Vegan MoFo Yellow Week – Lunch Break


Week 3 of Vegan MoFo has put many delicious yellow foods on my plate.  Today for lunch I’m enjoying Vada Pav and Samosa Pav from my favorite (and 100% vegetarian!) Indian restaurant, Ritu Ki Rasoi in Burlington, Massachusetts.

The yellow color comes from the curry that is cooked into the potato fillings.

Mo Orange 002While deep-fried and therefore not the healthiest fare, these little fried potato sliders are honestly so freakin’ delicious.  They are garnished with garlic-coconut, tamarind, and cilantro chutneys, and are hot and crispy on the outside, and warm, soft and spicy on the inside.

Mo Orange 003Sometimes a little indulgence is totally called for. 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone!

Takes on Thai Take-out

Say that five times fast!

Actually, never mind.  I just tried it and it’s not that hard.  Nonetheless, I remain a fan of alliteration.

In this post I would like to discuss my recent experiences with Thai or Thai-style takeout from various Boston establishments.  

I feel like all vegans love Thai food.  Is that an over-generalization? Perhaps, but think about it.  There are so many options that are vegan or can easily be made vegan with a few small tweaks.  For example, you can get vegan pad thai at pretty much every Thai restaurant in the U.S. by just asking for it with no meat (usually chicken and shrimp are included), no eggs, and no fish sauce.  Anyway, two of the reviews below are for veganized dishes at non-vegan establishments, and the third is for an all-vegan, all-amazing eatery where all (okay, some) of my dreams have been realized.  But first…

Boloco‘s Bangkok Thai burrito bowl

Now, clearly Boloco is not a Thai restaurant.  But it has a Thai option, which I ate recently and want to review, so it’s getting lumped into this post.  Deal.  Also, I’ll be honest.  I love me some Boloco.  1) Their tofu is goddamn delicious.  It’s really meaty, perfectly spiced, and they always give you plenty of it.   2) You can veganize the large majority of the options on their menu.  And on a related note, all (not just some…I’m looking at you, Qdoba)of their nutritional information and ingredients are listed on their website.  3) You can sub in brown rice or a whole wheat wrap on any menu item.  4) It’s cheap.  5) It’s very portable, particularly if you go with the bowl as opposed to the wrap. 6) I reuse their containers like every day. 
Verdict on Boloco: If you’re in Boston, I highly recommend it.  They have a number of locations (since I doubt anyone visiting Boston would find themselves in Cleveland Circle by chance.  At least, I sincerely hope not) and a variety of options that will please everyone.

Regarding the Bangkok Thai bowl:  It was pretty good.  The peanut sauce is tasty, but…I can’t tell if it was too thick or they just gave me too much.  I did like the addition of the cucumbers, though…that was an unusual (for me) combo with the peanut sauce, and the tangy Asian slaw was also nicely balanced by the sweetness of the sauce.  I still put Boloco’s summer burrito and their cajun one at the top of my list.

Next up: Bamboo‘s Tofu Red Curry

Again with the honesty…I mostly love Bamboo because it is right across the street from my apartment.  That’s also usually why I eat it; I spy it from my living room window, and suddenly think “Ooh, I’m in the mood for Bamboo!”  Despite this, I don’t eat it all that often because frankly I can’t afford to.  Not that it’s overly expensive, but eating any restaurant food too often is expensive.  So there’s that.

At the end of the day, though, they do a delicious curry:

I always have a dilemma when ordering because I love my food really spicy, and green curry is spicier than red, but the flavor of red curry just sings to me.  In the end therefore, red usually wins out.  I love the spongy texture of the fried tofu with the creaminess of the coconut base.  I also love the snow peas and the cabbage.  My biggest complaint about their curries is that I think the size of the pieces (both tofu and veggie) is too big; they’re not bite-sized so I always have to cut them.  Having to use a knife consequently makes it impossible to use chopsticks, which is a bit of a killjoy for me.  Regardless, I have continued and will continue to eat at Bamboo for as long as I live in the neighborhood.

And now, having saved the best for last, I present an array of dishes from one of my favorite places ever, My Thai Cafe.  This place rocks so, so hard.

Review of the restaurant itself: I’ll be frank–getting to this place is a bit of an experience.  It’s located near the Boylston T stop on the green line and very near the Chinatown stop on the orange line.  More importantly, it’s located on the second floor of its building, so in order to get there, you have to climb a set of stairs through one of the seediest stairwells, like, ever.   However, once you enter the restaurant, it’s really, really nice–bright, clean, sparkly, and filled with happy-looking people and super-friendly staff.  I’ve been here twice now and both times, it was crowded.  And though I’ve only done takeout thus far, I am definitely going to try to eat in very soon and am looking forward to it very much. 

On to the food!

On my first trip, I got an appetizer of steamed dumplings:

And Pad Woonsen with veggie chik’n as my entree: 

Closeup on a chik’n morsel

The dumplings were just okay.  The filling was pretty nondescript (kinda dry, not too flavorful) but overall, the dumplings tasted good with the sauce that came with them and I enjoyed them.

Then came the Pad Woonsen.  Holy crap this was good.  I couldn’t get over how delicious it was, bite after bite.  All of the perfectly cooked veggies, the moist, tender veggie chik’n exploding with flavor, the perfect crumble of peanuts on top…SO GOOD.  H tried a bite and was equally blown away.  He even (somewhat guiltily haha) asked me for another taste a few minutes later (and I love sharing!).   He thought this was so good that he has agreed to go with me to eat dinner at the restaurant one night.  Score!!!

My second trip was on a work day, so I got the lunch special, which consists of an appetizer (either a fried spring roll or dumplings), an entree, and the soup of the day.  Apparently if you eat in, you also get jasmine tea.  For my meal, I got:

Fried spring roll and Mango Curry with Rice

And soup of the day…not 100% sure what it was! But I think it’s Tom Yum Yow-Hoo based on the menu description.

I got this mountain of food for $8.  Yup.  Eight dollars.  Including tax.  And I got two delightful meals out of it.  The soup was pretty good, but the truth is that it was blown away by the Mango Curry.  Let me tell you, this Mango Curry was everything I wanted it to be and more.  It was so sweet and creamy.  It wasn’t that warm outside on the day I got it, but spring was in the air, and this meal hit. the. spot.  The mango taste isn’t that obvious (except in the bites that have actual mango pieces in them! MMM I’m salivating), but it lends such a lovely sweetness to the finished product.   And once again I have to say that the texture of My Thai’s veggie chik’n is out of this world.  It’s soft and tasty and fits right in with the texture and taste of the vegetables and sauce.  Getting lunch from My Thai requires a 30-minute round trip T journey from my work (plus a sketchy stair climb!) but it is so worth it.

Alright I think I’ve rambled on for long enough in this installment.  Coming soon: vegan pizzas, heirloom produce, and more!

Gobbling Garbanzos

Man, I just friggin’ love chickpeas. Their texture is pretty much perfect, the flavor is tame enough to be dressed up with just about anything, and they are super-healthy. My only problem with chickpeas is that I eat too many of them, which is not the best thing for me to do when I’m watching my weight, because they are pretty calorically dense.

But I digress. Two of my favorite ways to cook chickpeas are either Indian-style (in my own, very loose adaptation of chana masala) or in the Quinoa-Chickpea Pilaf from Veganomicon.  Observe:

Indian-style: this is one of my impromptu “masala” chickpea dishes.  Basically I sautee some onions and garlic, then add a buttload of veggies (carrots, broccoli, some potatoes, and in this one I used fresh tomatoes, though I often use canned).  Then I add a liquid, either broth or one of those delicious simmer sauces in a jar that you can buy at the store.  I usually use broth (mostly because I can’t take the salt in the jars, but they are delicious, and handy when you want something super-quick).  Then add the chickpeas (I almost always used canned these days because I’m lazy).  If using broth, you then need to add lots of good spices.  Curry powder, obviously, and some cumin, chili powder, a little garam masala, and black pepper.  I just do it to taste.  It’s so tasty and lasts for days.
(Sorry for the weird picture…for some reason, no matter how I format it, it still looks odd. Oh well. It was tasty.)

PILAF!!!  From Veganomicon, this is one of my favorite recipes ever and I have made a rule that I cannot eat any of it until 20 minutes after it’s done cooking…for some reason when it’s piping hot I cannot resist throwing back bowl after bowl of it, so I have to wait for it to cool and then slow my roll and enjoy it.  LOVE the taste of the ground coriander in this.

Oh, and I have the nutrition facts for it! Well, sort of. The following numbers are based off of my observation that the recipe yields roughly 6 cups, and then from that I derived the following numbers for a serving of 1 cup (or 1/6 of the recipe):
224 calories, 38g carbs, 5g fat, 8g protein, 6g fiber, 518 mg sodium, 14% DV iron, 26% DV Vitamin B6, 5% DV calcium, 5% DV Vitamin E. Woo!

Another fun way I like to make chickpeas in order to eat them as a snack or as a salad topping is to roast them (like Dreena’s Tamari-Roasted Chickpeas…I think from ED&BV).  And I am dying to try this recipe from Fitness Magazine for Indian-Spiced Roasted Chickpeas, for obvious reasons (namely, that I am obsessed with both chickpeas and Indian food).

Happy gobbling!