Vegan MoFo Post #9!
I have to admit it, I really didn’t think I’d like Los Angeles. In my head I was too much of a hippy, liked public transportation and cycling too much, etc., but we were there to attend a good friend’s wedding.
Truth be told, I had an amazing time in Los Angeles and some great meals. We had a great Couchsurfing host who was also vegan, it was great to see friends, we attended a backyard art opening that was pretty rad, ate tons of vegan stuff, swam in the Pacific Ocean and walked around the super massive Koreatown. Yes, there was a fair amount of sitting in traffic. I must say I did enjoy myself, however! I will probably go back again if I’m ever close to the area! Who knew?! I still love public transportation though, LA traffic is rough.
My first day I woke up early and snuck off to The Classic Coffee in downtown LA to answer emails. It’s probably the most expensive latte without extra syrups and stuff I’ve ever bought at $5.25. It was good, but I’ve started to learn I like a higher espresso to soymilk ratio than you get in a regular latte. Our Couchsurfing host took us to this great place called Localita and the Badassery, an all-vegan hole-in-the-wall joint with only one table in downtown LA with salads, Egg McMuffin style sandwiches and salads. The drink above is called “The Elvis”, I think it was made from chocolate cookies (Oreos?), bananas and peanut butter.This beautiful beast above is called the S. Daddy Mack and is made from a vegan sausage Patty, vegan cheddar, Russian dressing, lettuce, tomato, relish and red onion. It was awesome. One of my friends got the Quinoa Kid, made from cilantro quinoa, tempeh bacon, black beans, romaine, bell peppers, cucumbers & chipotle lime dressing. We were there for awhile and I was super starving upon arrival, so just maybe I also got the Tempeh Reuben an hour later. It was also pretty delish, though Chicago Diner’s is still the best I’ve had so far. The best place we went to in LA however was called Shojin, an all-vegan Japanese restaurant that was AMAZING. It was also the most expensive, I spent $50 just on my portion of the meal, which is maybe more than I’ve ever spent on a meal in my LIFE, but it was a splurge meal as my friend was leaving the next day and it was super super good. Plus everything was all natural, organic and macrobiotic, etc. etc. Pictures could be better as the lighting was dim, but you get the idea! I’m afraid I can’t remember which role is which anymore, but we got four. Here are the descriptions:
Daikonic: A roll of edamame, avocado and yuzu mayo topped with red pepper and served with yuzu ponzo sauce
Crunchy Tiger, Hidden Dragon – BBQ seitan, tempura asparagus, avocado, crunchy tempura batter, wasabi‐mayo, sweet soy sauce
Spicy Baked Scallop Roll – Mushrooms and onions on a spicy tofu roll with spicy mayo and dynamite sauce. Torched at the table!
Dynamite Roll – Spicy tofu and avocado roll, with slightly torched spicy mayo served with spicy dynamite sauce
When we saw the dessert menu we couldn’t turn that down either. The four of us split the Creme Brulee with Orange Ice Cream and a Lemon Cashew Raw Cheesecake with Ricemilk Ice Cream. The Creme Brulee had a legit torched hard crust and silky interior. I think it may have been the first creme brulee I’ve had, so I can’t judge authenticity, but the non-vegans at the table approved. We had a goal to swim in the pacific ocean, so swim we did! We drove over to Santa Monica Beach, which was pretty cool, I only wish we had more time to explore the boardwalk and check out Malibu Beach as well! The waves are way bigger on the West Coast, my friends! I was a swimming-obsessed child, but I think living in a relatively land-locked country has softened me too much because I spent the first 15 minutes CONVINCED each wave was going to drown me and drag me out to sea. Eventually I chilled out a bit, but I still need more practice. A quick run to Native Foods Cafe in Santa Monica for a vegan dessert. Native Foods Cafe is an all-vegan chain with locations throughout California, Oregon, Colorado as well as Chicago and even Washington DC. I got this Peanut Butter Mousse Cup and my friend got a Watermelon Fresca. I signed up for a frequent buyer card only to realize I’m not going to be anywhere with a Native Foods Cafe for the rest of the trip, so I’m bummed about that as I wanted to explore their menu a bit more! On the way to the backyard art opening of a friend from high school and our host, we stumbled upon this side. We were told Silverlake where the art opening was was the hipster district, so we found it pretty funny to see this. Our second half of the trip we stayed in Koreatown, which is HUGE. Apparently the largest number of Koreans reside there outside of Seoul and it really feels like you’re in another country when you cross into the area, it’s pretty cool. We went to a Korean Market there and the cafeteria. Sadly, Korean food is quite difficult for vegans. There’s not much dairy, but fish sauce and meat in most things and with a language barrier it can be quite difficult. I checked that these steamed vegetable dumplings were vegan, expecting them to be tiny. They were HUGE, each one as big as my FIST! I wasn’t a huge fan of them, but it was cool to find something vegan. On the bright side, there were lots of vegan treats to be found in the grocery store. I got some mochi, awesome noodles and even spotted my favorite COYO coconut milk yogurt there. Any lack of vegan food in Korea food was made up for my nearby Little Ethiopia, however. My heart leaped out of my chest when I heard about the all-vegan Ethiopian restaurant Rahel. Ethiopia food is usually quite easy to veganize if you just order the veggie dishes instead of the meat options, but this was a step better. I really wanted to drink out of a coconut when I arrived so I was happy my wish got answered! Pure magic. If you’ve never had Ethiopian food before, you’re missing out. I am so happy my friends introduced it to me last time I was in the States! You eat with your hands and generally all share a big plate. You use the fermented teff flour bread injera to scoop up the food. Everything is so wonderfully spiced and should also be gluten-free as long as injera is 100% teff flour. I think it’s been my favorite type of food since I first had it in 2012! After my friend went home, I was back to my solo cafe internet adventures. I decided to check out this place called Graffiti Sublime Coffee in West Hollywood. It’s probably the best coffee I’ve had in LA! They were SUPER fancy inside with huge high ceilings, but it was chill, free hour or so of wifi with a code and lots of outlets, lots of seats and space and they had an amazing vegan chocolate peanut butter doughnut. Really, it was superb. They also had food in case you’re hungry. My last night I headed back to my original couchsurfing host’s place and checked out this local Mexican food restaurant called Mas Malo. It was fancy and they are known for their cocktails, but it was also quite tasty! I got the Senorita Angeline cocktail to drink, made from Tequila Blanco, hibiscus, muddled limes with chili salt rim. I love cocktails with chili in them!
They didn’t have any labeled vegan entrees (a couple appetizers though), but it was easy to veganize the Mock Ground Beef & Pickle Tacos. The “meat” was already vegan, just ask for it without the cheese! The waiter was also helpful and knew which beans were and weren’t vegan, etc.
I also checked out the coolest yoga space I’ve been to yet and perhaps the quirkiest class! I dropped into the yoga happy hour for $10 (for new students) at Peace Yoga in downtown LA, a stone’s throw from where I was staying. The setup was great and such a cool atmosphere with pillow rooms, real instruments, raw foods, etc. It was perhaps the moaniest yoga class I’ve ever been to, which I thought was hilarious and a dog attended the class as well. At almost two hours long, it was a workout for sure! I enjoyed the class though!
This was only a hint of everything to do and eat in Los Angeles. It’s quite spread out and is for sure a city made for cars, so lots of the restaurants and activities are spread throughout all of the different neighborhoods and neighboring cities. We were primarily in downtown LA, Santa Monica and Koreatown, but there is so much more to explore.
Next stop…Anchorage, Alaska!