Friday, June 29, 2012

Sala Thai, DC

Sala Thai is a local Thai restaurant chain that has three area restaurants. I've noticed lately that they've been offering a number of deals through Living Social/Groupon-type sites so I've been wondering how they've been doing. Located on U Street in the U Street Corridor, they have a prime location yet on this particular Saturday at noon, we were the only ones in the restaurant.

We took a seat by the window and began looking at the menu. Like many Asian restaurants, they separate the vegetarian dishes from the meat dishes, but online they list them as "vegan" whereas in the restaurant, they are listed as "vegetarian." One of the best things about Sala Thai is that they do not use fish sauce in their Thai dishes so you can typically trust that the veggie dishes will be vegan. I always ask anyway just to be sure. I started by ordering a pineapple juice and an appetizer.  The pineapple juice was served with a slice of fresh pineapple -- very nice!

The appetizer we ordered was the Tofu Tod, which is deep-fried tofu served with a sweet and sour peanut sauce. The little tofu bites were a little over-fried as the outside was a bit hard to bite into, but they were still soft and chewy on the inside. The fried texture paired well with the sweet and sour sauce.

For my entree, I ordered the Ka Prow Tofu, which is fried tofu sauteed with veggies in a hot chili sauce. I love this dish because it is super spicy (3 peppers!) and the vegetables are always cooked just right. At other Thai restaurants, this dish is just tofu, but at Sala Thai, the tofu is served with broccoli, cabbage, carrots, and snow peas.

Zach got the Kee Mao J or Drunken Noodles. I really liked this as well. The stir-fried flat noodles, fried tofu, and veggies were mixed with hot chili, basil, and garlic sauce.

Lastly, we took an order of the tofu snow peas home with us for lunch the next day. This dish left a lot to be desired. It was mostly snow peas, hence the name, stir-fried with deep fried tofu (that's a lotta fried!), some baby corn, and a couple of tomatoes in a light garlic sauce. The sauce was a bit too light and I wanted more of a variety of vegetables. When I looked at the menu, I noticed the dish was supposed to have mushrooms too, but they weren't in the dish.

Sala Thai serves pretty decent food, but their popularity appears to be waning. Their prices are great at only $9.95 per entree and their service is acceptable. The food is cooked pretty quickly as well.  I think it is a great lunch spot.

Sala Thai
1301 U Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 462-1333

Sala Thai on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cloud 9 Fudge

As you all are well aware, I'm on a bit of a raw chocolate kick. Not only is it rich in antioxidants, but the taste of raw chocolate is amazingly delicious!  As I was walking around the Baltimore VegFest, I stumbled across a raw fudge maker! Did I say, "raw fudge?" Yes, I did!

Cloud 9 was developed by a nutritionist named Helene Leeds who founded Shine Health, LLC. After living in Switzerland for ten years, she was inspired by the chocolate makers, but searched for a healthier option. This lead her to develop her own raw, organic, vegan fudge.

Cloud 9 makes four flavors of fudge: original; cranberry pecan; macadamia nut, goji berry; and walnut. I chose to try the macadamia nut, goji berry. This fudge is about as delectable and rich as fudge can be. Imagine cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and coconut butter blended and sweetened with agave nectar, dates, vanilla, and salt with cacao nibs, goji berries, and macadamia nuts and you have pure bliss. It is soft yet firm and leaves a satisfying chocolate taste in your mouth well after you have devoured the fudge.

Raw and organic superfoods are the elixirs of life and Cloud 9 raw chocolate is the perfect superfood supplement. Who ever heard of over 25,200 antioxidants in a single spoonful of chocolate? Well, here it is. Currently you can buy the fudge at a few stores in Maryland or from their online store. They even offer a 3-month subscription. Talk about a great gift! Hint, hint.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Greek Salad with Soy Feta

When was the last time you had an awesome Greek salad? Perhaps before you went vegan or perhaps you aren't vegan and are intrigued by the thought of a vegan Greek salad. Well, look no further. I received samples of two products that might just change your life.

The first is Gloria's Harvest pitted kalamata olives -- in a bag. Why, I asked, would one want to buy olives in a bag?  Well, they are targeting the consumer who would typically eat jarred olives, but is seeking a better quality and better tasting olive. Gloria's Harvest olives are imported from Greece and are neither pasteurized nor heat-treated by any means so all the healthy nutrients remain intact. Then, they are packed in an 8-layer bag, which keeps them fresh for longer. They do not contain any artificial preservatives or colors. The result is deliciously fresh olives that have a spectacular taste!

The second is's Soy Feta (distributed by Scenario Intl.). When this product first came on the market, I was so excited. It is made of tofu and flavored with oregano, rosemary, and marjoram. How they got the tofu to be the consistency of feta, I will never know. But, know that it is like feta and it is delicious!

Using these two ingredients, you will make a scrumptious Greek Salad. This one is good enough to bring to that office potluck - I promise you will be impressed.

Greek Salad
Serves: 8

Ingredients for Salad
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 4 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 bag Gloria's Harvest kalamata olives
  • 1 box Soy Feta
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Ingredients for dressing
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 of the olives from the Gloria's Harvest bag (listed above)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon 

Chop the bottom off the head of romaine lettuce, then continue to slice upwards in 1-inch slices. Then, chop widthwise so that the pieces are approximately 1-inch squares. Place lettuce in a large bowl.

Next, remove each tomato core with a tomato corer if you have one. If not, a knife will do.

Then slice the tomatoes into 8 slices like a pizza. Then, chop each wedge in half. Add to salad bowl.

Cut the red onion in half, then slice thinly. Add to salad bowl.

Peel the cucumber all the way (not fancy like I did) as you want to remove the thick skin. Then chop in half widthwise. Cut each half into four long wedges. Then, chop into large chunks and add to salad bowl.

Drain the olives, then cut about 40 of them in half lengthwise. Add to salad bowl. Add fresh parsley to salad bowl.

Cut the tofu feta in half and crumble half into the salad bowl. It crumbles very nicely. Add salt and black pepper.

Now, make the dressing by putting the olive oil in a bowl, then adding the vinegar.

Add the sugar to offset the vinegar. Add the garlic and whisk until combined.  Finely chop 4 olives and add them to the dressing to give it even more olive goodness. Whisk it all up and add to the salad.

Toss salad to combine flavors.

Voila! Vegan Greek Salad fit for a king! If you can't find these two products in your local health food store, you can order the tofu feta at Pangea and the olives through Gloria's Harvest.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rosa Mexicano, DC

Rosa Mexicano is a Mexican restaurant in Penn Quarter serving authentic Mexican cuisine. This chain has restaurants in Atlanta, Hackensack, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, and New York.  Despite the mixed feedback I've heard from others, Zach and I decided to go because (1) it is close to the theater we were going to and (2) it has been in DC for a long time and I felt it was time to finally try it out.

We had reservations for 6 p.m. on a Saturday. Little did we realize how popular this place was -- it was packed to the brim with people! I'm just glad we had reservations. We were seated in the main dining area, which was pretty large. With the large dining area, close seating to others, and loud atmosphere, it had the feel of a Chi-Chi's. That is not a good thing.

The decor was kind of cool with the Mexican animal masks on the wall.

We took a look at the menu and started with some drinks. I ordered the El Mezcalito. The Tanteo jalapeno-infused silver tequila was spicy, but when mixed with fresh strawberries, Del Maguey-Vida mezcal, fresh lemon, and organic agave, it was sweet at the same time.

This restaurant is known to have great guacamole and as far as I know, it is the most expensive guac in DC. As this would likely be our last time here, we had to try it. The guacamole cart was rolled over and the little guac guy made it fresh next to our table by mixing avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, and salt.

The guacamole is also served with tortilla chips and two sauces. I really liked the guacamole and both sauces -- one was a tomatillo habanero sauce that was super spicy and the other was a pasilla pepper sauce that was smoky.

The service was incredibly slow. By the time we had finished our guacamole, the server hadn't even taken our order. By the time he came around, we were ready for round two of drinks. I ordered a La Mandarina, which had fresh tangerine and basil, El Jimador silver tequila, fresh lemon, and agave. Delish! When we finally placed our order, the server was very helpful in helping me understand the vegan options, of which there were few. They included vegetable enchiladas and vegetarian tacos. That makes it easy, I guess.

When our food finally arrived, we were suprised at how large the portions were given that most people order the guacamole too. I ordered the vegetable enchiladas, which came with black beans and rice. Unfortunately, it also came with cheese, which I had, obviously, asked them to omit. They quickly brought me a new one.  Zach ordered the tacos that also came with black beans and rice.

The enchiladas were filled with spinach and just a few mushrooms and served with a tomato sauce. The sauce tasted very fresh, but there was nothing special about. The same goes for the enchiladas. They needed more spice -- the flavor was lacking.

Zach felt the same way about his tacos.

The beans were pretty good though and the rice was great. What made the rice so different was that it was cooked with cilantro, scallions, and mustard -- a nice twist!

It was a while after we finished eating before the server brought us our check and actually took our payment, which was particularly annoying because we were headed to the theater. The meal with two drinks each plus tip was $115 -- the priciest Chi-Chi's meal I've ever had. Of particular note is that the guacamole is $14 and the enchiladas are $16.  The service was slow, the food mediocre, and the prices outrageous. Of the other two upscale Mexican places I like in DC, both Oyamel and El Centro have better food, better service, and a nicer atmosphere.  I really have no idea how Rosa Mexicano stays so busy in a city with such great restaurants. Next time I get a hankering for Mexican food, I'm heading to Oyamel instead.

Rosa Mexicano
575 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 783-5522

Rosa Mexicano on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 25, 2012

GoodBelly NEW Flavors

A long, long time ago, I took the GoodBelly 12-day challenge and ever since then, I've been hooked on GoodBelly.  GoodBelly is a juice that provides vegan probiotics that promote digestive health. The strain, lactobacillus plantarum299v, has been used for digestive health safely and effectively for the past 15 years. With each 8-ounce serving of GoodBelly, you get 10 billion probiotic cultures.

What are probiotics? Probiotics are living microorganisms, which, when taken in adequate amounts, have a beneficial effect on the body.  In order to be deemed a probiotic, the strain must be shown to survive the stomach’s acidic environment in order to reach the rest of the digestive tract where it does the majority of its work. Once probiotics make their way out of the stomach, they do several important things to help promote digestive health:
  • They dwell in the intestine
  • They thrive off of the same nutrients as undesirable bacteria
  • They help to lower the gut’s pH
  • And then they are released back into the world when the cells of the intestinal lining shed, which is why it’s important to continue probiotics daily.
And now, GoodBelly has just released two new flavors -- tropical orange and pink grapefruit!

 They are both great tasting, but my favorite is the pink grapefruit. I've always been a big grapefruit fan!

So now you have two more reasons to give GoodBelly a try!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Edamame-Mint Sauce

Edamame, green soybeans in a pod, add a wonderful texture to this minty sauce. Edamame are high in protein and fiber and are very nutritious. This recipe from the  Candle 79 Cookbook goes especially well with the Nori- and Sesame-Crusted Seitan. It would also go well with grains.

Edamame-Mint Sauce
Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts
  • 1 cup shelled edamame (if you can't find them already out of the pod, you can just buy a bag of them in the pod and squeeze them out)
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint leaves

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the scallions and saute until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the edamame, garlic, jalapeno pepper, salt, and water and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes. I know it looks like a lot of water, but it is the right amount for this dish. Add the mint, remove from the heat, and let cool a bit.

Transfer the mixture to a blender and process until smooth. The sauce will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

The texture of this sauce is quite thick and it works well to stick to meaty dishes using seitan or tempeh.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fish Fillet Sandwich with Tartar Sauce

I bet you are wondering if you are still reading a vegan blog. Yep, you are. And, yes, I am going to tell you about a fish fillet sandwich that I made and loved, albeit it is a vegan fish fillet sandwich.

I picked up a package of Sophie's Kitchen Breaded Vegan Fish Fillets the other day wondering what the heck they would taste like. The idea of a vegan fish fillet is a little odd. I never liked fish before and was curious to see what I'd think of these. They are made of textured vegetable protein, canola oil, modified tapioca starch, cellulose, agave nectar, ginger and sea salt. How they made fish fillets out of this I'll never know.

I decided to make a sandwich using a tartar sauce made by The Organic Gourmet in Germany that is imported by Scenario International in Los Angeles, California. Vegan tartar sauces are not that easy to find so I was really excited to get my hands on this one.  The sunflower oil, cucumber, and dill in the tartar sauce complemented the fish fillets quite nicely.  In fact, the sauce is versatile enough to be used as a sandwich spread for any sandwich or a dip for vegetables. It is very good.

So, how did it turn out? The fish fillets are really funky. You get the texture of fish without the awful smell of fish, which is nice. I was pleasantly surprised at how good these were and once paired with the tartar sauce, the sandwich was perfect. Here is how to make it:

Vegan Fish Fillet Sandwich
Serves 4

Place the Sophie's Kitchen Fish Fillets on a baking sheet along with the whole wheat burger buns.

Cook at 400-degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread The Organic Gourmet Tartar Sauce & Dip on one side of a bun and top with a fish fillet.

Spread more tartar sauce on top of the fish filet. Place some green leaf lettuce on the fillet, then top with the bun. Repeat for others. Enjoy!

You can find Sophie's products in many Whole Foods now. Organic Gourmet's Tartar Sauce & Dip is available at Vegan Essentials.