Where to eat vegan in London – Part ONE

Where to eat vegan food in London | vegan vegetable pie

This is a very photo-heavy post!

If you read my blog, you’ll know that I just moved to London recently with my boyfriend. We’ve been eating out a lot because we were first staying in an AirBnB where we only had a tiny kitchen to cook in. Then when we moved into our flat, we just had a microwave but no pots, pans, etc. (they are on their way). At home, we’ve mostly been eating salad, frozen bean burritos, and canned soup.

On the plus side, I was able to explore and discover a lot of vegan restaurants and non-vegan restaurants that have vegan dishes.

This is part 1 of a series of posts, because I expect to discover way more places in the next few months.

Also check out my Where to eat vegan food in San Francisco post if you are ever travelling there!

Le Pain Quotidien (various locations)

Where to eat vegan food in London | Pain Quotidien

Le Pain Quotidien is a restaurant chain with locations all over the world, including London. They seem to have added more vegan items to their menu since the last time I ate there a few years ago. As you can see on the board, vegan items are now indicated with a carrot symbol.

Where to eat vegan food in London | avocado toast

I had a slice of avocado toast, which was very delicious and avocado-y.

Vida Bakery (Brick Lane)

Where to eat vegan food in London | vegan cupcakes

Vida is a super tiny cupcake shop on Brick Lane. Their cupcakes are really adorable, delicious and Instagram-worthy.

I think they do custom cakes, too!

Dark Sugars (Brick Lane)

Where to eat vegan food in London | chocolate

Where to eat vegan food in London | chocolate

It’s almost impossible to miss Dark Sugars when you walk by. When you look through the windows, all you see is mounds and mounds of chocolate on display. I was really happy to see that they have a whole section of vegan chocolates. My favorite by far is the one called Overdose, which tastes like a truffle and just melts in your mouth.

Carluccio’s (various locations)

Where to eat vegan food in London | Italian food

My boyfriend and I stumbled across this Italian place when we stopped for lunch one day after shopping for house stuff.

Where to eat vegan food in London | Italian food

They have a whole separate vegan and vegetarian menu if you ask for it.

Where to eat vegan food in London | Italian food

Both the bruschetta and the caponata (like an eggplant stew) were amazing. I even ordered a side of broccolini, which was just sauteed with olive oil, garlic, toasted almonds and chili and it was so good I could have eaten a huge bowl of it.

Be warned though, not all the locations are equal — I went to the one inside a train station (I forget which one) and it was NOT as good of an experience as I had at the one in Soho.

Brick Lane Sunday afternoon food market (Brick Lane)

Where to eat vegan food in London | Brick Lane food

I don’t even know what this event is called, but on Sundays on Brick Lane, there are a bunch of vendors on the streets selling vintage & second hand goods, and around noon there are also a bunch of food vendors.

Where to eat vegan food in London | vegan pancakes

I had some paella from one vendor and these vegan pancakes from another vendor. All the food was really diverse and came from so many different cultures. I really recommend taking a Sunday afternoon stroll on Brick Lane.

The MaE Deli (Mayfair)

The MaE Deli is a restaurant that’s part of the “Deliciously Ella” chain of restaurants, which I think followed a series of popular vegetarian cookbooks by a lady named Ella.

Where to eat vegan food in London | vegan muffin and tea

I had lunch with a friend here, and all I have to say is that this apple banana muffin I had was the best, most moist muffin I’ve ever had.

The Blue Legume (Islington)

Where to eat vegan food in London | traditional English breakfast

One of the first mornings I was in London, I had breakfast at the Blue Legume. On weekday mornings, they have a discounted breakfast + drink for 6 pounds deal. I got this vegetarian sausage breakfast with no egg and a soy latte. It was VERY filling!

Home and Cook Daily (Box Park, Shoreditch)

Where to eat vegan food in London | vegetable pie with faux chicken

In Shoreditch, there’s a huge structure made out of repurposed shipping containers. Each of them contain a store, and upstairs they’re all restaurants. Two of them, called Home and Cook Daily, are vegan and serve a huge variety of soups, noodles, etc. I had a pie with faux chicken and it was delicious.

Brick Lane Sunday Upmarket (Brick Lane)

Where to eat vegan food in London | plate of Ethiopian food

We stumbled on the Sunday Upmarket one day as we were walking by one day. There’s a big room full of food vendors selling food from all around the world (and for not that much money). Dutch, Lithuanian, Brazilian, Turkish, you name it. I had a delicious, massive plate of Ethopian food.

Mooshies (Brick Lane)

I die for this “Fillet-Om-Phish” burger  (but animals don’t lol)!

I don’t have much else to say, other than GO HERE.

Eat your way through London

I hope I’ve inspired you to now eat your way through London. I’m hoping to discover more places outside of Brick Lane and Shoreditch.

I’m so hungry after writing this post and thinking about all the delicious food I’ve eaten LOL. Let me know if you have a favorite place I haven’t mentioned!

Winter comfort food roundup

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Tis the season!

To layer on tons of clothes every time before you go outside.

I’m back in Toronto for the holidays and it’s been a hard transition from California. I almost slipped and fell on ice 2x, my skin is embarrassingly dry, and I resent having to wear 2 layers of pants on some days.

Anyway, now is the perfect time to make comforting meals that make you feel cozy and warm, like getting a hug from the inside.

Here are some healthy, vegan stews and soups that I’ve been making and / or are planning to make this winter:

Quick Beefless Stew (Gardein)

I made this tomato-based stew a few days ago (pictured above). It’s chock full of veggies, beans and flavor and comes together so quickly. I added extra mushrooms and peas and eat it with a side of brown rice.

15 Minute Vegan Kimchi Tofu Stew (Brothers Green Eats)

I haven’t made this yet but I love kimchi (the vegan kind that doesn’t contain fish sauce) and it reminds me of another Korean dish I also love called soondubu. The base is miso and vegan kimchi, which are both fermented foods that are supposed to be good for your gut. Some enoki mushrooms would also be really good in there.

Spicy Mapo Tofu (Vegan Miam)

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Mapo tofu, aka grandma tofu, is one of my favorite dishes. I finally found this vegan version a while ago and made a week’s lunch worth. I find it so flavourful & satisfying, and I also love bean paste. I think the spiciness and mushiness (in a good way) are perfect for cold weather.

Simple spicy butternut dhal (Jenny Mustard)

This dish looks super healthy, with lentils and tons of veggies. I have been really getting into Jenny Mustard recently and binge watched her videos.

Spicy Pumpkin Peanut Soup (Peaceful Cuisine)

Soup with peanut butter? Uh, yes please. I will eat cardboard if it has peanut butter on it. Even if you don’t make this soup, you will definitely enjoy watching this artfully created video.

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What are your favorite vegan winter meals or holiday treats?

I hope you’re all having a great holiday — not stressed — and enjoying this time of year 🙂

Where to eat vegan food in San Francisco

Project Meal Prep | Where to eat vegan in San Francisco

I haven’t been blogging much lately because I’m actually in the middle of moving from San Francisco to London! I quit my job on Friday so now I have more free time and I’m going to try to blog more regularly.

I thought it would be appropriate to write a post on all the restaurants I’ve been eating at over the years. Some of them are little more esoteric and wouldn’t show up in those typical “Top 5 vegan restaurants” lists.

Pork Store Cafe (Haight)

Project Meal Prep | Where to eat vegan in San Francisco

I eat here pretty often since I live closeby, and it’s a relatively popular breakfast place. There’s usually a short line in the morning. Despite the name of the restaurant, there are 2 “scrambled” tofu dishes that are vegan. One of them comes with spinach, mushrooms, and tomato and a side of hash browns. The hash browns are so crispy and good. I always ask them to add avocado too.

Peña Pachamama (North Beach / Russian Hill)

The one time I came here, they were setting up for a live band, which would have been cool if we stayed long enough to see them play. The menu seemed like it had half cooked vegan food and half raw vegan. My friend and I weren’t super hungry so we split the raw sampler, which was yummy. For dessert, we had a raw coconut cream pie and some mint tea. The pie was absolutely amazing and my mouth is watering as I’m thinking about it right now!

Haight Street Market (The Haight)

This grocery store has a deli section that sells prepared foods and sandwiches. I haven’t had any of the prepared food but some of it looks good. I tend to come here on Tuesdays when I’m not at work because of ~* double stamp Tuesdays *~ ! Basically, you can get 2 stamps on your HSM sandwich stamp card (instead of 1). After 8 stamps, you get a sandwich for free!

There are 2 sandwiches that I’m 99% sure are vegan. One is a spicy veggie with veganaise (in the pic above) and the other one is marinated tofu with Italian dressing. You get to choose your own bread and they make it right there in a few minutes.

Nourish Cafe (Inner Richmond)

Project Meal Prep | Where to eat vegan in San Francisco

This place is very tiny and only has 4 small tables inside, and a few outside, but the food is tasty and you can see everyone cooking in the kitchen. I ordered the “Tuna” salad (above) and an apple donut, and both were really good.

Shizen Vegan Sushi Bar & Izakaya (Mission)

Shizen is hands down my favorite restaurant. I’ve talked about it before on my birthday post. I’ve taken so many people there who were skeptical first at and thought it was just going to be raw vegetables but were actually extremely impressed. One of them said he liked it even more than normal sushi!!!

There is always a line, except the one time I went at 4:50pm on a Monday. There was still a line but I was seated right away because there were only a few people ahead of me. One thing you can do if you have to wait is go to a nearby bar or coffee shop. They take your phone number, so just be ready to hurry back when you get a text.

Jardiniere (Hayes Valley)

Project Meal Prep | Where to eat vegan in San Francisco

Jardiniere is a VERY fancy restaurant. I would definitely come here for a nice date. I think the Impossible Burger might be the only vegan thing on the menu. If you go, make sure to let them know you’re there for the burger (which is delicious). If you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, read this blog post.Project Meal Prep | Where to eat vegan in San Francisco

Vegan Burg (Haight)

This is a “fast food” style burger place that has a healthy spin. You can even get broccoli and “hot dog pieces” as a side (instead of fries). If you have to eat alone, it’s great because the restaurant is so casual.

Hella Vegan Eats (food truck)

I haven’t been to this food truck in a while. I used to spot it sometimes at the Civic Center Farmer’s market. I feel like the menu changes a lot, and it’s always very rich and heavy (think fried!) but undeniably delicious.

Gracias Madre (Mission)

Gracias Madre is a vegan Mexican restaurant that has communal seating, so you are either at the bar or at a big table with strangers. It’s kind of nice if you don’t mind talking to other people. The menu is pretty extensive and it’s always busy.

Cha-ya (Mission)

It seems like all of the servers at Cha-ya are older Japanese ladies, which makes me wonder if it’s a family business. There’s quite a variety of food to choose from, ranging from, including sushi, soups, salads and rice bowls. My favorite thing to get is Dengaku (it’s broiled eggplant with this amazing miso sauce)!

Chang’s Kitchen (Inner Sunset)

This is one of the places I order delivery from the most. I grew up on Chinese food, which is mostly meat, so I love that I can have their fake meat dishes.

Om Indian Cuisine (Haight)

This is the other place I tend to order delivery from. I live nearby (technically I could walk there if I weren’t so lazy) so I feel like delivery is SO fast and the delivery people are always so friendly and happy. As with most places, they have an entire “vegetarian” section on the menu, and the vegan items are indicated too. My absolute favorite thing to get is Baigan Bharta, which is an eggplant dish (yes I love eggplant).

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I hope you enjoyed this post and can now eat your way through San Francisco 🙂 Don’t worry, you can burn the calories by walking up and down all the massive hills!

Eating the Impossible Burger

Project Meal Prep | Eating the Impossible Burger

Last night I went out on a mission to eat the Impossible Burger. Currently, they only serve it in 4 restaurants in the world. One’s in LA, one’s in NYC, and two are in San Francisco, where I live — lucky me!!

I chose to go to the restaurant called Jardiniere to get it. It’s a “4 dollar sign” restaurant (aka FANCY A. F.). The burger isn’t explicitly advertised being vegan or vegetarian. To me, this means they’re trying to target the more upscale, meat-eating diners.

I think targeting meat-eaters is the way to go in order to make this catch on. Targeting vegans and vegetarians would be like preaching to the choir.

Project Meal Prep | Eating the Impossible Burger

They have a limited supply of burgers so you have to get a ticket when they open at 5pm. I was actually the first person last night lol (ticket #1). They don’t start serving the burgers until 7:30pm, so I left and came back.

Project Meal Prep | Eating the Impossible Burger

There’s a menu for the burger, which comes with optional beverage pairings. I didn’t get one because I already ordered a cocktail while I was waiting (and I can’t drink that much).

The first burgers started coming out at 8pm, and I got mine at 8:15.

Project Meal Prep | Eating the Impossible Burger

The burger patty was exactly what I expected from what I read and saw on the Impossible Burger website, but I was still blown away at experiencing what food sorcery was done to create such a beef-like burger. The bun and all the toppings were also delicious!

The main ingredient that makes this burger so different is something called “heme“:

Heme contributes to the characteristic color and taste of meat, and it catalyzes all the other flavors when meat is cooked. Heme is exceptionally abundant in animal muscle — and it’s a basic building block of life in all organisms, including plants. We discovered how to take heme from plants and produce it using fermentation…

Project Meal Prep | Eating the Impossible Burger

I mean, it’s pink inside! Like an undercooked burger would be. The texture and flavor were not at all like any other veggie burger I’ve eaten.

Full Ingredient List:
Water, Textured Wheat Protein, Coconut Oil, Potato Protein, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Leghemoglobin (heme protein), Yeast Extract, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Konjac Gum, Xanthan Gum, Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Zinc, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.

I strongly believe that if you served this at a BBQ, no one would know it’s not meat. I wish I could buy it at the grocery store right now.

I’m so excited at getting the first taste of what I believe will be the future of meat. I truly think that in 10 years, mainstream meat products (as well as egg and dairy products) will not have once come from a living animal. Whether that’s lab-grown meat or whether we’re food sciencing the shit out of plants, I’m not sure. Either way, I’m thrilled that this is the future we’re heading toward.

Updates & things I’ve cooked lately

Hey guys, so I haven’t done a proper meal prep post in a long time. It’s not because I haven’t been meal prepping, I’ve just been feeling too unmotivated to do the photo shoots with the groceries all laid out, etc.

I bought a really nice digital camera a few months ago and I accidentally pushed it off my desk and the screen cracked. I’m so sad I can’t use it anymore and Best Buy declared it unrepairable — FML! So now all my pics aren’t so great anymore. Also, I don’t want to be a weirdo taking food pics by the window at work and sometimes it’s already dark out when I’m eating dinner and I can’t get good lighting.

I digress. I made some really yummy and interesting things lately.

#1 is this posole. I didn’t know what posole was before this, I just picked the recipe out of Minimalist Baker‘s cookbook because I liked the picture lol. Someone at work asked me what I was eating when I was having this, and I embarrassingly pronounced the word wrong (WHOOPS).

Project Meal Prep | Vegan posole

Anyway, if you didn’t know, posole is a Mexican soup that has hominy in it. (“Posole” actually means “hominy”). Living in California, I always see hominy in the canned goods aisle at the grocery store, but I never cooked with it before. It basically looks like really huge corn kernels, but with a different texture.

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Another thing I’ve always seen but never cooked with is tomatillos, which were called for in this soup. I broiled them until the skin peeled off easily, then pureed them with some poblano peppers. I posted an Instagram story of how I made them, so follow me if you want to see future cooking stories!

The 2nd best thing I made lately was this Thai inspired soup by Laura Vitale. The base is so simple — veggie broth, coconut milk and red curry paste — but the dish is so flavorful and comforting. Soups to me are like a hug from the inside (is that weird to say?!)

Project Meal Prep | Thai noodle soup

I baked bread for the 2nd time ever. This one has a mix of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour. It’s so delicious when toasted! I got the recipe from Minimalist Baker again, but I skipped the step of adding seeds and oats and re-kneading.

Project Meal Prep | Semi-whole-wheat bread

And the rest, which I don’t have much to comment on…

Project Meal Prep | Tahini dip
Tahini dip with garlic and lemon
Project Meal Prep | Chocolate chip zucchini muffins
Chocolate chip zucchini muffins
Project Meal Prep | Oatmeal
Oatmeal with raisins, walnuts, and raspberries

Time for some random updates.

chihuahua

Two weekends ago I happened upon a huge animal rescue event in Jack London Square in Oakland. There were dozens of different organizations and animals up for adoption — dogs, cats, rats, and even pigeons!

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I almost flipped out when I saw the pug rescue. I love pugs so much, I just wanted to lay in the middle of the enclosure and let them walk all over and around me. I was also happy to know that there are breed-specific dog rescues, so there’s absolutely no reason for anyone to go to a breeder.

vietnam-travel

Last update: I’m going to Vietnam in 9 days! I’ve never been there before, and I’ll be on a backpacking-style trip. I’m so excited and trying to learn some Vietnamese phrases.

If you made it to the end of this post, THANK YOU!

Book Review: Real Food / Fake Food

Project Meal Prep | Real Food / Fake Food

I just finished reading this book called Real Food / Fake Food. Even though much of the book covers non-vegan food, I still found it completely eye-opening and recommend it to everyone in North America who is at all concerned about what they’re eating.

Each chapter is dedicated to one type of food that is commonly “faked”: olive oil, truffle oil, Champagne, wine, coffee, tea, honey, cheese, beef, and fish. Faking a food could mean cutting it with cheaper ingredients (eg. mixing high fructose corn syrup in with honey) or completely substituting the item with something else, because it’s difficult to tell the difference (eg. adding random weeds into tea leaves or oregano).

I didn’t really think much about the business of food until I realized how big your profit margins will be if you sell someone an expensive bottle of “truffle oil” that’s actually just olive oil with flavorings. In some cases, the stuff it’s replaced with is actually a health danger.

Danger and inflated prices aside, some people may not care that the Champagne they’re drinking is not authentic, because it tastes fine. The author argues that selling a lower-quality fake food product tarnishes the reputation of the real thing. It also discounts generations of families who have dedicated their lives to perfecting the creation of Champagne (or whatever), and all the quality assurance effort of the governing organizations.

Some fascinating things I learned:

  • In Europe, many foods have VERY strict rules around what can be in them, how they must be produced, and where they can come from. These foods also have certifications by different European organizations.
  • Certain types of fish served even at fancy restaurants have high rates of being fraudulent. In some cases, they are even replaced with a cheaper type of fish that causes health problems.
  • Truffle oil is overrated and almost never real. It’s usually another type of oil mixed with a chemical compound that resembles truffles.
  • The concept of terroir, which describes the combination of a specific climate, ecosystem, landscape, etc. of a place on Earth that allows it to produce the best of some type of food.
  • Champagne apparently tastes best with fried, salty food, like french fries (I have to try this sometime).

The takeaways from the book on how to avoid fake food are to:

a. read the ingredients when buying food at the grocery store, and
b. cook more, so you know what is really in your food

After reading this, I’m starting to look more closely at labels on food. Today, I was buying tomato sauce at the grocery store, and I checked all the cans to see if there was one from Italy, not because I’m suspicious of American tomato sauce, I just wanted to try one that’s been made with many strict rules and regulations around quality, to see if it is any better.

I did find one brand (this one), and the cans were sitting on the very bottom shelf at Whole Foods. It had two seals of approval, indicating that these tomatoes did come from Italy and were made using traditional methods.

I looked it up afterward and found that San Marzano is THE place to get canned tomatoes in Italy (read more here). And ya, they have been faked (for example).

I haven’t tried the sauce yet but I’m hoping it’ll be good.