Vege • ta • ble (Los Angeles, CA)

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)

Helming the Studio City kitchen, Jerry Yu delivers vegetarian—mostly vegan—dishes devoid of mock meats and omnivorous similes. Yu relies of the breath of organic fruits and vegetable adorn with nuts whipped into luscious sauces. On paper the preparations sound simple, but they comes together like magic on a plate.

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)

Roasted Red and Golden Beets with Reed avocado, baby greens, pickled jicama, and shaved radish in a lemon garlic dressing. The earthy beets take center-stage, supported by the buttery avocado and peppery greens. The dish makes only the lightest alteration to already perfect vegetable embracing the spirit of the restaurant’s name.

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)

The Cheesy Fingerling Potato with nacho cashew cheese sauce, chives, and coconut sour cream. Buttery potatoes slathered in nutty cheese pull at the parabolic heartstrings connected to the notion of comfort food.

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)

Grilled Corn on the Cob with guacamole, brown butter, Sriracha aioli, coconut sour cream and a light dusting of chives. This dish will enviably leave one with messy hands, but isn’t wiping aioli off your face and licking the brown butter dripping down your arms part of the joy of the summer corn harvest?

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)

Duo of Seared Maitake and Beech Mushrooms over a red pepper creme with wilted spinach and crispy sage. Now, I strongly dislike mushrooms. I despise their very existence and squirms at the sight of every single variety, in every preparation, by everyone*. So as lovely as these are (and yes I did take a bite) this is not the dish for me. The spinach, on the other hand, was perfect and I happy gobbled that down while everyone else ate these seemingly delicious ‘shrooms.

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)

Teetering on the edge of being charred oblivion, the cast iron Roasted Brussel Sprouts at Vegetable continue to delight me. Their feathered fringe nearly black, these cruciferous vegetables retain a tender green core. Soaked in the juices of yellow peach and red onion, the sprouts burst in your mouth. The char is spiked with basaltic, crispy gluten free bread crumbs, and bright lime zest creating dynamic forkfuls with every pass of this dish.

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)

I was caution of the “healthy” brown of this artfully stacked Eggplant Lasagna. But the layers of thin eggplant, baby spinach and cashew ricotta made a plausible likeness to its pastaful namesake. Drizzled with a vegan alfredo, the stack balances on a mound of garlic sweet potato purée with pickled sweet onion and heirloom tomatoes strewn upon the balsamic painted platter.

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)

This unassuming bowl of Summer Fusilli Pesto was my surprise favorite. Ringlets of toothsome gluten-free pasta curl with cream and ultra fresh basil pesto and cashew ricotta. Tossed with sunshine sweet corn, tender sun dried tomatoes, and red peppers and topped with buttery Reed avocados and fig bacon this rich bowl of summer exemplify the “Guilt Free Comfort Food” ethos of Jerry Yu’s kitchen.

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)
Key Lime and Sweet Potato Pie mason jars with Peanut Butter and Fig and Rosemary Ice Cream. I LOVED the Rosemary accent!

3711 Cahuenga Blvd W
Studio City, CA 91604

Facebook: Vegetable

*There is one exception to this personal rule: @panchopalmera. He spikes his mushroom with some sort of magic and I’m completely under his spell.

Make Out (Culver City, CA)

In the shadow of the Culver Hotel, the wellspring of Matthew Kenney’s Make Out quietly places vegan—mostly raw—foods in a glass front case for viewing.  The shelves offer a colorful selection of huge rolls of green, tiny rolls of carrots, flatbreads, and bowls of kelp noodles. Further back, stainless steel holds two daily soups. Samples of both were offered to us and the velvety Creamy Carrot Ginger Soup—drizzled with cashew creme and crunchy pepitas—leaped to the top of our order.

In heyday of NYC’s Pure Food and Wine, Kenney dazzled me with his dehydrated jicama pine nut sushi rice rolls. So I couldn’t pass up his new rendition, the Spicy Carrot Rolls,  with jalapeno cream cheese and shredded carrots. Stuffed with red bell pepper, cucumber, avocado, and young pea shoots these cool and crunchy bites almost lived up to expectation.

Wrapsespecially collard green ones—are the crutch dish of vegan cafes. So I was least excited by the Cobb Collard Green Wrap. But my trepidation was unfounded, this wrap is exceptional. A massive collard husk filled with crisp romaine, sweet and smoky coconut bacon, meaty portobello, creamy avocado, and ranch. I would definitely order this sucker again.

Make Out: Everyday Plant Food
9426 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Instagram: @makeouteveryday

Chennai Tiffins (San Diego, CA)

I always thought North Indian food was my jam, but I’ve quickly fallen head over idli for South Indian cuisine! Chennai Tiffins is now my favorite Indian restaurant in San Diego. The food is simple, made with mild hands but with a soft complexity that comes through if allowed. Plus they are always super accommodating when I ask for my food to be prepared without ghee.

I love to start with an order of Idlis (steamed lentil and rice cakes) with sambar (unlimited and free!) and an array of chutneys. I’d come here for the chutneys alone! Rich bowls of tomato, peanut, mint, coconut, and ginger that span the range from sweet and mild (coconut) to punchy and hot (ginger)… although none are over the top spicy.The tomato is my favorite, but there is something here to please all palates.  

The Spring Dosa—a fermented lentil and rice crepe stuffed with tomatoes, onions, cabbage, carrots, cilantro and chilies—is my top pick. The light balance of the crisp veggies against the soft tang of the crepe suites me greatly. If you order this be sure to emphasize no ghee…this wasn’t one of the dosa the waitress originally offered me as vegan-friendly but I pressed her on it because it’s my favorite combination. When she brought it to the table she proudly proclaimed “With no ghee!” and gave me a reassuring smile.

The Poori with Bajji, one of the vegan as-is dishes floats to the table on air-filled pillows of deep fried bread with a cup of potato curry. It’s great option for those who think Indian food is too spicy.

Anahre Kara Dosa is a simple lentil and rice flour crepe slathered with red chili paste. The slow burn of the chili lets the fermentation of the dosa shine.

When I’m extra hungry I also order a plate of Samosas. The two peaks arrives sprinkled with cilantro, chopped red onion, and kala namak (black salt) and are finished off with a squeeze of lime. I never thought to add lime to a samosa, but the fresh acidity deeps the earthy spices within.

Special Rava Dosa with potato masala is also favorite of mine. 

Or there is the simple the Onion Rava. This crispy sheet of editable lace made of rice flour and cream of wheat, flecked with sharp and sweet red onion, is addicting. 

Chennai Tiffins
9474 Black Mountain Rd.
San Diego, CA 92126

Soy Leaf (San Diego, CA)

After finding success slinging organic smoothies from a train car in Flinn Springs (at the east end of El Cajon), Soy Leaf opened a second location on Magnolia Ave. Filling the menu with pulled jackfruit and house made Italian seitan, Melanie Arce brings quality vegan food to east county.

I jumped instantly to the ever popular BBQ Jackfruit Burger. Tender chunks of saucy pulled jackfruit tempered with crunchy slaw on a soft wheat bun. While I would have preferred more heat less sweet, I totally get why this is the top selling item on the menu.

Carly of ordered the Hickory Black Bean Burger. A house-made patty of quinoa and black beans glistening with a Dijon glaze and served on a bun with lettuce, tomato and mayo. She loved it!

The burgers come will a small side of coconut oil and sea salt scented kale chips. There is a small dining room (with art by some on Soy Leaf’s young fans) although there seemed to be ample take out service as well. As we sat there eating a few people wondered in, looked at the menu, then walked out.

“That happens like once a day,” explained Melanie. “This use to be a BBQ joint and not everyone realizes it has changed hands.”

Their loss, our gain.

Soy Leaf
Juice Bar & Healthy Grill
330 Magnolia Ave El Cajon, CA

Instagram: @soyleafcafe
Facebook: Soy Leaf

Souley Vegan (Oakland, CA)

Flush with Gold Rush fortune, in 1857 Theophilide St. Germain built herself an opulent wine shop at 301 Broadway in downtown Oakland. Stalwartly as the city evolved around it, its perseverance makes it the oldest building in Oakland.  Now, it’s outfitted by the equally indomitable Tamearra Dyson who quit her day job to follow her creole roots into the kitchen. It was a high risk move from which we all benefit.

Colorful tiles adore the surfaces of the large, double dining room interior. A long dessert counter turns into a wine and beer bar—although anyone seeking a deeper selection of brews can head next door to outside-food-welcoming Beer Revolution.

We started with the classic 3 Item Combo. A little pre-reading proved the Mac n’ Cheese and Southern Fried Tofu both strong recommends, so I ran with those. For the third, a vegetable seemed appropriate so I ordered the Collard/Mustard Greens. The ensemble is finished off with a sweet slice of cake-like cornbread. This platter is really more then one person should eat at a sitting; so bring a friend… or tupperware.

For those skimming, here’s my breakdown of the platter:

Mac n’ Cheese: I was hesitated about ordering this. I’ve exhausted my tolerance for the endless stream of mediocre noochy noodles but the guy taking my order reiterated that is a must and so I caved. Being such a popular item, I imagine the kitchen has a huge 30 gallon vat of this stuff constantly simmering 24/7—or at least that is what it tastes like.

Southern Fried Tofu: This is another dish I’ve been constantly disappointed by (sorry Doomie’s and Southern Fried Vegan) but Souley’s pulls through. I loved this crisp cornmeal shell filled with a tender slab of tofu. Served with a tangy tofu-based tartar sauce, this definitely lives up to expectation.

Collard/Mustard Greens:  This turned out to be the best item on the platter. Savoy greens stewed—but not over cooked—with a hint of sweetness from the tomato. We were fighting over the last bite!

For dish two, the Seitan Chick ‘n’ Waffles sounded irresistible.  But the leathery sheet of battered and fried seitan atop a crisp waffle is better avoided.

A few days later we met up with friends at Beer Revolution so you know what that means… take out from Souley! The BBQ Tofu seems the next appropriate protein to try. It’s a saucy winner. Tamearra Dyson is a master of tofu! On the side I revisited the Collard/Mustard Greens because it’s kind of the greatest.

I also ordered a classic Biscuit and Gravy. It is fine… like just okay… but why anyone would choose this over the luscious cornbread is a mystery to me.

Souley Vegan
301 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94607

Instagram:  @SouleyVegan
Twitter: @SouleVegan
Facebook: Souley Vegan

Maccheroni Republic (Los Angeles, CA)

Hefty plates of fresh  housemade pasta fill the dining room of downtown Los Angeles’ Maccheroni Republic. Chef Antonio Tommasi and Jean-Louis de Mori, the founding team behind Italian mainstays Locanda Veneta and Ca’Brea,  dialed back the swank to create a breezy trattoria tucked away from bustling Broadway. For a traditional setting, the menu—with prices in touch with reality—is surprisingly vegan friendly. A handful of standard (or easily modified) vegan items litter the  menu, plus at least one hand written special can be found on the chalkboard. With pride, the menu boldly state that all their pastas (except squid ink) are vegan.


After cracking into a bottle of bottle of red, we started off with the Insalata Della Casa ($7.95). A crisp simple salad of carrots, radishes and cucumber with a light vinaigrette served on the side. I totally appreciate the dressing on the side as restaurant salads are usually overdress for me.

I’ve eaten a billion pounds of pasta pomodoro and primavera. So the Spaghetti ai Quattro Sapori ($13.95) caught my attention immediately. Rarely do I see omni restaurants offering a vegan protein in a pasta dish (yes Pasta e Fagioli is common, most restaurants muck it up with chicken broth or prosciutto). Tender strands of vegan spaghetti are slathered with garlic, roasted tomatoes, spinach and robust lentils. It’s total vegan comfort food and should be on every Italian restaurant’s menu.

The dessert menu only offers one vegan option, the Limoncello Sorbet. This delicate  and creamy soft serve compliments the generous pasta serving—with generous portions of its own. This is the small.

Steady and strong since early 2013, Maccheroni Republic offers a satiating vegan meal in a heavily omni setting. It’s the perfect downtown LA  gathering spot for blended groups of vegans and non-s to enjoy a meal together.

Maccheroni Republic
332 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Instagram: @maccheronirepublic
Facebook: Maccheroni Republic

Flavors of East Africa (San Diego, CA)

Immigrating from Kenya, June Owino came to San Diego a hopeful accountant who liked to cook. Happenstance brought Owino in front of the stove then out into the streets of the Farmer’s Market as Flavor’s of East Africa. The city embrace his stewed veggies and wafting spices—his booth remains one of the most popular of the San Diego Farmer’s Market scene—and so in 2011 a permanent store front opened in University Heights.

If you’re making your first visit to Flavor’s of East Africa, a sambusa is a must—these are the staple of Owino’s repertoire. The triangle folded pastries, stuffed lentils, potatoes or spinach, make a great handheld treat at the farmer’s market—but when I hit the restaurant I like to order food I can dig into with a knife and fork.

The thick cut Marsala Fries stand  at the top of my appetizer recommendations. Slathered in tangy tomato, the fries arrive to the table still crispy as the robust sauce soaks into the skin.

The Sukuma Wiki is my favorite dish on the entire Flavors of East Africa menu. Lightly sautéed cabbage and collard greens are spiked with fresh herbs and garlic. These crisp greens pair perfectly with the Dengu—lentils stewed garlic, onions, curry and coconut creme. The scoop of carrot flecked wali (a fragrant rice) far exceed the dry flatbread—the only disappointing item I’ve found from this kitchen. Despite the brown pockmarking, these taste like raw tortillas.

The other large vegan offering is the Biringanya. Chopped eggplant stewed in a creamy tomato sauce with “African spices.” It was a touch mild for me on it’s own but makes an excellent counter part to the Sukuma Wiki for those willing to share (me, always).

On my last visit, the waitress had a bit trouble with the concept of vegan (“I couldn’t live without peanut butter” she stated after we said no milk eggs or butter…). But I eventually got assurance that ALL the vegetarian menu items are vegan, so eat away!

Flavors of East Africa
2322 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92104
Instagram: @flavorsofeastafrica

Breaking the VeganEgg: Follow Your Heart Launches a Plant-Based Egg Replacer

Update: Word in the street is that Follow Your Heart Market & Cafe will start carrying the VeganEgg starting Saturday November 7th

Update: Your can pre-order the VeganEgg through Food Fight Grocery. Anticipated release is November 11th

It’s a big deal!

The vegan world is buzzing with word that progressive food research and development groups are perfecting the egg-less scramble, a formally unattainable vegan dish. Hampton Creek has been the public face of the quest, then earlier this year The Vegg released The Vegg Scramble and now Follow Your Heart  is the first second to deliver a product: VeganEgg™ !

Follow Your Heart founders Bob Goldberg and Paul Lewin based their egg on algal flour and algal protein. “When we discovered that microalgae are a highly-sustainable source of nutritionally rich ingredients, we immediately knew they could help us make better plant-based foods,” said Mr. Goldberg. They go on to explain that whole algal flour and protein naturally contain high levels of healthy lipids, carbohydrates and micronutrients. These nutrient-dense microalgae also contain all essential amino acids and are a great source of dietary fiber. Or in in more familiar terms:

I got my hands on four “eggs” to run a cooking and taste test on. I don’t have any video of my scrambling, but it looked exactly like this:


Everyone been asking “What is it?” Well, it’s a powder! A dusty pale yellow pile of the following: Whole Algal Flour, Whole Algal Protein, Modified Cellulose, Cellulose, Gellan Gum, Calcium Lactate (Plant Source), Carrageenan, Nutritional Yeast, Black Salt.

The power itself is mild (yes I ate some raw) with faint nutty undertones from the nutritional yeast and sulfuric sharpness from the black salt. It is also:

  • Gluten-Free
  • Soy-Free
  • Dairy-Free
  • Non-GMO

The VeganEgg™ officially launches in late October/early November and will initially be available online through for $6.99 – $7.99 per 4 oz. package—each of which is equivalent to a dozen eggs. This product will change the world of vegan breakfast, but at this price point I’d recommend sticking with older egg replacers (such as Ener-G) for baked goods and batters.

First Impression: It really looks like a pile of scrambled eggs! The VeganEgg™ is spot on in texture. It creates a soft, milky, curd and has the delicate firmness of perfectly prepared scrambled eggs. Because it cooks slower then an egg it’s easier to get it juuuuust right—no overcooking to dry rubbery bits. The flavor is neutral, almost non-existent, without apparent sulfuric tones despite including black salt in the mix.

Dish #1:

After trying a VeganEgg™ scramble unadorned, I wrapped up the rest in a Breakfast Burrito with plain Chao, sauteed tomatoes, peppers and onions and tempeh bacon. The texture of the VeganEgg™ performed splendidly but the flavor got lost in the mix. I found a touch of salt (black or sea) after cooking goes a long way in bringing out their presence.

Dish #2:

Next up: Fried Rice! I sauteed brown rice and barley with peas, corn, carrots, garlic, baked tofu, soy sauce and scrambled egg! This time I added some additional black salt directly to the raw egg to bring out the flavors. I also tried cooking it a few minutes longer and found the curd stayed tender throughout. This non-breakfast dish suggestion came from the brilliant minds of Thug Kitchen… seriously, they are brilliant!

Dish #3:

On dish number three, Herbed Scramble, I got a little lazy.The instructions make clear that the power is to be mixed with Ice Cold Water. Instead, I used Cold Water. At first, the egg broke into a bubbly watery mess, then set quickly into a sort of pancake which I attempted to scramble. While cooking, I mixed in fresh sage, Good Taste Farm’s garlic chives and fennel seeds—a flavor combination based on one of the egg dishes I miss most, the Simple Tuscan Omelette at Lil’Frankie’s in NYC. You can see the scrambled quality on this batch was not as lovely.Still, the delicate combination of herbs are perfect with the VeganEgg™  which still tasted good despite my water temperature mistake.

Dish #4:

In the final round, Vegetable Tartines, I thoroughly iced my water and added herbs directly into the raw egg. The VeganEgg™ set beautifully, with a loose delicate curd flecked with garlic chives. Plated atop Prager Brothers Multi Grain Bread, Heidi Ho Black Lava Cashew Cheese, garlic sauteed kale or Good Taste Farm tomatoes… I felt like I was eating eggs again.

Bravo Follow Your Heart!

Quick Tips:

  • Use Ice Cold Water, it really is important to the food science going on in these things.
  • Stick to gentle flavors (like herbs) to compliment the delicate VeganEgg™
  • A little black salt will help up the eggy flavors… if you are into those flavors.
  • There are more cost effective options where the egg is not the star, but when you need a egg-less scramble that will stand on it’s own, the VeganEgg™ is the new go to!

Torrey Pints, Whole Foods La Jolla (San Diego,CA)

There are some good (great!) vegan items that have just hit the menu Torrey Pints! Chef Vanessa Briscoe created a slew of new vegan options for the pub menu. I got a sneak preview of the in progress items and am THRILLED with the new offerings.

While the quantity of items doesn’t compare to some other Whole Foods pub menus,  the quality is superb. The largely whole-food and plant-based dishes explore the chef’s creative edge… to our benefit!

The Raw Vegan Paleo Wrap is filled with veggies, black beans and quiona then given a hint of complex sweetness from shredded coconut and fresh pineapple. Finished with black salt… I predict I’ll be eating a lot of these in the future.

Eggplant Marianna maybe coming soon to Torrey Pints Tapas night! Crinkly skin of a Thai eggplant curl up exposing tender seed-filled flesh in a pool of pulpy tomato sauce and basil oil.

When first saw the Heirloom Tomato sandwich I though: Um, it’s just a slice of tomato on bread… But this is a fine example of produce quality shining! Juicy fat slices of tomato are slathered in a mint basil mayo and stuffed inside a ciabatta bun. It’s my favorite of the new items.

Spicy SD Soy Dairy Tofu Bites… this are good if for some reason you’re not in the mood for the Buffalo Cauliflower—which, don’t worry, is still on the new menu.

And lastly, the Beyond Meat Beast Burger has come to Torrey Pints! Layered with shaved beets and greens on a Bread & Cie ciabatta bun slathered in herbed mayo it’s a beautiful change up from the previous taro burger.

Torrey Pints
Whole Foods Market
8825 Villa La Jolla Dr
La Jolla, CA 92037
Instagram: @wfmlajolla
Twitter: @wfmsandiego

All food hosted.

Chavela (Los Angeles, CA)

Nestled in the narrow space between Hollywood’s Los Balcones and a bodega relic, plant-based Peruvian newcomer Chavela has made large impression. A wood communal table busts thought the glass front, a line of wood carried through to the narrow bar where the namesake chavelas—a sangria-like drink—are mixed.

Brothers Jorge, Walter, and Eduardo Rodriguez’s (of Los Balcones) love of this beverage inspired them to open a bar dedicated to it. Realizing the heavy meats of a traditional Peruvian menu would overpower this delicate and complex concoction, vegan chef Rachel Carr (The Raw and the Cooked) came in and developed the equally complex and delicate plant-based menu.

Dinner stared with almost the entire starter menu. First out of the kitchen came the Barbacoa Portobello Tacos. Topped with cabbage curtido, lime cashew crema, pico de gallo, avocado and radishes, this generous starter that is almost a meal in and of itself!

The cocktails menu, continually crafted by bar manager Joshua Suchan, contains three house cocktails along with select beers and wine. The Chavela Traditional—torrontes, red wine, pisco huamani and chicha morada—is both cooling yet spiced. This perfect California evening drink is my favorite chavela at Chavela!

A citrus/habanero broth pools around the Heirloom Tomato and Avocado Ceviche. Topped with cilantro and red onion, this is one of the better vegetable ceviches I’ve had in Los Angeles.

Chunky layers of heirloom tomatoes and cashew cheese line the dish of the Caprese. Topped with charred tomato-balsamic vinaigrette, toasted pistachios and basil, this delicate fresh cheese with height of the season tomatoes makes a lovely dish!

We also tried the Chavela Fresca—a sangria of peach, curaçao, lemon, mint, vanilla tea and Sauvignon Blanc. This one was a bit too sweet for me, but it was a table favorite.

The Nachos—house-made baked, organic, non-gmo chips topped with anasazi beans, pico de gallo, lime cashew crema, sunflower pecan chorizo, avocado and jalapeno—are a filling and easy-to-share starter.

But the Sunflower Chorizo Tequenos—a Peruvian “Egg”roll served with maracuya (passion fruit) dipping sauce and pickled red onions—is my favorite of the starters. Spicy and sweet, this heavier appetizer balances out the lightness of the overall menu.

It was the intrigue over the Mole Verde Enchilada that brought me to Chavela. One of Chef Carr’s signature dishes, this gluten-free vegan interpretation trails off of the expected assemblage of an enchilada. Here, the tortilla is replaced with a crinkly cabbage leaf—tender with a slight crisp—stuffed with mushrooms, hominy and sweet potatoes atop black beans and quinoa and finished with cashew nacho cheese. This isn’t going to trick you into thinking you’re eating a traditional enchilada, but as an enchilada-inspired stuffed cabbage, this dish is killing it!

1358 Vine St,.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Instagram: @chavelarestaurant

All food hosted.