Tag Archives: vegetarian

Korean Komfort – a Traditional Korean Trailer comes to West Campus

I became obsessed with Korean food during my last trip to Portland where I had one of the most amazing meal ever that included having three waiters making table side bibimbap, which I remember like a fever dream at this point. An amazing fever dream.

I had never had delicious traditional Korean vegan food in Austin (although I love those fusion tacos at Chi’lantro) so when I saw that a new trailer, Korean Komfort, was opening up that magical night at Departure came flooding back. I chatted with one of the owners Min Choe and he assured me that both the bibimbap & the fried rice are vegan without the egg so I headed to the Rancho Rio Eatery trailer park on 25th & Rio Grande as fast as soon as I could.

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We came right at noon and I believe, for a while anyway, they will be open noon-9 during the week and then later on the weekends. Although there were a lot of students about on such a sunny day the trailer park had a range of folks. Spring time in Austin is just the best. I liked that their food was wrapped up in perfect containers to take back to the office for the other 300 days of the year when it’s blazing hot or threatening ice storms.

The Korean fried rice was really tasty and had a good-sized portion for lunch. But, if I was going by myself I would  stick with the bibimbap which hit those salty sweet notes of Korean really well. I loved it.

All the ingredients seemed really fresh but were also prepared nicely & well seasoned. The fried tofu was crispy and everything went together really well with spicy side of sauce. I learned that Min’s wife grew up and Korea and is the mastermind behind most of the dishes, preparing kimchi every day and making sure that all the dishes come out the way they are supposed to. I think it’s a great addition to the trailer food scene and I’m happy it’s close enough to downtown. Check it out if you love Korean food!

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The Dojo – Vegan friendly Japanese bar food in North Austin

CLOSED 9/2/2014

I’ve been hearing about The Dojo, a new Japanese Bar & Izakaya (small plates) in North Austin for a couple of months now,  when Sue at Counter Culture told me it was one of her favorite spots I knew I had to go stat.  I was excited to finally try it last week. For some reason I was expecting it to be on the fancier side like Uchi & Uchiko, where I usually go for sushi, and was surprised to find it stuck between a Chilies and a Trudy’s in a strip mall on Burnet & 183 with a bar in the middle and plastic menus. They did a really nice job with the location, though, making it very welcoming with lots of wood beams and different spots for seating.

I was excited that they had separate vegan menus (and gluten free) and of course, an elaborate drink menu with sake cocktails and lists of beer, wine and cocktails.

I think I got the Rising Sun which had Orange Sake, Orange Schnapps, Grand Marnier, Agave, Fresh Orange and Strawberries and reminded my of orange strawberry shakeup from the state fair. It was very sweet and frothy.

The first menu item we tried were the Brussels with truffle butter (vegan style) and they were delicious although they were also swimming in oil and we couldn’t even eat them all the way to the bottom. I love that Brussels Sprouts have become so popular in the last couple years.

It would have been smarter for us at this point to order something off the cold menu like the Tofu Caprese (Tofu, Tomato, Avocado Moussee, Shiso, Balsamic Pearl) or the Avocado and Crispy Tofu Salad but instead we went with more fried food. We tried the special with fried fennel.

and the Homemade Veggie Gyoza 

and Fuyu Maki Sushi which had winter squash tempura, cilantro, onion, carrot, and spicy miso.

I think the sushi roll was my favorite part, I really like the spicy miso sauce. We also got the Okonomiyaki Style Fried Potato which seemed more like Japanese waffle fries than Okonomiyaki to me. The fries were perfectly done and super crunchy.

Judging from the #atxvegan tag on instagram this seems like the most popular dish there and the most fun. It wasn’t for me because I think there must have been mustard in the sauce which I do not eat. We also tried the ramen and the udon noodles but I was so full at this point I stopped taking pictures! I know that Molly loves the ramen but I decided I must not be a ramen fan because I haven’t been too impressed by any that I’ve had in town yet. I’ll have to try some next time I go to the west coast. Or the recipe in Vegan Eats World.

Finally we got the dessert which, I didn’t photograph because it was melty when it came out, but it was WITHOUT A DOUBT my favorite part. “The Dojo Parfait” had ice cream, strawberries, mochi tempura, red beans, and pocky. I loved the pockets of fried mochi mixed with the coconut ice cream. It was like the fried ice cream I used to have at Mexican places in my hometown when I was a kid.

I think the Dojo will be a great addition to the neighborhood. How nice for vegans to finally have a bar that has tons of options for every kind of eater (there were some macro and lots of GF options in addition to all the fried stuff I had) which are all under-served in that area of town. I think they have been having a lot of settling in issues because the menu has gone through quite a few changes since they opened. Hopefully, they will tighten things up and continue to have a lot of success with the vegan community!

The 2014 Vegan SXSW Guide is up

I’ve completely updated the vegan guide for where to eat at SXSW 2014

First time at SXSW? Check out Mad Betty’s post How to Get Through SXSW

Interested in trailers in South Austin? The South Austin Foodie has a brand new guide

Vegetarian? Check out Aneelee who has picks for downtown, south, and the eastside.

Vida Vegan meet-up at the Liberty tonight (2/6) & a review of the newest Eastside King

Eastside King trailer behind the Liberty on the Eastside

I’ve long been a fan of the Eastside King, I mean anyone who has brussels sprouts in a Vietnamese stir-fry and beet fries is going to rank pretty high on my list. It’s been fun to watch the expansion as new trailers and a couple brick and mortars opened up around town as the word spread and Paul Qui became super famous. I love that a place that’s so trendy and popular has awesome vegan dishes because the number one reason people give up on veganism is that it’s inconvenient when eating out. So thank you Eastside King! Tonight the crew from Vida Vegan are going to have a meet-up at the original Liberty Location from 5-7. And if you aren’t feeling that trailer, there are tons of others nearby like Via 313.

I got to check out the new South Lamar Eastside King location a couple weeks ago and I was pretty stoked that they had the same offerings from the liberty location that I already love.

They also added tacos to the menu at the new location! I guess they had to since it’s smack dab in South Austin. The Mochi taco is “mochi in a steamed moo shu wrap topped with bico, , yuzu kosho salsa, avocado, basil, cilantro, mint and it’s delicious.

I was worried when I bit into it that they forgot and added cheese but we decided it was the mochi. I was with my friend and most amazing cookbook author Isa and I kicked her (not at all discreetly) when Paul Qui walked by so they could say hi. I’m the worst! It was fun though. The new location also has a giant Tanuki.

I was very happy with the experience overall (except parking can kind of be a bitch we parked at Chipotle which is probably a bad idea) they were super friendly about the vegan thing and everything was delicious.

So hopefully I’ll see some of y’all tonight! I wonder if we will get another snowday tomorrow!

The Austin Vegan Riot to celebrate Austin’s Most Vegan Friendly Trailer Yard

austinveganriot

Last week the little trailer park next to Capital City Bakery closed up (probably to make way for condos) and Unity Vegan Kitchen, one of my favorite new spots in Austin, moved to North Loop to join forces with BBQ Revolution, Red Rabbit Bakery, and Taco ‘Bout It to form the most vegan friendly trailer park around at Northloop House & Yard. The only trailer that’s not vegan is the Taco Truck and even they have some vegan options so it’s, like, the opposite of all the other trailer parks in town. To celebrate they are going to have party down. Here are the details from the press release:

We are proud to announce the arrival of Austin’s first all vegan-friendly trailer space at the NorthLoop House and Yard, a trailer space and micro-business haus at 701 E. 53rd St in Austin’s NorthLoop neighborhood. To celebrate this momentous occasion the creative minds behind the NLHY are excited to kick off Austin Vegan Riot, a twice monthly party showcasing the unique offerings of this most-Austin locale. Currently at the NorthLoop trailer yard you’ll find Red Rabbit Co-operative Bakery, BBQ Revolution, Vegan Unity, and Taco ‘Bout It. Red Rabbit serves award winning donuts and other sweet things, produced by their worker owned co-op to organic standards. BBQ Revolution is the country’s only all vegan BBQ joint, creating a truly distinct take on Central Texas fare. Vegan Unity offers locally sourced favorites made from scratch. And Taco ‘Bout It brings tastes from south of the border serving several vegan and traditional options. With Austin recently named as PETA’s top vegan-friendly city it only makes sense that a trailer space would come about as the city’s first vegan-friendly destination. Be sure to stop by every 2nd and last Thursday for the Austin Vegan Riot, starting Thursday January 30th, 6-9pm at the NorthLoop House & Yard, 701 E. 53rd St, Austin, TX 78751.

Lasagna with cashew cream, vegan barbecue, and amazing doughnuts can all be had at once! And then you can dance it all off. In a Riot-like fashion. It’ll be great.

Pepper Tree Buffet in Houston is better than any Chinese buffet in Austin

I’ve always loved Chinese Buffet but have also learned to go in knowing that you’re in for a kind of disgusting experience of sticky cloying sauces, dry tasteless sushi, and egg rolls and rice that taste like styrofoam. Over the weekend in Houston I finally got to try the much lauded, all vegan, Pepper Tree buffet and it was the opposite experience. All of the food was in small portions that we constantly being refilled at this busy little strip mall restaurant. There were plentiful delicious vegetables, including an incredibly tender and tasty eggplant. They even had lovely little desserts, I had a coconut cake and a few red bean stuffed sesame balls. I didn’t even feel sick afterwards. Also, I learned Houston doesn’t have Cedar Fever so if you are ready to escape it at all costs, I recommend the trip. It was just lovely to feel my sinuses open up.

Even though it was in the 80s all weekend it might snow tonight! Texas winters are completely nutso. If you are wondering what to hunker down with, here is my soup guide. I hate the winter. We better at least get a snow day this time. I have two beagles that need extreme cuddling.

Top 10 Austin Vegan Eats for 2013

Every New Year it is kind of fun for me to reassess my top ten favorites for vegan dishes in Austin. The list is usually split between my obsessions and my favorite places to take people to show them what Austin vegan food is all about.

My plan was to try a few more spots over the holiday break but laziness & cedar fever got in the way so The Dojo and a few others will have to wait for next year, hopefully they will just get better and better! I did make it to the new Eastside King on the South Side and I’m happy to report that I loved it as much as the original. The mochi tacos are delicious but the Brussels and Beet fries are still the best part. I spent a whole month eating tacos during the Taco Cleanse so tacos kind of dominate this list. I thought about even making a ten best tacos list but then I remembered I already made a taco guide. I’m stoked that this year I finally get to add barbecue to the list! After years of shameful waiting the entire Austin vegetarian community was SO HAPPY that BBQ revolution opened up with their delicious tempeh, soy curl, and seitan barbecue, I have a feeling they are just going to keep getting better. Vegan Beignets at Barton Creole, Croissants at Thrice, and Cinnamon Rolls from Capital City, Sugar Circus, and Happy Vegan baker were all super popular this year. It was the best year we’ve had for vegan sweets. It was tough to choose from so many great places but after much consideration, here is what I’ve got.

1) The Vegan Nom barbecued brisket tacos with jalapeño mac and cheese

The Vegan Nom really stepped up their game this year adding the del ray to the menu, a second trailer on East Riverside and claiming the top spot on my list with their amazing/phenomenal/ZOMG barbecued brisket tacos with jalapeño mac and cheese. Right now this taco is only an occasional special and it sells out within an hour of opening, but seriously, this is probably the only dish in Austin where I had one…. and then bought three more to take home. This taco is probably my favorite thing I ate this year. It’s kind of crazy since it’s made from two things that should not be so freaking great vegan (smoked brisket and jalapeno mac & cheese) but it somehow manages to transcend their animal based counterparts.

2) Via 313 Pizza

It’s hard to call this pizza number two on my list because it’s probably been my biggest craving all year. I grew up eating a lot of Chicago-style pizza – I absolutely loved the kind of pizza you just couldn’t get in my hometown- and it was always my first stop in the city. Then I moved away from the midwest and pizza kind of lost all of it’s luster for me. The rest of the country kind of does takes on New York-style which will always be variations on Pizza Hut to me. Once I went vegan, the jig was up completely. I’m not a big fan of the two major vegan commercial cheeses. So, when I first started hearing a lot about Via 313 I wasn’t very excited, I did like that they used Follow Your Heart cheese, but it didn’t seem worth passing up Arlo’s for anytime I was in that area. Then finally I tried it. I think my pizza was, like 14 dollars, and TINY. I was mad.

And then I took one bite and knew I’d be back the next day. Detroit-style isn’t exactly like the pizza I grew up with but it’s got a big fucking delicious crust and sweet non paste-y tomato sauce *on the top* as it should be. It’s a freaking revelation. Everyone I’ve taken there, from the midwest, from my mom to my best friend, has loved it.

3) Sweet Ritual Chaco Taco.

Our wonderful little vegan ice cream shop has also upped their game this year because, in addition to their soft serve, they now make ever changing magical hard pack flavors like Thin Mint (with real girl scout cookies!) and Sweet Potato with candied pecans and even COFFEE WITH RED RABBIT DOUGHNUTS CHUNKS and oh yeah, they even make their own Magic Shell. This year they also started selling pints at the Flag Store and the Oak Hill Juiceland. During the month of the taco cleanse, though, they started whipping up Chocolate Tacos and I was totally obsessed. The flavors of ice cream would change up but there would always be a delicious chocolate toppings and sometimes toasted coconut on their amazing waffle cones. They were kind of like a drumstick but, GOD, so much better.

4) Bouldin Creek Tofu Scramble.

I’ve realized that when vegans visit Austin the second time Bouldin Creek is usually their first stop, and with good reason. Bouldin is one of the few places I can think of in town that has had consistently delicious food for a thousand years. Everyone loves Bouldin and the key to it all, I think, is their tofu scramble. Whether you get it in a breakfast taco, amidst the gloriously decadent Rennedict, or in the Garden Scramble it always hits that perfect spot. Plus they open super early, stay open late, have a lovely patio, a warm inside and a friendly atmosphere. I’m so glad they survived their move across the street and I am hoping the manager Leslie bring her same magic to Flipnotics, which she also recently was put in charge of.

5) Puffy Tacos at El Chile y Cantina.

A taco doesn’t have to have any special “vegan” ingredients to make me happy. I am just fine with refried beans, potatoes, nopales, avocado, rice, or whole beans most of the time. For me, the best tacos are all about the quality of the tortilla and the toppings and that is why I love the puffy tacos at El Chile. First, their fried tortillas have the perfect consistency, they are never a bit greasy or mushy. Then they also seem to actually care about the vegetables they are putting on the tacos which is surprisingly rare! You would think restaurants wouldn’t serve overcooked roots and oily greens but alas, they are nearly always an afterthought. At El Chile the veggies are cooked correctly and then PILED on with tons of guacamole, fresh lettuce, and creamy beans. They also make a damn good margarita.

6) The Muffalata Sandwich at Unity Vegan Kitchen.

One of my favorite new trailers to open this last year has been the amazing Unity Vegan Kitchen. I first got to discovered it at the amazing 2013 Texas Veg Fest where everyone was raving about the cashew cheese lasagna. I am in love with the Muffalata sandwich, and not just because olives are my most favorite food forever and ever. I love this sandwich because it is perfectly executed on delicious homemade bread and thinly sliced marinated tofu. This is a woman who isn’t afraid of using a little oil and salt in her food either, which can be tough to find at all vegan places. They are going to be moving to North Loop House and Yard at 701 E 53rd St by BBQ Revolution and Red Rabbit on Jan 22.

7) Wasota Vegan Platter.

This is another perennial favorite of mine, that I’ve gone on and on about at length. Everything on the platter defines deliciousness and goes together so well that I can never stop eating it even after I’ve had my fill. That amazing flavorful rice, the perfectly fried plantains, the creamy spinach, the salty akara dumplings, the luscious beans, it’s just too good to even deal with sometimes, like last meal on earth good. This year the trailer moved to a lot on South Lamar across the street from Mr. Natural.

8) Cherrywood Coffeehouse Breakfast Tacos

One of my out-of-town friends had heard me talk about breakfast tacos A LOT. Actually, along with Star Trek and my dogs, tacos are topic I can go on about indefinitely. She’s heard me go on and on about breakfast tacos but didn’t have one until this year. I had a hard time trying to decide where to take her, I think we’d just come off the taco cleanse so my head and belly were full of ideas about the perfect taco. Eventually I decided it had to be the always consistent Cherrywood because their tacos are what a vegan breakfast taco should be (IMO), they have endless options like the standard veggie chorizo, guacamole, and refried beans but they also have deep fried tofu and shoestring potatoes (aka french fries). Breakfast isn’t breakfast without potatoes and veganism would be NOTHING without the french fry so they are, kind of, the perfect thing to have on a vegan breakfast taco. My friend took one bite and said “I get it now” and ordered more to smuggle to California.

9) Pie from Capital City Bakery

It’s tough to pick a favorite at Cap City, the brownies are so rich and delicious and probably weigh a half pound. The cupcakes are light and beautiful. The cookies are perfect, especially when filled with ice cream. But, I think the pies are my favorite part. We got to try a sampler of all the thanksgiving pies this year, from Pecan to Sweet Potato and each one was amazing. The tomato pie during pizza day (pictured above) was incredible. I am just so excited that the brick and mortar finally opened up so we can have perfect pies from Kristen @inmypies whenever we want. We really are living in a Golden Age.

10) Green Curry at Sway

I was so impressed with the Green Curry the first time I tried it at Sway on South First street that I tried to grow those little eggplants over the summer. I ended up with two which wasn’t really even a big enough yield for one curry. Luckily, you can always get them in the Green Curry at Sway along with a really tangy Pad Thai and a tapioca pudding with avocado sorbet and you pretty much have a perfect meal. One of my friends said he didn’t even really like Green Curry but that this one was a game changer. I think it’s all about the veggies. And the coconut cream on top. It’s super spicy though so be warned if you don’t like the heat.

Favorite Local Product: Kosmic Kombucha

I tend to go through periods where I suddenly drink Kombucha all the time and my favorite is Austin’s own Kosmic Kombucha. Over the last year I have tried just about every flavor going through weeks where I would only drink “Clockwork Orange” (Organic Kombucha, Orange Juice, Vanilla Rice Milk, & Vanilla) or the “Mint Julep” (Organic Kombucha, Organic White Grape Juice, fresh squeezed Orange and Lemon Juices, Fresh Mint). I think the “Pear of the Dog” (Organic Kombucha, Prickly Pear, Lime, Orange, Olive Juice, Sea Salt, & Agave) might be the most interesting Kombucha I’ve ever had. I love them all.

Most Missed- I thought about this category so many times over 2013. When I went to La Condesa on my birthday and found out they no longer offered the amazing vegan board I might have shed a tear. Oh, and when they told me it was because they were so busy now that they won a James Beard award it made me hate the culinary world as a whole.  And then when my favorite trailer park with Cap City, Conscious Cravings, and Moses Falafel closed down I thought that I might have to give away the category to the Longhorn Trailerpark. But then, in the waning days of 2013, one of the worst closings ever hit the vegan community like a knife to the gut; Cheer Up Charlies the vegan friendly, queer friendly, center for happy people had to close down (new development of course) and rumor’s started that our beloved Arlo’s would not re-open. I’m still hoping that these rumors aren’t true, this is a trailer that had over an hour wait at Texas Vegfest will somehow persevere, but it really doesn’t look good. They haven’t responded to any requests for info and aren’t saying anything on social media but have told others they aren’t interested in running a trailer anymore. I don’t know how we will go on without the wonderfulness that is the Bac’n Cheezeburger aka the best vegan burger I ever had. I wish I could at least have one more to say good-bye.

Please feel free to leave any favorites in the comments or make your own top ten, we all have such different ideas of what is the best! Any time I see people recommending places that aren’t my favorites I’m utterly shocked but, really it just gives us all more to love. The Vegans Rock Austin Poll has barely anything in common with mine. Red Hot Vegan did a bunch of favorites during veganmofo too and I think we have one dish in common. If you are interested in what’s in and what’s out for me here is my 2012, 2011, and 2010 lists, most of the places I mentioned before but didn’t list this time have either closed down or are still a favorite though. Hopefully 2014 will be the best yet.

 

 

 

You say you want a revolution, a BBQ Revolution

It’s kind of been an embarrassment that we don’t have vegan barbecue in Austin. I think it’s the most common question I get asked and I’ve got nothing to recommend. There were a couple places using barbecue sauce but as we Texans know, it’s not about the sauce so much as the smoking. If there is one thing the newest vegan trailer, BBQ Revolution, is all about it’s smoking! They even put together a giant smoker to make up there savory vegan goodness on site. I’ve been watching the whole project unfold on instagram and dying to try it and last night I finally got to brave the traffic and the cold to order my first plate of authentic Texas vegan barbecue.

Oh, and did I mention this new barbecue trailer is next door to the Rabbit Food Bakery trailer, aka everyone’e favorite anarchist doughnut making collective? It almost makes me want to sell our house in south Austin and move back to our little apartment on North Loop….almost.

BBQ revolution has just a couple of options right now, as they have just barely opened, but they do plan on expanding the menu and have specials like fried green tomatoes . I tried both the soy curls and the wheat roast which were both smothered in the Texas-style barbecue sauce. They will also soon be offering local Hearty Vegan Tempeh which I’m excited to try. I don’t have a lot of other vegan barbecue to compare this too but I can tell you that it’s legit.  It was intensely smokey so I really enjoyed mixing it with the more neutral sides. I tried the macaroni & cheese which was old school nooch-based but super creamy and the potato salad which reminded me of my grandma’s; mellow and delicious. They also serve it as a traditional sandwich with white bread, pickles, and onions.

If you want to try it, and you should, tonight is the night because they are throwing a huge grand opening party. They are going to have fire dancer’s and music, beer, Red Rabbit is going to stay open late and sell doughnuts, Rabbit Food is going to have a pop-up shop with all of their awesome products, and they are even selling local soap. It should be a total throwdown. It is going to be cash only and they are going to have a limited menu “$9 plates $5 sandwiches 3 protein choices and 3 sides to choose from with a plate. Sandwiches come with potato salad, coleslaw and of course pickles and onions!” The weather should be a lot nicer than it has been and hey, if they run out of food, note that the Vegan Nom is closed for the weekend but Sweet Ritual is a few blocks away and I heard they have an amazing sweet potato ice cream.

Lonestar Vegetarian Chili Cook-Off Sign-up Happening Now!

I love Chili, Texas style, Yankee style, Verde, Tons of Beans, No Beans, Tempeh, Barley, whatever it is as long as it’s vegan (and not burned) I’ll probably like it. That’s why the Lonestar Vegetarian Chili cook-off is always one of the best events of the year. Last year I got to judge and my friend Cassandra with the Red Hot Vegans took the trophy for best traditional and then members of the Austin Food Blogger’s Alliance got the best all around! It was pretty rad to see other bloggers win, I promise I didn’t cheat! Another year Molly of the Lonestar Plate won and her amazing recipe (which is pictured above in frito pie form)  is in our Sunny Days in Texas Zine and she has it rounded up with some other great chili recipes online.

If you think you’ve got what it takes to win the cash prizes the time to sign up is now! Even though people come in from all over the state to play AND it’s the longest running vegetarian chili cook-off in the world Austin almost always wins and it sure would be sad if we lost to someone from Round Rock or Dallas so get your teams together and sign up. The event is going to be tons of fun, with all sorts of live music and different vendors.

Taco Cleanse Addendum – vegan tacos at Chi’lantro

These days it seems like ramen joints are popping up like mushrooms after a rainstorm but a couple years back it was all about the Korean Taco fusion trailers. Only one stood the test of time, and for good reason. Chi’lantro might be the best run food truck – or really fleet of food trucks – in the city. They are completely on it with social media telling you on twitter where they have moved too, and the mobile trucks always seems to be exactly where I want them to be when I’m looking for food at 2am after the bars close downtown.

These tiny tacos of deep fried tofu, soy vinaigrette Korean salad, cilantro, onion, and their special salsa are the ideal late night food. Everything comes together perfectly and the sweet sauce covering the salad is just delicious. And they are only a couple of dollars! The service at the trailer runs with more efficiency than, I’d say, ANYWHERE else at 2 am. I promise you will have a better experience than at Taco Bell or Kerbey Lane. The only thing I don’t like is that their Kimchi isn’t vegan and neither is their magic sauce so I can’t partake in what I’m sure are amazing Kimchi fries. I want them every time. Oh well, I’m still always happy with two tacos in my belly for the ride home at the end of the night.