Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I love you like a 100% vegan pay-by-the pound buffet (or, veganism in British Columbia)

B. and I spent most of the past week hanging out in British Columbia, and though I pride myself on keeping this blog very focused, I feel the need to blog a bit about the vegan meals we checked out while traveling around.

Really, this was the excuse and the springboard...

A vegan reuben in a serious piece of history (a piece of history that is open twenty-four hours, and though you'd expect it to be as crunchy as a raw flax cracker, manages to have the warm and pleasant atmosphere that reminds you more of a classy tea-house than the place where Greenpeace was founded back when the street was called "Rainbow Road").

I was thoroughly pleased with the Naam, even though it was a little crowded, slow, expensive (but so is everything in Vancouver, B.C.) and they managed to add completely unnecessary dairy to everything. (A Dragon Bowl of tofu, perfectly cooked veggies and...a slice of jack cheese, really?). So the tempeh reuben of course came with Swiss, you could sub for Tofurella but our friendly and helpful server informed us that Tofurella has casein. I thought the reuben was perfectly good ultimately, with tempeh, sauerkraut, sauteed mushrooms, tomato and sprouts on a whole wheat bun. Sure, it was more like a tempeh burger with sauerkraut (I slathered it with mustard), but it was tasty. B. didn't think it was a real reuben because it didn't have any kind of dressing or special sauce. I guess Portland has spoiled us. Though the pie made from pureed dates and bananas with no added sweetener in a flaky crust blew my mind.

As for eating vegan in B.C. in general, it ran the gamut from being surprisingly easy (more on that later) to somewhat annoying (the "vegetarian cafe" with the tiny pile of tofu scramble that wouldn't let me sub something I actually wanted to eat for the non-vegan English muffin).

For the sake of public knowledge, some definite highlights (read: if you are vegan and find yourself in Victoria, B.C., you must go here) include Green Cuisine, an extensive salad and hot bar that is entirely vegan where you pay by weight. They also have some awesome vegan desserts, including in-house ice cream and baked goods. The other great find was Lotus Pond Chinese Restaurant, just a few blocks up Johnson from Green Cuisine. I felt incredibly lucky to find this place, and to be able to get lunch there on a weekday, when they have their pay-by-weight buffet, which includes, wait for it, vegan DIM SUM! The ginger broccoli was delicious and perfectly cooked, they had a couple other veggie-heavy dishes that included some soy-based meat but the meat didn't dominate, which I appreciated personally, and of course I was super-hyped to try the turnip cakes, potstickers and red bean pastry. In general I found both these joints to be way better than the equivalents in Portland -- in that the food was reasonably priced (and this in a city where it is typically very expensive to eat out), and unlike some buffets that are "all-you-can-eat," these places stock the bar with stuff you actually are excited about eating (unlike that vegan lunch buffet in Chinatown that shall go unnamed).

Even though I used to shy away from buffets where you actually paid based on quantity, the above restaurants (as well as a co-op in Corvallis called First Alternative that also has an awesome salad and hot bar) have turned me around. I've realized it's great, as a health-conscious vegan, to be able to pick exactly what you want to eat in the quantity that you want.

See you soon, when we'll have another post on vegan reubens in Portland!

P.S. Another restaurant we visited that's probably worth mentioning was a 100% vegan sandwich shop with locations in both Seattle and Tacoma called Hillside Quickie's. I wasn't too excited with what I ended up with, the Jamacian Jerk tofu, but the chili was epic, and they did have a "Tofustrami" sandwich that included pickles and raw onions, among other condiments, making it almost a reuben...

1 comment:

VeganFabulous said...

Damn that Reuben is huge! Sounds like you had a food filled trip! My favorite kind!