This entry is dedicated to my soonwon Christine Kim =) Thanks to her, I was able to check out Candle Cafe, a vegan restaurant, and discover the joys of eating food even without meat!
For the most part, you don't meet that many Koreans who declare themselves to be vegetarian, so you may understand my surprise when I first met Christine and found out that she is vegan! Not vegetarian even, but vegan. I was really intrigued because Koreans tend to stick to traditional Korean cuisine and not follow "Western" eating habits. I remember I asked loads of questions that first Sunday I met her, and I'm sure you felt like you were being interrogated Christine haha! Sorry, I was just really curious.
And I still am. Veganism is a diet and lifestyle of not eating anything of animal-product. That means no eggs, milk, meat... the whole shebang. It's a pretty strict diet, but if done properly, it can be quite beneficial to one's health. You just have to make sure that you meet all your nutritional needs somehow; for example, make sure you still get protein by consuming lots of legumes and/or nuts.
Being a vegan is expensive and time-consuming. According to Christine, you need to go grocery shopping frequently since produce rots rather quickly, and you always need to prepare your meals since you can't just do a quick grab and go meal like most other people. You need to buy lots of ingredients to make meals and baked goods and find substitutes for milk, eggs, etc. Still, if one is commited and diligent, veganism is healthful and satisfies one's nutritional needs.
So, Christine took Grace, Monica, and me to Candle Cafe this past Sunday. Although I tried a vegetarian restaurant before, this was my first time at a vegan cafe! Contrary to many people's beliefs, vegans do not just eat lettuce and vegetables. You can make a whole assortment of dishes without using meat or any dairy-products. Maybe it's easier being vegan/vegetarian for girls, but I can see myself going without meat if I wanted to.
We went to Candle Cafe at a random time, but it was still pretty packed, which was very surprising. People seem to flock to this restaurant and really enjoy its food. Grace, Monica, and I all ordered the tofu club, comprised of grilled tofu, tempeh bacon, lettuce, and tomato served alongside with coleslaw, pickles, and vegan mayonnaise. Christine ordered the cajun seitan sandwich, which is pan-seared seitan, avocado, greens, and caramelized onions.
I've been having this crazy obsession with tofu these days so I was looking forward to eating my tofu club. I was delighted to discover that the tofu in the sandwich was soft but still firm at the surface so that it provided a perfect medium as a "meat" substitute. It was my first time trying tempeh, but I was pleased to find a smoky flavor depart from the tempeh. So, when I ate the tofu with the tempeh, it gave off that smoky, meaty texture. And the tomato and lettuce helped contribute a fresh crisp-ness to the whole sandwich. My favorite part of the tofu club was the bread; it was perfectly toasted and provided that perfect crunch factor into the sandwich. Plus, the bread was nutty to the taste. I had to know what kind of bread and where it was from, so we asked our waiter Thad, and he said it was seven whole grain from Amy's Bread! No wonder it was soo good! Amy's Bread has the best bread ever! I definitely have to buy this bread again.
After eating our meals, Christine and Grace shared a vegan dessert with soy ice cream. I had a bite, and it was such an interesting texture for a cake! It was more dense and moist than a normal cake, and not quite as sweet. So, overall, it didn't feel as heavy as a regular cake. Quite yummy =)
Overall, my tofu club was a new and delectable experience, and I wouldn't mind trying out other vegan/vegetarian food!