Product review: Korean radish kimchi by Sinto Gourmet!  »

This is the second combination product review and International Vegan MoFo entry starring local vegan kimchi!

As I said yesterdaySinto Gourmet makes three kinds of kimchi, which I sampled at the Eat Real Fest in Oakland last month. Because they are all amazing and I am not insane, I bought giant jars of the spicy napa cabbage and the spicy radish varieties on the spot.

This is a bowl of spicy radish. It is even spicier than the napa cabbage, and crunchier, because it’s mostly radish rather than thinner, leafier napa cabbage. It will still stink up your kitchen (or wherever you eat it) with its glorious aroma, and it burns all the way from lips to tum. But don’t worry, the fermentation is good for your gut, and makes the jar last forever in the fridge.

Sinto is a local company, and all their kimchi products are vegan and gluten-free (as opposed to traditional kimchi, which is often made with shrimp or fish sauce).

If you love spicy, crunchy, slightly stinky things, I strongly suggest you buy some Sinto Gourmet kimchi.


Road trip: Pho 14 and more in D.C.!  »

In 2010, PETA named Washington, D.C. the country’s most veg-friendly large city. This is clearly bullshit. Other than Sticky Fingers Bakery, D.C. has no “holy shit you HAVE to go there” kinds of vegan places like SF, NYC, Denver, etc. Nevertheless, there’s some good eating in that city, and over the holidays I did my duty as an American and spent a lot of money eating out so my I wouldn’t have to blame all my weight gain on the vegan Christmas cookies my [awesome] mom made.

I hit up Pho 14 in Columbia Heights with some omnivore buddies one night. Pho is all about accessories, like [insert style pop culture figure whom I’m too big a nerd to keep track of]. The vegetarian broth is kinda sweet but then BAM! add some lime juice and it’s a whole new thing.
Notice the bowling-ball lacquer on the table.

My man DK and I shared some spring rolls (so tightly wrapped!) as an appetizer, then ordered a large tofu pho, which felt like stealing because they split it for us in the kitchen, and the two bowls were huge and dinner was so cheap! This would be a great place to bring a date because you’d look classier than you really were!

Another night, DK and I wanted something romantic near the Mall (the one with the monuments, not the one with Bath & Body Works). Mandu on K Street seemed a good choice given how obsessed we were with Sura in Oakland.

The waitstaff totally got the whole vegan thing, and only brought us munchies that had no shrimp or fish sauce. Our entrees were fresh and filling but a little bland—I wanted to run into the kitchen and whip up a sauce for my bi bim bop, but instead I just ate it all including every tiny little grain of rice.

D.C.’s also know for its Ethiopian food, which I love. We hit up Dukem this time, which had a nasty bathroom, a suspicious taste of butter, and was pricey, pretty much not worth it. Try Etete or Meskerem if you’re there, those are better. But really just go to Cafe Colucci in Oakland, it’s the absolute bestest, I’m considering having children so I can send them there to be indentured servants and learn to cook for me that way.

The actual highlight for me was all about booze, duh: The Gibson, a $12-fancy-cocktail joint near all the Ethiopian places on U Street. Make a reservation and bring a smartphone, because you’re going to need to Wikipedia the shit out of their changing, incredible menu (Akvavit what?). Everything we tried was spectacular—better than SF’s Bourbon & Branch or Williams & Graham in Denver—but watch out for the egg whites they sometimes want to put in things. Gross. Definitely a great date place, especially if someone else is buying! I’m gonna start dating again just so people will buy me drinks; it’s good for my husband, too, though, I swear.


Sura Korean BBQ: Oakland’s unlikely gem of vegan awesomeness  »

Once upon a time I was walking down Telegraph Avenue in Temescal with a friend when we passed this restaurant that I would never in a zillion years have chosen. But this certain meat-eating person was like, “Oooh, Korean BBQ! Let’s go there!” and since I wasn’t really hungry I was like, “OK fine, whatever you want, friend-from-out-of-town, I will go sit with you and try not to grimace.” We sat down, ordered (seemingly) overpriced appetizers, and sat back to wait. Then Sura changed my life.

You know how some restaurants give you bread or chips and salsa to munch on before your meal? Here, they’re like, “Bread, schmead, let’s give people 18, maybe 21 different little side dishes to eat while they wait for their food.” Free. Without you ordering them. Each different, each incredibly yummy. We felt like we’d won the lottery or something.
The little dishes change often so you never know what you’re going to get, but can include pickled vegetables, spicy tofu, black sesame squash, sprouted mung beans, seaweed salad, kim chi, etc., etc., etc.

I’ve been there three times now, and though they don’t explicitly cater to vegans, with a little work a mind-blowing meal can be yours. UPDATE: This may be trickier than I thought. Fish sauce is a hidden challenge, sorry guys. Still, I think it’s worth trying to navigate, but do so at your own risk I suppose. Here are my pro-tips:

  1. Tell them right away, as soon as you walk in/sit down, that you don’t want any meat or egg dishes (dairy doesn’t seem to be so much of a problem). Every time I’ve been there they’ve brought out a weird hot-pot egg dish without asking. My omni friends ate it but you can Just Say No.
  2. You don’t need a barbecue table. Sit far away from them, as that is where people grill raw meat. Ick.
  3. When you order, tell them again about the vegan thing and make sure they don’t bring you any small plates with egg or meat. The vast majority of what they bring out is vegan anyway, and I’ve had them bring me EXTRA vegan stuff. Just be clear. UPDATE: MAKE SURE TO ASK ABOUT FISH SAUCE TOO! FISH SAUCE WARNING ALERT WARNING!
  4. While there’s no separate veggie section on the menu, they put little stars next to everything they can make vegetarian. Some things come with egg but they’ve been really good about following my requests to leave it out.
  5. Ask for barley tea.

The food is awesome:
Sanchae sotbap/herbed vegetables—
herbed vegetables and mushrooms over rice

Doenjang bibimbap/House special green tea bean paste—seasoned vegetables with green tea rice and soybean paste. SO GOOD!

Other delicious things I’ve eaten but don’t have photos of:

  • Hyunmi doenjang bibimbap/sweet brown rice—seasoned vegetable with sweet brown rice and soybean paste, cold.
  • Beoseot/mushroom—tofu, mushrooms, and vegetables in hot pot. SO GOOD!

Sura Korean BBQ is located at 4869 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland, and is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. No website, but call (510) 654.9292.

Bonus: Sura’s only a few blocks from Scream Sorbet’s new shop. Waddle over for dessert, if you can manage.


Yum Sugar hooked us up with a recipe for these ridiculously delicious Korean dumplings that make me happy just by looking at them. WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN I ACTUALLY EAT THEM??? Stay tuned! Shit’s gonna get real!

Yum Sugar hooked us up with a recipe for these ridiculously delicious Korean dumplings that make me happy just by looking at them. WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN I ACTUALLY EAT THEM??? Stay tuned! Shit’s gonna get real!


Financial District foraging: Stone Korean Kitchen!  »

You’ve probably seen it on the Yelp or the Groupon, but Stone is a semi-new Korean place in Four Embarcadero (right on Justin Herman Plaza by the fountain, and with outside seating, too) with a young-ish, hip-ish vibe. At least as compared with the gross-ish Japanese place that used to occupy the space. 

Anyway, I dig it. They have a great happy hour (two for one giant bottles of Korean beer!) and some delectable snacks. Including these, the Duk Kochi (crispy rice cakes with spicy sauce and sesame seeds): they are like little savory fried rice marshmallows with hot sauce on them. Leave your depressing-ass office RIGHT NOW!

[photo by Megan Allison. Ed. note: check the flat, metal chopsticks—authentic Korean!]


SF. Korean Taco. Veganized. TOMORROW. (!!!)  »

Kitchenette SF is serving up a veganizable Korean taco tomorrow for lunch so I suggest y’all hop on the train and get your fat asses to the location with the mostest. Vegan Korean tacos, that is. What? I don’t even know I’m just SO PSYCHED TO EAT HELLA TACOS.

They’ll be serving from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. or until they sell out, so I suggest you get there early. It’s easy access on the T line and yeah, get there and eat hella tacos and show them your vegan tits! What I mean to say is that, show them that vegans will hella represent and eat hella tacos if given the opportunity. I don’t know where the tits thing came from, I’m just a perv.

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