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 :)