Mila - World Vegan Month

I recently found out that Veganuary is a thing. So I will be taking the pledge to be a vegan for another month namely January 2021 because I believe that the whole vegan/vegetarian movement needs to be promoted as much as possible for the good of us all and future generations. For the record, I am not a full time vegan or vegetarian. I call myself a week-day vegetarian and I am not even very religious about that but I lean heavily towards plant-based living. This month (November or World Vegan Month) I am being a good vegan. Anyway, For a moment, thinking about Veganuary, I wondered how many more vegan restaurants or places with vegan options there are that we could visit! The good news is that new places seem to be popping up all the time and an example of that is Mila!

Mila is owned by the same people that own Virtuous Pie and Tomorrow Foods. They are located just around the corner from Virtuous Pie in Chinatown and as usual, we arrived unfashionably early and were seated for lunch right away. 
We have been comfortable dining out all along during the pandemic as restaurants apply social distancing rules and are even more comfortable now as mask-wearing becomes mandatory in all public spaces. Those concerned about their constitutional rights are probably still fuming that they can no longer smoke in restaurants and airplanes (are you old enough to remember that?) but where do your rights and the rights of others cross? Anyway...
The thing that I was most anxious to try at Mila was their already famous Aburi Oishi Sushi. First Mharie and I both tentatively tasted a whole piece and speaking for myself, it exceeded my expectations! With the next piece, I broke it down to try to discover the secrets of the component parts.

The 'salmon' is smoked carrot. According to an interview that Vanfoodster did with the chef, the process is laborious and time-consuming but the result is amazing. I tried to coax information out of our sever but the only hint he would give me was powdered seaweed and vegan mayo!
Next up was Fish and Chips. In this case, the 'fish' was celeriac! What a great idea! It was both meaty and delicious, and the batter was perfect. Even the oil tasted a bit like good fish frying oil tastes as it 'matures.' Of course, the celery root didn't taste exactly like fish but that is the point and it still may be the best vegan version that we have tasted.! Served with a mango slaw that was great and Smashed Potatoes that had lots of crispy extremities! The tartar sauce also rocked.
Then there was the Smash Burger and more smashed potatoes. The server kindly had it cut into two for us to share which made it impossible to stand up but easy to check out the ingredients. Up until that moment, my favourite vegan burger, believe it or not, was from Bells and Whistles but this one is now top of my chart. The patty is made by their own Tomorrow Foods and is a combination of assorted beans and wheat protein and a rather long but unfrightening list of other things. The result was amazing in both taste and texture for a burger. Then they have proceeded to smash the burger into 2 thin patties, giving them an excellent burger crust. Decent basic add ons included tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, pickles and pretty impressive cheese which I would certainly have mistaken for American had I not known better. Well done Mila!
We don't do dessert very often but this dessert's description made me think it would be something from my Mother's kitchen which it very nearly was. This Lemon Custard Bar had a salted oat crust and a mixed berry compote. It was very refreshing and on the light side for dessert. It compared favourably to my Mother's version!
This is a sharp space and comfortable. Tables are separated by plexiglass and staff are masked. Everything you could ask for and excellent food as well. The menu offers a lot of other things that we would like to try making it, in our opinion, one of the top vegan joints in Vancouver, for sure.
Food                5 out of 5
Comfort           4 1/2 out of 5
Service            5 out of 5
Value               4 1/2 out of 5

MILA Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sy's Vegan - Abbotsford - World Vegan Month

Wha...? Vegan in Abbotsford, in a shopping mall food court, no less. I stumbled across Sy's Vegan Bistro by Googling "vegan in the Fraser Valley". The results were meagre but there was Sy's. Not always anxious to order food from a food court (except for Asian mall food courts which are a vastly different thing), we nonetheless decided to take SVB for a spin.

Sy's may serve mall food but it's pretty good mall food. They have a few burgers on the menu but no fries. They are using Beyond Meat patties and sausage which is fine but I can easily do that at home so we gave those items a miss in order to try some other things from their fairly extensive menu.
They have a few smaller sized dishes so we were able to try more than usual which we liked. The Mini Mex bowl gave us a taste of their house-made chilli with all the fixin's served over rice. The green sauce is a cilantro lime dressing (also house-made) which was quite good (as was the chilli). It is not a scary guacamole thing as I first thought!
Also, in small-sized take-home portions (or you can get them in 1/2 litre or 1-litre portions for take home) were Beat (sic) and Greens Borscht,
Mulligatawny Soup,
and more Chilli (the overlap was mine). All of these were full-on decent and comforting.
They serve perogies in a variety of arrangements (in a Canadian Bowl, with bratwurst, with curry etc.) but we tried them on their own with a house-made vegan mayo. Very good! 
Finally, we had the curiously named, Three Pea Salad (are the words peas and beans interchangeable?). This was another comforting dish with more of their tasty cilantro lime dressing. 
All in all, we liked Sy's Vegan. If you feel like a burger (they call them Vurgers) or a sausage on a bun, you can have it. There is also a kids menu. Lot's of cruelty-free/ planet friendly/ healthy choices if you happen to be hanging out at the mall (why would you be?) or actually shopping. Seeing vegan food available in Abbotsford gives me hope for the future.
Food                   3 1/2 out of 5
Service               4 out of 5 (they packed us a couple of soup samples in addition to our order!)
Comfort              3 out of 5 (mall food court)
Value                  4 out of 5

Sy's Vegan Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Do Chay Saigon Vegetarian - Yaletown - World Vegan Month

So many restaurants to try, so little time. Mharie will tell you that when we find a place that we really love, that truly rises above the rest, that we should go back to every week, that I will say, "Well, I already wrote something about them. I want to go to someplace new!" Even our all-time favourite, Dosanko, we have only been to twice. How sad! The exception to the rule is when a great restaurant opens a second location. Then on a technicality, we can go to the new location and I can write something about a new place! The point being, our favourite vegan/vegetarian place in Metro-Vancouver has opened up on Hamilton Street in Yaletown, Do Chay Saigon Vegetarian.

We did that thing that we always do, namely arrived unfashionably early and avoided crowds and line ups and were seated right away and socially distant. Again, I find myself wishing that I was in the plexiglass business these days as tables were safely isolated from each other.
We started with an appetizer that was not on the menu at the Kingsway location, Black Truffle Tofu. I was a little concerned as sometimes, truffle can be overwhelming but the chef had a delicate hand. These crispy, lightly deep-fried tofu pieces were gently scented with truffle, ginger and scallion with a sweetish soy sauce. Very nice!
There is nothing too exotic about Crispy Spring Rolls but these were certainly excellent. A large mustard green leaf, as well as basil and mint, were on the side that could be used to wrap the spring roll pieces for a different taste with each bite.
Next up was Black Garlic Eggplant. This was a rice bowl topped with braised and garlicky eggplant, some crispy tofu pieces, yo choy and some chilis. A nicely well balanced and comforting dish. 
Lastly, we had the Vegan Verm, a noodle bowl. There was a bit of overlap as another spring roll was featured here. That was not a bad thing but unintentional. Most impressive was a nice mix of mushrooms namely wood ear, oyster and king oyster with a hint of lemongrass and some peanuts. Loved this. The bowl was colourful with herbs, tomato and salad greens. All of this including tax and tips came to only $64. Another bonus of vegan food is that you can lunch in a higher-end restaurant for less as you are not paying for a $50 steak or other expensive pieces of meat.
Do Chay remains our favourite vegan / vegetarian restaurant in Metro Vancouver. Good cruelty-free food, very nice service and comfortable pleasant environs add up to a wonderful experience.
Food                    5 out of 5
Service                5 out of 5
Comfort               5 out of 5 
Value                   5 out of 5

Do Chay Saigon Vegetarian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Veggie Bob's - Fort Langley - World Vegan Month

Veggie Bob's could easily be called Vegan Bob's although I think Veggie kind of rolls off the tongue a little better. That being said, there is nothing on the web site menu that is not labelled vegan. I suppose they reserve the right to serve an egg if they decided to. Located on the main drive of Fort Langley just as you arrive in town, I expect that Veggie Bob's has been around for a while. Obviously, I should have asked.

We opted for take-out as lately our pandemic numbers are growing more alarming but there is outside seating and they are decently spaced out and masked up inside. We would have felt fine about dining in.
The menu at VB leans Mexican but their most notable achievement are house-made sausages based on wheat kernels, beans, peppers herbs etc. They are frankly pretty good and kudos to VB for not relying on Beyond Meat products (not that that would be such a terrible thing). They show up in a series of dogs (or sausage on a bun if you prefer) of which we tried the Mac and Cheeze Sausage Bun. Served on a regular (whole wheat) hot dog bun and with house-made vegan cheeze, it was not too bad. The sausage was the highlight with a meaty texture and taste. The cheeze could use some perking up but that seems to be the way with vegan cheeze.
The Cravin' Asian Wrap struck us as a little more adventurous than some other menu items and was tasty enough but not a huge home run. Described on the menu as being filled with rice and sweet potatoes, it was actually heavy on the greens with some nice textured Asian veggies and a mayo-based sauce. Flour tortillas do not blow my mind either. It was again, tasty enough but a little on the pricy side at $12.95. I don't mention prices too often here but I would expect a little more for that price.
The Chilli Planet Bowl was actually pretty good. It was a little too messy to try to plate at home, so we happily ate it from its take-out container. The chilli itself was OK but not surprising (could have used a little smokiness) but the toppings brought it up a level. Again the house-made cheeze, guac and cashew crema were a credit to their made from scratch formula.
We ordered a cupcake too but that got left out of our order so we have a credit waiting for us. It's a nice rustic room with cool old mismatched chairs and tables. They are currently most of the way through renovations (I assume). If you want to eat in and they are on top of the social distancing/ hand sanitizing/mask-wearing thing. The service was friendly and pretty quick. Above all, vegan food gets a little harder to find as you move out the Valley and Veggie Bob's fills an important niche. While the food was not staggering, it was decent and we would try them again.
Food                    3 out of 5
Comfort               3 1/2 out of 5
Service                 4 out of 5
Value                    3 out of 5

Veggie Bob's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bad Apple Vegan Restaurant and Bar - World Vegan Month

Bad Apple just opened up in the space previously occupied by What's Up Dog? Interestingly, while focused on hot dogs (what gave it away?), WUD also offered some vegan choices. BA is completely new ownership, (the same staff as previously) and all vegan choices! Both places have been on my list and we finally got there this past Saturday in the am. 

Signage is a little weak at the moment. At least they have a sandwich board. I assume more identification will come soon. We came early, prepared to get take out but since we had the place to ourselves, we decided to eat in. Also, since no one was here, the chef didn't mind if we ordered from the day time menu and skip brunch (the website did not mention brunch).
We started off with Cauliflower Wings which are obviously breaded and deep-fried flowerets complete with sauce. They come in a bunch of different flavours (we chose spicy-peanut) with a bunch of different dips (we chose chipotle mayo). These were pretty good being crispy and hot and I loved the sauces while Mharie was a bit taken aback by the sesame oil flavour ( the underneath pieces were less sauced).
Shrooms and Chips were next up and this was very good! This was oyster mushrooms battered and deep-fried. They were surprisingly light and in fairly large pieces. We were more than a little impressed! They do regular cut and waffle fries which we ordered with a side of queso. Pre pandemic, I was in Houston and discovered queso (which means cheese but so much more) and have not seen it often since. This vegan version was really not too bad. Cashew based, I assume, with a hint of cumin etc, we give it high marks.
We also shared a Southern Spicy Seitan Sandwich (not very spicy but you can get hot sauce on the side) with a Kale Ceasar. This was a really good use of seitan (basically vital wheat gluten bread) battered and deep-fried on a sandwich with butter pickles and lettuce. Really good!
We're going to say that Bad Apple has some character with some serious punk rock memorabilia and pictures on the wall. I expect that most of this was carried over from What's Up Dog? although we never actually got here for dogs. There is a lot more on the menu that we would like to try. As I always say, a vegan place needs a deep fryer! We can make bowls with quinoa and black beans at home. It's nice to try something less healthy and more creative when we eat out! Well done Bad Apple!
Food                          4 1/2 out of 5
Comfort                     3 out of 5
Service                      4 out of 5
Value                         4 out of 5

Bad Apple Vegan Restaurant and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

4 Stones Vegetarian Restaurant - World Vegan Month

This review is actually about a restaurant that we visited last month namely when it was Vegetarian Awareness Month and not yet World Vegan Month (see the difference there?). As it happens, 4 Stones offers many vegan choices and indicates on their menu whether a dish is vegan or lacto-ovo vegetarian.

Located at the corner of Minoru and Westminster Hwy in a small strip mall, parking is not as much of an issue as I expected it to be. They are only open for take out at the moment and that is not a bad thing as most of the dishes we ordered seemed to travel well.
We did however stop at Minoru Park, which we like very much, to enjoy our appetizers and take a little walk. The Deep Fried Veg-oysters were the only actual vegan item that we ordered. There was a vague resemblance to oysters and they came with a nice miso dipping sauce. They were crispy and quite good. Not sure what they were made from but I didn't get the idea that they were some over-processed tofurkey kind of thing....wheat or soy or whatever, they were pretty decent.
We also ate the Japanese Gyoza which, if this were not a vegetarian restaurant, I would never have realized were vegetarian. They offer vegan gyoza as well. These were really good with a nice crust and a salty spicy dipping sauce provided. Eat them hot!
Once we got home, we tried Vegetarian Kung Pao Chicken which came with our choice of brown or white rice, some greens and a side of deep-fried and sauced tofu. The 'chicken' itself was again either textured wheat or soy and deep-fried. The Kung Pao sauce was really the feature here and it was pretty good, sweet and not overly spicy. We've all had it before. This was a dish quite reminiscent of the original without the killing of chickens. I'm not always a fan of alternate 'meats' but we enjoyed this.
Finally, we had the Vegetarian Beef Brisket Stew. This also came with rice. It also featured what I assume was seitan or some type of textured plant protein but also a lot of meaty mushroom pieces (king oyster mushrooms?). The result was a very hearty, meaty dish with a rich sauce. It was tasty and very satisfying and one of the best alternate 'meat' dishes that we have had.
Each of the main dishes also came with a soup, your choice of Chinese Herbal or Veggie. We chose one of each. The Veggie was a squash-based pureed soup which was quite good but a little on the thin side while the herbal soup was a tasty broth with assorted additions including what I assume were goji berries and jujube. 
We were pretty impressed with 4 Stones. They have an extensive menu and a secret menu that was not very much a secret with a lot of Taiwanese favourites made over as vegetarian. If we lived in Richmond, this might just be our go-to place.
Food                    4 1/2 out of 5
Comfort               3 1/2 out of 5 (take out only at the moment)
Service                4 out of 5
Value                   4 out of 5

4 Stones Vegetarian Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Smokehouse Sandwich Company - World Vegan Month

A strange place to visit during World Vegan Month, you may say, but first of all, this review is actually a throwback to Vegetarian Awareness Month (last month) and I did in fact have a vegetarian sandwich, of which they have three on their menu. Located on Westminster Hwy in Richmond between #1 and #2 Roads, SSC is only open for takeout at the moment. 

Open only for takeout is really not a bad thing since we're talking mostly sandwiches as in, easily wrapped for your convenience and available for consumption later. I am a little disappointed because I have seen a few social media pictures of their sandwiches artfully served on sheet trays with s side of their house-made chips (and I didn't take those pictures). We ordered a couple of sandwiches and a couple of salads to go.
I ordered a Mary Moon (she don't eat meat but she sure...) in keeping with my vegetarian program for this month.
Since this is essentially a barbequed meat sandwich place, run by a couple of Filipinos (I have commented before that the Filipino cuisine is surprisingly meat-centric), I was impressed that their vegetarian sandwich ( again it is actually it one of 3) is not just phoned in. The patty is a well-conceived combination including beets, oats, mushrooms and chickpeas. Really good! If you ordered it without mayo (mustard instead maybe?) I suppose it would be vegan (not sure on the bun).
Mharie had the Samson, their most popular creation and it really showed that they know what they are doing with the smoke. The brisket (notorious for being dry if you don't know what you're doing) was moist and tender. Coffee crusted and served with strawberry red-eye gravy,  we kind of hoped these flavours would jump out at us a little more but this was still a good sandwich.
We also got a couple of salads with our sandwiches including a Grilled Brussels Sprouts Salad. Pay attention if you are vegetarian as this salad featured some of their chopped brisket. Awesome for the carnivores,  the sprouts featured some nice char and a drizzle of honey.
We really enjoyed the Sesame Slaw as well. Shredded daikon and carrot formed the base with a rice vinegar dressing and with a crumble of their house-made chips. I really wanted Mharie to be able to try their Sisig Sandwich (Google sisig if you are not Filipino) but it was not available. Call ahead to find out. Sisig is more than a little labour intensive and really demonstrates the creativity and dedication to their craft that these guys have.
They have a nice little dining room in which you will someday soon (hopefully) be able to enjoy your sandwiches.
Food                4 out of 5
Comfort           3 out of 5
Service            3 1/2 out of 5  
Value               3 1/2 out of 5

Smokehouse Sandwich Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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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...