Thai IDEA Vegetarian is a brand-new, all veg restaurant in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, and it’s mighty tasty! I especially enjoy that the vegan dishes are clearly marked on the menu, and and every item has a vegan option. Well, that’s if it’s not vegan to begin with, which many are. Fantastic! On the menu, they clearly state that they don’t use any fish or oyster sauces, which is always my #1 concern at Thai restaurants. Obviously, they’re extra wonderful. Plus, the food is damn good. Anyway, read my entire review over at SF Weekly and then go read The Tender’s review to see that omnivores also love it (small victories!) and THEN go get busy on some of those Firecracker Balls! Sexy!
SF’s Saigon Sandwiches: NOT vegan (or even vegetarian), but can be made so! »
An AWESOME Vietnamese-speaking friend of Vegansaurus very kindly helped us get the full answer on whether or not Saigon Sandwiches cooks their tofu in meat juice and the crappy answer is: YES, the do. This is major-bummer sadness, but our investigator also reported that the sandwich artists were really nice and super forthcoming with a solution, even though he didn’t even ask for one! Turns out, you can ask for the tofu to be cooked with soy sauce (make sure to specify no fish sauce, just soy sauce!) and BAM! It’s vegan! Without the mayo, of course.
Man, life can be complicated sometimes. But it can also be delicious, and I’m here to report that with all those specifications, this sandwich is THE BOMB. I also just thought of something: we should encourage them to put up a sign by the tofu sandwich that says, “Ask if you want it made vegetarian or vegan” so that people know the tofu isn’t automatically veg. I bet if enough people ask (politely! And get your Vietnamese-speaking friends to ask, too! Or get them to teach you how to ask in Vietnamese and practice a bunch to make sure you don’t embarrass yourself/accidentally ask one of the employees to eat your mom’s penis!), it would happen. I’m currently in the Marty’s vegan dining rules state of mind where I ask about ERRYTHANG but you know, lots of people don’t. And it’s a bummer when your tofu comes covered in blood, for realz.
If you are getting an enormous sandwich for about 10 cents from a hole in the wall that’s crazy crowded and the sandwich artisans are working at crazy fast speed and you don’t speak their language, you’re just gonna have to decide if it’s worth it or not. if it is, you just gotta let go and let god, you feel me? I am OK with eating the tofu banh mi from Saigon Sandwiches (tofu cooked in soy sauce/no mayo, natch) because I am super-poor, I go at slower times of the day so nothing’s rushed, and I want to support their veg options. I also have a stomach of steel and when the apocalypse comes (three days!), I’ll be totally fine eating directly from garbage cans and sewers.* Anyway, I’m off track, the point is, if that makes you uncomfortable—perfectly understandable, you’re a better person than I—then you gotta find another place to get your banh mi fix! I’m not sure where, as I don’t think Banh Mai is still serving, and I haven’t tried Bun Mee yet. Anyone? They have an eggplant banh mi that looks pretty awesome—anyone know if it’s vegan? Or do I have to go do more investigative journalism?
[unappetizing pic of half-eaten tofu banh mi from yelp!]
*And you know what? You will too if you want to defeat that devil army!
Little Bird Coffeehouse in the Tenderloin! »
VEGAN BREAKFAST ALERT! One of the hardest things for vegans in this city to find is a suitable breakfast or brunch option. Well, there’s a new sheriff in town and they put a motherfucking bird on it! Little Bird Coffeehouse is a fairly new place in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood that serves up all kinds of vegan breakfast and brunch options, including damn good gluten-free blue corn waffles (covered in fresh fruit, maple syrup, and Earth Balance!), damn good vegan breakfast sandwiches (made with Soyrizo, tofu scramble, vegan cheese and magic), and lots of other damn good vegan stuff like donuts and muffins and other fantastic shiz. Also, various types of non-dairy milk for your coffee and tea beverages! It’s no-frills, with a counter for ordering and some rickety tables and chairs to enjoy your goodies. This place is a little interesting because it’s like stepping through a tear in the fabric of the universe and ending up in the Mission. When I’ve eaten there, its been infested with miner bros* ordering espresso and reading David Foster Wallace. Not a bad scene, just FYI.
I’d bring your friends, wife, LOVAS, kids. And I’d hide your parents unless they’re OK with no table service and enjoy listening to Ani Difranco whine about the 1990s. It’s really nice to have some more options in this area of town and I’d like to see them be the little bird that could so get on down there and eat some some breakfast panini.
Soyrizo breakfast sandwich
Little Bird Coffeehouse is at 835 Geary St. (at Larkin), (415) 440-2165, open every day from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. CASH-ONLY, Y’ALL.
*TM Kate Losse. It refers to a specific type of dude who wears plaid shirts and scruffy beards, à la gold miners. I will demonstrate:
Real gold miner
Ananda Fuara is now serving vegan neatloaf! Finally, I can go all neatloaf on your vegetarian asses!
Heaven’s Dog »
Firstly, I wish it had a different name. “Heaven’s Dog" makes me think of gourmet hot dogs or some such, and I don’t want to make a special trip for gourmet hot dogs, however the rest of the world feels, I just don’t like them in that way. Luckily the restaurant doesn’t actually have anything to do with hot dogs, gourmet or otherwise, so if you get over the silly name then you should be fine. The food is good, and on the low side of expensive (about equal to Beretta), but nothing to really flip for. Let me tell you why, at great length!
Laura and I went on a Monday night, and it was slow as anything, hardly anyone was there. I think there was a family, as in, at least two adults and their coordinating small children finishing their supper when we arrived, somewhere around 8. That was unexpected, the family, but the kids weren’t loud or anything, and it was a Monday night, so maybe not so surprising. Our waiter seemed very Monday-night, quite mumbly and new. He was nice and helpful, knew what was and wasn’t vegan, asked about a substitution for us, and had good timing. He just seemed a little meek for the cutthroat world of restaurant service. Again, though, it was a slooooow Monday night, definitely a good time for a quiet waiter to work.
We ordered three items off the regular menu—two appetizers and one main dish—and the special appetizer. This was plenty of food for two people who love eating. Also, one cocktail each. Laura was most excited about the vegetarian pork belly dish, so obviously we had to order it; we also got an edamame salad, the dan dan mei (with flat rice noodles substituted for egg), and the special, kabocha done tempura-style.
The kabocha was marvelous. It was battered and fried, but much lighter than tempura, and the batter had some kind of seed crushed in it? Or maybe seaweed, because it was salty in a lovely fishy way that contrasted neatly with the sweetness of the squash. If it had only been cooked a bit longer—a few of the kabocha pieces were a bit too al dente. It could’ve also been accompanied by more tasty cranberry sauce, alas.
I liked the edamame salad pretty well; the “bean curd ribbons” turned out to be sort of tofu sliced to resemble noodles, and they were my favorite part, I guess because of the texture. Not quite raw noodles, you know, but cool and a little chewy and exactly right. The rest of the salad was fine; I expected more from the pickled mustard greens—I expected more pickled mustard greens—but, no big deal.
Unfortunately for the two of us, the vegetarian pork belly came three on a plate. Fortunately, they were all excellent, and as Laura is a supremely good friend (who had already asked for an order of them to take home to her boyfriend), she let me have the second one. They are made of mushrooms inside tofu skins topped with scallions and cradled inside pretty white clamshell buns, and you pinch them shut like teeny tacos and eat them up in two bites, chomp chomp, and they are scrumptious. They come with a sauce, which is fine, but I think they would’ve been better served with that cranberry sauce from the kabocha special.
The dan dan mei was not what I was expecting—it turned out to be this big creamy mess of noodles, with little pieces of tofu and some chilis here and there. There isn’t a picture of it because by that time I believe the photographer was overwhelmed by our meal, and tired of pausing before diving into the food. This was also the case with dessert. Very intelligently, Heaven’s Dog offers only three desserts, and one of them is vegan, hooray. It is a chocolate sorbet with a little salt—big fat black grains, name I can’t remember—on top of what they call a cherry compote that was actually just big fat cherries that had been soaking in some kind of sweetish-sourish sauce. The serving was plenty large enough for two to share, especially considering the size of our preceding meal.
Some notes: While the website claims the restaurant is inside the Soma Grand Hotel, a more precise description would be “shares a building with the hotel, but no connecting entrances, so don’t try to get into the restaurant through the hotel lobby.” It’d be a nice place to go if you are around Civic Center and loathe to go up the hill to Little Saigon/the ‘Loin. As ever, while the four dishes we ordered were confirmed vegan, I can’t speak for any of the other vegetarian items, so ask first, or order just like Vegansaurus did and ensure cruelty-free satiety (HO HO clever!).
Review: Chevy’s Fresh Mex! »
I was a waitress at a Chevy’s one summer break from college. Oh fuck off. Like you never gave a blow job you didn’t regret. Actually, I waitressed at the Chevy’s in Alameda which was the VERY FIRST CHEVY’S EVER. Thas right. Chevy’s originated on The Island. You’re surprised? Alameda is basically Texas-Mexico. I know, I want to burn the whole Island down too. Anyway, that Chevy’s is now defunct but I picked up some odd shifts at different Bay Area Chevy’s and have eaten at a few (I KNOW) so I feel qualified to write a review about them and let’s be honest, even if I didn’t, I’d write it anyway.
Now, the only things to really eat at Chevy’s as a vegan are the chips, the salsa and the margaritas. Four food groups covered? Check! They actually have a large and decent tequila selection and I recommend a top shelf on the rocks with salt. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU TO GET THE FROZEN MARGARITAS. They totally skimp on the amount of tequila to nasty-sweet-slushy ratio and the only buzz you’ll end up with is a cold freeze followed by a shitty sugar rush. Or fuck it, who are we trying to kid? You’re at CHEVY’S. Get a MangoGuavaWatermelonRita with seven pieces of giant fruit and nine Mexican flags hanging off of it. It might be 2,000 calories and not get you even remotely drunk but you’ll be this ridiculously ridiculous American asshole drinking a fake margarita at a fake Mexican restaurant and let’s just do the damn thing!
You might also consider enjoying some fresh flour tortillas from “LA MAQUINA”. I’m pretty sure that’s Spanish for, “TERRIFYING DEATH TRAP”. It’s this insane tortilla-making machine that looks like a medieval torture device. They have one at every Chevy’s, lucky you. When I worked there, I had nightmares about getting my arm caught in LA MAQUINA and being left with a tortilla for a hand. Scary business. You can also get some shitty salads and a veggie fajitas plate but what’s the use? I already told you your dinner is seven margaritas and 10 baskets of chips. Oh also, don’t forget about,”El Happy Hour" (I couldn’t make this shit up) where all well drinks and some crappy beers are $3 from 4 to 7 p.m. I don’t think they do this in the SF locations because they know we can afford their ridiculous prices. Assholes.
Speaking of, since I’m always drunk off my dinner when I’m here, I can’t really comment on the service but I’m guessing by my skillz in that department that it’s pretty fucking horrendous. I was either drunk, high or completely disinterested during every single one of my shifts. In fact, I was probably a better waitress drunk than I ever was sober…at least then I was TRYING to focus so that I wouldn’t bite it when walking to your table or like, throw up on you. I’ll tell you another thing, fucking people who eat at Chevy’s are the fucking worst. I had my ass grabbed by a GUY WEARING A BACKWARDS BASEBALL CAP, I was referred to simply as “Red” by several dudes old enough to be dead and I can’t even tell you how many times I was condescended to by the Beverly Hillbillies out for a fancy dinner at Chevy’s. I made it a point to mention 19 times each shift that I was on BREAK from COLLEGE in NEW YORK CITY because I just couldn’t stand being asked if, “I understood the order?” one more time by some twat with seven teeth. Either that or I’d tell some bizarre lie about how I was a scientist from NASA who recently cracked the Flux Capacitor and traveled BACK through TIME into the FUTURE to er, wait tables at Chevy’s Tex Mex.
This is also the place where I learned from Sonya, the giantess Swedish bartender, to always order a “Crown and Water” on a date because even though it tastes like earwax, men love it. I’ve found this secret to be very true and ladies, I pass it on to you today. I’ve drank so many of these that I actually like the taste now, go figure. It’s no Midori Sour but come on, what is? There is no competing with the King of Girl Beer.
I hope this review doesn’t get me sued.
Logistics: Chevy’s has nine Bay Area locations, four in SF. Mostly downtown-ish and one in Stonestown shopping center. You might be forced to go there on a work-type event. That is when this review will help. I think.
Review: Ananda Fuara! »
Ananda Fuara is run by a cult! Who cares? They are not creepy. They are a peaceful cult comprising some sweet folks who love to weight-lift and eat healthy, delicious vegetarian food. Frankly, I know more than one fat-ass who might benefit from such a lifestyle. And yes, I’m talking about me. And also you, Sir Fatty Fatton of Fattinshire.
Pet peeve no. 52: When meat-eaters complain about vegetarians and vegans eating fake meat. It’s like, MORONS, we are not vegetarian or vegan because we don’t like the taste of meat, we are vegetarian or vegan because we don’t want to EAT DEAD ANIMALS. Fucking figure it out. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist. Or even a person of average intelligence. My friend’s autistic brother who only communicates through a keyboard gets it. I just don’t understand WHY YOU DON’T?!?!
That being said, I rarely eat fake meat products here. I just wanted to bitch because it’s what Lauras do best. Actually, that and sex. Ask your dad. LAURA!
The daily rotating curries, soups (always dal and one other, usually vegan) and salads (try the Infinite Blue, vegan; it’s hot rice stir-fry over a bed of greens and I know that sounds kinda like the funk but trust. There are some days when only hot rice salad will make you want to get out of bed. I call those days Tuesdays.) are what Ananda Fuara does best and I’ve never once been disappointed. The vegan baked goods are always amazing, some of the best I’ve ever had. Make sure to check the glass case and get several of each to go. The peanut butter krinkle is basically cornflakes dipped in choco-peanut butter mixture and then set out to dry. You can either eat it or use it to exfoliate. Either way, divine.
I would be a total jerky asshole not to mention the most magical thing that is sometimes on the menu, the VEGAN BEEF STROGANOFF special. OH HOLY HELL. This shit is off the HEEZY! I had the meat-eaters at my table begging for release from its jaws of deliciousness. If you are in San Francisco tomorrow, call ahead to see if it’s the special and if it is, don’t make the biggest mistake of your life and not go. I don’t care if you got pregnant at 13 and gave the baby to Appalachian mountain people to raise and now her name is Darlene and she has three teeth and uses them to skin raccoons for eatin’ (YOUR VERY OWN FLESH AND BLOOD SKINS RACCOONS WITH HER TEETH! SORRY, TEEF!). Missing out on this beef stroganoff is worse. It is THE WORST.
In closing, I would like to issue a public challenge to the peaceful, adorable and motivational cult leader, Sri Chinmoy. This man is a competitive heavy-lifter and has set many world records. This is a man who has lifted elephants, Great Pumpkins and platforms filled with fat people INTO THE AIR. I would like to challenge him to lift me above his head with one hand and then to throw me into the air so that I might complete the Triple Lindy (yes, the same one the late, great Rodney Dangerfield made famous in the classic Back to School) and land on a gigantic trampoline made specifically for this purpose. Once I land on the trampoline, I will swan-dive into a gigantic cake of the flavor and shape of my choosing. This will take place on top of the Eiffel Tower on May 25, 2009. I eagerly await the response from Chinmoy’s camp. This offer will self-destruct in 24 hours.
[ananda fuara photos via the restaurant]