No animals were hurt in the eating of this meal

Of the million-and-one places to eat in San Francisco the one I’ve frequented the most in the month and a half that I’ve been here is—wait for it… waaait for it—a vegan restaurant. Yup, that’s right. Me. Vegan. No cheese. No bacon. Absolutely no trace of pork belly. None of it.

I should probably clarify, though, that the main reason I’ve been there more than any other restaurant is because it’s just around the corner and a 15-second walk from where I live, and they take credit cards (which always wins major brownie points from me.)

Loving Hut is a national chain of vegan restaurants, and while they all have a decidedly asian slant, each one has a different menu to reflect the culture and ingredients of the city it’s in. The one I go to is in Chinatown so most of the  menu, with the exception of the somewhat awkwardly named “western” page (featuring the likes of spaghetti and vegan hot dogs), is Chinese, with other asian countries represented as well (shout out to Vietnamese pho).

This particular Loving Hut has a lunch special I always see advertised, but since I’m never around during lunch time, I never get it. (I’m usually there on weeknights when I don’t have anything to eat at home and am feeling lazy.) On Thursday, though, I had the day off so I decided to take advantage.

Eggplant and tofu, mushrooms and green beans, and white rice

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Life is like an egg custard tart

Golden Gate Bakery's egg custard tart

I don’t know what I was expecting. I guess when I heard custard I assumed it would be creamy, like the smooth, pale yellow filling that oozes out of an eclair. When I actually saw the egg custard tart, a small circle of a warm yellow color circled by a flaky crust, I assumed I was right in my thinking. But when I pushed back the crinkly paper baking cup and bit into the still-warm tart, I wasn’t quite expecting the taste that hit my tongue. Continue reading

Breakfast buns

Decisions, decisions...

I’ve been cutting through Chinatown to get to work in the morning the past few days. Sometimes, when I find myself stuck in a sea of 3-foot-tall, ancient looking Chinese women, my New-Yorker-in-a-hurry powerwalk slowed to a near stop, I curse under my breath. “[Expletive]! This was a terrible idea. I’m never gonna get there in time. Am I the only one trying to get somewhere right now? Ugh.”

Today was different though. For one thing, I left 10 minutes earlier. But it wasn’t because I was factoring in the time it would take to elbow my way through the clogged sidewalks. No, I left earlier because I was making a stop along the way. A breakfast stop at a Chinatown bakery. Continue reading

A fortunate find

Behold, the fortune cookie!

When it comes to eating Chinese food, my favorite part is always the end, when the fortune cookies come out. I love the crunchy snap they make when I break them in half to reveal the small strip of paper poking out from inside.  I love their sweet, if somewhat bland taste, and I especially love their fortunes. Sometimes I get lucky numbers too, or how to say completely random and useless words in Chinese. Continue reading

None for me, thanks

You never know what you'll find in Chinatown

I like to think I’m pretty open-minded when it comes to food. I absolutely won’t eat insects but I’ve had snails, bull testicles and my mom’s version of cow tongue (a truly awful assault on the senses). But every now and then I see something that just completely grosses me out.

While poking around one of the many specialty markets in San Francisco’s Chinatown I saw this edible atrocity. I thought maybe it was really something else and not actually a preserved duck egg, but no. Ingredients: duck egg, water, sodium carbonate, salt, tea. Yuck.

With its greenish black exterior and “soft yolk,” this has to be one of the most unappetizing things I’ve seen in a while. I’d love to know what it tastes like but even just thinking about it sends mild waves of nausea rippling through my stomach.