Monday, May 14, 2012

Korean Grub in China Town

     This weekend I made a four hour trek to visit my dear friend who moved away to Long Island last year, and I hadn't seen her since. In a little over a month I will be staying with her at her house in Korea -- her real home, and the trip turned out to be a great test for my Korean adventure to come, in terms of what I will and will not be able to eat, and what are some realistic goals for me to set.
     Our foodie setting was in China town just outside of Queens, NY. The streets where lined with noodle shops, bubble tea cafes and many many seafood joints. We also popped into a French-Korean Bakery, and I did my best to scrutinize the ingredients I was consuming there, but they were listed in Korean...
     It took only about 4 hours of being with my friend, the first night, for her to make it agonizingly difficult for me to stick to my vegan-guns. We went to a fantastically asian-nightlify hole in the wall, with blasting Korean rock and club beats, but packed corner to corner with elderly Koreans (which means you know the food is good if old-timers are enduring earsplitting music) and wood paneled walls. First thing I look for is meat free food on the menu -- which posses a problem because it is mainly in Korean. I find a kimchi pancake, and spicy noodles. That's bout it.

     The side dishes come out; kimchi, shredded carrot and cucumber, and spicy ricecake and a fried egg. When the server came over to take our order, my friend delivered the whole thing in Korean -- leaving me to pick out the very few words I know -- so you can believe how surprised I was when this smorgasbord of non veganism was set on the open flame infront of us:

     The lobster was still moving.... and though I was consciously trying not to cry as I watched it desperately flopping in the bubbling hot broth, it was an appropriate trial run for what is to come during my time in Korea. 
     I realized that when my friend informed me one of her favorite dishes was live baby octopus. Yum.

     All in all, everything was really delicious -- and my favorite was by far the kimchi pancake. And if you are wondering -- yes, I did eat some of the seafood. It was 80 bucks! She guilted me into it. I felt a little disappointed that peer pressure made me cave so easily, but it was a good lesson, indicating how much harder it will be when I'm on her turf, and can't really find food for myself. But I really didn' enjoy it *frowny face*

Shik Gaek Chun Ha (식객천하)
161-29 Crocheron Ave. Flushing, NY 

     The second notable meal I had was a very untraditional breakfast (for me anyway), a fantastic Noodle dish called 짜장면 (jja jang myeon, or black bean noodles). Honestly, these were the best noodles I have ever had in my life, and I'm quite the noodle fanatic. These noodles have been haunting my dreams. They are usually served with beef or seafood in the sauce but thankfully I was able to get vegetable jja jang myeon! 

     I ended up dumping all of that rich black sauce into my bowl -- which was bigger than my head -- because I just couldn't get enough. The two side dishes here are some kind of radish and my favorite ... kimchi! which are served in order to counteract some of the oiliness of the jjajangmyeon which their acidic nature. 

Sam Wong Gahk 
144-20 Northern Blvd, Flushing, NY

Apparently, they serve the best jajangmyeon around. Seriously, so good. 진짜 맜있어요. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Truly Delightful Bistro

     This evening I dinned at one of my absolute favorite restaurants in my neck of the woods, True Bistro. My mom and I dropped in for an early dinner, after a long, cranky, wet and frigid New England spring day at around 5.
     On a day that neither of us felt like exerting the energy to cook and deal with dirty dishes, this little gem was the perfect quiet, simple yet chic atmosphere needed to enjoy a relaxed, but undeniably decadent meal. The menu is flavorful and always eclectic, as well as being completely vegan!
     I have become quite the frequent flyer after discovering this place, and am still working my way through the menu, making sure never to have the same thing twice... which means each time I convince myself to order an exorbitant amount of food, in the name of research.
     This time I really may have outdone myself;

The appetizer: Pâté of tempeh & walnuts, fresh baguette and house pickled vegetables
the pate was wonderfully subtle and had a rich flavor, while the white, mayo like spread had an inexplicable tangyness to it. I piled the little pickled veggies on top of my pate laden bread, and the mx of sharp pickled flavor and the nutty pate along with the tang of the mayo.

The entree: Green curry with fried tofu, mizuna & bok choy, maitake mushrooms, black rice cake
The black rice cake was extremely airy and light and the sauce was subdued and just the tiniest bit sweet, perhaps even a little coconutty. 

The side dish: Cornmeal-crusted oyster mushrooms, horseradish-dill aioli, aji amarillo sauce
I could eat these little suckers by the pound, and the horseradish-dill was deliciously bitter, but not over-powering.

The dessert: Napoleon, layers of crisp sugared phyllo, white chocolate mousse, fresh berries
just look at this. the phyllo was crispy and crackly, without flaking apart, and coated crystals of sugar. the strawberries were fresh and the white chocolate mousse, though not a true substitute for the real deal, was wonderfully light.
now get there and have a real look, a little closer now.


     We had so much fun indulging ourselves, perhaps a little too much fun, as I am now nursing a serious food hangover.

True Bistro
1153 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ithaca's Moosewood Restaurant and Gyros in Albany

     Continuing my college quest brought my dad and I through the gorgeously green hills of upstate New York, and the funky little town of Ithaca. Of the multiple vegan friendly recipes I found, courtesy of the app urban spoon, we chose to eat at this one because my dad recognized the name from a cookbook that was apparently popular c. 1960.  
    Anyway, it was quite tasty.
Golden Lentil Soup

The Mexican Plate tortilla chips, quacamole, tomatoes, lettuce -- a little dissappointing, strangely I think it would have been more exciting in a salad bowl, or something that gave it a little more depth and layers.

Vegan Chocolate Cake -- oh my gosh good!

The Moosewood Restaurant 
215 N Cayuga Street, Ithaca, New York

     And on the way home, as quick stop off the high way, we stumbled upon a vegan Gyro Station. Gyros are one of my favorite non-vegan foods, and I haven't had one since being vegan. 
     For those in the dark, a gyro is a pita wrap with beef, lamb, fresh tomatoes, sometimes lettuce and tzatziki sauce. What I had was a falafel gyro, so everything in an original, but substitute the meat with falafel. It was so, close your eyes and sigh, good. 
     I had tucked it away before realizing I should have taken a quick snapshot to immortalize its goodness. But it's just as well, because also in the shot would have been my bare feet on the dashboard and the absolute mess of trash on the floor that always comes with a road trip. It was the perfect car food, and to my veg-sensibilities. 

The Gyro Station
185 1/2 Lark Street, Albany, New York

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Binghamton's Whole In the Wall

     While my spring vacation readily disappears, I am on the hunt for a college that excites me among those that I have been accepted to.
     The search has brought me to Binghamton, New York.
     Here I ate a completely vegan meal upon arrival around dinner time at The Whole In The Wall.

the Miso Soup Bowl and a side of Fried Rice with scallions, onions and garlic at
The Whole In The Wall
43 S Washington St. Binghamton, NY

     I'm sure it was delicious, but I couldn't really tell -- the early pop of spring has triggered my full on sniffling-sneazing-earpopping-itchyeyes-scratchythroat allergies. The menu had a host of delicious looking options from vegan grilled cheese with mushrooms and tomatoes, pizza and enchiladas to more wholesome stir fries and tempeh dishes as well as enticing tempura -- all of which left me cursing the ragweed and pollen Gods, but not wanting to waste deliciousness on my lame taste buds. 
     The restaurant does not only prepare vegan meals, the rest of the menu has fish and poultry entrees, and select non vegan items have a vegan and gluten free option. So, it is a safe place to take non-vegan friends. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Maki on the North End

     This afternoon my dear mother treated me to a delicious, light yet filling meal at Billy Tse, a Chinese and Pan-asian restaurant, on Boston's North End.
     After Searching for vegetarian friendly venue, and coming up with zip, this quite little restaurant was the best choice. We were first seated toward the front of the building--a classically Boston brick building--looking out the window and near the bar, where three good old boys sat behind us yakking in thick Boston accents about women and liquor. We asked to move, and ended up sitting in a quite, softly lit corner.
     As for the food, my mom and I shared an order of vegetable tempura, avocado maki and cucumber maki. It was ver tasty.
Billy Tse
240 Commercial Street, Boston, MA

A view from our scenic walk back to the red line commuter rail.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Upcoming Voyage for this Vegan

     This coming summer I will be jetsetting off to Seoul Korea for my first experience abroad whilst trying to maintain a vegan diet.
     Now, I don't even know if it is a possibility to stay vegan in Korea. I do know that meat plays a very large role in Korean culture, but that is no different from America. I also know that there are such things as vegetarian Koreans, so it can't be unimaginable that there will be vegetarian options for me --  it just may take some serious digging. 
     More on the probability of my efforts paying off, as I come closer to takeoff.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

On My Menu

     On many an awkward occasion, after stating to an acquaintance -- whether we are familiar or unfamiliar -- that I follow a vegan diet, I find myself having to answer the question "What do vegans eat?"
     No matter how many times I have been asked this question, I feel that I am never fully able to answer it justly. I can tell the asker what I eat, but to speak for all of us vegans is not something I can do, because we don't have a club, I don't attend online vegan forums, and there is not vegan Book of Books. Veganism is not a cult, it is not a religion, if anything closely related, it is a philosophy, but most often it is a lifestyle. 
     Every vegan has their own levels and interpretations of a vegan lifestyle, whether they are a tofu-tempeh-seitan-meat substitute kinda' vegan or a whole foods-raw-veggie kinda' vegan.
     In an attempt to partially answer this common question I can introduce three foods that are most generally integrated into the diet of a typical vegan.


Also known as bean curd, it is a delicate, mild, white cheese-like product made from soymilk instead of cow’s milk. A curdling agent is added to soymilk; the resulting curds are then pressed into blocks.

It is made from hulled, cooked soybeans that are fermented and compressed into a cake. Indonesian in origin, tempeh is a good source of high quality soy protein that is both satisfying and savory.


Also known as ‘wheat meat’, it is made from cooked gluten, one of the concentrated proteins in wheat. It is succulent, hearty and chewy. Used since ancient times in China, it is believed to have been developed in the 7th century for Mahayana Buddhists monks, who are strict vegetarians.

     The other side of that question really can't be answered because every vegan has their own approach to their own diet and nutritional needs, not unlike any omnivore.
     I personally try my best to balance the meat substituting, soy ice cream eating vegan and the holistic, leafy green chomping, food group balancing vegan that both reside within me. I did not make the choice to "go vegg" easily. I grew up an avid burger eater and was a cheese fanatic. I have always been quite the foodie as well, so this was never about depriving myself either, because if it was my choice be vegan would not have lasted the first week. 
     I primarily made this choice because I became disgusted by the way humans recently approach the treatment of animals in the food industry -- but that's a discussion for another day -- also, I have an inexplicable fondness for all farm animals, and secondly for health reasons. In my early teens I became very passionate about nutrition and a holistic, somewhat eastern approach to health... and my interest in a plant based diet quickly followed suit.
     To wrap up this rant, I'll finish by saying that I hope to offer various angels on veganism through this blog and most importantly bring it down to an accessible level for those who are already vegan, for those interested in possibly becoming vegan, or for anyone simply looking to get healthy and incorporated more veggies into their diet!

What Is a Vegan Voyage?

vegan |ˈvēgən; ˈvejən|     noun     a person who does not eat or use animal products I'm a strict vegan [as adj. a vegan diet.
voyage |ˈvoi-ij|     noun     a long journey involving travel by sea or in space a six-year voyage to Jupiter |figurative writing a biography is a voyage of discovery.

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