Tag Archives: vegan

Vegan Guide to Japan – Tokyo Harajuku

cupcakeSweets in Japan are a pretty big deal but vegan ones aren’t always easy to find. Unless you stroll into the tiny Brown Sugar 1st where you will be overwhelmed with things to buy like coconut popcorn and yuzu cookies and soft serve ice cream and cupcakes.

A district in Shibuya, Harajuku, is unlike anywhere I’ve been in my life. It became famous for the “Harajuku Girls” who come out to shop in the most fabulous clothes you’ve ever seen. And girl power is definitely the name of the came. Everything is kawaii (cute), in pastel colors, and looks like it was designed by the coolest committee of twelve-year-old girls anywhere. There are cat cafes, bakeries, crepe shops, animal costumes, and stuffed animals everywhere. And this is for sure the place to pick up that glitter filled cell phone case you’ve been dying for. I would want every girl in the world to have a neighborhood like this to wander around, there were so many small groups of unchaperoned girls just having the best time. It made our trips to the mall in the 80s seem pathetic by comparison. And yes, we did spend way too much money on this giant rainbow cotton candy! cottoncandy

Top 5 vegan options in or near Harajuku

    1. Harukucchii
    2. Sass-no-ha
    3. Hachinoki
    4. Kamakura 24sekki
    5. Kitotoki

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Tokyo

Hakone
Kyoto

Vegan Guide Japan

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Vegan Guide to Japan – Tokyo Shibuya

HachikōMaybe you’ve heard the story of Hachikō, the dog that waited at Shibuya station for his human to get off work every single day. He was so famous for his ever-present to folks in the neighborhood for his unwavering attitude that when he passed they built a statue of Hachikō, waiting in his spot.

Shibuya is probably the area that you think of when you picture Tokyo in your mind. It’s like times square on some sort of intense Japanese drugs that they only have in anime movies. Everywhere you look there are giant ads, giant building, and millions of people everywhere. The day I was at the famous intersection across the station enjoying my matcha latte at Starbucks, I even saw a bunch of people driving go-carts dressed like all the characters from Mario Kart, Luigi, Toad and the Princess were all there. They say the intersection is the busiest in the world and it’s super interesting to watch the lights change and see it swarm with people.

Aside from the many stores and coffeshops, (one has a David Lynch theme!) there are plenty of vegan options. We tried Afuri which was very different than other bowls of ramen in Japan because it was positively swimming with bright, colorful vegetables. It was very tasty and I recommend it for sure. There are a ton of other options and many are open late so check Happy Cow and Yelp to see what’s what.

Vegan Guide Japan

Vegan Guide to Japan – Tokyo Shimokitazawa

ShimoStreetWhen we found a David Bowie-themed Airbnb it soon seemed like Shimokitazawa was the neighborhood for us! We were so glad to find this spot which I can’t imagine will be around for very long. Unlike everywhere else in Tokyo in Shimokitazawa everything is human-sized. Through the main section they don’t even allow cars, it’s just narrow little streets with hip young Japanese people heading to and fro. It’s not at all overwhelming like the other neighborhoods but there are tons of cafes and vintage shops.

Our first stop was for, you guessed it, ramen and gyoza. We were very excited to get to order from a vending machine at Chabuton. It was pretty tasty but probably the least exciting of the bunch. We loved the gyoza though!

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We also got to try a couple of coffee shops. The weird part about Shimokitazawa is that most places don’t open until 11am, even coffee places! I later found out there was a spot with a ham and cheese crepe called blank but we couldn’t work it into our schedule. There was one Australian style coffee shop, Frankie Melbourne Espresso,  that I ordered a soy chai from and it was literally the best chai I’d ever had in my life. When it came out, it was still steeping so there was a little hourglass on the tray to let me know exactly when it was done. So adorable.

For late night I loved the bar Mother. It was also very close to our airbnb and was made out of cob painted gold so it resembled a super fancy tree house and had a super cool vibe. They had vegan options marked so I had to try the Okinawan noodles to go with my ume plum & shiso cocktail. It was delightful! mother

Other Posts in this series

Tokyo

Hakone
Kyoto
Vegan Guide Japan

Revolution Vegan Kitchen at the Midway

Update 6/20/2017 Revolution Vegan Kitchen relocated to 7800 S. 1st Street after this post was published34427123851_fca028daae_c

When Revolution Vegan Kitchen opened a few months ago there was a lot of confusion since this new trailer is named very similarly to long time Austin vegan business community members Unity Vegan Kitchen and Barbecue Revolution. At first we wondered if it was some sort of trailer offspring of the two super popular spots but it turns out that Revolution Vegan Kitchen is completely unaffiliated. I had heard it was out in Westlake but then I happened to see it driving out to the Hill of Life and learned that it is just west of Barton Creek Square Mall, off 360 in an awesome trailer park called the Midway. This is one of the most ideal spots for vegan kids in Austin. They have tons of covered tables and chairs, and a good-sized playground, and plenty of room to run around.33750286623_141216412a_c

And while you are waiting for your food you can chase after your little ones since RVK gives out vibrating pagers instead of giving you numbers to hang on too. 34086355250_8e02f855b1_z

Their menu is super kid friendly too, they have Mac ‘n’ Cheez, Corn Dawgs, Hot Dawgs, Chick’n Nuggets, juice boxes and 4 oz containers of Nadamoo ice cream! [It just occurred to me that this vegan generation might grow up really confused about how to spell common food words!] They also have curly fries and burgers (we guessed they were boca burgers but I forgot to ask) on the sandwiches and bites side of the menu.33747023693_bcb4190ffb_c

More exciting for adult vegans is that they have fried pickles and Mozzarella sticks but both were out the day I went. I bet they sell out of a lot of items on nice days, the Midway was packed, so if it’s across town for you, check their social media or give them a call before driving all the way out there.

The best part about RVK was the tacos, and I’m not just saying that because tacos are my favorite food ever. These vegan tacos were straight up legit – and I have an advanced degree in taco-ology. Looking at the menu, originally, I was disappointed because almost every offering was jackfruit based. 34430103896_681c86701f_b

But it turned to be some of the best jackfruit I’ve ever had. I loved the Al Pastor and it made me happy that the bright orange grease was running off of it, so authentic! I also tried the Chorizo con papas + way fauxs  and I loved that too, it was a very traditional breakfast taco. 34171484000_b1619a7696_z

I want to go back and check out the rest of the taco selection FOR SURE. I’ll just probably wait until the next time I’m hanging out with kiddos.  There is so much fun stuff to play with and I’m pretty sure it’s dog friendly too. 34471164465_951d3dfeef_c

All the best of vegan NYC in 2016

Sometimes I think if I lived in New York instead of Austin I would have been following a bagel cleanse instead of a taco cleanse. Bagels have long been my favorite part about trips to the city because they are so amazingly good and so many places have a variety of tofu cream cheeses, including green olive. It’s the best thing in the world.30004804410_1d5acdf7fb

Other than bagels, the last few times I went to New York I felt like the popular vegan places were overrated. Candle 79, Champs, Beyond Sushi, Wild Ginger, and Dunwell Doughnuts are all infamous vegan spots that I was super excited to try and then a bit let down by. This trip was different because I went with traveling expert, and awesomest person ever, my pal Jojo who set me straight on all the best places to go. Wait, actually it was my Austin friend Jessica who told me we had to try the impossible burger at Momofuku Nishi which was our first stop.30124738716_b6ee6f9e27

I had read that you have to get in line before they open because they only make 50 burgers a day so we got to happy hour super early. Eventually a staff person came out and asked us if we were there for the burgers. When we told him we were, he said that they don’t do them for happy hour anymore, only lunch! GASP! But then they said they would make them for us. Whew. The impossible burger is supposed to be so meat-like that vegetarians are grossed out. Known as “the burger that bleeds” we couldn’t wait to see what all the fuss was about. In the end, all five of us, all vegan, enjoyed it. Someone said it was on par if not better than Arlo’s here in Austin, which, I have to disagree with. The patty reminded me of the burgers I ate in the elementary school cafeteria. The fries were like McDonalds fries, which was awesome since the real McDonalds fries are made with meat so I can’t eat them. I would have liked it better with some cheese and I do think Arlo’s is better but I’d, for sure, recommend it.

Later we stopped for a slice at Vinnie’s in Brooklyn which reminded me of Dimo’s in Chicago, they have all sorts of crazy options like vegan mac and cheese or teriyaki chicken.30046760082_b7d126d9f5

The next morning we got bagels and did the most touristy thing one could ever do in New York: rowed boats through Central Park. I should have taken a video so that I could use it in a video montage set to New York City. It was so fun, we saw turtles and didn’t capsize once. We headed to Riverdel Cheese shop and deli in Prospect Park in Brooklyn for sandwiches and it was just the kind of sandwiches I love, roasty, toasty, and filled with cheese. I got the M Night Shamlani (or something) which was cheese and salami just like the sandwiches I made growing up. Yes, I went from a diet of almost exclusively meat, cheese, and bread (and olives) to a vegan. I wish a place like this would open around here, I love that vegan delis are getting so popular.

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After some wandering about we headed for Lagusta which now has a location in the East Village. I had been to the original in New Paltz a few years back and thought I’d died and gone to heaven, a very expensive vegan chocolate-based heaven. I saved my chocolates for an emergency because I knew at our next restaurant we were going to want to eat everything on the menu.

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Meeting up with friends at Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s new Brooklyn location of Modern Love is something I’ve been wanting to do for as long as it’s been in existence…or before it even existed. When I found out my friend Laura was going to be in town the same weekend as Jojo I knew it was time to make the trip.

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Everything about Modern Love is perfect, from the dark wood walls, the cute bathrooms, to every single thing on the menu. I was overwhelmed. Even though I’d been studying the menu in anticipation for a while I could not decide what to get. Luckily, I had enough people with me that I got to try just about every appetizer. The poutine was what I was maybe most excited for (I did have a dream about it). Instead of french fries they were large potato wedges and covered in the most delicious porcini gravy, and truffled almond  riccotta. We also had chili cheese fries, the tempeh stuffed avocado, Brussels with bacon, and what turned out to be my favorite, the mushroom blintz with smashed beet relish and kasha arugula salad.

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For my entree I had a hard time deciding. I really wanted the Mac and Cheese with pecan-cornmeal crusted tofu, BBQ cauliflower and kale and I got to try it and it was truly fantastic. The tofu was just perfectly done and crispy on the outside. I ended up getting the Stuffed Poblanos with Street Corn (spicy lentil meat, yuba chicharrones, red rice, jicama slaw, smoked guacamole, pico de gallo, coconut sour cream, fresh herbs). The yuba was like nothing I’ve ever had before. A couple people thought it was potato-skin esque put when Laura said it tasted like pig skin, it was an aha moment. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten something like that!

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Finally came dessert and I went for the  Dulce De Leche Coconut Cream Pie.30010364610_9cdcd4e0d1

We tried to walk off the excessive eating by taking Isa’s advice and walking across the Williamsburg bridge which was super fun and beautiful.

Dim sum in New York has seemed like something important to do since I first heard of it in the movie Working Girl circa 1988 and I’ve seen many pictures of Vegetarian Dim Sum House. We met up for brunch even though Jojo thought dim sum for brunch was inauthentic and I think Nick might have just been full up still. Everything was crazy good and only 6 dollars apiece.30157812166_c446c3558b_z

The turnip cake (not pictured) reminded me of the most giant noodle ever. The monk dumplings, the coriander ham rolls, & the vegetarian pork rolls were all perfectly done and ridiculously tasty. It was just so much deliciousness in one meal. I could eat there every week. It would suck to live in New York and be super lazy, knowing that you could get on a train and have the best meals ever if only you could leave the house. I would be terrible at it. At least you can get so many things delivered.

We stopped in Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery to grab some knishes to-go and I followed the sign’s advice and brought one home for a friend! It was delicious. The perfect airplane treat.

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We also stopped at By Chloe a couple of times for various desserts. I had never had a black and white cookie so I was super stoked to try one. 30216253151_2784f399ac

We had heard that the yuba sandwiches from Superiority Burger were some of the best food in town so we tried those as well. The restaurant was so tiny we couldn’t all sit at once and I didn’t take a picture but I had to share Jojo’s. I now want to make all sandwiches with yuba.

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Seriously. This trip was 100% tastier and way more fun than my last few trips and it was all thanks to Jojo and her wonderful husband Nick. If you are ever on a trip check out her blog Vegan in Brighton cause girlfriend does her research and there is no dicking around eating shitty food with Jojo. It’s all good all the time. 30005346660_64e4545211_o

And grab a knish for the airplane. You won’t regret it. 29671630334_0ce036499d

Vegan Fine Dining in Austin Texas

Austin Vegan Fine Dining GuideA few years ago my sister was visiting from Chicago. After a few days she said something like, “can we go somewhere nice to eat? Like, not the nicest place in town…but somewhere nice?”. It’s become a running joke among my friend group because I do tend to patronize trailers, shacks, grocery stores, bars, food counters, and other, shall we say, casual establishments. For anniversaries, date nights, and special occasions it can be fun to put on something nicer than a torn up hoodie. As a vegan especially, I do love having a waiter that can explain every aspect of a dish to me. Some people (hi mom!) just really want a good wine list when they go out. And so, on that note, here are my favorite fancy restaurants in town. Sadly, none of them are entirely vegan but I know that we will get there someday. In the meantime, I think these are the best spots to take your parents, clients, dates, or other people that you want to impress by not sitting at a picnic table with toddlers and dirt waiting for your number to be called.

Claypit Contemporary Indian Cuisine

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image from Clay Pit

I had been to the lunch buffet many times before I went to dinner at the Claypit and was seated in their beautiful candlelit cellar. I think it might be one of the most romantic atmospheres in town. All their vegan items are marked and include the vegetable samosas, the roti (but not the naan),  Aloo Gobi, Veggie Ayam, Kadhu Curry, and more. It’s a great place to share entrees and fall in love…with Indian food.

TRIO Restaurant

I recently did a full on review of TRIO, suffice to say their vegan menu was top-notch and the service was the best I’ve had in Austin. Definitely the place to go if you want to spend some money and drink fine wines.

Prelog’s 

360 Nueces & W. 3rd Ask for the 5 course vegan meal with pairings at this trendy hotspot.

Sagra Trattoria and Bar CLOSED 

I reviewed Sagra over here, they have an extensive vegan menu including risotto, mac and cashew cheese with truffle oil, and several different pizzas and vegetable appetizers. When we went everything was fantastic but I’ve heard that they aren’t the most consistent and often run out of vegan cheese so make sure you ask questions when ordering. Almost everything on the menu can be gluten-free too. Their happy hour looks like a great deal!

Elizabeth Street Cafe

I don’t know if Elizabeth Street really qualifies as fine dining since it’s more of a French Vietnamese cafe but they do have knowledgeable waiters, a beautiful atmosphere, and a nice cocktail and wine menu so I think it counts. I love the style of this restaurant and the multiple vegan options like tofu spring rolls, two different vegan pho varieties, bún, and bánh xèo (pictured). Elizabeth Street would be the perfect place to go for a fancy brunch since most of the nicer American places are so egg heavy. Here is my review.

Sway Thai

image from Austin Chronicle

I love the food and cocktails at Sway. It’s meant to be shared but I’d only bother with sharing if you are going with all vegans because they do have to make everything special (then it’s super fun!). Australian Thai is thoughtfully presented and deliciously prepared, definitely on the spicy side. Dishes like the green curry eggplant, spring rolls, papaya salad, pad thai, squash curry, and salt and pepper tofu can all be made vegan. The big caveat to Sway, and why it’s not on the top of my list, is that you have to sit at big shared tables which I find very awkward. Not a good place to go on a date at all but perfect if you have a large group.

Uchi and Uchiko

image from Culturemap Uchi on the left Uchiko on the right

For many years these two sister sushi restaurants were at the very top of every single “best of” list because their food is delicious, the presentation is exquisite, the service is exceptional, and the restaurant is very stylish but comfortable. They don’t have a ton of vegan options but what they do have is really good and enough to make a meal. The occasionally do a vegetarian night too! Happy hour is a great time to check it out.

Lenoir 

pic from Austin Chronicle

A while back a few friends and I went to Lenoir and had an amazing experience. We called ahead and the chef prepared a special menu for us. If you are ever looking for a wonderful restaurant in a beautiful setting, like a setting you could propose at, Lenoir might be as good as it gets. The presentation of our meal was fabulous and the chef came out and explained every dish. The food was wonderful and I would love to go back. Highly recommended. Read all about it (and see terrible pictures!) here.

Wink Restaurant

image from Austin 360

Wink is a farm to table slow food restaurant that has been around since 2001 and their vegetarian tasting menu is very popular. I’ve heard good things about ordering vegan as well. The chefs will, apparently, make you something quite lovely even if you don’t call ahead. But, calling ahead is always best in a situation like this in my opinion. For whatever reason I still haven’t been there but I would like to try it.

La Condesa Modern Mexican

La Condesa used to be my favorite place to recommend, they had this amazing vegan board that would have four or five different super-exciting and ever-changing “top chef” style entrees. We all went nuts over it. Then they won a James Beard award and didn’t have time for us vegans anymore. Urgh! It is still a somewhat worthwhile option because they have a fun hip atmosphere, amazing margaritas, both salsa and guacamole flights, and a few different options entrees like mushroom tacos and cauliflower steaks. I love their cocktails! I wouldn’t go there for a mind-blowing vegan birthday meal though anymore.

Roots to Leaves Supper Club10409188_782598831830398_4262306173375379241_n

Finally, not a restaurant but a monthly supper club, Roots to Leaves is another great option for those seeking out an all vegan menu and they have plans to open a high-end restaurant in the future. With seasonal menus that have four courses with items like “Japanese Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Sage Sauce, Smoked Tofu, Brussels Sprouts, Almond Ricotta” you are definitely going to be filled up with exciting foods. You have to bring your own wine and make reservations well ahead of time but it’s worth it! Here’s a review of their earlier incarnation as Hyden Park.

Do you have any favorites that aren’t on the list? Let us know in the comments!

REJOICE! Red Rabbit Doughnuts have become Wheatsville Doughnuts & they are better than ever!

For a moment, we thought we had entered the darkest timeline. Red Rabbit, our beloved vegan anarchist doughnut making collective that had taken the town by storm, announced they were ceasing production.

I didn’t cry.

I just kept buying their doughnuts from Wheatsville until they were all gone filling my belly with delicious sadness. We were all shocked. The doughnuts are universally beloved and they seemed to be growing and adding gluten free options. The atxvegan community was freaking out. Everyone was upset. There were rumblings that the 12th Street Bakery and Fat Cats Organic Coffee And Dessert occasionally had doughnut on the menu and we learned that Portland’s infamous Voodoo Doughnuts was opening on dirty sixth…but none of that was what I wanted. The Red Rabbit Doughnuts are perfect and since they sell them at Wheatsville (and I got to Wheatsville at least once a day) they are incredibly convenient. We started to hear rumors that it might not be the end.

An inside source let me know that Red Rabbit was turning over their recipes to our beloved Food Co-op and training the bakery staff on how to make them perfectly. Today Wheatsville sent me a box and I want to assure you that the doughnuts are as good as they always were, maybe even better? Maybe I just missed them? But biting into it was like tasting piece of heaven on earth. My co-worker tried the apple fritter and her day went from dreary to dreamy.

Starting tomorrow, October 10th, glazed, chocolate iced, maple pecan, apple fritter, and bite sized donut holes will be available at both Wheatsville locations. They have also assured me that gluten free doughnuts are on the way in the future and that our luscious cream filled varieties will eventually be back too. What a wonderful turn of events. I love Austin Texas.