Monday, September 30, 2013

Vegan MoFo #30: Dosa Factory - West Houston, TX

The Dosa Factory had their grand opening tonight! I saw a friend's fb post about the soft opening, so I figured I'd drive over for some dosa. It's just outside the loop, so it's not far at all. For the grand opening, the special was buy a dosa and get a vada, idli, or tasty bite for free. The owner was very helpful in suggesting various things and answering my questions about ingredients. The place is vegetarian, so unless it clearly has cheese or butter listed on the menu it should be vegan. There's also only a tiny bit of gluten in many things, but they're working on eliminating that bit of gluten from their recipes. It's always good to interact with a manager or owner when asking questions. I ordered TWO dosas, which was a ton of food with the specials, but I only photographed one since they essentially look the same. With some help, I selected the madurai masala (a cauliflower version of masala dosa, which would be lighter than the potatoes), the chettinad spicy dosa, the gobi manchurian, and the Chinese idli. The owner gave me a free rice kheer (rice pudding dish made with soy milk and cardamon). Nom nom nom. I will definitely return! Now I'm heading to bed after stuffing myself with so much food. :)
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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Vegan MoFo #29: Ripe Pop-Up Cafe - Upper Kirby, Houston, TX

I posted about going to a seminar by the owner of Ripe. I went to the pop-up cafe today at the farmers' market with the dude. We split an order of sweet potato and black bean enchiladas, a bistro burger (mushroom-lentil patty with cashew chevre), and a scoop of birthday cake ice cream. I totally could have consumed all of this by myself, but the dude doesn't have a bottomless appetite like me. (Probably for the best?) This was an awesome meal to start our Sunday afternoon of football and friends. I will definitely go back as the menu changes periodically. My friend said her previous tacos were incredible, so I am bummed that I missed out on those!
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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Vegan MoFo #28: Broke Ass Pizza - Houston, TX

The Broke Ass Pizza Cooperative is associated with Occupy Houston. They had a grand opening earlier this summer. They were using a daytime salad place as their kitchen and cooking up pizza at night. I went to the grand opening, but didn't get a picture. I ran into friends and went to one's house to eat. It was a little slow, so I figured they'd be up and running efficiently by now. I pulled up to the storefront and lights were out! Oh no! A quick check of their facebook page showed that they were doing delivery only for now. I called and placed an order, but offered to pick it up. They agreed to that, which is great since I don't live in the free delivery area. (They would have delivered for a fee.) I ordered the vegan coconut curry calzone, but choose to upgrade to the pumpkin crust. It was delicious! It was wayyy bigger than the calzone I got at opening night too. Score! They use local veggies, so the veggies change over time. I got mostly squash and greens last time, but got sweet potato, greens, and onion this time.
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Friday, September 27, 2013

Vegan MoFo #27: Lucy's Ethiopian Food - West Houston, TX

I decided to venture outside the loop for Ethiopian food. I've heard great things about Lucy Ethiopian from a friend. I had Ethiopian food for the first time in Austin at VegFest. It's naturally a veggie-heavy cuisine. I also read online that teff flour used to make enjera is iron-rich. Sounds like a pretty healthy choice to me! I ordered the Vegetarian 7 combo. It comes with Kik Alitcha (yellow split peas), Atkilt Alitcha (cabbage, potatoes, and carrots), Foselya Watt (green beans, but I think it looked like okra), Yemisir Watt (red lentils), Gomen Watt (collard greens), Kay Sere (beets), a brown lentil dish or green split dish that I don't see on the menu now, a salad, and lots of injera. Since I ordered such a large combo, I got the leftovers to take home for another meal. I loved this meal and the restaurant is really nice on the inside. There was a couple eating while I was there during the week, but the restaurant has a little lounge and a bar that seems like a cool place to have a drink after dinner one night. I spoke with one of the employees briefly and he said they have jazz music on the weekends. That sounds like a great time. I definitely thought this meal was worth the drive, because I even enjoyed the beets! (The last time I had beets I thought they tasted like dirt.)
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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Vegan MoFo #26: Magic Wok - Midtown, Houston, TX

Apparently Green Seed Vegan is closed on Sundays. I needed lunch before the football games on Sunday, but all of my vegan choices were closed. I should have just gone to Ripe, even though it was in the exact opposite direction of where I wanted to go ultimately. After much frustration on the ride to Midtown knowing that I wasn't getting a burger at Green Seed or something awesome at Ripe, I drove past Magic Wok. I practically swerved into the parking lot. I was rather moody and needed something to eat before joining up with friends. The portions were big, but my Kung Pao tofu was not very spicy. I did not eat the whole chiles though, so maybe that's what the little spicy pepper was referring to on the menu. I had leftovers to take home, which I served with some broccoli. Overall, very good for a Chinese restaurant located in a strip mall and in a convenient location for future trips to Midtown.
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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vegan MoFo #25: Benihana - Downtown, Houston, TX

I was recently out with some new friends for someone's birthday party. Their tradition is to end their adventures at a hibachi place called Benihana in downtown Houston. I saw some stuff on the online menu that looked vegan or veganizable. I picked the spicy tofu steak, but it was not spicy at all. The sauce tasted mostly like hoisin sauce. I asked the lady taking our order about fish sauce and she said there was nothing like that in the sauce. I also explained I was vegan and did not want animal products in my fried rice. She confirmed that the rice could be made without eggs. She also said the salad is topped with ginger and vegan, but the onion soup is made with chicken broth. The shrimp appetizer that should have gone with my order was given to other people at the table. When the hibachi chef was making the fried rice, he made the vegetarian version first. He plopped something onto the rice and I asked repeatedly what the ingredient was, because he called it peanut butter and the person I was sharing with cannot eat peanuts. He repeatedly called it peanut butter and then smashed it into the food. I told him I couldn't understand him and he still mixed it into the food. Turns out it was garlic butter, according to another girl at our table. He used that on the rice and the sliced zucchini that was split amongst the table. I didn't eat either thing, but I did ask that he not use any butter to cook my tofu entree. It was rather annoying that I had asked him questions and he still plopped some random ingredient into my food without clearly stating what it was first. I will generally avoid going back here because of the smokiness from the grills, but I know now to specify NO BUTTER before ordering. Whyyyy would a hibachi place use butter?!
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Vegan MoFo #24: zpizza - West U, Houston, TX

I was recently in West U to go to a craft store. I decided to swing by zpizza. I've had the Berkeley Vegan pizza in San Diego, so I knew I could get a vegan meal here. The vegan cheese seems to be something other than Daiya, possibly Follow Your Heart that they shredded. The sausage crumbles have a hint of fennel taste, so be warned if you don't like that flavor. I ordered a large pizza and made 3 meals out of it. I liked the pizza, but I do like Daiya on pizza better. I wouldn't go out of my way for z pizza when I can get other pizza closer to home, but it's good to know that the option is there on that side of town.
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Monday, September 23, 2013

Vegan MoFo #23: Vegan Nachos at Minute Maid Park

I went to Minute Maid Park recently to watch an Astros game with a friend. The baseball team is pretty terrible and they lost, but I got vegan nachos! I had searched on Google for vegan hot dogs at baseball stadiums. I found a list of vegetarian food options, but it noted the veggie dogs were not vegan at Minute Maid Park. I went to Fan Accommodations to ask about this and found out that they don't serve veggie dogs anymore. I waited in line for nachos from the chili and nachos place, thinking the chili was beans only. Nope! I then went over to a nacho cart/stand near the seats and got vegan nachos. The guy working said he was vegetarian so he understood my questions about the beans. These nachos contained chips, beans, sauteed onions and peppers, pico de gallo, and fresh jalapeno slices. These hit the spot after a long day at work and a momentary fear that I'd end up eating french fries or salad for dinner. Yes, the stadium has a salad place, but I don't want salad at a baseball game!
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Vegan MoFo #22: Fadi's - West Houston, TX

The other night it was incredibly rainy, so the guy and I decided to drive really far away for dinner. Smart plan, right? We went to Fadi's outside the 610 loop. [Click that link at your own risk. When I searched for Fadi's on Google, the search result said the site could be hacked.] He ordered the falafel plate with some hummus and various salad sides. I got the vegetarian sampler requesting no dairy products to make it vegan. The sampler plate comes with small portions of 15 different items! I wish it had falafel. The first pita is free, but additional pitas cost 50 cents. I took just one pita because I had so much other food. My favorite thing was the walnut and roasted pepper dip called muhammara. Nom nom nom. The green beans with stewed tomatoes were also really good. Noted for future home cooking. ;)
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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Vegan MoFo #21: Lunchtime Seminar by Ripe

I work in the Texas Medical Center, the world's largest medical and research center. The density of medical professionals and research scientists make it an incredibly interesting place to work. I recently saw that the TMC Library was hosting Stephanie, the owner of Ripe Cuisine. I was very surprised to see a speaker giving a talk on whole foods, plant-based nutrition. I went to the seminar for the food, but the talk itself was very useful. Most of the two dozen people were curious about where to start to eat more plants and asked some great questions. I only chimed in when someone asked a question about soy (the phytoestrogens in soy are very weak, the main one is genistein and it's 1000-fold less potent than the estradiol your body makes). I can't wait to check out the Ripe pop-up cafe at the Sunday farmers' market! Her lunchtime menu included a tempeh bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich with a ranch-style spread, spiralized noodle salad with dressing (possibly this recipe), and black bean brownies.
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Friday, September 20, 2013

Vegan MoFo #20: #tacocleanse

I couldn't participate in Vegan MoFo without doing #tacocleanse - duh! This brilliant cleanse is focused completely on tacos, not burritos, not nachos, just tacos. Taco Cleanse is organized by a group of Austin bloggers. Of course Austinites would focus an entire month on tacos! I didn't want to eat tacos for an entire month, but I figured one meal of tacos would be nice. I made plans to have lunch with my old labmates. We went to Chipotle since it's in the med center. I always order a burrito, so this was the first time I had ever ordered tacos at Chipotle. I filled my corn tortillas with white cilantro-lime rice, black beans, fajita veggies, hot salsa, corn salsa, guacamole, and lettuce. I had some chips and hot salsa too. Chipotle has announced that they plan to sell the roasted tofu sofritas nationwide, but the tofu isn't available in Texas yet. I also noticed the location we went to in the med center did not have the little asterisk next to the pinto beans to note that they were cooked with bacon. I saw on Twitter that Chipotle is releasing pork-free beans nationwide soon too!
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Vegan MoFo #19: Sinfull Bakery - Upper Kirby, Houston, TX

I have posted about Sinfull Bakery before, but it's so good. They added kolaches to their menu last year during the holidays. I had no clue what a kolache is, but there are many shops around town selling them. Turns outs a kolache is a pastry with some fruit filling in the middle and the dough is soft around the fruit filling. I went to the Saturday farmers' market on Richmond Avenue to pick up a kolache and a potpie. I hoped to get a local pear turnover, but I was too late. There were a couple type of poptarts available too, in addition to their usual cinnamon rolls and cookies. I don't go to the farmers' market that often, but I *always* pick up something from Sinfull when I go. Yum! My kolache looks a little rough from the bag tipping over in the car, but it was sooo good.
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Vegan MoFo #18: Vegan Cafe - Third Ward, Houston, TX

I've heard people mention the Vegan Cafe at potluck in the past. It's located inside the SHAPE Center. I thought it was in the building on Almeda, but it's actually on Live Oak (just around the corner on Alabama). I've thought about going several times, but it was always after 7 so they were closed. I finally made it to the Almeda Shape Center before 7 and it wasn't the right location! Whoops. After that failed attempt, I found the correct location a few days later and they were sold out of food. The woman running the cafe sent me on my way with spice cake to cheer me up. After the second failed attempt, I called ahead to save two chili dogs so my friend and I could finally go to the Vegan Cafe. He had tried to go to the Almeda Shape Center once too, so we were both ready to find this place! I really liked that the veggie dogs were grilled and piled high with chili and toppings. There's also almond milk ice cream made in-house! The chocolate flavor is rich and my friend couldn't finish his scoop.

Sadly, the Vegan Cafe is closing on September 23rd. The owners are starting personal shopping and chef services and hoping to open a natural grocery store in the Third Ward. I hope they're successful! The Third Ward is reasonably close to me and I think the community would benefit from a successful, locally-owned business in that area.
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Vegan MoFo #17: Snap Kitchen - Houston, TX

My new job offers a corporate discount at My Fit Foods, a chain that offers pre-cooked and packaged "healthy" meals. When I went to check it out, the only vegan options I saw were the hummus and veggie snack box and the fruit and almond butter snack box. Laaame. I remembered that a vegan friend recently recommended Snap Kitchen. It's a similar concept, but Snap Kitchen actually has vegan meals. The night I went, there were 4 vegan soups, 3 vegan breakfasts, and 3 vegan entrees (the pasta zucca, tofu scramble, and Thai curry). I checked the menu online and saw a couple more vegan options. I have driven by this place a zillion times without really thinking about stopping. I'm glad I did! It's not more expensive than dining out anywhere else and some of the items come in different sizes. I reheated the tofu scramble and served it with some frozen broccoli and a "shake" of soy milk, frozen banana, dark chocolate chips, and almond butter. I reheated the Thai green curry and again served it with frozen broccoli.
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Monday, September 16, 2013

Vegan MoFo #16: Vegan Fro-Yo from TCBY

Yep, fro-yo made from almond milk! Silk recently partnered with TCBY to make a chocolate almond-based frozen yogurt. When I visited Loving Hut, I decided to stop by TCBY as well. I called ahead to find a location with the almond fro-yo. The TCBY closest to Loving Hut said they did not have the vegan flavor, but the San Felipe location did! They only had it in pints to take home, but the clerk said it's pretty popular. I wish I could have tried the vegan flavor from the fro-yo machine so I could have topped it with whatever vegan goodies they had. Maybe next time! The chocolate almond fro-yo is pretty darn good!
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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Vegan MoFo #15: Vegan Potluck with VSOP

Every second Saturday of the month, Vegan Society of Peace hosts a potluck. VSOP is the ethical vegan organization in Houston and a great place to network with vegans and veg-curious folks. For example, one of the board members organized a Meetup group in Katy, a suburb of Houston just outside the 610 loop. The VSOP founders are abolitionist vegans, so many of our monthly discussions are about the use of animals in entertainment (rodeo, circus, aquatic parks), consumption, and testing, but the organization does promote the environmental and health benefits of the vegan lifestyle too. We want to provide everyone with information and support as they explore veganism. Many people are vegan or mostly plant-based eaters, but we do get the veg-curious on a regular basis. We currently rent a church banquet room near Rice University. Ever since the Vegfest in June, the crowds are growing! I always, always bring dessert. It's my thing. I made a black bean brownies using a recipe created by the owner of Ripe, a pop-up cafe at the Sunday farmers' market. Stephanie gave a talk in the TMC library recently and she served these brownies. When I made them, they were fudgier on the bottom, possibly needing more time in the oven than listed in the recipe. Overall, it was another successful potluck with discussion on Texas Go Vegan Week, The Elephant in the Living Room screening at UH in October, the Elephantopia walk for elephants, and a petition and protest against the Great Bull Run. I go to VSOP every month because you never know who you will meet. I met another vegan working in the medical center yesterday and her blog is absolutely gorgeous.
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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Vegan MoFo #14: Loving Hut - West Houston, TX

I've been to multiple locations of Loving Hut, but I never seem to take a photo of my food! I'm always with groups, so I tend to be distracted when my food arrives. I decided to treat myself to lunch at Loving Hut over the weekend. It's a bit of a drive for me, which is why I don't go here regularly. They have a large selection of mock meats, but I really like the sweet and sour tofu dish. I decided to get the new Texas BBQ burger and ordered the pho to go for dinner. The burger had a sweet sauce with pineapple, pineapple rings, and caramelized onions. It was yummy and messy! I used several napkins to wipe my hands clean before giving up and eating the last part with a fork. I also got a piece of cheesecake for dessert. Since I ordered the pho to go, I broke up the noodles, added the noodles and broth to a bowl, and reheated everything in the microwave. I topped it with the basil, sprouts, onions, and cilantro, all packaged neatly in a takeout box. The pho was OK, but I think it needed more tofu chunks. I added a squirt of sriracha too.
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Friday, September 13, 2013

Vegan MoFo #13: Flakey's Pizza - EaDo, Houston, TX

The Flakey's Pizza food truck is parked behind this super creepy building known as Super Happy Fun Land, which is a theater/community center. I normally don't spend much time in East Downtown, also known as EaDo, so I almost drove right past the place. I got there a little before 6, since their facebook page says they open at 6. They already had a few orders and the truck isn't that big, so it took almost 40 minutes to get my pizza. They did offer a slight discount for the delay. The guy miscalculated and was about to give me a large specialty pizza for $10. The truck offers Daiya cheese and soy chorizo! I got that on my veggie pizza to make it vegan. NOM NOM NOM. It was pretty damn good, but I'll call it in for pick-up next time.
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