritual Coffee where we had our caffeine fix. Unfortunately, the coffee didn’t sober me up. I should have known better!

ritual coffee in napa

Whole Spice store.

spices stores in napa

Vegan goodies.
vegan brittle candy in napa

heirloom grains and beans store in napa

 Some of my friends got hungry so they ordered vegan tacos and chips from C Casa

vegan nachos and guacamole  and tacos c casa napa

The Avocado Tacos had corn relish, poblanos, green onions, mixed greens & avocado crema.

vegan tacos at c casa napa  1The Guacamole and Chips had roasted corn relish.
vegan nachos and guacamole c casa napaThankfully, I had the chance to recover before going to our main event, Isa’s cooking show. Actually, the event is called “Isa Live, a Vegan Life in Four Courses“. It was held at City Winery which was not so far away from Oxbow.

Upon arriving, I realized just how big the venue was. I heard that about 300 people were there! The venue was a music hall where the audience area was configured into a massive dining space with tables and chairs. It had a main stage where Isa cooked and talked to us. Sandwiching the main stage were screen projects showing the food up close.
isa chandra isa live programme 1

isa chandra isa live programme

Isa was hilarious all through out the show. My friends and I were laughing the entire time. In fact, we felt like we were watching a stand-up comedy routine instead of a cooking demo. 

isa chandra on stage city winery

The first course, vegan Caesar Salad with grilled tofu, quinoa, and pine nuts.isa chandra caesar salad

 The second course was a vegan Tamale with lentil “chorizo”, mole sauce, and guacamole.

isa chandra tamale

 The third course was a Chickpea Stew with chewy rosemary Biscuit.

isa chandra chickpea soup with biscuit

For dessert, we had Chocolate Mousse cupcake with coconut whipped cream on the side.isa chandra cupcake

The happy bunch. isa live in napa with friends

After the show, the audience had the chance to do a meet and greet with Isa. I should have brought my Isa Does It cookbook for her to sign. But then again, we had a long day and were dog tired and ready to get some rest. The dinner ended around 10pm! 

Isa graciously answered all of our questions and even took a photo of the audience when my friend asked for her to do it. Prior to meeting Isa, I thought she would have this “I’m too cool for anything” attitude but she turned out to be super nice, funny, and down to earth. Her humble personality made her even more of a rock star in my book.
isa chandra book signing

After dinner, my friends and I checked in to Hawthorn Suites. We knew the event would end late so we booked a hotel and didn’t risk driving back to San Francisco.

I brought my own toiletries but it was nice to see that the hotel offers toiletries from Mineral Fusion, a vegan skin-care company.

mineral fusion hotel toiletries

 The next morning, we packed our bags and checked out of the hotel. We saw commercial stores nearby like Michaels, Home Goods, and Kohls so we decided to stop by and check out Home Goods before leaving Napa.

I ended up buying a cake stand. At first, I was debating whether I should go for the fancy ribboned cake stand or the simple one. I eventually chose the simple one because it could go with any occasion and could match any style and theme.

cake stands

As we headed to our car, we saw a rainbow facing us. I thought the rainbow was a nice goodbye gesture from Napa. 

rainbow

The drive back from Napa to San Francisco was beautiful and scenic. Even though Napa was far from being a vegan paradise, our trip was a memorable one. Many thanks to Rosie who invited me to Isa’s event and for driving us safe and sound in the pouring rain. Like I said, I’m one lucky gal for having such friends. Speaking of which, I have to go now, I just got a Facebook invite about another vegan event happening soon!

I’ve also put together a short video of our trip. I hope you enjoy! 

vegan flacos spread wide shot

Where to Eat Vegan: Flacos, Berkeley

Flacos is a quaint vegan Mexican restaurant in Berkeley. I’d like to believe it has a mission similar to Astig Vegan’s: to pay homage to a culture by veganizing its cuisine while preserving its authenticity.

I met up with my friend Clare to have lunch with her and to catch up while she’s visiting the Bay Area. At the time, I hadn’t eaten lunch yet and it was already 2pm so I was ready to order a feast. I was glad that the Berkeley location has its own parking lot because parking in Berkeley could be tough -especially if you’re starving.

The place was not crowded because we arrived after the lunch rush. The service was great. The staff gave us recommendations and answered all of our questions. One of the staff is Filipino! He said he’s vegan during lunch (?) then he suggested the Huarache, one of their best sellers. Clare went with that, a taco, and Horchata. I ordered Tamales and a Taquitos plate.

flacos huarache vegan

Full Plate of Vegan Huarache at Flacos, with “large hand-made organic corn tortilla layered with avocado, refried pinto beans, rice, cilantro, onions, cabbage, radish, & salsa”. We added soy protein for $0.50 more. This Vegan Huarache is gluten-free.

vegan huarache med shot flacos

Another dish that Clare ordered was the Flacos Tacos. I thought it had the same main ingredients as the Huarache but in smaller serving.

flacos tacos wide shot

flacos tacos cu

Flacos Taco with “textured soy protein cooked in special mole and served on a hand-made organic corn tortilla with cabbage, radish, cilantro, and onions.

Here’s what I ordered: a full plate of Taquitos and one order of Tamale.flacos taquitos 1

flacos taquitos cu

Flacos Taquitos with ” thick textured soy protein rolled in a corn tortilla and fried into a golden crisp”.

 

vegan tamale flacos

Banana Leaf Tamal with “textured soy protein in savory mole, capers, potatoes, a green olive inside organic corn masa, and steamed in a banana leaf”

From what we ordered, it may seem like everything had soy protein. Personally, I don’t mind soy protein every once in a while when eating out. Besides, Flacos balances it out with fresh, organic vegetables. The corn tortillas are not only organic, they’re hand-made too.

Perhaps what I love the most about Flacos is its mission. If you read the “About Us” page on its website, you’ll learn that the founder started Flacos after he couldn’t find anything vegan to order at a Mexican restaurant aside from the plain Vegetarian Burrito. Taking it a step further, he went back to his roots and adopted traditional techniques of Mexican cooking -with proper vegan substitutions. By paying homage to his Mexican heritage, the dish may be without meat but it does tastes authentic.

I think it parallels with my mission of veganizing Filipino Food. I seek to make my vegan creations taste just like how I remembered it growing up in the Philippines. I wanted my Filipino food to have the same nostalgia, nuance, and warmth-without the animal products. Other people question if that’s possible. Judging by how Flacos is doing it, I say very possible!

 

Flacos Berkeley:
3031 Adeline St. Berkeley, CA 94703
(510) 981-8081

Closed Monday
Tuesday-Saturday 11:30am-9pm
Sunday 12pm-6pm

blaze pizza sideview 1

Where to Eat Vegan: Blaze, Fremont

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

Where to Eat Vegan: 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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Where to Eat Vegan: Los Angeles

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?

 

Where to Eat Vegan: Los Angeles

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.

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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.

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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).