March 28, 2008

Eating out in Seattle

There are more vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Seattle than I can believe. The choices go from quirky to gourmet and we've dined in the whole range of options from the weirdest to the toniest. You can find many vegan Chinese and Thai establishments as well as vegan sandwich shops, pizza places and bakeries. We've had an elegant dinner at Carmelita and a wedding brunch at Café Flora. We've enjoyed Chinese food at Bamboo Garden and sandwiches from Hillside Quickies. One of the oddest places (said fondly) we ever ate was a throwback to the sixties called Good Morning Healing Earth and was owned by a Vietnam veteran named George. George did the cooking and joined in the conversations in his one-room converted first floor of a house. He had sound equipment in one corner for open-mike music nights. I'd describe the food as hearty American-style vegan with ethnic overtones. George had a Vitamix that he used to make amazing all-fruit ice cream that he served over waffles. He once told us that his dream was to save some money, sell the restaurant and move to Hawaii. Sadly, that never happened. George died some years ago and the restaurant has changed hands and names several times. We've never been back since George died, so I don't know what it's like now.

We ate out three times in two different places on this visit. Sunday night in Seattle we passed on our usual vegan favorites to eat at a neighborhood Chinese restaurant that serves mostly Asian diners who order in Chinese from a Chinese menu. (We had an infant with us and wanted to be conveniently close to home.) N, who has been to China, said the food is pretty authenic
. In addition to the regular menu and the Chinese menu, they have a vegetarian menu. (Yay Seattle) The first night we went there we had ma po tofu, home-made noodles with veggies, szechwan eggplant, dry-cooked string beans, and yuba wrapped mushrooms. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos before we gobbled everything up, so we had to return a second night. Oh darn. The photo above is my plate on the second visit. It has Chinese broccoli with enoki and black mushrooms, tofu with broccoli and the mushroom stuffed yuba, which, in addition to the noodles, we had to get again.

When we tried to order Chinese broccoli the first night, the waiter talked us out of it, saying Americans don't like it because it's too bitter. We knew he was wrong about us but we went along with his suggestions. Our waitress on the second visit didn't question our choices, and this time we got it. Yum. We also had pea vine, but the photo is kind of scary, unlike the actual dish, so I'm posting only the Chinese broccoli. 

The thick and chewy homemade noodles are definitely on my list of things to try at home. I used to make noodles often and it's really not hard. I was also very fond of the tofu (below) but deep frying at home is not really my thing.
The last dish I want to try to make is the yuba wrapped mushrooms. Yuba is also called bean curd sheets or bean curd sticks and is made by skimming off the film that forms on the surface of heated soymilk, and drying it. You can find it in Asian markets as sheets, or rolled into long tube shapes — bean curd sticks. I've used the sticks before but not the sheets - something new to learn.
The restaurant is in North Seattle and is called Chiang's Gourmet. Try it if you're in Seattle, and you're not afraid of a little extra oil.

We visited the vegan lunch buffet the following Saturday at Araya Vegan Thai Restaurant. I kept forgetting to photograph my beautiful plate of food, and when I went back to the buffet to take pictures, it was so crowded I couldn't see the selections. So, I have photographed my dessert, which I didn't like and didn't eat. It was some sort of mooshy banana thing with coconut cream that looked good. I put some slightly sweetened crispy noodles on top and those were actually very good in an interesting way. You did notice that I said vegan Thai buffet? No joke.


  1. Everything looks absolutely spectacular--glad to hear there are so many vegan spots there. Gee, I know where I want to go on holiday!!

  2. Thanks for your comment. Everything WAS spectacular and I believe that if food isn't going to be particularly healthy (and I'm not saying this wasn't healthy - just a feeling it might not be) then it should look and taste amazing. It did. It did.

  3. I do love Chiang's. They also have a dish on the menu called "Vegetarian Spare Rib." The edible "bone" is made from taro - quite tasty.

  4. We ordered the "spare ribs" the first night we went to Chiang's, but I forgot my camera. I don't especially like fake meat things but the "ribs" really were good and didn't look too much like the real thing.

  5. If I'm imagining the right thing, the "yuba" you described is used in Korean food as little pouches filled with rice and bits of carrot. My family called it "yubu" and loved it, although I dreaded yubu nights.

  6. Interesting. I'm not very familiar with Korean food. The yuba I've had has always been a Chinese version made from soy milk. I've also had little pouches filled with sweet rice that were called age. (pronounced ah'gay) They were made from deep fried tofu and were also from Chinese cuisine. I love both the taste and texture of yuba so I probably would have looked forward to "yubu nights!" I've cooked with the bean curd sticks but not the sheets. We recently bought some so maybe we'll try it soon.


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