Petite Bao - Vegan Options

Saying sando instead of sandwich or resto instead of restaurant is a little like wearing Crocs or flip flops. It's an indication that we have become too lazy to bend over and tie our fucking shoes...That being said, Vancouver Magazine published 9 of the best "sandos" in the city, including Petite Bao's Wagyu Bao. While I no longer advocate for eating dead animal products, I already knew that PB had a few vegan "sandos" on their menu as well. So we made the trip this past Sunday.
I just barely managed to get a picture of the front of their place, at the risk of my life, by stepping out into the street on West 12th, just near MacDonald. Parking is not abundant (street parking on a busy strip)  and since I'm still not up to speed on my new knee, I am more aware of that than usual. Normally I would say, your legs aren't broken, just park and walk. That may apply to you.
There are 4 vegan items on this menu and we ordered them all. Then we started being impressed right away. Brussels Sprouts with Omni Luncheon Meat were amazing! The Brussels Sprouts were cooked perfectly (still a little firm) and nicely garnished with vegan spam, some crispy garlic and a nice vinaigrette. Perfect! We have had the Omni product before (same with the fish) and we were quite impressed. It's a little pricier than actual spam but at least no one had to die and we still enjoy the meaty saltiness of it.
Truffle Fries were next. I had to check that the truffle mayo was indeed vegan and they were able to reassure me. This was also quite delicious. The fries were top-notch and stayed crispy under the assault of mayo (no better than saying resto?), shitakes, crispy shallots, daikon and green onions. Seriously, we were pretty stoked up for this plate of fries!
I've always been team Impossible when it comes to fake meat. Overall, I prefer it when someone puts together their own concoction (mushrooms, walnuts, lentils etc.) but I challenge anyone to tell the difference between Impossible and actual dead cow. In addition to a nicely fried patty, this bao has a wonderful onion jam, shiso, truffle mayo and confit tomatoes. The buns themselves are puffy and soft and very good at soaking up the flavours. This was an amazing sandwich! They have taken some time on the details!
Last up was the Omni Miso Fish Bao. Omni is the brand of the fish and we have had it at Kirin and prepared it at home. It is a strong product and again I challenge anyone to realize that they are not eating fish. The only one who was aware was my cat. She has no interest in plant-based eating. This was served crispy with a miso glaze. Again, the folks here pay attention to detail serving the bao with thinly sliced king oyster mushrooms, arugula, red onion and Furikake mayo. Another masterpiece!
The vegan options here are all amazing. Everything is well thought out, beautifully presented and delicious. It is a lot for what is kind of close to fast food.  I just wish that they had a few more choices! If this place was close to home, I would be there all the time. Our server was also very friendly and attentive. Its hard to find anything wrong with Petite Bao!
Food                           4 1/2 out of 5
Vegan Options           3 1/2 out of 5
Comfort                      4 out of 5
Service                       4 1/2 out of 5
Value                          4 out of 5

Workshop Vegetarian Cafe - Vegan Restaurant

Mharie and I have been challenged by the idea of getting to the  Workshop Vegetarian in North Vancouver for a long time. It is not that it is so far away from us or too hard to find but the fact that they are only ever open Monday to Friday from 10-4 and then close on statutory holidays. My wife and I both work Monday to Friday so getting to this destination has been nearly impossible. However, thanks to my recent knee replacement surgery, I have been off work for 4 weeks and finally gathered enough mobility that I decided to make the pilgrimage to WV during the week.

Located at 3rd and Pemberton, WV is in reality a vegan restaurant and I'm not even sure why they call themselves Vegetarian. They have a very good selection of baked goods, soups, noodles and more, not to mention items ready for takeout and frozen items as well. WV was started with the idea of making Asian foods available without animal products (and healthier).

They make their own noodles in-house so I had to try their Rice Noodles with Organic Cashew Sauce. This was delicious! You'll have to trust me that the noodles are there,   and very good and under a lot of other very tasty stuff! It was the cashew sauce that ruled here as it was savoury and just a touch sweet as cashews are. This dish had tofu, nuts and seeds, greens and veggies and was a satisfying meal all by itself.

I am a big fan of grilled cheese (someone isn't?). So if there is Cranberry Pecan Grilled Cheese on the menu, I am definitely there. This was a little crunchy and very melty with just a touch of tart from the cranberries. I didn't find out what brand of "cheese" was used but I was told it was a Swiss style.

Obviously, I couldn't leave without trying something from their bakery. This Cinnamon Bun was available with or without icing. It would have been pretty good either way.
I thought I'd better get something to go so my wife wouldn't miss out completely. I ordered the Kansai Style Udon and they packed it with broth separate from the balance for obvious reasons. At home, I warmed the broth and assembled it to my wife's delight. Substantial udon noodles and a tasty broth with the addition of tofu puffs and some other good stuff made us happy.
They have quite a few house-made products frozen and ready to home with you. I took this miso broth and being lazy, did nothing more than add some ramen noodles and enjoyed it immensely. 
This morning, I opened my Insta to be greeted by a short reel from Workshop Vegetarian Cafe which outlined its history in a much better way than I could. It is a family-run business that has been around since 2016 and now their plant-based ramen kits called, Noods, are available online for shipment across Canada. And that is only the start of what they are making available.
So these folks are frankly, amazing. I had only one complaint and that is their hours of operation. The manager/owner that I spoke to told me that it is their intention to try to change that to some degree (I begged for one Saturday a month). In the meantime, I am going to check out their retail partners to figure out where I can get Noods. Maybe when I get my 2nd knee replaced in 6 months or so, I will be able to make a second visit to WV towards the end of my rehab. Be sure to check out their social media as it gives a better picture of them than this blog post!
Food                     4 1/2 out of 5
Vegan Options     5 out of 5
Comfort                4 1/2 out of 5
Service                 4 1/2 out of 5
Value                    4 1/2 out of 5   

Moxies - Vegan Options

We haven't been to a Moxies (or Earls, or Cactus Club or any similar chains) in years. I happened to notice that some of them have evolved their menus ever so slightly and now have some viable vegan options (though most of these places still think that vegetarian is somehow good enough). So we decided to give Moxies a try.

It seems to me that there used to be more Moxies locations but maybe they had some shrinkage like so many other businesses during the pandemic. We ended up at the Langley location which is located at the Sandman Signature Hotel on 200th at Highway 1. Don't miss the entrance which is the last left before you find yourself on the freeway to the valley!
They have basically one vegan starter which was a pretty good guacamole and chips. Not the most creative thing that we have ever seen but in addition to tortilla chips, there were a few taro chips in the mix which made it kind of interesting. The pico de gallo was also tasty and they made the plate pretty with some random cilantro and radish slices. 
We tried their Vegan Thai Curry Laksa which was also OK. Considering that vegan laksa is somewhat of a rarity in Metro Vancouver, it is hard to be too critical as at least they made the effort. It had a nice little kick to it and the coconut flavour was prominent although the broth was a little on the thin side. Sprouts, tofu, noodles etc. rounded it all out and we give it a passing grade.
We thought that the Vegan Lettuce Wrap was decent also. I think of lettuce wrap filling as being a bit smaller/finer for ease of assembly but no huge crises there. They could have drained the lettuce a bit better also but frankly, we've had that problem at Chinese restaurants also. Pleasantly messy and with a nice crunch from wonton chips and decent if not overly memorable flavour, it was a good showing for restaurant trying to cover many bases.
They also have Vegan Black Bean Tacos on their menu. When I see a restaurant menu with a whole vegetarian section and a few vegan items, I feel like they are making an effort but really don't understand the big picture. For many people, vegetarian is a stepping stone on the way to vegan. When vegetarians come to the uncomfortable understanding that there is probably more cruelty and exploitation in the dairy and egg industries than even the meat industry, they move on.
Moxies is a good place to go if you are hanging with carnivores but it is certainly not a vegan destination. I hope they will continue to evolve their menu. I read the suggestion on social media that restaurants should make all their vegetarian items vegan so that the vegans and future vegans could enjoy them but that may be easier said than done
Moxies is a very attractive and comfortable  restaurant with a noisy and fun vibe. It would be a perfect place to come watch a game. Service is very good.
Food                              3 out of 5
Vegan Options              3 out of 5
Comfort                         4 1/2 out of 5
Service                          4 1/2 out of 5
Value                             3 out of 5

My Total Knee Replacement Adventure and Vegan Options at UBC Hospital!

I have been limping on 2 effed up knees for well over a decade due to increasingly severe osteoarthritis. Well, I finally got myself on a list to get them replaced by getting a referral to the Diamond Health Care Centre at VGH. Admittedly, being a runner over the course of many years, and even working my way up to running a few marathons was probably a contributing factor but I know of lots of runners who continue into old age unabated. I would never discourage someone from taking up this form of fitness regimen just because my particular knees crapped out. Genetics and other factors have to be contributors here also. In the weeks leading up to this first surgery (they will do the other knee in a few months) I realized that the medical team were leaving nothing to chance as I had telephone and in person interviews with every person/department involved. It inspired confidence!

My check-in time was 11:45 am on Thursday the 26th. My friend and fellow Aldergroveite, Rob had volunteered his services early on and was good enough to give me a lift to the UBC Hospital Koerner. This was no small deal as it it a pretty serious trek from Aldergrove. Rob was good enough to distract me with conversation, much of which was about surgery. LOL. As soon as I walked in the front door, the helpfulness and kindness began. I guess everyone who walks in here is somewhat anxious and so the staff respond appropriately. It wasn't long before I was gowned up and marked up and ready for surgery.
The second band on my wrist is a sort of tracker. It is not for locating me if I decided to do a runner but is used to track me in the process, pre surgery, surgery, recovery etc. They move a lot of people through this system and they are very efficient at it, but keeping track of everyone is no doubt challenging. Also my surgeon, Dr Neufeld, didn't visit for long pre surgery (busy man) but was good enough to mark my knee with an M so that no mistakes were made! Pre-surgery the thing I was most concerned about (because I am a kind of a baby) was the epidural. It turned out to be a bit of a breeze as they use the thinnest needle know to man. It was profoundly effective though as before they could even get me onto by back, I was already losing feeling from the waist down. After that I was no longer an active participant in the goings on.
Next thing I knew, I was waking up in recovery and when I got back to my ward, they even brought me some dinner. Now I know that hospital food is anything but Instagrammable but they were good enough to provide a vegan meal (and then again at breakfast time). Some sauteed veggies and tofu, peas and rice and it was totally palatable!
So after a restless night and perhaps the least memorable part of my new knee journey where they needed to provide some serious pain killing stuff, the physiotherapist got me up and walking a bit. Since a week later, I started with a physiotherapist in Aldergrove, and everyone I have ever spoken to about knee surgery has told me that this is the most important part of the process (at least from my end), I get that a certain amount of pushing through discomfort is necessary.
Anyway, they kicked my ass out and my wife's son in law gave me a lift home (passengers included my wife and everyone else who would fit in the car). For the last couple of weeks my view down has been of one surprisingly straight but fairly swollen leg while the old knee leg is still skinny and crooked. Kind of looks like one of these belongs to someone else. That is my cold machine cuff on my knee as I thought I would spare you the rather macabre view of my 29 staples.
My wife took a week off to look after her whiney and almost helpless husband but by almost 2 weeks in, I am pretty well capable of getting through the day unassisted , even if everything I do takes a surprisingly long time. Above is Mharie's vegan version of Bicol Express, one of my favourite Filipino dishes. I think that she was a little disappointed that I was up and looking after myself so quickly.

A bit of a hitch in the process but quite common, is that I started to get some serious redness around my staples. Again, I will spare you the photo but instructions in the post surgery literature suggested that I send a photo to my surgeon if that redness happens. He responded by immediately sending a prescription for a serious antibiotic. He also asked me to get the staples removed right away. The staple removal by my GP seemed like it was going to be a breeze until he got to the reddened area which required me to grit my teeth quite a bit. Fortunately, within a couple of days, the redness was gone but I still have a few days of antibiotic and we know that you take the whole course!

Overall, my experience was one of some discomfort but not a lot of what I would call pain. I used very few of the opioids that were prescribed and was able to get by easily with extra strength Tylenol and regular Advil. The trick to this whole thing has been being able to take the time to recover and being all in on my post surgery exercises.
So my plan is to take at least a couple more weeks off before going back to work. At the moment, I am lingering a little longer over my morning coffee and enjoying the Fall colours from my deck. In another 4 to 6 months, they will replace the other knee as well. I already have enough titanium in my leg to set off metal detectors for the rest of my life so a little more won't make a huge difference! Once I get these and a couple of cataracts taken care of, I will be good as new and ready for the next 100,000 km!
Thanks to Dr Michael Neufeld and the whole team!


Wild Flour Pizza Co. - Vegan Options

We finally made it to Wild Flour Pizza which has been on our list since we got our current copy of the Plant Curious Plant Based Coupon Book. This is a pizza joint started by 2 experienced and creative food people and one of their claims to fame is sourdough crust. Very nice!

It would actually be easy to get there by transit which we did not do in this case. I am 2 weeks out from having a total knee replacement and although I am hobbling around pretty well at this point (more on this in a future posting), I am not quite ready for transit. 

Easy to get to even driving from Aldergrove (but not necessarily easy during rush-hour), WFP is located at Bainbridge and Lougheed Hwy. They have 3 vegan pizzas and a vegan salad on their menu.
Jenny From The Brocc is an excellent salad. The broccoli is roasted but still with just enough crunchiness and in manageable decent sized pieces. It was the dressing and tons of fresh mint that turned this into something really special. The dressing includes date puree and salsa macha (which yes, I had to Google) which is a combinations of dried chilis, nuts, seeds, and garlic all fried in oil. There were pickled onions, more nuts and seeds and balsamic reduction and it is a long time since I've been this excited by a salad.
In my pre-vegan days, I would always judge a pizzeria by it's Margherita. Such a simple pizza that the basics are critical. For vegan pizza, the Margherita is maybe even more challenging as one of the key components is Mozzarella. WFP uses cashew cheese and it was very good compared to some cashew cheese that we have had. The texture was very impressive as was the meltiness and flavour. Wonderfully simple tomato base and lots of shredded basil brought it along but the thing that wowed us was the crust! Sourdough, as I mentioned above and a stone lined gas oven seems to be the key to the very good leoparding and a lovely chew.
Finally, we ordered the Vegan Chorizo, another plant-based masterpiece! They use Impossible Sausage and add their own spice mixture and then serve in on the pie in impressive chunks. With roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, garlic, smoked paprika and on more of the red sauce with cashew cheese, this was another of the best vegan pizzas that we have had. Again, never underestimate the power of a wonderful crust.
Mostly a take out joint, there are 8 seats at a communal table and this is not an unpleasant place to enjoy your pizza and salad.
The best news of all is that a Langley location is in the works! We will be the start of their south of the river fan base. As mentioned above, we used a coupon from our Plant Curious coupon book which has led us to so many gems that we might not have found on our own. Thanks to Clay and Steven et al, and welcome in advance to Langley!
Food                              4 1/2 out of 5
Vegan Options               3 1/2 out of 5
Comfort                         4 out of 5
Service                          4 1/2 out of 5
Value                             4 1/2 out of 5

Dosa Delight, Langley - Vegan Options

It always seems like too long since we have had dosa mostly as I would happily eat it everyday of my life. As a healthy, naturally vegan and so tasty crepe that can be filled with whatever you want, why would we want to eat anything else? Anyway, I stumbled across Dosa Delight in Langley on Google Maps and we decided to give them a try.

DD is located in an outside mall on 200th street, adjacent to Chucky Cheese (that should be enough of a landmark for most people). They must be a fairly new business as I remember seeing Legendary Noodle in this location.
We happily ordered our usual favourite South Indian starter, the Idli / Vada Combo. The vada (deep fried lentil donut) was wonderfully fresh out of the fryer and crispy. The idli (steamed rice pillows) were soft and perfect for sopping up the trio of chutneys and sambar. Most underrated vegan starter ever!
We always like to try something that we have never had before, if we can. This soup is called Rassam. It is a tamarind based spicy soup with a few dried chilis floating around in it. It was delicious and just spicy enough to give me the hiccups! This should be our go to cure for a cold.
We had never had Chili Idli before either. This was the above mentioned idli, diced up and deep fried with vegetables and a chili sauce. The idli was crispy despite being drenched in the tasty sauce. I feel like this might not travel as well as the crispiness is half the allure at least. Very nice!
The star of the show is always the dosa. This was the Hyderabadi Dosa and I photographed it at a weird angle so I could fit in the crispy ends. The ultimate simple and delicious food, dosa are a thin crispy crepe made with some combination of flours, usually a mixture of ground lentil and rice but there are huge variations. If I understood correctly, what made this dosa 'Hyderabadi' was a spice called gunpowder which is a mix of so many ingredients but almost lent a cheese feel to the dosa. Always served with sambar and the usual trio of chutneys, this dosa came with some kind of potato mixture that was slightly creamy and slightly spicey. So amazing! It is no wonder that dosa joints are popping up here and there!
Finally, we tried the Veg Kothu Paratha. To make a long story short, it is essentially shredded roti with a spicy masala sauce. Sometimes traditionally, this is made with eggs so be aware. Our server and chef were both aware of our plant-based desires and the chef even delivered this last dish to our table and assured us that everything had been prepared vegan. He also wanted to know how we were enjoying everything which was nice. This was another flavorful and rich preparation!
Sort of a typical no frills place where emphasis is on the food, we were comfortable enough and everyone was attentive. Potions are generous and we ended up with quite a bit to go. Having forgotten to bring our own take out containers (see my previous rant) we used a couple of theirs. The menu here is extensive and their are many more things that can be prepared plant-based. Thank you so much, Dosa Delight!
Food                         4 1/2 out of 5
Vegan Options          4 1/2 out of 5
Comfort                    3 1/2 out of 5
Service                     4 1/2 out of 5
Value                        4 1/2 out of 5

The Chopped Leaf - Vegan Options

I noticed that the Chopped Leaf was opening soon near where I work in Aldergrove, and got quite excited! Little did I know that waiting for the soon opening would be a supreme test of patience. It was at least months and I would not be surprised if you told me we had waited a year. I'm an electrician so I know how long the construction part of a new business fit up should take and it is not this long.  Is the problem then at the Township of Langley? Do they not have enough employees at the Township or is their process so much of a problem? Is there a way to make it easier and more likely successful to start a business by reducing the wait or at least keeping this most unproductive step to a minimum? I am only speculating of course and really know what the hold up was. I am also not in a position to propose a solution. It just felt like a good day to rant about something.

But I digress...I have been looking forward to Chopped Leaf because it adds some vegan options of the fairly healthy variety to what is available in Aldergrove. At their website, if you follow the filter to the bottom of the Nutrition and Allergens Chart will tell you how to make some of their signatures vegan.
Any bowl can be ordered as a wrap or a salad. Or maybe any wrap can be ordered as a bowl or a salad. Or maybe...At any rate, we started with a Harvest Bowl. This is the only thing on the menu that is naturally vegan (you don't have to ask them to hold anything). For some reason, I had them add tofu which was totally unnecessary as a) there are chickpeas and b) we never need to add protein. We decided to dine in as the dine in bowls look quite nice and this is a very pleasant space. There could have been more salad dressing but overall this was a nice lunch that was large enough for Mharie and I to share (we were not starving at the time). The rice was brown basmati and there were lots of pecans and dried cranberries hidden in there which really added nice accent.
We tried the Southwestern Bowl as a salad (this time it was to go obviously). We asked them to hold the cheddar to make it vegan and it really wasn't missed. One of the stars here was the Chipotle Lime Dressing. Crushed pita chips provided some texture while all the other ingredients were pretty much what you'd expect from the south west. There was black bean-corn salsa as well as red and yellow bell peppers and some nice grape tomatoes all on a bed of romaine. Very nice.
Finally, to complete the set, we ordered a wrap. To be honest, I'm not even sure what it is other than we added falafel. It might be the Mediterranean minus a couple of things. Another satisfying and tasty bite. I realize now that we didn't even check out their soups, some of which I'm sure are probably plant-based. Obviously, this food is convenient and fast and not too expensive. The point of it is that it is healthy enough and you can avoid supporting the animal agricultural industry which is so harmful.
So we're happy that Chopped Leaf has finally opened in Aldergrove. I am a bring-your-lunch-to-work guy so this probably won't change my habits much but it's nice to know that they are available. Everyone was quite friendly and this is a nice space to eat a meal.
Food                          3 1/2 out of 5
Vegan Options          3 1/2 out of 5
Comfort                     3 1/2 oout of 5
Service                      4 out of 5
Value                         4 out of 5

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Are you guys eating again? At some point Marie and I became the kind of people who take pictures of everything we eat, whether in a restaura...