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Category: vegan Page 1 of 4

Pizzeria Grano, #PizzaChallengeYVR 2021

Amidst the new restaurant regulations of April 2021, and the need to support the hospitality industry more than ever, Vancouver Foodster’s #PizzaChallengeYVR is giving foodies and pizza aficionados a reason to dine in on patios and take out at home. And as one of the 3 judges, I have been tasked to visit each competing restaurant, to try each creation; then pick my favourite based on Taste, Originality, and Presentation. And as diners, you are invited to do the same, voting online for your favourite, to be crowned the people’s choice.

Today I was at Pizzeria Grano on Main Street, the vegan restaurant, who is highlighting their Patate al Forno for the competition. Grano prides itself on preparing traditional Neapolitan pizza, which includes utilizing properly hand-stretched dough that is traditionally topped, then baked in their domed shaped brick oven. The result, a delicious crust and the ideal base for their plant-based menu. 

Their competing pizza features a cashew bechamel base with whipped potato, cashew mozzarella; and is finished with crispy bacun bits, chives and their house-made sour cream. I likened it to a deconstructed baked potato over airy pizza dough. I liked the idea, but would have preferred the potatoes baked firm to better contrast the crispy dough. Though the flavours were all there: with the refreshing chives and the “bacun’s” smokiness being the highlight. I just wished there was more of the latter, and in larger chunks to easily make out and provide that contrasting texture I was looking for above.

We also tried the Tartufo pizza, which is my guest’s favourite pizza from Grano. For those who need their cheese dairy-free and love the strength of flavour that truffle provides, this one is for you. Roasted garlic purée, olive oil,  cashew mozzarella, crimini mushrooms, truffle pate, and parsley. You got exactly what you expected with this one and then some. No complaints, just a top notch mushroom pizza. I can see why this is her favourite.

I was more enamoured by the Eggplant Parmesan. I have only just tried this fdish or the very first time, here. Baked layers of roasted eggplant with marinara sauce, walnut pesto, and cashew ricotta; served with house made focaccia. Upon first blush impression it reminded me of a vegetable version of lasagna with the layered thin slices of eggplant, and marinara sauce thickly coating it, all baked to order. This was super tasty, the perfect sauce to scoop up with the pieces of in house baked focaccia on the side. I would gladly take this out any day and would come back for more when they are allowed to seat patrons indoors again.

Overall Pizzeria Grano is a gem, vegan or not, they prepare delicious pizzas and are worth checking out for yourself for pizza that you will try and crave for again in the future!

Pizzeria Grano
3240 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V 3M5
(604) 876-5408
pizzeriagrano.com

Planetary Burger

Looking for a quick bite on Main Street, we stumbled upon and in to Planetary Burger, know for their plant-based burger, fries, and shakes. The smaller shoppe is ideal for take out and go, as your neighbourhood fast food option, without the excess grease.

Their menu is on the smaller side with 4 salad options, 5 choices in shakes made from cashew or coconut milk, 4 types of burgers, and 3 differently dressed type of fries; plus 4 new sides. We ordered 2 burgers and 3 sides to get a good scope of their menu, taking it all home to eat.

The Cauli Spice burger was a cauliflower and chickepea patty seasoned with cumin and parsley, topped with chipotle mayo. Each burger also comes with lettuce, tomato, onions, and red relish. The patty had a good substantial chew to it, with a nice zesty flavour. And as a whole, the burger ate hearty and finished with a spicy note at its end.

The Shroom Dip was bland by comparison. Mushrooms, roasted garlic, oregano, and caramelized onions; topped with garlic mayo and a side of gravy. The latter was completely necessary for flavour and sumptuousness. Other than that, this was not so memorable, I preferred the sides below as a meal, instead.

The Chili Cheeze Fries were crispy fries topped with chili, shredded cheeze (vegan), and green onion. I liked how fresh they ate and how similar their vegan rendition of chilli ate to ground beef.

Just as tasty was the Poutine, prepared with more crispy fries, gravy, shredded cheeze, and green onion. It begins with quality ingredients and you could taste the quality in the potatoes used. Most surprising was how stringy and creamy the dairy-free cheeze ate.

Taste wise, the Fried Brussels Sprouts topped with dairy-free parm, avocado drizzle and green onion was my favourite out of the lot. However I just wanted them cut down to smaller bites, for a more even distribution of vegetable to creamy sauce.

Overall this was a great option for vegan fast food, that ate like it, but didn’t taste like it.

Planetary Burger
3088 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5T 3G5
(604) 873-2559
planetaryburger.com

Mila, Dine Out 2021

We came to Mila for name alone. My friend’s daughter shares the name of this newer plant-based restaurant, so we figured it would be a fun treat to bring her out with us today. And with Dine Out Vancouver running, this was an ideal time to get a good look at what they bring to the table, literally. $40 gives you a choice between 3 options across 3 courses. Below are our picks and what we would recommend out of them all. But first drinks, cause we made it in time for Happy Hour and their $10 cocktails.

Isla Nublar is a show stopper with Havana Club 3, Ancho Reyes, mango juice, pineapple juice, lime juice, simple syrup. This fun drink is as tropical and as tasty as it sounds. Island freshness with fun propping.

The Sakura is a whole lot stiffer with tart and smokey hints. Absolut Vodka, Giffards Crème de Violette, Luxardo Maraschino, lemon juice, lavender bitters, and Angostura Bitters.

We also ordered the half sushi roll. $6.50 for 3-4 pieces instead of the $14-15 for the whole roll for 6-8 pieces. The Mila Roll has a heart of palm mix, avocado, cucumber, black sesame, tempura crunch, and wasabi mango mayo. This was a great mix of textures and tastes, hard to describe and pinpoint, but one I fully endorse. It ate like a salad, but as easy as a sushi roll.

But the one that really blew my mind was the Aburi Lox Oshi. Made with carrot lox, aburi sauce, shiso, and serrano. I have had my fair share of the salmon version of aburi, and have even made my own from coho salmon that I caught all on my own. So trust me when I declare that this imitation salmon roll is amazing. If I didn’t know it was carrot I would have been fooled into believing it was fish. This was so unbelievably tasty, and super impressive as a vegan oshi option. After the first piece I wanted more of this spicy and smokey block, so found myself ordering a whole roll to end our meal on, and in order to share my findings with my friends as leftovers.

As for the actual Dine Out Menu, we ordered the other two starters, having already tried the sushi option above. I wasn’t a fan of the Wild Mushroom Toast with whipped ricotta, demi-glace, truffle, and micro herbs. I thought it would grow on me, but something about it put me off. I found it simply salty, whereas I wanted more depth of flavour. I didn’t get mushroom or anything close to ricotta. It fell flat, despite how delicious the presentation came out.

I would instead recommend the Bao Buns with hoisin tempeh, pickled onion + cucumber, sambal aioli, cilantro, and crispy shallots. This one got me back on the Mila bandwagon. The white dough bun was prepared perfectly, salted evenly and baked fluffy. The sauces were what I would expect from a vegan take on this Chinese fusion snack item. The tempeh also ate with some substance and I wasn’t missing meat here.

For mains we skipped on the Mushroom + Sausage Tagliatelle and instead went for something more unusual in their vegan take on fast food classics.

The Smash Burger is their interpretation of an American cheeseburger. Average by those standards, but aces as an all plant take. Double patties, cheddar, black garlic chive aioli, iceberg, onion, roma, and a pickle; on a brioche bun, served with smashed chips. The vegan patty was crumbly, but tasty with the smokey nacho sauce. I just wanted more tang from a sweet bbq sauce and/or more pickled vegetables. This was good, but the potatoes are what stole the show. Offered as sides to both our entrees, these were some of the best potatoes that I have ever had. Smashed creamy, yet firm with the skin. Plenty of seasonings as is, but made more familiar and comforting with ketchup.

If you only get to try one entree, make it the Fish + Chips with tempura celeriac, caramelized lemon, mango cabbage slaw, tartar, and smashed chips. Here Mila hits another home run with their take on white fish this time. The texture was unbelievable, they managed to get the celeriac to flake like fish would. And once under a thick coating of crispy airy battery, it was unrecognizable. Finished with perfect tartar sauce, I dare say that this was a better rendition than actual fish and chips. It was less greasy than ones that I have had, with the flavour to match. It was clean and refined, and I would go back just for their “fish and chips”. I just would edit the slaw to one more complimentary. It was a good crunchy julienned vegetable mix, but I didn’t think the Asian flavour matched with the tartar all that much, or the potatoes.

There are only two dessert options so we shared both. The Peanut Butter Cup Pie was rich and decadent featuring puffed crisps, chocolate ganache, and maldon. Satisfying with peanut butter and chocolate, this was exactly what you would expect given the name. We didn’t miss milk or egg here

Out of personal preference I recommend the Lemon Custard Bar with a salted oat crust and berry compote. It had the creamy and jello-like texture of panna cotta. Refreshing from the lemon and hearty with the crumble. It delivered on expectations and was a nice zesty note to end on.

O‍verall, this was fantastic meal and Mila is a fantastic restaurant. Not just under the category of vegan restaurants, but a restaurant I would return to and dine at when I want good food. I have already recommended this one and have recalled my favourites to many. I am hoping to dine with them again in the near feature, and try more of their clever take on meat-filled favourites.

MILA Plantbased
185 Keefer St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1X3
(604) 844-8040
milaplantbased.com

Nuba Yaletown, Dine Out Vancouver 2021

Local food blogger and cocktail enthusiast, @pickydiner and I found ourselves at the Davie location of Nuba. There, to try their $35 Dine Out Vancouver menu, available now until March 7th, 2021. Each course gives you a choice between a meat friendly or vegetarian option. Between us we were able to try both options, and the following are our picks.

Although before we start, I want to make note of how lovely their decor is. The smaller space with lush greenery and middle eastern nods pull you in to the experience of dining in. We were also seated at the nicest booth (in my opinion), a cozy nook by the door, with a mirrored mosaic to admire ourselves and our food, as we dined.

For appetizers I would recommend the Lahmajeen Manoushe over the mushroom, as it turned out to be the dish we both liked the most. In-house made flatbread topped with diced lamb confit, pomegranate molasses, tomato, green onion, and mint; like a pizza. Baked fresh to order, the dough was fluffy; a soft base for the tender lamb and flavourful toppings that gave it some freshness and tang. But what really sets this apart was the pomegranate molasses, it was a pleasant sweetness finished with cinnamon. I would go back just for another four slices of this. And if you do the same, just be sure to eat it quick, so it doesn’t get soggy.

The King Oyster mushroom mezze interestingly ate like smoked jerky, a little tough and a lot chewy. Pan seared king oyster mushrooms with a vegan truffle and harrisa compound butter, served with lemon and local micro greens. I would have liked this with more truffle and butter flavour, something rich to add moisture and a refined taste to an otherwise simple plate.

For entrees your choice is between bison or cauliflower. The Cauliflower Arnabiyeh is roasted cauliflower with ras el hanout, caramelized shallots, and a blood orange tahini sauce. Served over organic brown rice and salad. I wasn’t a fan of the texture of the grainy cauliflower paired with the drier barley rice. Both were soft and grainy. Along with the leafy greens, there wasn’t enough crunch, only a boring mouth-feel that I didn’t enjoy all that much. As for the taste, it had warming spices reminiscent of Indian cuisine. Therefore, I wanted more of the sauce to help balance that pungent heat out. Instead, the tahini was muted, I was left wanting something tangier like a sour cream. And the side salad here did nothing to add to the plate, it was better suited to the meat and potatoes below.

I much more preferred the Grilled Bison Flatiron. A Halal Canadian bison rubbed with baharat, fleur de sel and pomegranate molasses. And served with turmeric mashed potatoes and salad. The bison was a little tough, but the spice rub was nice, I just wanted more flavour in the sauce to make it pop. The meat did pair well with the garlicky potatoes, and the side salad for brightness and freshness.

For dessert your choices are between a cake and a cookie, and if possible, it is worth trying both. The Turkish Coffee cheesecake was more memorable. A baked mascarpone cheesecake spiked with Amaretto and Turkish coffee, on a crust of crushed almonds, topped with espresso whipped cream. I couldn’t make out the individual flavours, but as a whole it was a well conceived dessert. I did want more coffee notes, as a fan of their Turkish coffee. And maybe a more traditional crust to better accentuate the cheesecake flavour. I found the almond flavour distracting, but that is a more personal preference thing.

Chocolate ma’amoul are almond and coconut flour cookies stuffed with dates and Belgium chocolate. What doesn’t look like much is a tasty treat. Not too sweet, not dried out. These were baked fresh and would be great with tea or coffee.

In short, another Dine Out Vancouver menu that gives you a good look at the restaurant’s offerings across 3 courses. With vegan and vegetarian options, everyone has a choice.

Nuba Yaletown, Dine Out Vancouver 2021
508 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6B 3N9
(604) 661-4129
nuba.ca

Wurst of Us, vegan hot dogs

I am always interested in trying the latest innovation for vegan meats. What are they using now and how are they getting the texture and taste as close to animal products as they can? Not to mention vegan food gets a bad reputation for being bland and dry I so always like to share what’s available in the market. And today that is the new gourmet vegan hot dog concept: Wurst of Us! Brought to the city by the team behind Aleph Eatery, the award winning Middle Eastern, vegan restaurant in East Vancouver.

Wurst of Us launched on February 1st and are current only offering delivery with DoorDash. At the moment their menu only includes 4 different types of hot dogs, and nachos to match each one. Below, we tried all their available dogs, minus the more traditional one with mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut.

Worth mentioning is their upcoming giveaway, to help bring awareness to their new venture. It is a giveaway they are titling “The Wurst Giveaway”. On February 14th (Valentine’s day) they will by be asking people to tag the person who brings out the “wurst in them”, in hopes of winning in a PS5, Scandinave Spa gift card, and/or two trays of our hotdogs and nachos. The details will be available on their Instagram, for those interested.

The El Perro Hotdog is a Mexican take on the classic dog, topped with pink onions, tomato, jalapeños, charred tajin spiced corn, lime crema, cilantro, and paprika. I was excited for this one, it was topped high with so much fresh and colourful toppings, adding the flavour and textural elements I expect from a gourmet dog. I just wanted more sauce or a dressing to add some moisture to an otherwise dry bite. This could have been due to the bun as a well. There was a lot of bread, and we could have done with a thinner slice or a different kind of bun all together.

Here, and with the other hot dogs below, I wished that I took the time to better suss out the actual wiener. To get a sense of how it fared as a meat substitute, but instead, I got more toppings than anything else; missing the vegan hot dog all together, if not for its “meatier” chew.

I did get the sauciness I wanted from the Inu Hotdog. This is their Japanese take on a vegan dog with pickled cabbage, wasabi mayo, nori, nigella seeds, and sesame seeds. Its combination and flavours reminded us of Japadog. Therefore, making it a nice way for vegans to be able to try one of the city’s most popular street foods. It was creamy with sweet mayo, crispy with the shredded seaweed, and the seeds added a bit of spice. Here, I would have also liked some pickled ginger to add some brightening tang to the serving. I found the pickled cabbage lacked in that arena.

I was surprised to discover celery made it onto their Bulldog Hotdog. This was a delightful way to add some juice and crunch to a spicier dog; built with Buffalo hot sauce, crumbled blue cheese, and parsley. Here, you like blue cheese, and for those (like me) that do, this is a tasty treat. This is the one I would recommend and order again.

Their nachos are also a good bet. We fully enjoyed the K9 Nachos, which is their Lebanese take on toasted tortilla chips. Chips topped with pickled cucumber, pickled cabbage, pickled turnip, tomato, tahini, mint, and cilantro. The chips were perfectly crisp, they had a flavour on their own, but was best enjoyed with a little of all the above. Here, I just wanted more of the same toppings and more layers to better balance out all the chips. I would also recommend giving this a quick bake in the oven for optimal dining, as it got cold by the time DoorDash delivered.

In short, a nice option for vegans craving something more casual. I don’t know if I would think to have hot dogs delivered, but if passing by them on a busy street, or when in search for a quick snack outdoors, I can definitely see them taking their stride then and there.

Wurst Of Us
889 Powell St, Vancouver, BC V5L 1H8
https://www.wurstofus.ca/

Little Bird, dim sum + craft beer

When you are craving dim sum in the lower mainland, like most: you probably contemplate whether the drive to Richmond is worth it, if there is anything good in East Van or maybe along Victoria Drive? But now you might have to consider Kitsilano, where “Little Bird” is serving up all day dim sum and craft beer. But not just your cut and paste pastries and dumplings. Here, they are taking traditional dim sum and making it vegan and gluten-free.

The restaurant space has had its fair share of make overs from “Living Bistro”, to “Yak and Yeti”, then “Trying Tiger”. So this isn’t your typical Chinese restaurant footprint. With a minimalistic approach and plenty of lights, the space felt more suited to brunch at a coffee shop. Simple and sterile with the white bulbs; it sort of felt like day within, instead of the early evening that it was. But I am not complaining, even though they did take away from a more romantic or laid back ambiance; these were great conditions for taking the following photos.

The textured wooden table we were seated at matched the wood counter tops, and decorative wood elements that lined the bar. The restaurant name found its way on to the latter, as well as painted on to a wall that directed you to either of their single stall washrooms. Other than that, only a few framed black and white stencil art offered up visual interest in terms of decor. A graffiti-like style with either bird or dumpling references added to it, after the fact. It spoke to the modern interpretation of the food and the restaurant.

We were seated with our table lining the wall. Here, each place is set with chopsticks and a laminated single sheet menu. The owner came around to highlight best sellers and pride points, making suggestions on what to order and what was worth trying. @goodlifevan, who assembled us all here to day suggested that the restaurant use a check off sheet to order, thus making the process easier. But our host declined the suggestion. One of his goals is to focus on service and the communication you don’t get at other traditional Chinese restaurants. With them it is how fast and efficient you can do something, even if it is at the cost of the client. Here, he wants his staff to connect. His team is multicultural and able to hold a conversation, that includes eye contact. And each server is well trained on the menu and how it tastes, to be able to suggest and curate a perfect meal for their table.

The restaurant owner comes from a long line of Chefs and restauranteurs, working in the business for over 40 years combined. His father owned and operate the two long standing “Flamingo Chinese Restaurant” since 1974. So you can say dim sum runs in his family. And today, I was excited to have dim sum for dinner here, along side three other notable food fans. This is our meal, as these are our notes.

I wanted a drink to start, I liked the idea of pairing dim sum with an alcoholic beverage. Typically I have dim sum in the morning for breakfast or brunch, so a glass of wine or a pint of beer is frown upon at 11am. But at “Little Bird” it is encouraged. Their drink options are limited 4 types of wine or 4 types of beer, both from four different labels; with no mention of cocktails. I went with the “Four Winds saison”, since “craft beer” came after “dim sum” on the menu, as their title. I found that the saison’s easy drinking nature paired well with the richer small bites. Much like how greasy and salty bar foods do.

For something less alcoholic and more caffeinated, you can also order one of their loose leaf teas, served in a miniature tea pot for one. You don’t get a lot of tea, but water refills are welcomed.

The menu is user friendly. Written completely in English with descriptions and a legend. Menu items with a heart symbol, means they have been highlighted as a must try. But be warned, you can and should have the kitchen add on an additional pieces for anything coming you way, so that everyone gets one in full. For example most of the items below come with 2-3 pieces per servings, so with four diners we had an additional dumpling added on here and there, so that everyone could have one. Something I wish our server could have suggested as an easy add-on.

As I mentioned earlier, for those who like dim sum, but cannot have it because they are vegan and the kitchen cannot ensure a meat-free preparation, here is your solution. “Little Bird” works hard to ensure that equipment and utensils are are sanitized and there is not cross contamination. As none of my dinner mates where vegetarian or vegan we didn’t try the full extent of their 7 “garden” dishes. But I did make a note that they weren’t just tofu or mushroom everything. And if you were to order all 7, you would get a variety of tastes and flavours to pick through. This variety included the likes of different mushrooms types, water chestnuts, bamboo, and the new trendy beyond meat alternative.

The “Baked bbq tofu bun” had me going, I can’t believe it’s not pork! Pressed tofu in their sweet and salty bbq sauce, stuffed into a soft dough bun; then topped with a vegan butter and sugar mix, for a little crunch and a lot of sweetness. I liked the taster, but don’t know if I could commit to one whole, regular-sized bun myself. Best cut in half and shared, or bundled into smaller sized bites.

And what is dim sum with out “siu mai”? But there is no pork or shrimp in these meaty looking dumplings. Beyond meat, water chestnut, shiitake mushroom, and black truffle. A rendition made in honour of the owner’s sister-in-law, and her search for delicious meat alternatives. From this, you got the flavour of truffle from the mash of purée that topped it. The “beyond meat” gives you the texture of meat, but it was a little over salted. And I found myself reaching for more flavour from within one of our dishes of side sauces. Chilli oil, chilli sauce, soy sauce, and mustard. This is a great solution for those who lead a vegan lifestyle, but I much prefer the regular version below at $3 less, for a dish of 3.

The regular “Siu mai” had pork, shrimp, shiitake mushroom, and goji berries. It was more tender and juicy than its vegetable counter part. And the wrapper gave you a great chew. A wonderful staple that spoke to the quality of the ingredients used and the skill of the kitchen.

The “Spring roll” was filled full of pork, shiitake and black mushrooms, dried shrimp, and bamboo. Crispy skin, chewy julienne vegetables, and a complexity of flavours with an earthiness from the mushroom and bamboo. I didn’t taste any pork and could have easily done without it. The only thing I wanted was a nice sweet and sour sauce for dipping, something to help brighten this up.

The “Stuffed eggplant” was a softened slice of eggplant topped with a shrimp pate. The latter tasted like the filling of a “ha gao” in both taste and lumpy texture. The sweet and spicy sauce that paired with it would have also went well with our spring rolls above.

I didn’t recognize the “Sweet rice puff” from name alone. A deep fried egg shaped dumpling filled with pork, shiitake mushroom, and dried shrimp. This had a crispy coating with thick gummy walls that stuck to your teeth. Its sweetness paired well with the nice meaty taste and it’s ground texture.

The “Chive and shrimp dumpling” delivered with a similar shrimp filling than the eggplant dish above, and elevated with plenty of fresh and fragrant chives. This too offered a great chew with its wrapper.

The “Scallop taro puff” looked like a cupcake topped with half of a scallop round. Inside, it is hiding a core of shiitake mushroom and minced pork filling, coated in a sweet and mild curry sauce. This rendition offered crispiness from the fry, a nice smooth taro paste in contrast, and a surprise of curry to give it depth. I typically stray away from this one on any dim sum menu, but would be drawn to this version again.

But my favourite of all the dishes we had, had to be the “Curry squid”. Perfectly tender chunks of squid that was enjoyable to gnaw through. The curry was similar to the one use above, mild and sweet, with a slow burn. It did not over power the flavour of the squid.

And unlike other seafood dim sum restaurants, you can order the sweeter plates and have them come towards the end of your meal, as dessert. We finished off with their deep fried “Green tea sesame balls”. An order of two made green with matcha and flavoured with double black sesame. Black sesame seeds speckled the exterior and a pool of melted soup sat at its centre. Be warned, it is messy, and the filling is hot, flowing out like a lava cake. But delicious to end on if you allow them too cool down first, and have the server cut each ball in half.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
An approachable dim sum and restaurant created for all, and not just Chinese speakers. But unless you are a vegan, you wouldn’t think to drive all the way down to Kits for dim sum. Though in terms of the neighbourhood, they serve it well as the only option of its kind. A great choice for a fancier night out; made unique with the option for beer and wine. Deliciously done, classic dim sum dressed up and refined. Don’t deny your cravings.

LITTLE BIRD
#dimsumallday
2958 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6K 1R4
(604) 325-8132
littlebirddimsum.com

Harvest Community Foods

We were looking for food in the area, and after weighing our options along Union street, we came back to “Harvest Community Foods”. One, it had the most diners within for lunch, and two they had a nice table right outdoors to take in this sunnier winter’s day. And then there is the noodles, I am always down for noodles and there is nothing like a warm bowl on a cold day. But sadly, the latter was not as expected.

The restaurant is more like corner store with shelves of preserves, grains, and organic cleaners. And at the counter, healthy snack bars and fresh fruit to grab and go.

The menu was ink on bleach wood. You squinted at it from across the room, shielding your eyes from the streams of sunlight hindering your vision. The daily specials are a little easier to read, dry erase marker on a white board, at the till. Each, with the option to add in some house made kimchi or change your regular noodles out for the zucchini variety.

We decided to keep it safe, and asked the clerk what she recommend. She was fairly unfriendly, and seemed annoyed with our indecisiveness. This attitude would stay pretty consistent with all subsequent interactions; to the point of us bussing our own table before we sat down, then again after we had finished eating; handing in our dish ware to her, as she stool behind the counter.

As for the food itself, it came out fast. I had their vegetarian “ramen” with a squash and miso broth, nori, scallion, radish, and sesame. I liked the flavour and the consistency of the broth thanks to the purée squash, although when I read “ramen” I expected a better noodle, something of the buckwheat variety. But what was before me was neon yellow and from a pack of instant. Here, quality noodles would have made a difference, and added some much needed flavour to this serving. The daikon and greens gave you little to maw on. I would have liked more toppings to help change the tone, more to customize each bite with. For example, some tofu, mushroom, or egg would have done wonders. Instead, I felt like this was lacking.

My guest got the vegan “rice noodle”. These were saucy noodles coated in an almond, hazelnut, and charred chilli mix, all sitting over braising greens. It was dry and sticky, an unusual texture, having to chew through the coating of nuts. Although it was very light and with the greens it acted more like a spicy salad.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
They are a solid opinion for those who are vegan or vegetarian, just not for me. If I want noodles I will go for something in a fatty pork broth. Don’t deny your cravings.

HARVEST
243 Union St, Vancouver, BC V6A 2Z7
(604) 682-8851
harvestunion.ca

Gomae, vegan meal prep

If any of you are following my instrsgean stories, you know I am trying to eat healthier. So when given an opportunity to try Gomae meal prep, I jumped at the chance. A week’s worth of lunches packed and ready for consumption, after a spin the microwave.

But first placing your order. “Gomae” supplies “Zero waste meals delivered for your week”, either starting Sunday or Monday, both for the same price of $47.99. Either, with plenty of dishes to choose from, from off their website.

Each order gives you four choices, all delivered in their reusable containers and bags. And to assure their customers on its cleanliness they ask for each container to be washed after its use. They even give you detailed instructions on how to properly clean each box and lid, online. The washed containers will be later exchanged at next week’s delivery. After, the same containers are put through a complete sanitization process before being reused for the next set of meals.

The reusable containers they use do not absorb odours, meaning they keeping the meals within fresher for longer. It is completely BPA Free, dishwasher-safe, freezer-safe, and microwave-safe. For the latter, it is suggested that you heat the food up in it to 212°F.

As for the actual food, your available choices are from some of the most sustainable vegan restaurants, food trucks and food experts, in Vancouver. This collected menu changes every Saturday morning, so there is plenty to keep you interested for subsequent orders. As for delivery, they can simply leave everything at your front door, if you’re not home. The food comes in a cooler bag with an ice pack so it stays fresh for a day.

When it is time to place a subsequent order, you are already signed up for their weekly meal plan, so will need to either select the next set, or opt to skip it. Either option needs to be made before Thursday at 11:59 pm. This isn’t to scare you away with commitment, there are no obligations, and you can delete your plan at any time. But if you don’t “Skip or Select”, the “Gomae” team will choose the next set of meals for you, for your convenience. And when they deliver this, they pick up last week’s bags and containers, and exchange it with the fully prepared meals you have selected.

Based on the options available, I ordered the following as the ones that peaked my interest the most. The thorough description, calorie count, and vivid photos help.

Their “Jamaican curry” was a hearty beans and rice dish that didn’t have you missing meat. Comforting with an interesting mix of portobello mushrooms, carrots, and plantains. All served over brown rice and peas(red beans), with a side of roasted sweet potato and sautéed red cabbage.

Their “Kale Caesar” was made by “The Juice Truck”. A mix of romaine, kale and radicchio served with sriracha chickpeas, smoked maple tempeh, walnut “parmesan”, chipotle coconut bacon, and fresh lemon. It is packaged well with dry toppings and wet dressing separate, for you to dole out as you see fit. This salad was a good variety of textures and flavours, so you don’t get bored eating it. The dressing was the highlight, creamy despite it being nut based.

This was a gluten free lasagna with artichoke, eggplant, vegan mozzarella and cashew based ricotta. Served with a side of sautéed seasonal greens. By far the best of the four items. The artichoke was a great interpretation, it gave the lasagna the meaty feel I would otherwise have missed.

The “Spinach Veggie Wrap” was the easiest to have on the go. Rolled tight for easy dipping with a side of sweet mango chutney. Inside, there was plenty of cabbage, wild rice and Indian spices. I was genuinely surprised by how flavourful it was.

I am a fan of the premise and liked how easy it was to order. Where the disconnect was, was with the delivery. The person who dropped it off was insistent that we transfer all the food into our own containers and return theirs and the bags right away. The only problem, they delivered to my partner’s work place, where there is no kitchen, let alone containers to repackage with. They eventually let us keep the containers saying they will be back to pick it all up the next day. So when I got home, I repackaged them all and cleaned the original containers, readying them for pick up the next day, as promised. However, it is now 2 months later and I am still trying to give them back their containers. Given the experience above, I opted out of another set of meals, so now they don’t have a reason to return, I guess.

So for those who are looking for the commitment of meals delicately weekly, they are a great option. And especially valuable if you are vegan and looking for diversity in your meals.

GOMAE MEAL PREP
gomaemealprep.com

Juice Truck- Steveston

Today we were at the “Juice Truck” in Steveston, here to try their two limited edition, Chinese New Year drinks. Originally our plan was to visit them much sooner, more in time with this year’s lunar new year festivities; however Vancouver’s sudden snow fall had us doing otherwise. But with clearer weather and a cold sunny day, this was the perfect time to venture out to Richmond for a healthy drink and some good fortune snacks. And although the drinks are no longer available at the time of this post, the other lunch and snacks options that we tried are; and they are worth blogging about.

The “Juice Truck” started off as a roaming vehicle, which has now branched out to 6 different locations serving the lower mainland. They are best known for their use of raw ingredients in their unpasteurized drinks. But they also offer salads, lunch bowls, and a collection of sweet treats and hearty snacks that are all healthy and fresh. They are also 100% vegetarian, vegan friendly, and gluten free.

The “Golden Dragon Smoothie” was made to order. It had a deep magenta hue thanks to its feature of pink dragonfruit. The exotic fruit stood out amongst the blend of strawberry, orange, banana, and coconut water. You also got a warming ginger after-note to it.

The “Lucky Red Juice” was pre-pressed and travel ready in mini purse-sized bottles. It had a blend of beets, mandarin oranges, strawberries, pear, and ginger. Not only did this have a fun name, but a fun look too. Red from the beets and for good fortune, it is predominantly what you tasted. Though the collection of fruits lent their sweetness to the mix, and therefore making each sip a much less beet focused one.

“The Almost Poke Bowl” is 100% vegan with “ahimi”. “Ahimi®” is Ahi without the tuna, made from tomatoes and a few simple ingredients. So believable as an animal product that I offered my vegetarian friend a bite and she spat it out believing in its meat-like texture. Not to mention all the ingredients and the creamy sauce used had it tasting like your run of the mill, seafood clad, poke bowl; but with a whole lot more greens. Sesame marinated Ahimi (vegan), romaine hearts, curly kale, radicchio, quinoa, yams, edamame, carrots, pickled ginger, wasabi peas, crispy onions, and crispy nori; all self coated in a creamy wasabi dressing. There is so much going on here to keep you interested from first bite to last. Tangy beets, crispy peppers, fresh edamame beans, nice chewy smoked tofu, and creamy sweet potato chunks; which were my favourite.

My guests loved her “Macro Bowl”, she could see herself eating this everyday, if not for the price. Although reasonable at $14.00, a little steep for every day eating. The way they marinated the tomato had it tasting and looking like pieces of smoked salmon. They were the highlight that had you not missing meat. Kale, spinach, pea shoots, quinoa, smoked tofu, edamame, red pepper, carrot, baked yams, pickled red cabbage, and roasted maple sirarcha cashews; all coated in a citrus sesame dressing.

The “Moroccan Cauliflower bowl” was a smaller serving, more like a side. It was punchy, and full of nutty flavour. Rich with warming spices. My favourite were the sweet apricots, which were a nice surprise to happen upon. Roasted cauliflower, sriracha chickpeas, apricots, toasted coconut, fresh mint, cherry tomatoes, hemp hazelnut dukkah, and a smokey tahini dressing.

We also got a chance to try a few of their bars and chocolates.
“Cacao Coconut Bar”, walnuts with pecans, cacao, coconut meat, coconut flakes, raisins, and maple syrup.
“Protein Ball”, dates , almond butter, carob, maple syrup, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts, and coconut ribbon.
“The green energy bar” is eye catching with its bold colouring. Pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, spirulina, shredded coconut, coconut oil, coconut butter, bee pollen, cacao powder, vanilla, mint, and goji berries. My guest could of sworn their was some goat cheese in this, given the sharp tangy flavour she kept coming across.
She was really keen on the “almond chocolate cup” and the “peanut butter cup”. She found both so creamy that they melted in her mouth. “Almond chocolate cup” had almond butter, maple syrup, extra virgin coconut oil, cacao powder, almond meal, coconut sugar, and Himalayan sea salt. And the “Peanut Butter Cup”, peanut butter, maple syrup, and coconut oil.

All their foodstuffs travel well so you can either take it to go or eat in. There is plenty of seating within, choose your own seat across bleach wood benches and white chairs.

They also have a mini grocery store of sorts with loose leaf teas, nutritional supplements, rice crackers, and healthy candies for sale. Along with many bottles of their cold press juices ready to go.

But my favourite thing about their space is their single stalled toilet with avocado print wallpapering.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Given how great the two bowls we tried were, I am pretty keen on returning to give their “Jackfruit taco bowl” or their spring roll with marinated tofu a try. And given the numerous locations, I need not just venture all the way out to Steveston to do so. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

JUICE TRUCK
12151 First Ave, Richmond, BC V7E 3M1
604-285-5404
thejuicetruck.ca

Elephant Garden Creamery

There has been much buzz surrounding Vancouver’s latest ice cream parlour, especially seeing as they have had a quieter opening this winter season. But once you try their small batch scoops, you’ll see why. Dare I say, this is my new favourite ice cream place. I really enjoy their Asian flavour offerings, and don’t find their ice cream too sweet. The setting is simple and their location is easy to get to, with enough parking in the area.

The following post is written across two visits within 2 weeks, in the cold of winter, with snow fall warnings. That’s how much I liked my first taste.

Here, is when I first entered their minimalistic shop. White walls, light coloured wooden planks, and the occasional elephant ceramic. The latter and their elephant-head-shaped-scoop-on-a-cone logo emphasized their name. I also liked their use of several overturn cones as lamp shades, a unique lighting feature leading you from the entrance their cash desk and counter.

There, is where you can sample any of their rotating flavours. This changes monthly, thus encouraging customers to return to try their new favourite flavour, and having additional servings before any one is retired.

I did a double scoop of the “HK milk tea” and the “Vietnamese coffee” ice cream. The milk tea was accurate in flavour, you get the essence of the black tea and the creaminess of the would be milk. I just wanted the flavour of the pearls in it too, or at least their chewiness.
The “Vietnamese coffee” was more punchy. You got the strong flavour of coffee, married with the sweetness of condense milk.

On my second visit I came with a friend and between our double scoop waffle cones I got to write about four more of their flavours.

I had a scoop of the “hojicha cheese tea”, after liking the sample of it I got during my last visit. It was salty with the cheese, and nice against the neutral flavour of the tea. And it tasted just like how hojicha tea with a salted cheese foam top would taste. It paired well with my “cookies n’ cream monster”, giving me a wonderful salty and sweet combo, enjoyed in this lickable, dessert format. The ice cream was dyed blue with butterfly pea flower. It was less creamy, and a lot more sweet with the crunchy biscuit bits.

My lactose allergic friend went for a scoop each of their two vegan flavours. She tasted both and liked both. She agreed that the “Mango sticky rice” was a new no dairy ice cream solution. I was amazed how it actually gave you the flavour of the sticky rice, along with the bits of mango. Very unique and very fun. Next she had the “horchata”, which she commented that you don’t see a traditional milk based drink made vegan like this often, or at all. This too tasted us promised, and not too sweet.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
As I mentioned, this is my new favourite ice cream place, for taste, price, and accessibility. But of note, I am partial to their Asian flavours, finding them new to Vancouver’s ice cream scene, or at least they are the first to have as much variety as they do. Worth trying the next time you are on “The Drive”. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ELEPHANT GARDEN CREAMERY
2080 Commercial Drive, Vancouver BC, V5N 4B2
604-251-6832
elephantgarden.ca
Elephant Garden Creamery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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