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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

Dalina Broadway

“Dalina”, the healthy Vancouver snack stop is soon to open their second location on Broadway. A fair bit smaller that their original, this posh cafeteria of sorts is sure to become the lunch time favourite of many who live and work in the neighbourhood.

Like their original location in Chinatown, the new restaurant features meals to go and snacks to take away. Freshly made salads, sandwiches, and wraps. As well pastries, doughnuts, and other baked goods. For drinks they offer up artisanal coffees, superfood smoothies, and kombucha on tap.

The vision was to provide Vancouverites with their own “grab-and-go style eatery”, the solution for busy people who don’t always have time to prepare wholesome and delicious meals for themselves. Full meals to enjoy at your desk, in your home, or within their space. And best of all, for the daily diners, most of their menu items are affordable ranging between $10-$15. And always presented in compostable packaging. They also have your catering needs covered with meeting and party ready trays with weekday office delivery.

So today, four days before their official opening, myself and a room full of others were invited to check out the new space and the same solid menu before they opened to the public. Truth be told, I haven’t actually ever visited their original location. When in that area and looking for a meal, I figured that their collection of baked goods and pre package salads won’t scratch any of my food itches. So to be able to learn that I was wrong first hand, here, was a treat.

The room is tiled in white, it gave the place a sterile feel. It was how clean you want the same tile in your bathroom and local swimming pool to be. It ran all around their bar/service counter. And behind it staff dressed in their branded tees poured alcoholic beverages and brewed up cups of caffeinated drinks. During regular hours of operation, this will also be where options are read off their over head menu and orders are paid for and placed. During this launch attendees enjoyed glasses of wine and beer, however the Broadway cafe won’t actually be able to pour until they get their liquor license in the spring. But you can enjoy artisan coffee and espressos in their branded cups for here or to go.

To its left is a glass counter with a healthy selection of baked goods. Where, I made sure to try a few of their delicious looking doughnuts. Thick and chewy cream filled and frosted doughnuts in matcha, French vanilla, chocolate banana, and espresso. There was also chocolate cake with frosting, cookies crammed with seeds and nuts for a filling snack, and moist in the centre slices of cakey loaves.

Right in front of this is their limited seating. A booth runs along the wall with small tables and loose chairs set facing it. If you follow them all the way to the entrance you will see a series of refrigerated units. These house their prepackaged meals and grocery staples for pick up and sale. From box salads, and yogurt cups to fresh made then frozen pastas and soups.

The following is a collection of what I tried this night. It is worth noting that the baked goods are sourced from local vendors, and it is the prepackaged meals that are exclusive to them. Overall, I was surprised by how good the vegan options tasted and how satisfying the healthier options were. Everything I had was so flavourful and I felt better indulging in it.

 

Guests grazed on charcuterie and roasted vegetable boards which make the perfect tray for a potluck or to impressive at any party. Cured meats, hard cheeses, and pickled vegetables for self serving.

There were also small bites being served. Like the Tahini and eggplant farro salad. A zesty and filling morsel that had a nice chew to it, with notes of curry spices.

I preferred the juicier beet and goat cheese salad. Firm, naturally sweet red beets tasty with the pairing of sharp cheese.

Sundried tomato and goat cheese quiches and ones with smoked salmon. Both with fluffy egg and a buttery pie crusts.

I really enjoyed their prosciutto and fresh vegetable filled croissants. Surprisingly the latter more than the former. The neutral vegetable allowed the delicious flakiness of the  croissant to show through more.

Similarly the focaccia sandwiches were delicious because of the herb bread sandwiching either roasted vegetable or slices of meat. Surprisingly I really enjoyed the one that combined an olive tapenade and crunchy broccoli together.

For dessert fresh cream filled cannolis came around. A show stopper with green pistachio cream and candied orange peels.

The flourless chocolate fudge with caramel beads was gluten free and a hit with the room. Chewy and chocolatey.

And the burlee lemon tart a great refreshing way to end your meal and cleanse your palate.

 

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? – No.
A great place for a convenient meal, and a great additional to the area. Tasty and healthy options that won’t break the bank, leaving you feeling energized and satisfied throughout the day. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DALINA
92 West Broadway, Vancouver BC, V5Z 1K7
604-428-4364
dalina.ca
#Destinationdelina #Delinabroadway.

Rocky Mountain Flatbread, Dine Out 2019 menu

Dine Out Vancouver is in full swing and with two weeks left, you still have time to take advantage of the deals and the ability to try somewhere new. Like “Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co.”. Looking at them, you wouldn’t think they are more than a simple salad and pizza place. But behind their all wooden exterior is a restaurant that offers so much more. More on their menu, and more for their community.

Before we began our meal, our owner/host spoke to their origin story. How they built their own oven by hand, wanting to use it to make healthy pizzas for families, like their own. They vowed to then and continue to connect with local farmers, to source their produce and ingredients. Ingredients that are used to prepare their rustic pizzas, which includes an organic bread base, made with dough that utilizes maple syrup to activate the yeast.

But they have more than just these handcrafted flatbreads, baked crispy in their wood fired oven. They also offer organic pasta dishes, salads, soups and desserts. All with a focus on the quality of ingredients used and the diner’s health and well being in mind. A lesson I would learn first had with an invitation to lunch.

Their Dine Out menu is available for lunch or dinner. A $25 meal that pairs whatever appetizer you choose with a house crafted mocktail, and follows it with a selection of their pastas or pizzas for your entree, and any of their desserts to finish. The following are some of the options we enjoyed, to help you in your decision making process.

The “Paloma mocktail” is made with pink grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed lime, simple syrup, and soda. You are able to add a shot of vodka or tequila it to for $5. This early afternoon I ended up keeping it virgin, and and enjoying the tart sparkling beverage as is.

For appetizers you can go soup, salad, or mushroom cap. For the soups your options are either their Seasonal Soup or the vegan Spicy Organic Tomato Soup. The former is currently creamy bacon and leek offering. A tasty combination available in your mushroom cap, and again in your pasta as well. A hearty soup that was great for dipping your side of focaccia toast in to.

The “Spicy Organic Tomato Soup”, was tasty, but not what I imagined it to be. More like a marinara sauce then the classic pairing to grilled cheese. It tasted as healthy as it boasts it is.

Want something that requires more chewing? Then you want one of their traditional salads. Either a Fresh Herb Salad (which is the Vegan option), the Basil & Blackberry Salad, or a Fig & Goat Cheese Salad. It is nice to be given a choice within a choice. The “fresh herb salad” included assorted greens, tomatoes, oranges, cucumbers, and Vancouver grown sunflower sprouts; all drizzled in their house made fresh herb vinaigrette. I like fruit in my salads, as it gives things some sweetness.

Sadly I didn’t get enough basil flavour or a single black berry in the “Basil & Blackberry Salad”. But the freshness of the bowl and the zesty dressing was enough to have me going for another forkful.

Although, I much preferred the fig and goat cheese salad, although I didn’t find a single fig slice, through my rummaging around in the bowl. But there was plenty of goat cheese crumbs to make up for its absence, and I love goat cheese.

But for something a little different, and if you have never visited “Rocky Mountain” before, the “BC mushroom caps” are the ones to get. Local roasted mushroom caps stuffed with your choice of filling, with 4 options to consider. I avoided the “Spinach & Goat Cheese mushroom cap”, for my dislike of wilted greens; and missed out on trying the “Bacon, Leek & Cheddar mushroom caps”, as they seem to be the most popular amongst our group.

So the “Roasted Veggies mushroom caps” are my pick or the “Sundried Tomato and Hummus” stuffed ones. But basically you are choosing each based on what flavours you want stuffed within.

For entrees your choices are between their flatbread pizzas or their chef’s pasta feature. Both customizable. Choose one of their traditional flatbread pizza from: Classic, Tomato Basil, Parma, Sundried Tomato (can be made Vegan), Naturally Meaty, Beef Pepperoni, Sundried Tomato & Goat Cheese, Farmer’s Market (can also be made Vegan), Pesto Shrimp, Genoa Salami, All Canadian, or Pesto Chicken. For a Gluten Free Pizza Crust you can add $3.00. And to make it one of their “Artisan Pizzas” like we did, you can add $1.20 – 5.00 accordingly.

They have a healthy list of vegan and vegetarian options, with the ability to transform majority of their speciality pies in a similar fashion. One of the more memorable ones was the “Beyond avocado veg” vegan pizza, it lacked cheese and you couldn’t tell. It had an avocado sauce base which was topped with zucchini, bell peppers, vegan beyond sausage, caramelized onions, and hemp hearts, all coated in a balsamic reduction. It was like eating a roasted vegetable salad with guacamole. A dynamic gathering of vegetables that keeps bites interesting, thus allowing you the ability to eat the whole pizza solo. Although I advise coming with a friend or two, to be able to order a bit of everything from their Dine Out menu, and share it all.

Another vegetarian friendly option is their “Farmer’s market” flatbread pizza, this also doesn’t come at an additional cost. It starts with an organic tomato sauce base, and to it adds mozzarella, a three herbed pesto, capriny goat cheese, and a collection of fresh seasonal vegetable. Today our vegetables included juicy cherry tomatoes, crispy kale, and squash that offered substance and a great starchy texture to your bites.

One of their more original artisan pizzas is the “Chorizo and cod”, with a spicy tomato sauce base, local chorizo sausage, fresh bell peppers, red onions, sun-dried tomato, mozzafina di latte, green onions, and pan seared ocean wise cod. It was delicious with so much depth in the tastes and textures used. And I liked how the fish was presented as breaded and baked nuggets, to really highlight them.

If you have never been, the “Fig and Brie” is the one to try. Black Misson fig jam, crimini mushrooms, local prosciutto ham, caramelized red onions, triple cream Brie, and fresh arugula dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon. I just wished for more slices of fig, as its sweetness paired so well with the salty ham and the pepperiness of the arugula.

The “Bacon and Potato” took what worked with the soup and the mushroom caps above and made it a hand held in this filling pizza. Garlic oil base, local potatoes, leek, caramelized red onions, double smoked bacon, a three cheese mix, green onions, coarse ground pepper, and rosemary. Hearty and delicious.

The “Parma” is one of the pizza orders that is available off of their Dine Out menu, without the need to pay extra. Organic tomato sauce, mozzarella, Schinken Speck cured ham, crimini mushrooms, mango, arugula, and plenty of parmesan chips. Another flat bread that covered all flavour and texture boxes. Sweet fruit, salty ham, stringy cheese, meaty mushrooms, and fresh veg.

If you choose the pasta route for your entree you can choose the “Chef’s pasta feature” from off their blackboards, (it can be made vegan). It is made with organic pasta and local seasonal veggies. And for $5 more you can get it with free range local chicken. The best part is all their pasta is perfectly cooked with a great chew and comes with flatbread on the side to scoop sauce up with.

Or you can add $1 to your meal for the “Penne Bolangnese”. Organic penne, slow cooked organic BC beef tomatoes made into a sauce, shaved parmesan, and basil. A classic tomato sauce pasta with plenty of ground beef.

For $1.20 more you get the “Bacon & Three Cheese Penne”. Organic penne, double smoked bacon, whole cream, sautéed leeks, aged cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, and caramelized onion. This was my favourite of the three. I found it like an upscale Mac and cheese, but with bacon!

And then you round things off with dessert. Like their house-made “Mango raspberry sorbet”. It is sweet, not tart, (which is the reason why I don’t like sorbet), and deceptively creamy given the lack of milk products used. A beautiful end with the essence of rose.

For something more rich you can order their “Warm double chocolate brownies”. Created with Callebeut chocolate, and served with a scoop of their house made vanilla ice cream. A chewy brownie that sticks to your teeth and melts on your tongue. Rich, but not to the point you couldn’t finish the serving yourself.

But my vote and the one I would come back for is their Vegan and gluten free “apple cinnamon crumble” served with coconut ice cream. I cannot believe this is vegan friendly. I didn’t miss anything in this. The ice cream was creamy smooth. The oats toasted evenly and coated in cinnamon. And the dried cranberry a nice pop of flavour and some chew. I can imagine this as a great way to start your day, or a breakfast granola on a hot summer’s day.

They also have a gluten free cheesecake for you to consider, with a toasted coconut base. Although no one decided to order this today.

If you aren’t able to make it out to them during the Dine Out Vancouver run, worry not, they will be bringing this menu back for Valentine’s Day and to it adding a plate of “Koko Monk” chocolates for you and your honey to share. The “First kiss” heart with a sour cherry and raspberry filling, and the “Coconut curry” patterned with a cold leaf print. Both are vegan friendly, using 100% chocolate and no sugars, and each is sweetened with natural fruits.

If the above doesn’t turn you on to “Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co.”, the following will. As I mentioned earlier, not only do they feed their community they also help to educate it as well. They give back with their “Earthbites” initiative, connecting families with their food. Teaching kids and families how to grow their own food and eat more seasonally. Similarly, they also work with over 3000 students from various elementary and high schools. Where they help to plan and create their very own school garden. Then they help to build the curriculum around access to said garden, pulling it together with nutrition and the importance of consuming vegetables. Like picking all the kale they grow and using it to make a kale smoothie. Thus teaching students raw recipes that they can do at home, themselves. A great learning as most students are malnourished; they are eating, but not eating the right things.

So as you can see, after getting the above run down, I was even more excited to sit down and dine with them. And I hope after reading all of this, you will feel the same way too.

 

ROCKY MOUNTAIN FLATBREAD CO.
4186 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 3P7
604-566-9779
rockymountainflatbread.ca
Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Giant Vegan Pho Challenge at Dundas Pho

The restaurant that brought Vancouver its first big bowl pho challenge is back with another!

It has been a year since “Dundas Eat + Drink” gave us their 6lbs “Six-O-Pho” challenge. And with the colder weather upon us, they’ve reckoned its time to launch another. This is their 3lbs “Vegan Bún bò Huế” challenge. It is 100% plant based, meaning this opens the doors for a lot more competitors.

 

And once again, I am honoured to be able to be the first one to attempt this challenge, and to road test it for them. To check out how I faired, and to get an idea of what’s it like to take on an eating challenge, visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

Bún bò Huế is a popular Vietnamese soup containing rice vermicelli and beef. The dish is best known for its balance of spicy, sour, salty, and umami flavours. This version is as tasty as its reputation suggests; made with deep fried tofu, king oyster mushrooms, and vegan Vietnamese ham. All the above gives the bowl plenty of taste and texture; along with the rice noodle base, and the mix of raw green onions, red onions, and cilantro for topping. But truly the star of this dish is the spicy vegetable broth. Despite its red hue it is actually not that spicy, more of a medium-mild on the heat meter. Delicious and great for chugging, which is helpful considering the challenge requires finishing the entire bowl, including the broth, down to the very last drop.

So now that you know how delicious this serving is, how can you try it for yourself, and better yet beat it?

The challenge is running all through December, it started on the 1st and “Dundas Eat + Drink” continue to host customers until the 31st. Each competitor pays $25 to play, win of lose the price is set. If you finish the entire bowl in under 20 min, you will win an instant prize! Then the 5 fastest contestants will be invited back for round two. This is a winner’s table where all 5 will face off against one another, in the hopes of winning the grand prize, valued at $500!

As they did last year, the extra large bowl of noodles will continue to be available for order after December 2018, although the price will increase to $30. To reminisce over last’s year’s meat heavy pho challenge, click on the link to watch my attempt video.

 

DUNDAS EAT + DRINK
2077 Dundas Street, Vancouver BC, V5L 1J5
604-420-1200
eatdundas.com

Kokomo

This was another meatless Monday with my vegetarian friend. When looking for a spot near by “Kokomo” came up. I liked the photos of its peachy exterior and the quote that was splashed a-crossed its front window. Both beckoned for warmer weather and sunnier days, that and it’s colourful menu were enough to peak my curiosity.

The interior matched the exterior with its peach coloured tiled counter that separated the open space between kitchen and eating area. The colour then begins to pattern with white, striping the cushioned seats that surrounded the rest of the room. Sections were punctuated with a similarly coral coloured throw pillow. It was fun and flirty, but was easy to get dirty. The whites of the cushion and the floor showed the cafe’s age with stains and smudges.

The only thing that felt out of place was their choice in music. Not that I minded, as I liked their rotation of hip hop. A playlist I assume was off of a staff member’s phone. Although up beat and catchy, we did find the juxtaposition of light food versus hard hip hop hard to swallow. Given how lighthearted our serving below was and how airy the space felt, you expect something more calming to play, the music to be more zen. Something you can mediate to, maybe something with some chanting.

You order at the podium by the door. They only have one printed menu for viewing, it has a little more information then what is on the wall menu, like what goes into the named bowls, salad, and noodle dishes. But given that many of their customers this afternoon, didn’t need to reference it or the wall, I can safely assume they had a well established following of regulars. And I can see why. They were not trying to fool the diner with meat friendly substitutes, their dishes fully celebrated being vegan with its use of colourful vegetables to highlight the flavour of other rich veggies.

Although I recently read that several vegetables like lettuce and avocado aren’t actually vegan given the need for and use of bees in their pollination, therefore no bees no avocado. Other vegetables on this list includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, muskmelon, mustard, okra, parsley, peppers, pumpkins, rutabaga, squash and watermelon.

Being an omnivore I good either way, and was just happy to have found this new and tasty way to eat healthy and be happy doing so. Not that I would crave any of it again, but it’s nice to know that when my body craves green I can offer it another option and a full menu’s worth of variety.

Vegan food typically has a lot of fillers to add textures and flavours, but here everything is made to order using whole foods.

To start with I ordered one of their smoothies, mistaking it for a juice to accompany my lunch with, instead of its intended meal replacing beverage. The “lush greens” was recommend to me as being the easier to drink of all their green based juices. Banana, kale, mango, apple, lemon, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, coconut oil, and coconut water. It was as savoury as it sounds, where I should have mentioned I wanted something sweet and juicy… I guess I actually wanted a pressed juice and not a thick smoothie to hard swallow. This would be better suited as a meal on the go.

For a full meal you get one of their bowls. The “coastal macro” was another recommended to me, this was majority of their customer’s favourite bowl. Brown rice layered with greens, marinated tempeh, roasted squash, cucumber, ginger pickled cabbage, and a edamame hummus. All drizzled in a Thai turmeric sunflower seed dressing, and eaten like a salad. The rice was present to make you feel full with the starch your body craves. I liked the fulsome assembly, with the varying combinations of textures and tastes, they offered a new squish, crunch, or chew as random surprises. Overall it had a crunchy feel with a tangy pickled flavour. I could have used a rich element or spread to create a dense chew, and  with some more cucumber for balance. Towards the bottom of the bowl, the rice became really salty, so much so that I couldn’t finish in full. Though this was a large serving, that many wouldn’t be able to finish half of, let alone get to the bottom of the bowl. It at least helped to change the taste and keep the bowl interesting from the first scoop to last grain. Whereas the highly anticipated noodle dish below, we found boring.

This was their interpretation of laksa, without most of the noodle’s trademark heat and/or spices. It tasted toned down and made bland for anyone who has had the authentic South East Asian noodle dish before. “Golden laksa”, a coconut and turmeric broth with rice noodles, zucchini spirals, sliced cucumber, ginger ferment carrot, green onion, cilantro, and sunflower cracker croutons. I should have known that this would be far from authentic, having read the inclusion of croutons in their laksa. It certainly tasted healthy, but I just couldn’t get behind it, as the broth lacked punch, and some heat would have greatly helped to flavour. Some tomato would have also been a welcomed tradition. The noodle dish was good as a side, but not the main and the only thing on the plate.

We were smart enough to order and pay for our dessert when we did so our mains. Ours was the last of their “cocowhips”, which I am thankful for. Because honestly this is one of the best ice cream-like desserts I have ever had, and it’s surprisingly it is void of any milk or cream. This is their coconut milk based soft serve. And unlike other vegan ice creams, it doesn’t over power with a coconut flavour. It tasted fresh and light, like a sorbet but actually creamy instead of icy. It also had the perfect amount of mild sweetness to it. It is available topped in either a berry mix or our chocolatey explosion version. Raw brownie chunks, cacao nibs, hemp hearts, and a dark chocolate sauce. Those who know me, know that I am not a fan of chocolate, but here, found myself appreciating the flavour it added, and the chew the brownie chunks offered. The nibs and seeds provided the crunch you like in your desserts.

 

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? – No.
Given my appetites, I don’t think I will find myself here again, or anytime soon. I wouldn’t travel for anything in particular, but if roaming around west 4th I could see myself stopping by for a smoothie. And if they were open later, back again for dessert after dinner. I prefer them to their neighbourhood ice cream purveyors. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

KOKOMO
611 Gore Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6A 2Z8
604-428-6599
heykokomo.ca

A&W New Beyond Meat (vegan) Burger review

On Monday, July 9th, 2018 A&W launched the newest burger to make it on to their permanent menu: a meat-less alternative that features a patty made by LA company, “Beyond Meat”. They are well known for their plant based patties that uses beat juice to make the “meat” “bleed”, just like beef would? Each party is made from a mixture of rice, potatoaes, apples, red beets, coconut oil, yellow peas, pomegranate, and mung beans. The whole lot gives you 16 grams of plant protein in one patty round. But keep in mind although the party may be vegan, they are prepared on the same grill as all the restaurant’s beef burgers and eggs, without a cleaning of the griddle in between. Then the green patty does go into a burger with mayo and their uncle sauce, which both are made with animal products. So unless you make a special request and do some modifying this is a vegetarian sandwich.

“Beyond Meat” patties are typically available at natural food stores, sold in packs of two. However, I have yet to find them in the frozen food section of any specialty Canadian grocer. So on the date of this post, if you want to try them, they are exclusive to A&W for us Vancouverites. Where they will be made to order from any of their fast food franchise locations, across Canada.

Today I was here to try them for myself. Although I wish I had the opportunity to taste them for the very first time, as they were intended (as described above): in small batches. As apposed to this mass produced, fast food quality we got here. Because given its pedigree, I found it fell short on the hype.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a decent vegan patty in a fast food sandwich. And amongst all others and its fast food competition, it does stand out. But as is the case with any fast food burger, you can’t help but wonder how much better it would be with a fresh patty.

As for the taste test, I found that these frozen to grill patties didn’t bleed, beet juice or not. The patty was dry and easy to crumble. As is, I thought it lack seasoning, it didn’t have much of any flavour. But as a part to a whole, with enough sauce, the burger all together was tasty enough.

 

To watch the vlog version of my taste test, visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei, for my latest video. Let’s just say, I get pretty creative towards the end.

Glory Juice

I own a juicer and can make my own fresh press juices, so I haven’t visited “Glory Juice” until today. This was the last stop in our morning work out sponsored by “Saucony”. Where I found out that “Glory Juice” is a great place for vegan friendly, healthy food, drink, and snacks. Nothing like continuing your healthy choice to exercise, by making another: a nutritional brunch that will start your day with some extra energy.

Their menu was hung on the wall across a series of boards. Along with their cold press juices they also offer a line of almond mylks and 11 organic smoothies. Each one also doubles with the possibilities to be made into one of their popular smoothie bowls. You pick a flavour, and too it they add their house made granola, bananas, honey and goji berries.

We had the “Creamy nutty”, the perfect description for their smoothie bowl of frozen açai berries, raspberries, blueberries, banana, almond mylk, maple syrup, and glory nut butter. This was my first time enjoying a smoothie like I would soup. But instead of it being warm like your brain thinks it should be, it turns out to be chilled. It was a little perplexing for my mouth and tongue. It is like yogurt, but in a drinkable texture, yet I am using a spoon to eat it, as if it is much thicker than it really is. That’s where the fruits and nuts come in. Both give the serving some crunch and a lot more filling substance. It surprisingly helped to fill me up. @pekopekolife enjoyed the bowl so much that she bought a bag of their coconut flavoured granola to be able to recreate a version of this in her own, at home. Overall a great snack, not substantial enough to replace a meal though.

The “Cauliflower and chickpea” bowl would be the one to get if you were hungry. It was extra filling with a bevy a vegetables. Quinoa, lentils, roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, red onion, smoked paprika, and tahini; all drizzled over with a light maple dressing. I was skeptical. I went in cautious and left surprising myself, learning that you can find healthy food that can be this tasty. It felt like you were eating salsa and guacamole with bean dip and were just missing some crunch. The lentils and quinoa added a heartiness, the avocado offered moisture, and the red onions some sweet tang. The only ingredient I would want in addition was some deep dried shallots or maybe some crispy coconut shards, once again for that crunch factor. I definitely would eat this again if it was more readily available. This would be the perfect work time lunch, if only it was more readily available to me. The ideal meal for when you get that feeling like you haven’t eaten enough vegetables.

They also offered the trendy “Avocado toast”, this would be my first taste of the combination. House made gluten free chia flatbread, spiced avocado, pickled red onions, and sunflower shoots. I liked how they included texture in this and an array of flavours. The crispy wafer, the creamy avocado mash that was spread over, the crispness of the thicker shoots, the tangy onions, and all the ground pepper that flavoured it. This made another great snack option.

For drinks we grabbed a couple of their cold pressed juice to go. I ordered the “Magic switchel” for its blue colour. It was ideal for after a workout, like the one we just completed. It helps to rehydrate, it aids in digestion, and boosts immunity. It was bitter and spicy, with ginger being the main ingredient. You can’t help but make a face after sipping it. You would think it would be somewhat sweet considering the cotton candy blue hue.

@pekopekolife wanted her drink to be the most healthiest of their green juices. She ordered it asking for the most bitter juices. The #1 has kale, celery, cucumber, parsley, ginger, and lemon. It was exactly as she wanted tart and strong. It was made with 3 pounds of fresh organic produce, and it tastes like it. It helps alkalize the body, it is good for cleansing blood and liver, and it helped to build her immunity.

 

 

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? – No.
We had a super light meal that had us feeling good walking out. And as I mentioned earlier if given easier, daily access to any “Glory Juice” location, I would most definitely visit them regularly for lunch at work. I consider them a convenient stop, and not really one that I would go out of my way for. Because, to be honest, my body is so use to grease and carbs that it wanted ramen after all the above, although at the same time I always want ramen. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

GLORY JUICE
2186 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6K 1N6
778-379-4511
gloryjuiceco.com
Glory Juice Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dundas Six-O-Pho

I, like many others, first came to “Dundas Six-O-Pho” for the novelty of their big bowl pho challenge. And many, like me, weren’t able to beat it. However, the quality of the noddles and the meat in the soup (that we got to taste), was good enough to having us coming back. A return trip, to see see what else the restaurant has to offer, and maybe this time in portions we can actually finish.

To read up on that visit, and to watch my vlog of the food challenge, visit the link below.

Dundas: #sixophochallenge

 

In response to their vegan and vegetarian customers, “Dundas Six-O-Pho” now offers a vegetarian menu. A one page list of nine unique vegetable centric dishes, prepared with Vietnamese influences. So today, myself and a group of bloggers came by to try them, and a few of their Vietnamese-style bar classics as well, during this media event.

When it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

The restaurant toggles between being a traditional Vietnamese restaurant and a bar, but with none of the decor from either. Traditional recipes from the kitchen and a fully liquored up counter at the front. The corner bar offers local beers on tap, from a list written in chalk. The dining area centres around a row of starburst light fixtures, and the booths seats that are situated below them. Along the left wall is Vancouver’s city sky line, printed in a mono chromatic grey and used as wallpaper. The only outlier was the paper mache giraffe that stood by the doorway.

I liked how the wall’s wooden backboard is etched with their logo and restaurant’s name. A little touch that speaks to the pride in their brand and the owner’s side business. The owner of “Dundas Six O Pho” also does wood carving and glass etching. Which he uses to customize and brand his restaurant. All the beer glasses are etched, much like their walls, wooden tables, and wooden serving trays. They even have umbrellas, plastic take out bags, and tee shirts with this logo. The latter the staff wore as their uniform. It was cohesively done, and I was impressed by the detail of it.

I also really like the music they played. It was upbeat and fun, with hits off the top forty charts from the last two decades. It went from “Sky’s” “Some kind of wonderful” to “Benny Benassi’s” “Satisfaction” and “I love my sex”.

To start with, we enjoyed some modern drinks, along with the traditional.

The traditional Vietnamese style drip coffee with condense milk and ice.

A flight of beer served with their branded flight paddle.

And some flavoured sodas: pomegranate and hibiscus cream soda, ginger turmeric, and lemonade.

We began the eating portion of our afternoon with five of their new vegan options.

The vegetarian salad was composed of mixed greens, bean sprouts, fried shallots, fried tofu, tomatoes, and cucumber. It was generously drizzled with a tangy garlic sauce. It made for a good start, as a flavourful salad. I appreciated how they incorporated Vietnamese flavours into this with the use of beansprouts and fried shallots, I have yet to enjoy either in any other salad.

The vegan curry was hearty with a long lingering spice. A coconut base with mushroom, carrot, eggplant, fried tofu, and coloured pepper. Plenty of vegetables to give you plenty of interest.

The “Vegan bao sliders” were filled with minced tofu, lots of coloured onions, and pickled carrot. I am not a fan of this much onion as it, but even when I scooped them out, the slider still had a lot of flavour. This was thanks to the tasty gravy, that I could have just dipped the soft and chewy bao into, and eaten like fries and ketchup.

The “Veggie pho” was prepared with a simmered vegetable broth, it features more fried tofu, and plenty of seasoned vegetables like broccoli, baby bok choy, and carrots cut into flowers. It was a clean and tasty broth, not what I think of when I think pho, but a tasty soup base to lap up all of. The shallots were my favourite topping, they offered crunch and a nice zesty flavour.

The “Vegan Pad Thai” was my favourite out of all the vegetarian friendly dishes. broccoli, mushroom, carrot, green onions, and more fried tofu. This classic dish doesn’t need meat if they get the sauce and noodles right, and they did. Not traditional tasting with a lot of tamarind, or too tangy with a ketchupy flavour (to quote @dennispang). Just a nice sweet and salty flavour to enjoy over chewy noodles and crisp vegetables.

The “Deep fried wontons” are filled with vegetables, and served with their house special tangy sauce. The sauce looks like, but is not the typical Vietnamese fish sauce. But they do provide some acid to help cut away the grease of the fried wontons. You can enjoy said wontons crispy as is, with the sauce to flavour, or order them over your vegetarian pho like below.

Just be warmed, if you do, you have to eat fast as the wonton skins get soggy quickly, bobbing around in the broth.

Now we get in to “Dundas Six-O-Pho” house specials and a few of their more popular dishes with meat and seafood included.

The “Sizzling rice platter” is quite the spectacle. It is available in chicken, beef, or prawn. We had the chewy chunks of “Shaken beef”. The sizzling serving comes hissing on a hot plate with red and green peppers, onion, and plenty of black ground pepper. I liked how the rice on the side cooks a little more, with the bottom ending up crispier like fried rice.

Like the sizzling plate, they offer plates of rice served with your choice of protein. This is their “Lemongrass chicken rice”. Beautifully grilled chicken with a delightful char presented with a healthy serving of rice, raw cucumber and tomato slices, and a leaf lettuce salad with pickled daikon and carrot. Nothing much to say, except this was a Vietnamese classic done wonderfully, I would have this for dinner any day.

All their pho noodle soups are prepared with a chicken and beef broth. The broth is simmered for over 16 hours in star anise, cinnamon, roasted ginger and onion. The finished product includes rice noodle, cilantro, onion, fresh bean sprout, thai basil, and lime. This specifically is their “Pho sate”. It is made spicy with a spicy peanut and coconut broth.

I would recommend “The Dundas Platter” for anyone looking to try a little bite of everything, or for sharing as a starter. It comes with one crispy spring roll, one fresh salad roll, a chicken satay skewer, a beer skewer, and plenty of cassava fries. All with a side of vinaigrette sauce, peanut sauce, and house special sauce to cater to your dipping preference. Another tried an true assembly of just good Vietnamese food.

The “Asia burger” was an interesting interpretation. This black sesame topped brioche bun sandwiches, bean sprouts, pickled slaw, jalapeños, a beef patty, a fried egg, and fried shallots. It is definitely one of those burgers you can’t put down, lest it falls apart, there is just so much in it. It is also the first burger I have ever had with beansprouts and fried shallots as toppings, which gave a few bites some great textural interest. And in my opinion, any time you add in a fried sunny sun up egg, you are in for a good time. Because the messier it is the tastier it is. And if that is not enough food, it also comes with a healthy side of fries and a sriracha aioli for dipping.

And my favourite dish of the day and certainly the one you have to come down for, because it is not available anywhere else: is their “Dungeness Dundas Nachos”. This is one of the most creative spins I have ever seen done to nachos. It uses golden fried wonton chips that they top with hand pulled Dungeness crab meat, a tofu scramble, tomatoes, olives, capers, pickled onion, cheese and jalapeños. All this is drizzle over with their creamy jappa mayo and sprinkled with chives. And still comes with a side of their house made fresh cilantro mango salsa and more even mayo for dipping. Every bite was a different experience, giving you many reasons to pick the plate clean. Words cannot do this justice, jut try it for yourself.

And for dessert we ended with their fried to order “Deep fried bananas”. You get a whole banana and a scoop of ice cream. The batter was fried to a light crisp, and not greasy, just airy. It generously coated creamy sweet banana, drizzled in a chocolate sauce for that extra decadence. Not to be missed as well.

 

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.
A really fun spot for Vietnamese fusion. The flavours you love, in a setting you want to share with your friends. And with a unique menu that will have you returning for more. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DUNDAS PHO
2077 Dundas Street, Vancouver BC, V5L 1J5
604-420-1200
eatdundas.com

The Wallflower, vegan menu

The car-free day on Main Street drove us further from our intended vegan destination. I truly believe that such days actually increase oil consumption and gas emission, instead of its intent to decrease it. Especially by those who know not of it, circulating the neighbourhood trying to find parking and getting caught up in additional traffic congestion. This was my case. And being stalled in two pile ups had us travelling further down Main Street destination, towards downtown. (Majority of the vegan friendly restaurants seem to be located on Main.)

As I made mention to earlier, I was dining with my vegan friend and therefore we wanted a destination with a healthy set of options for her. When I am with her I actually eat vegan too, not only to increase my palette but to give this blog some breath in coverage. So although where we ended up wasn’t strictly vegan, we ended up staying within that section of their menu.

“Wallflower” is an older diner. A lengthy space kept dark despite the bright of day on the other side of the entrance door. Wood floors, wood tables, and wooden walls give the room a yellow glow. More so when the amber bulbs of light reflect off it. The right hand wall is a nod to their name: a mural of flowers drawn in black and white, highlighted by a string of dangling lights. It draws your eye down the length of the restaurant, landing on their inclusive washroom door and their logo of a fork surrounded by a seven petal-ed bloom. The latter also found its way on a tank and baseball tee hanging up for sale. It is always a sign of a popular restaurant, when they sell gift shop merchandise.

Given the decor I didn’t expect much, a casual diner with easy comfort food. Although my expectations did increase when I noticed the “You gotta eat here” sticker, notifying their mention and mark on the television series of the same name. And when we finally got to eat, nothing disappointed, even as vegan. Although we didn’t do healthy vegan, more junk food vegan; which if I had to, I could see myself being vegan off of this stuff.

The “hummus and eggplant dip” was amazing, the textures of both were velvety smooth. Complimentary to one another, yet distinctively different. For $10 you got a lot of each and a large round of gluten free focaccia to scoop it up with. Given the lack of gluten, I did find the bread fairly dry and crumbly, but nothing an extra generous heap of dip couldn’t rectify. I would come back for both.

With the “lightning fries” I couldn’t believe it wasn’t cheese. One of the reasons I could never be vegan is, I love cheese far too much. However, if all cheese substitutes were this good, being vegan would be less of a challenge. This was their version of chilli cheese fries with vegan chilli, a vegan cheese sauce, salsa, olives, and jalapeño. The fries were well prepared, offering a nice starchy chewy to balance glops of salsa off of. No complaints, so good that we even used our sliders below to sop up extra cheese and chilli up with. As a note, they should seriously make chilli cheese tofu burgers.

The “BBQ tofu sliders” were like sloppy joes. Over stuffed buns where you were guaranteed to get reddish orange sauce all over your fingers and all across your mouth. They were super tasty with the texture of ground beef from tofu crumbles. They were perfect bite with the creamy apple fennel coleslaw to follow.

 

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.
I was really impressed with everything that we had. Not one item felt like I was being limited in options. They were vegan dishes, and not just good for a vegan dish, but genuinely delicious as a stand out plate. I would like to return to see what the rest of the menu is like. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

WALLFLOWER
2420 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5T 3E2
604-568-7554
thewallflowermoderndiner.com
The Wallflower Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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