Review: Eiji! »
Eiji is a super-tiny sushi place on Sanchez at 16th Streets. It would be easily missed if it weren’t for the gigantic sign-flag out front that screams, “TOFU!!!!!” How is a vegan supposed to resist? You can’t fly a flag the size of a sperm (hee) whale that says only “TOFU!!!!!!” and not expect to be descended on by my people. And we vegans would be oh-so-right in doing so because the homemade tofu is phenomenal and unlike anything you can buy in the stores (even hippie stores like Rainbow!). There are several kinds, most of which can be served vegan. I know you’re like, “SOME? it’s TOFU, bitch.” and I’m like, “A) you gotta relax with calling me names and B) Yes BUT this is Japanese food made by Japanese people and these fools be lovin’ to put fish flakes on everything, you know?!” So sometimes they can all be made vegan (depending on if you get the nice waiter or the mean waiter) and sometimes only some of them can be made vegan. The hot tofu dish is by far the best and is naturally vegan, kinda like a vegan chawan-mushi (hot savory custard, DUH). UGH SO GOOD. Hot and sweet and it just melts in your mouth and send you straight to heaven. It’s the whole package. It’s the massage and it’s the happy ending.
Apart from the homemade tofu and bizarrely inconsistent service, you must go for the mochi. The mochi is so in demand that you must actually eat in the restaurant to get it. And you can’t just order mochi, you must eat a meal. And even with these crazytown rules, they still sell out of mochi pretty early so put your order in when you arrive to ensure that there will be mochi waiting for you at the end of the meal. Oh man, that pisses the other tables around you off SO MUCH. They are like, “WAH WE FINISHED FIRST, I THOUGHT YOU WERE OUT OF MOCHI, HOW DID THOSE PEOPLE GET SOME WAH” and I’m like, “It’s because we’re better-looking than you.” And that is both a truth and a lie. You see? Anyway, the mochi is house-made with huge fresh strawberries and adzuki bean paste. It’s the best in town and worth the trip. From Mars, even.
Other than that, the veggie sushi options are pretty pedestrian, although high in quality and freshness: cucumber, avocado, squash, etc. They are expertly rolled too and it’s nice to see sushi that is packed tight like an 18-year-old’s ass. What? I’m so sorry.
Oh and make a reservation. And be on time. If you’re not on time, your table will be given away and you will be scolded. It’s no fun.
Review: La Méditerranée! »
La Méditerranée is a local Mediterranean food chain with three locations, two in SF and one in Berkeley. Vegans can get a variation of the Salad Méditerranée which is hummus, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, Armenian potato salad, lentil salad and green salad. If you’re feeling extra hungry and you’re with another person or a group, you can get a vegan version of the Mediterranean Meza which is basically what everything in the Salad Méditerranée and dolmas too. Actually, I would skip that because it’s like $5 bucks more and you can only really add dolmas if you’re vegan. They also have falafel at lunch but it’s usually sold out by dinner. Always one vegetarian (usually vegan) soup too, which is probably something made with lentils and very good. The best part though is that they serve a VEGAN CHOCOLATE CAKE! It’s not marked vegan on the menu but it is! And it’s REALLY delicious, rich but not overly sweet. Very, very good and perfect end to dinner. They also can make their coffee drinks with soy milk. Overall, a solid choice for vegans if you’re feeling like Mediterranean food. It can also be a good date place in the evening, all locations are dimly lit and romantical. The Berkeley one also has a delightful heated patio in front.
A while ago I was eating there with a guy friend and this rather cute but obviously insane dude came up to me and said, “when you’re ready to dump this cheeseburger and get with a real man, you should call me,” and handed me his number. It was truly an act of crazy, not to mention REALLY the wrong line to use on me. Logically my response was, “?!??!!” and my friend, Dave, said, “I’m sorry, CHEESEBURGER?” The little dude, looking at Dave, said, “Uh yeah, cheeseburger?”—then, looking at me: “I know this is weird but you’re cute and if you’re not really with him, I’d love to take you out for a drink or a coffee or something?” and I’m all, “Uh, OK, thanks?” Dave is cracking up at this point and the poor little guy turned bright red(der) and walked-ran away. Where do dudes get the balls to do shit like this??? I can’t even make the moves on someone who is like, “Let’s have sex.” Anyway, I’ll always love Le Mediterranee in Berkeley for that awesome memory. And no, I never called the guy. That’s a lie. I called but totally chickened out when I realized it was a number for a U.C. BERKELEY DORM. I’m like 52. Knowing the statutory rape law in California as I do, I chose not to leave a message. Still not sure if I regret this or not. To this day, whenever I email or talk to Dave the conversation will eventually go back to, “Remember that dude who called me a cheeseburger?? That guy was amazing.” And he was. I hope he’s with some girl who thinks he’s USDA Quality Prime Rib. Ugh, I’m grossing out over here, I’ll stop.
[photos via yelp]
Unexpected vegan finds! »
A few places in town that are surprisingly vegan-friendly.
1. Pork Store—two locations: one in the Haight; one in the Mission. This is how much San Francisco wants you to be happy: it gives you a diner called the Pork Store and throws a really nice, garlicky tofu scramble on the menu, the “Vegan Delight.” From my numerous times sitting at the counter at the Haight location, I can tell you they use different pans for the tofu.
2. Q—One of only a few places on Clement Street to get non-Asian food, Q is an adorable restaurant: good for brunch, good for dinner, good for dates, good for anything. For brunch they have a tofu scramble, which they call “Hippy Heaven” and for dinner/lunch they have a grilled vegetable cornucopia called the “Ultimate Vegan Grill.” They also, quite notably, serve tater tots.They have an amazing wine list and serve sangria, so if you really don’t want to eat, you can always just get drunk. None of us will judge you (too much).
3. Casa Mexicana I (in the Castro) and II (in Noe Valley)—we love burritos at Vegansaurus! If you can’t take the greasiness of El Farolito or the long waits at Papalote, Casa Mexicana is a local taqueria chain (I’m certain they’re affiliated with some other taquerias in town, but have no evidence) with some tasty vegan options including lard-free beans, vegetarian rice and tofu ranchero; blocks of tofu covered in wonderful red sauce. Here’s what you do: you get a tofu ranchero burrito with refried beans, add avocado. You go to to the salsa bar, you add roasted tomato salsa and more cilantro. You love everything about life right at that moment.
[photo via yelp]
Ike’s Place! »
[Update: This is Laura’s initial review of Ike’s Place. Here is the most current news on Ike’s Place.]
First of all, it looks like the awesome sandwich above the entrance to Ike’s is comin’ to GETCHA. Talk about turning the tables! You go, sandwich! Wait, I meant: THE JOKE IS ON YOU SANDWICH BECAUSE I WILL BE EATING YOUR SANDWICH ASS. AND ALSO YOUR SANDWICH HEAD AND BODY. NEVER MIND.
B: Ike’s has more vegan sandwiches than you shake a sandwich at! With more to come! The Vegan Tony Soprano (it’s a fake-meat-and-cheese FEAST), the Vegan Coming Home for Thanksgiving (turkey and cranberry!) and the Vegan Backstabber (turkey, marinated artichoke hearts, garlic and herb sauce and TEESE!)
Thirdly: I really hate the word “sammich.” Stop it. It makes me think you were molested as a child and stopped mentally progressing from that point on and most likely talk in a creepy high-pitched baby voice—anyone else think that?
IV: THE VEGAN MEATLESS MIKE MEATBALL SUB + GUILT-FREE FRIES WITH BBQ SAUCE WILL MAKE YOU RECONSIDER YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION TO NOT DATE SANDWICHES ANYMORE. I mean, eat. NOT EAT SANDWICHES ANYMORE. It was so meaty, I almost asked to be led to the cow it came from so I could be all, “GOTCHA!” and then puke the dead animal all over them. But it was not, it was real live fake meat and it was magical.
W: Ike, his ADORABLE mom, and his sandwich-making partners in crime are super-friendly and make excellent suggestions and, as always, it feels so great to support a small, local business where the quality is high, the prices are low and the signage is AMAZING.
AND I TO YOU IN ADDITION AS WELL: Blow me, Subway. Seriously, fuck you and your no-vegan-sandwich-having asses and your corporate drudgery and I know if you were a human, you’d totally vote for Huckabee and drive a Ford Explorer and jerk it to child porn. AND DON’T GET ME STARTED ON TOGO’S!!!!
P.S. LOGISTICAL INFO: There no tables inside and very few outside so it’s not ideal to eat here. Phone in your sandwich orders ahead of time (the wait can be a bitch). What I like to do is phone in about a half hour ahead of time, swing by and get my sandwich and then head to Dolores Park, a nearby bar (there are quite a few on Market Street), or my couch (preferred, obviously) to enjoy the deliciousness!
[photo by frankfarm]
Review: Samovar Tea Lounge! »
First off, they have a vegan cupcake here. It’s chocolate. It’s the size of a walnut. It costs $6. Do with that information what you will, but listen now and hear me later: a cupcake that costs more than a call girl should fucking do something nice for you. Like tell you you’re pretty while doing your taxes and giving you magical powers. Oh, and taste MOTHERFUCKING DELICIOUS. This cupcake did none of those things. One demerit.
Other than that, the veggie and vegan options are clearly marked on the menu and they are plentiful. They even have a vegan Thai iced tea! Most of the meals are centered around a certain type of cuisine—Japanese, Indian, Russian (I KNOW, WTF?!), etc.—or you can order small plates and teas à la carte. It’s a bit pricey for the amount of food you get, but I’ve always been quantity over quality so there you go. I mean, I’d rather have a bucket of pasta—literally, an entire bucket. Like the kind you usually put a mop in. Filled with pasta—than one AMAZING ravioli. I guess you could tell that much by looking at me so A) fuck you for judging me and B) fuck that ravioli and fuck those bitches who take one bite of that ravioli and are like, “This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten!” Well, bitch, that is because you haven’t eaten since the Clinton Administration (those were the days!). I have no time for you or your skinny-ass antics. Seriously, I want to send you all to Jurassic Park to be eaten by dinosaurs like in the documentary.
Get more info on Samovar and its two locations here. Adding links is pretty fun.
[photo via yelp]