Nuba Restaurant

January 22, 2016 § Leave a comment

 

This Lebanese restaurant is a favourite of mine and the lunch special comes with a variety of healthy and vegetarian items. I often meet one of my good friends there for lunch as her office is right around the corner from their Kitsilano location. I usually get either the Falafel($12.75) or Najib’s special($13), crispy cauliflower tossed with lemon and sea salt.  The lunch plate comes with hummus, salad, pickled cabbage, pita, olives and brown rice or potatoes. I get the potatoes and my friend orders half and half.

It’s a pretty big plate of food so I time my appetite and go fairly hungry. The service is quick at lunch and it caters to those who work in the area. Sometimes I get a seat a few minutes before my friend arrives and place our order so that we can relax and not feel rushed. The great thing about Nuba is that each of their four locations are designed differently and each one has its own unique personality.

I often run from Kitsilano beach along the Burrard Street bridge and eventually end up at the one downtown on Seymour Street. This one is more like a quick service cafe and after a 10K run, it’s a great reward. www.nuba.ca 

 

Rangoli Restaurant

January 21, 2016 § Leave a comment

People always ask me what my favourite Indian restaurant is. Hands down it’s Vij’s Rangoli because I love, love, love their Portobello Mushroom and Red Bell Pepper Curry on paneer with beet salad & naan ($15.50). The mushroom is cut thick and has a nice chew to it and the paneer is soft and melts in your mouth. Not to mention the perfection of the delicate spices that make the sauce.

Vij’s original restaurant just moved to Cambie and I was surprised there was not a line up to see the Celebrity Chef’s new space. The food and service was amazing as usual but I do have to say, that I love this dish the best. I take all of my visiting clients to Rangoli at least once during their stay and many go back again. Rangoli Restaurant is located in South Granville on 11th Avenue. www.vijsrestaurant.ca

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On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, my daughter and I really enjoy Best Quality Restaurant which is more of a traditional Indian restaurant with authentic food and minimal service. This restaurant is pure veg and only serves vegetables and dairy products. The meal that is shown here is the puri with chickpeas ($4.99) and my daughter got the vegetable kofta with rice ($9.99). The place makes you feel like you are transported to India and the prices make you feel the same.

The flavours are authentic and the food arrives a few minutes after you order. As the name implies, they use quality ingredients unlike other traditional restaurant and I have never gotten sick or a stomach ache from eating their food. We usually pick up a small box of assorted sweets when we leave which comes to around $5.50 and a box of veggie samosas ($0.75 each). Best Quality is located on Main Street at 57th Avenue in Vancouver.

 

 

Noodlebox Restaurant Vancouver

December 5, 2013 § 1 Comment

noodle box

My son and I went shopping for the Black Friday Sales that were happening in Vancouver. We left our house around 11am on Sunday morning and went to 3 stores including Costco. In less than 3 hours my 12 year old had bought gifts for all seven people on his list and within his budget.

I commented that I was so impressed with his budgeting and decision making skills and the amount of time that it took him to shop. He replied that he thought that it took long because I kept looking at stuff. He also said that he already had an idea of what to buy people and researched prices online.

We had worked up an appetite and decided to stop at the Noodle box Restaurant downtown on 839 Homer Street. I got the Spicy Peanut Noodle box and my son got the Kung Pao, both with tofu.

Mine had ribbon noodles with a coconut curry and veggies. My son’s was an egg noodle with a sweet chilli sauce and veggies. I love the Noodle box because the meals are huge and you always have leftovers. The wait is never more that 15 minutes and the atmosphere is nice for a casual quick service restaurant. Plus they always play good music and usually hip hop. Best of all, it’s a place that both my son and I enjoy and can share an experience over a bowl of noodles. Visit their website for locations, hours and menu, www.noodlebox.net.

South Indian Comfort Food

December 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

idli chai puttu

The hugging saint “Amma” was visiting San Francisco from South India so I travelled to her ashram in San Ramon to attend her retreat. Amma is a humanitarian and has an international charity called Embracing the World that focuses on ending poverty by educating people in India and implementing creative solutions to change the world.

In India she has built universities, hospitals and orphanages to name a few. She gives out free meals and scholarships to those who would not be able to afford education. She has spoken many times at the UN and is an inspiration as she came from a small fishing village.

I enjoy being in her presence and so I took the opportunity to see her in California. I always look forward to the food as it is made with love and warms the soul. One morning when I entered the cafe, I was so happy to find some of my favourite south Indian breakfasts. The idlis tastes just like the ones in India and the sambar sauce complimented it perfectly.

I kind of pigged out and also got a scoop puttu which is made with ground rice and has savoury spices with veggies. I was so in heaven and I washed it all down with a cup of chai.

I had a great time at the retreat and the space for solitude and reflection was what I needed. Back at home I feel more connected and relaxed and eager to research recipes on South Indian breakfasts. If you would like to know more about Embracing the World, visit their website at www.embracingtheworld.org for more info on Amma, visit www.amma.org.

King of Thai Noodle House – San Francisco

December 5, 2013 § 2 Comments

thom kha soup

I spent a day sight seeing in San Francisco and my stomach suddenly roared for a nourishing meal. I was in Union Square surrounded by tourists and the sound of cable cars rolling up and down the hill near Market Street. I looked around and after a block or two, I caught a sign on a side street that advertised Thai food. They usually have vegetarian options so I walked in.

The 50 seat restaurant was nearly full and I was seated at a long bar facing the wall. The restaurant was not decorated and the purple walls showed beige where the paint had come off.

Within a minute of being seated, I was asked for my order. I had not looked at the menu long and noticed that the lady beside me was eating a nice soup. The waitress showed me the vegetarian soups and I ordered one with coconut milk and noodles.

The Tom Kha Tofu soup was so hot that I burnt my mouth on the first spoon. The flavour was sweet and sour with a delicious coconut flavour. The soup had mushrooms, asian greens, baby corn and tofu. It so delicious and I continued to take sips even though it was steaming. The noodles were broad and slippery and I eventually had to ask for a fork to get them in my mouth. The portion was massive and I ate almost all of the broth and left a pile of mushrooms behind.

For such a simple restaurant, the service was quick and friendly and the soup was outstanding. The King of Thai Noodle House in Union Square is located at 184 O’Farrell Street in San Francisco.

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Burma Superstar Restaurant San Francisco

December 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

tea leaf salad

Burma Superstar is a popular restaurant in San Francisco with multiple locations in the Bay area. My friends took me there for dinner and we ordered the tea leaf salad, a veggie noodle dish, and coconut rice with the okra tofu.

Burmese food is inspired by the various countries that it shares its borders with, that’s India, China, Laos and Thailand. The tea leaf salad was very lightly dressed with lemon juice and oil and had tea leaves that was imported from Burma. It was quite an usual flavour and the nuts and seeds balance the astringent quality of the tea.

burma superstar

The noodles were taught, the way that I like them, and the sauce went quite nicely and the broccoli. The curry was delicious and okra is one of my favourite asian vegetables. The coconut rice was a bit sweet and went nicely with the spiciness of the curry.

white sangriaTheir cocktail menu was impressive and I tried the white sangria that came with a lychee as a garnish. It was a refreshing and light drink which is what I wanted. Burma Superstar does not take reservations so arrive early. Visit their website for more information on their menu, locations and hours. www.burmasuperstar.com.

Chicago Diner – Meat Free Since ’83

December 4, 2013 § 2 Comments

chai

One of my favourite meals in Chicago was at the Chicago Diner. It is amazing restaurant that puts  a vegetarian twist on comfort foods and their menu includes seitan buffalo wings, a tofu “fish” filet and heavenly vegan desserts.  I think I starred at the menu for about 20 minutes as I could not decide what to order and everything sounded so good.

chicago diner

I decided on the vegan faux fish fillet as the one thing that I miss being vegetarian is fish and chips. The sandwich came on a very thin bun with tartar sauce and panko encrusted tofu. I ordered it with a side of kale but the other tempting option was waffle fries which I opted out of.

I cut the sandwich in half and took a bite. The crunchy panko tofu  with the vegan tartar sauce made a close impression to it’s original. It was a nice treat to eat a resemblance of fish after over 20 years of abstinence. The meal was very filling and I had half a sandwich leftover.

vegan dessert

My friend had saved room for dessert and I took a couple bites of this decadent vegan caramel crunch torte with vegan whipped cream. It was so rich and delicious, I enjoyed every bite.

The meal was so delicious and satisfying that I swore to go back there everyday for all of my meals. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it back and the next time that I visit Chicago it’s the first place that I will visit.

The service was great, food was amazing and the price was very fair. The Rishi chai was $3.50, golden fillet sandwich 10.99 and the dessert $5.99. The Chicago Diner has two locations one on Halsted Street and one in Logan Square. Visit their website for more info www.veggiedinercom.

Chicago Popcorn

November 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

chicago popcorn

When I arrived in Chicago and asked my friends, what Chicago’s specialties were, they all suggested that I try Chicago popcorn. It’s a mix of cheese popcorn with caramel corn, sweet and savoury. One evening I went to a friends and brought up that I wanted to try Chicago popcorn and he just happened to have bought a bag from Costco that day.

What luck. We opened a bag and I could not stop eating them. We realized that the caramel corn is heavier and tends to fall near the bottom of the bag and the cheese floats at the top. For future reference, I’ll give the bag a good shake before pouring the popcorn into a bowl.

The brand G.H. Creates, that is sold at Costco uses non-GMO corn and only natural ingredients without gluten ingredients. I was happy to find it at my Costco at home. I actually ate a bowl while writing this post. It is quite reasonably priced at about $7 for a 737 gram bag.

If you are in Chicago and want to try the best Chicago popcorn, go to Garret Popcorn shop around the city. They make their popcorn fresh and also use non-GMO corn, no preservatives and are gluten free. They have many flavours with nuts and now ship to Canada.

Uncommon Ground Restaurant in Chicago

October 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

toffee coffee

Uncommon Restaurant in Chicago won the Greenest Restaurant in America award earlier this year. They have herbs planters that line their patio and the nation’s first certified organic rooftop garden. The fruits of their labour end up in the menu. My friend’s sweet toffee latte was topped with whipped cream and he craved seconds after finishing this big bowl.

french toast with grape syrup

French toast with grape syrup using local grapes and topped with toasted pecans and icing sugar. The tender grapes were peeled and had the softness of a pear. The combination was delectable.

vegetarian chillaquiles

Vegan chilaquiles with scrambled tofu, homemade vegan seitan chorizo, topped with cheese, tortillas, guacamole and a side of hashbrowns. The staff was still asleep when we arrived at 9am and my order took three attempts to get it right. It gave me time to savour my french pressed coffee. The seitan was my favourite part of this dish, and the focal point of flavour. I added hot sauce to the dish which was a mistake and turned my mouth on fire and altered my taste buds.

Uncommon Ground Restaurant is located in 3800 N Clark St, Chicago, IL, 60613 . You can reach them at (773) 929-3680 or visit their website at www.uncommonground.com.

Buckwheat pancakes at Delia’s Kitchen

October 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

buckwheat pancakes - Delia's Kitchen - Oak Park, Illinois

I went out for pancakes to my friend’s favourite place by her house in Oak Park, Illinois. Delia’s Kitchen is a family owned restaurant and the owner Veronica was very friendly and came over to our table to say hi. Veronica owns another restaurant in Chicago and is currently working on a third concept that will focus on healing foods.

I was so excited to see buckwheat pancakes on the menu and ordered them with a side of strawberries.  The pancakes came in a stack of three and were lightly dusted with icing sugar, topped with thinly cut strawberries and served with a side of syrup. They were light and fluffy and taste delicious. I was happy to find this healthy option on their menu and made a mental note to  learn how to make them.

Delia’s Kitchen is located on 1034 W Lake Street, Oak Park, IL 60301. To contact them call 708.358.1300 or visit their website www.deliaskitchen.net.

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