Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Loving Hut

I don't know about you but I am tickled pink there is a Loving Hut within driving distance.  And like you, I am thinking, "Why is this in Elk Grove?" and also, "Elk Grove is booty".  Ok that last one could just be me.  

From Sacramento going south on 99, it's just off the freeway on Elk Grove Blvd.  Take a right and another right into one of the shopping plazas and tucked in the back you will find the LH.  From the outside, you are deceived to thinking it's small but it's actually quite large on the inside.  It's peach-y and avocado-y in it's colorway with several flat screens for which to watch the Supreme Master Channel.  Awesome.  They also have pictures of American celebrities and World figures--a who's who of vegan-dom.  

I recognized our waiter from *somewhere* and finally we asked where we knew him from, and found he had worked at the failed vegan Vietnamese place on Main Street in Woodland almost 8 years ago.  I can't remember the name now, it's been that long. (That place was grubbing back then, too.  We were sorry to see it go but then we moved to Portland.)

We chose a creamy colored booth and looked around at the sparse decor, with exception of the large upside-down ceiling LH lighted graphic and the photos.  It's a bit crazy but now i want my logo painted on my ceiling.  Genius.

Now we've been twice now.  The first time I forgot my camera, so the 2nd time I made sure I could get pics.  First we started with a fresh roll (no pic for some reason, lame I know!) and their golden wonton.  Both were delicious.  The wontons are filled with a tofu mixture and was quite flavorful.  Lucy, our almost 6 year old, commandeered this plate as her own but we all got a taste.

 The girls got smoothies, made of their choice of mango, strawberry, banana or avocado.  They decided on their favorites, mango and banana and split the vegan burger.  It's a huge portion for one adult, much less one  kid!  They both raved about it, and I am glad we didn't get them each their own plate.  It appeared to be house-made with oats and tofu, and it was grilled perfectly.  YUMMERS.  We kept stealing their french fries and they kept grumbling us haha.  Too bad kid, you will share your golden french fries!  Between this, the wontons AND their smoothies--both girls were completely and totally satiated. 
 I enjoyed the Ocean plate.  Deliciously marinated chunks of soy with a seaweed crust with sauteed onion, tomato and peppers.  Paired with some brown rice and other than sneaking a fry now and then,I meditated on my plate of happiness.  And by meditate I mean stuffed my face.  It wasn't pretty. 
 Shawn chose the eggplant & tofu curry, a good GF choice.  I am in love with their thick yellow curry.  It is just so addictive I would love to marry it if it would have me. (sorry Shawn LOL)

And, just because we could we got dessert to-go.  The girls chose the carrot cake and I salivated at the cheesecake.  People were warned:  don't even look at my cheesecake or their will be dire consequences of epic proportion. It was velvety smooth and rich and sweet.  The kids were happy, Shawn was happy, and I was happy. So I give them an enthusiastic 5 tomatoes out of 5.  Please support local vegan business!

Loving Hut, Elk Grove
8355 Elk Grove Blvd suite 88
Elk Grove, CA

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Emma's Tamales & Mother Earth's Natural Foods

Portable, flavorful and economic I am really all about the tamale.  To find vegan versions here in Sacramento a few months ago would have been a losing task. We make them from time to time, and despite what you have heard to the contrary, they really are not hard to make.  However, just like any other thing when you get down to it, they are exponentially better when someone else makes one for you! 

Not TOO far from us out on the corner of Elder Creek Rd and Power Inn in an industrial complex you will find Emma's.  Seeing the food cart outside we weren't sure if there was indoor seating or if we were going to have to grab-and-go (which we were happy to do trust me).  Turns out there is a picnic table tucked inside where you can grub down (which we did but plan to take to-go just in case it's occupied).  The menu is clearly labeled (V) for vegan.  Out of 11 tamales, 4 are (V) which I find to be a good ratio.  The gal working there was super friendly and knowledgeable.  We chatted about different pepper heats and the home-made seitan and veggie chorizo in the cold case.  You can buy 4 packs of pre-cooked tamales for under $8, too. For later on when you will be hankering for another taste! 
 Since Shawn is GF, he had the chipotle tofu w/veggies.

I had the mother earth's original (mmmm gluten and peanut butter!)...

and the girls tried the sweet tamale with raisins and shredded coconut.

Needless to say everyone was happy with their selections.  Mine was mild, "meaty" with a great tasting masa.  Everything is house-made, organic...and delicious.  Shawn's had big flavorful cubes of tofu and grilled veggies.  But the big hit was the girls sweet tamale. What a delicious combo!  There is another desert tamale on the menu, pumpkin, which sounds heavenly, but it is not vegan.  Please ask every time you go in for them to veganize that recipe!  I would eat them by the bushel, and I think you would too. In fact I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the change of seasons than with sweet pumpkin and coconut tamales.

We give them a enthusiastic 5 tomatoes out of 5.  I can't seem to fault anything about a fast, scrumptious and vegan hand food.   It's nothing fancy...and if you don't like food cart food I feel for ya, man.  You should get over it and go grab some tamales this week.  (If you are down town, they do have a cart during the week...check the website for info on that, or give them a call for details!)

Emma's Tamales
8101 Elder Creek Rd. unit P, Sacramento CA 95820

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese {San Francisco, Ca}

Just a hop-skip-jump to the Bay Area for some Cha-Ya Japanese is what I am talking about.  The name says vegetarian, but everything is vegan.  So put that in your pipe and smoke it, er, um...yeah:  it's the shit.

Sushi Combo Dinner:  Kappa Roll, Vegan Roll, Inari $15
 The lack of regular sushi in our lives since leaving Portland has been a real struggle.  We maintained a steady weekly diet for a while at the family's favorite sushi place near Shawn's old job, and frankly I could live off the stuff and never get bored.   Both girls are an eating machine when it comes to sushi so we do make it at home to save a buck or two.

  We had been meaning to check this place out for a while now, especially after one time being up in Berkeley and we had just missed them closing for dinner and boy was that a bummer.  This time we were there at the right time and we got a great table before the dinner rush swarmed in.
The udon from the Vegetable Tempura (served separate), $11.25

  I ordered the Vegetable Tempura, with udon noodles.  The tempura was served on the side and like an appetizer bonus.  I devoured them both very seriously and really didn't want to share with anyone.  Shawn and I also ordered some rolls to share, the kappa (cucumber).  Not very adventurous, I know.  They have a wonderful sushi selection with the usual suspects, then they offer plum, sea vegetable salad, pickled burdock and *shudder* even natto {the worst tasting thing on the planet, sorry....blech!}.

  The gal was very helpful with Shawn's questions on the gluten free options, and he ended up with the Hana Gomoku, mixed sushi bowl.  It was delicious and vibrant looking with lotus root, shitake, green beans, tofu and mixed vegetables over sushi rice.  The portion size was good, but he also snacked on our shared rolls.
Hana Gomoku, mixed sushi bowl $10.50

  Lucy had her own rolls of cucumber and avocado and some of my noodles.  And Lyric conquered the Sushi Combo Dinner, pictured above with miso and sunomono salad.  She ate the whole thing and remembered how much $1 plate sushi she would eat at the other place.  *sigh*  We miss cheap sushi LOL.  The prices were not bad, honestly.  I wanted desert just for the taste experience:  there was vegan cake, ice cream, compotes, fried bananas and oshiruko, with is sweet azuki beans and mochi.  mmmmmm, but dang.  We were just too full, sadly.  Next time...oh yes.  Next time.

Cha-Ya has three locations:
1686 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley CA 94709 (510) 981-1213
762 Valencia, San Francisco CA 94110 (415) 252-7825
1386 9th Ave, San Francisco CA 94122 (415) 731-2388

We experienced the Valencia restaurant and we have got to give the Cha-Ya 5 out of 5 tomatoes.  It's small and busy but the girls were happy, our server was knowledgeable and quick.  You seriously cannot beat that food with a vegan stick.  I cannot wait to go back, and SOON.
Satisfied Customers :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I have been eyeballing going here to ZPizza for a while, really the only thing that has stopped us from trying it was it is in Roseville and even that isn't much of an excuse to not scarf on pizza.  (I guess I would drive pretty much any distance for good food, as sad as that may seem.)  It's an easy trip...located right on douglas blvd in a upscale mini-mall.  This location is small (I saw a lot of take-out going on and delivery which would be so cool if there was one nearer to us!) and the ovens are prominent so it got a little warm in there, but there are outside tables with umbrellas if it wasn't hotter outside than in lol.  I would probably would dine on the surface of the sun for good vegan food, as well.  Yup. 

We knew what we were ordering before we went in, since there is only one vegan pizza on the menu--called the "Berkeley" and we got the large between me and the girls.

Shawn's version was GF but it's a pre-made crust that can only be ordered for the personal size.  He also passed on the "meaty crumbles" but ours had them and to paraphrase my daughter Lyric, "If you can have pizza THIS DELICIOUS, why would anyone want to eat abused dead animals?".  From her lips to everyone's ears, right?  And she was right, the whole pie was delicious, can't think of a single bad thing to say.  The veggies were fresh, sliced perfectly...the daiya cheese blend was amazing.  Shawn's crust was thinner than the regular and the usual GF pizza crust similar to the ones we would get from food fight! grocery.  It could be the same crust, actually.  For a salad app, we got the California salad, with greens, avocado, onion, black olives, tomatoes and cucumbers with the balsamic vinaigrette and since my girls love salad we got the large.  Yum, I thought the dressing was fantastic.  

I pretty much want to eat this everyday now.  It was totally worth the short drive for us.  I want to go there again right now, if you get right down to it.  Pros are obvious about this:  the VEGANACITY of the Berkeley pizza is a total A+, the organic produce, the fact they offer slices of pizza and are trying to get the vegan slice up there on a regular basis is nice... and the GF crust option.  The con's are the location, the size of the restaurant itself (like if there are more than 4 of you in a group you might be split up at different tables), and I know that that place is going to heat up, literally, like a pizza oven in the summer.  Look at the size of that oven!  So, for what it's worth I deem this to be 4.75 tomatoes.  Please go there and eat the vegan pizza and let your friends know that food IS love, but slaughter, misery, disease and cruelty have no place on your plate or on the heart.  GO vegan! :)

3984 Douglas Blvd., Roseville CA

Monday, April 26, 2010

Andy Nguyen's

Andy Nguyen's has literally been around forever in Sacramento--it's one of the very few all vegetarian restaurants that has endured.  Since changing the menu 99% of the food is vegan, and what is only vegetarian is labeled as such so vegans can rejoice!  Andy's has everything you would expect in a Vietnamese Buddhist restaurant as far as music and decor.  It's lighting is forgiving and dim at night, bright and awake during the day from the wall of windows and mirrored wall.  It is not a huge restaurant, more on the small side for number of tables.  Sometimes there is a wait, sometimes not.  I suggest going early to avoid the crowds because....*wait for it*...the service can be really slow.  And by really slow I mean painfully starving for your food slow--however, if you are knowing that you are in for the long haul dining experience the pay off can be probably one of the very best meals you have ever eaten.  THAT GOES FOR YOU TOO, OMNI'S!  It just might turn you out vegan! :)  Can I just recommend leaving the kids home for this one?  They won't understand the wait even if you bring snacks to keep them tied over.  There is always at least one cryer in there at all times belonging to well meaning parents.  It's too small to walk around and as a mother I am just trying to keep it real.  As much as I would love it to be kid-friendly, the fact is save this place for your adult friends/dates/meet-ups sans the little ones.

Now,  the food is just delicious.  I mean everything is so fresh and flavorful I have never gotten a bad dish.  The mock-meats are all soy (but not GF) and very, very "meat-like".  Some vegans are in to that (moi) some are not, but there are also tofu dishes to choose from.  If you had to wait 45 minutes with your chosen company this will salve over any hard feelings you might be starting to get.  Enjoy your company, savor the time and just you wait for your meal.  MMMMM.

We normally get the "soft garden rolls" to start:   cold rolls with flavorful tofu, cabbage, herbs and carrots wrapped in rice paper.  It comes with a delicious peanut sauce and we love to get some chili sauce and put a dash in the middle so you get a swab of hot with every bite.  Since they no longer have a true pho, the next best soup is the "patience noodles".  The "pho" noodles are swimming in such a savory asian spiced broth along side soy ham and beef, tofu and vegetables/mushrooms.  It's perfect for sharing.  Another favorite of mine is the "pure heart nori fish".  This is a huge dish!  The soy nori wrapped fish is grilled and has a citrus/ginger sauce served over lettuce/basil/tomatoes.  (Vegan fish is my fetish, seriously.  When I can get it done well I am all about it, and this dish is done right!)  This last time we went in, there was a new specials board.  I didn't note the name of Shawn's dish, but it was an okra tofu veggie medley.  Okra can be badly cooked but he noted it was done quite well and complimented the softly sweet and sour sauce.

There is an extensive tea menu and they serve coffees and thai iced-teas.  They had 3 vegan deserts out of four on their special board as well.  With appetizers, drinks and deserts you can easily spend over $50 for two people.  Although not the least expensive vegan Asian option in Sacramento, it is honestly one of the best.  Try it with an open mind, and bring at least one meat-eater with you to check out some good eats!

They also do take away:  I am thinking that if you want to share this experience with friends and family out of the restaurant calling WAY ahead for your to-go order is prudent.  Just add 20 minutes to the time they quote and you won't be waiting around too long. 

I am giving 4.75 tomatoes out of 5.  The only draw back is the wait/service *sometimes*, and the lacking of kid-friendliness.  Be prepared and you won't be disappointed!

Andy Nguyen's
2007 Broadway, Sacramento CA 95818

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Here's the Scoop

I am sick to death of all the "fro-yos" popping up around town.  VEGANS LOVE FROZEN DESSERTS TOO.  Just the kind that don't include a heaping helping of rape, plundering and murder of innocent cows.  Hello soy ice cream, how YOU doing?  Granted, Here's the Scoop is a proud dairy ice cream establishment, but they are gracious and smart enough to offer a small selection of soy ice creams in the usual flavors:  cherry, vanilla, mint chip and blueberry (where's the chocolate?!?!).  They make sure the classic cone is vegan and they offer a "mallow" topping and your choice of almond slices or peanuts.  What does that mean for us?  Banana splits, 1, 2 or 3 scoop sundaes, shakes...oh baby.  They also offer vegan bonbons and chocolate covered cherries with dark chocolate.  mmmm mmmm!  They also serve Gunthers freezes if you like, but you have my permission to get that 3 scoop sundae, ok?  Haven't you had your fair share of freezes as a vegan!

HINT to Sacramento:  if you got a strictly vegan ice cream place it would be out the door, man.  Speaking of out the door, be aware that HTS is directly across the street from the high school so either a masochist or a person REALLY needing ice cream would think to go in there during after after school hours.  They are open late, so you can go after dinner (or at the dinner hour and *call* it dinner!).  There are a few chairs, and some outside seating but with the bbq cooking hot dogs and different meats we like to get ours "to go" if you know what I mean. 

I am strictly reviewing the soy 'cream here with 4.5 tomatoes.  How else could you rate a sundae?  The rest of the menu is about as NOT vegan as you can get but I take it as I can get it sometimes!

Here's the Scoop
3051 Freeport Boulevard, Sacramento CA 95818
(916) 446-4478

Monday, April 19, 2010

New China Restaurant

Located in the Greenhaven/Pocket area, the New China was the one place I actually CRAVED the whole time I lived in Oregon because no one made a veggie Mongolian "beef" like they do.  I had jonze for this place during my pregnancy with Lucy in 2004, then again after I delivered here we were still quite the regulars. When we moved and I realized no body does it better when it came to the Mongolian. Needless to say literally the minute we got back to Sacramento I NEEDED to get me some of that. I don't know if it's the spicy sauce, the green onions or those little crunchy white glass noodles on the bottom but I find it to be delicious.  I think you would too.
 As far as veggie options, the New China has several dishes with analog meats with a small "vegetarian" section on the menu.  But they also are quite helpful with switching out tofu for Shawn who is gluten free.  Although there are no vegan options in soups or appetizers, the fast service makes up for it.  Who has time for appetizers when the food comes so quickly?  I like to get right down to business here.

One of our favorite rice dishes is the garlic ginger fried rice.  The kids really enjoy this or the regular vegetable fried rice...we are somewhat of regulars so we don't need to even say "no egg", the staff knows we are vegan and are totally helpful.  Speaking of the kids, this is the Chinese restaurant you went to with your family as a kid.  There are big round glass topped tables complete with lazy-susans to spin.  That same hot tea flavor with a TV mounted in the corner with the news on mute, subtitled.  Big fountain sodas in plastic coke cups take me way back, too.  Seriously, I am not sure how long it has been at that location but it could have been there in the '70s in my home town.   It is never too busy, and they do a great business in area delivery/take-out. The hallway to the bathroom can be weird, and sometimes they could use a good scrubbing but hey--I am there for the grub. 

Before Shawn went gluten free, his favorite dish was the general tso's veggie chicken.  It is totally fried to perfection and just spicy enough.  Even though he can't have it, from time to time I crave this dish too.  And I get my Mongolian veggie beef to go! :)

I am giving the New China a consistent 3.5 tomatoes.  Go get your Cantonese on!
New China Restaurant 6363 Riverside Blvd Sacramento, CA 95831 (916) 424-1717