Freshii - Vegan Options

Having learned just enough about factory farming and how chickens have been bred into something that can barely stand up by the time they are ready for slaughter, I will choose a salad every time. Not only that, the pickle chips at Mary Browns are shite. Admittedly, they don't have any pickle chips at Freshii but they do have some options for the vegan in a hurry or even not in a hurry!

This one is located at McCallum Junction (Cabela's) in Abbotsford. To be honest, we came here to visit Sprouted Oven, the plant-based cafe and grocery but they are closed Saturday. Fortunately, Freshii turned out to be a pretty good backup plan. They are in the process of building a Freshii in Aldergrove so we will have another close-to-home fast food vegan option soon!
We tried this Spicy Lemongrass Soup and it was pretty decent....needed salt. The rice noodles provided some heft and a nice chew. There was a decent mix of veggies and aromatics.
We also tried the Buddha Satay Bowl with falafel (a weird choice on our part) as a protein. The spicy peanut sauce was nice but not really spicy. The falafel wasn't bad, especially considering that we had not set our sights high. A few decent veggies and noodles rounded this out.
I know they look the same because of the crispy wonton garnish but this is fully a salad. Honest to god though, I can't remember or figure out which one it was! All I know for sure was that we happily wolfed all of this down and were able to get on with our day!
I'm not sure why I didn't order one of those as a wrap as it is an option. They have burritos as well and tofu and falafel are your vegan protein choices. We weren't out of pocket much and didn't walk away feeling gross because we had just eaten an animal and needed to digest it. The place is bright and comfortable enough and the staff were friendly and helped us out with the vegan questions.
I look forward to visiting the Aldergrove branch when they open! 
Food                       3 out of 5
Vegan options        3 out of 5
Comfort                  3 out of 5
Service                   3 1/2 out of 5
Value                      3 1/2 out of 5

Chillibar - Vegan Options

We love a restaurant that not only offers some plant-based dishes but also makes them evident on their menus. Some places clearly don't care enough (and I understand that the vegan client base is not huge as far as their bottom line is concerned) or don't understand what vegan means (the line between vegan and vegetarian seems unnecessarily blurred at times ). If only for the sake of the future of the planet, it would be good to see every eatery at least make some small effort. It doesn't have to be every dish on the menu. Chilli Bar has enough plant-based offerings that we weren't able to sample them all on our first visit!

Located in south Langley at 192nd and 28th, Chilli Bar caters mainly to the workforce in this industrial area during the week. They have a lunch buffet (good for you omnivores) and do a lot of take-out but they are also open on Saturday from 4 to 8 when we managed to give them a try.  It is cafeteria-style (order at the counter and pick up your food when it's ready).
We started with the Mini Veggie Spring Rolls which were crispy and filled with julienned vegetables. They came with soy sauce and Wings plum sauce in little packets that made me harken back to my childhood early Cantonese food experiences. These were clearly straight out of the wok and pretty tasty!
They serve a few Szechuan-style dishes as well and the menu labels spicy dishes as well as vegan dishes (thankfully the gluten-free diet craze is ignored whether intentionally or not). The Kung Pao Vege Chop Suey was labelled as spicy but was not. It may be that the kitchen took into account my exceptionally pale skin and assumed that we would not want it spicy. The dish was nevertheless very good and we got our veggies for the day!
More perfectly wok-seared veggies were a part of the Tofu and Broccoli with Black Bean Sauce. Again, not spicy enough but a rich dish that we very much enjoyed.
Another throwback to my youth, the Vegetable Chow Mein was great. Is all about the noodles with this and they had just enough chew and a few veggies and it rounded out our meal. In reality, this was a dinner for 4 easily as we took a good half of everything home. 
Prices seem pretty reasonable considering the portion sizes and the dining area itself was comfortable enough. We talked a bit with the owner who started this business in 2019 (not great timing) but seems to be doing OK. This is not a deeply exotic menu but finding vegan comfort food that is not too far away is a win for us and we look forward to trying a few other menu items.
Food                    4  out of 5
Vegan options     4 out of 5
Comfort               3 1/2 out of 5
Service                4 out of 5
Value                   4 out of 5

Craffles - Vegan Options

So I thought that Craffles was a cross between waffles and croissants, but it turns out to be waffles and crepes, which makes a lot more sense. Still, I am intrigued by the idea of crossing a waffle with a croissant! Craffles serves tapioca flour crepes and acai bowls, making me think that there is really a Brazillian connection here but I was so busy stuffing my face that I didn't think to ask about that!

Mharie and I generally practice a sort of intermittent fasting meaning that we usually don't eat until noon but trying Craffles meant that we would have to adjust our schedule and so we did! Located on Davie near Richards, we showed up at the opening time and already were the third in line. The place got stupid busy even before we were finished, so plan accordingly.
What kind of people have a milkshake for breakfast? Of the monster milkshakes on their menu (presumably aimed at the lunchtime crowd) one was vegan and we had to try it to be able to comment!
And oh my God, I would eat this for breakfast every day! Plant-based vanilla ice cream and cocoa powder and all sorts of cookie crumbles and toasted marshmallows and an ice cream bar! A little pricey at $18.50 but well worth it and highly shareable!
We had OMG It's Vegan Croquette which was also pretty excellent! The cheese centres were melty (always the measure of vegan cheese) while the exterior was crispy and hot. It could have used some hot sauce or a dip but we wolfed them down before we could ask for something. We need to slow down!
This was Green Crispy Chick'n Tapioca. It doesn't look like much at first glance but the tapioca flour crepe had an interesting slightly crispy texture. Try it vegan or otherwise.
Once we busted it open we found the crepe was filled with good stuff. Spinach, Beyond Chicken and more wonderful melty vegan cheese.  I am not an expert but tapioca flour is apparently gluten-free although Craffles does not plug it as such. Gluten-free is nonsensical unless you are genuinely gluten sensitive or have celiac disease. The gluten-free fad diet is ridiculous and will someday be revealed as harmful so well done, Craffles (whether it is your intention or not)
OK, so this is a craffle. It needs some toppings and stuff but we wanted to at least sample the base element even if we had already stuffed ourselves. Just a waffle really....not amazing beyond the regular waffle but quite good! 
This is a bright, comfortable place with friendly, efficient staff. I utterly failed to get an interior photo because they distracted me at the front counter (yes, oh sure, it's their fault!). They seem to have a soft spot for vegans and the manager (just guessing) wanted my input and indicated that variations on the croquettes (waffles and croquettes?) were coming as well as more plant-based additions to the menu. I have since discovered more vegan options listed under the savoury section of the menu! We are not done with this place! An excellent place for plant-based and omnivorous eaters to meet!
Food                        4 1/2 out of 5
Vegan options         4 1/2 out of 5
Comfort                   4 1/2 out of 5
Service                    4 1/2 out of 5
Value                       4 1/2 out of 5

Moltaqua - Vegan Options

I first visited Moltaqua at a Vanfoodster Tasting Plates event a few years ago and my intention has been to return ever since. Happily, they seem to have a pretty good number of vegan options (as North African food often does) and so we set out to visit their newer Yaletown location on Mainland near Nelson. I apologize for my front of the restaurant photo. Not sure what happened with that! The actual restaurant sign is not quite so blurry!

I was embarrassed to show up at 5 but that is just how our day went and we were low blood sugar hungry so we just decided that nourishment trumped coolness (fucking Trump...oh, sorry). The staff greeted us warmly and non-judgmentally even though h we had a 6:30 reservation! We are so uncool that I always think about Seinfeld's Florida parents. Anyway...
We ordered the Vegetarian (vegan option) Sampler Platter For 2 People. It gave us a taste of many different dishes. Our server showed up first with 2 soups (2 small servings of each soup) which were rich and tasty. The Besara Soup was a bit of a split pea soup (probably fava bean) rich with olive oil which was amazing. Mharie did not care for the olive oil richness and pushed this one my way (not a problem). The Harirra Soup was more of a tomato soup with chickpeas and north African spice. Also amazing!
The bread flowed freely and this was some great pita. They brought us more than one basket and we wolfed it down.
The main part of the sampler platter came all at once. Every one of these dishes was amazing. I couldn't put my finger on what was so unique about the beet salad but it turned out to be orange! Three of the dishes were substantial bean or eggplant concoctions, 4 were more saladish and then there was the bell pepper spread.
One significant thing that was missing from the sampler was a pastilla. This was a crispy phyllo pastry dish. It was close to Filipino chow mein (fine noodles and vegetables) wrapped in phyllo but definitely had a uniquely North African spice taste beyond that!
Service at Moltaqua was exceptional. The staff look after tables by committee and so there is never a time when you are wondering where everyone is. Empty dishes disappeared as if by magic. They were very friendly and enthusiastic about what they served. Good for vegans but everyone else too.
Food                      4 out of 5
Vegan options       4 out of 5
Comfort                 4 out of 5
Service                  4 out of 5
Value                     4 out of 5  

The Eatery - Vegan Options

We started our Sunday morning out at UBC at the beautiful Nitobe Memorial Gardens, trying to meditate without thinking constantly about food. By the time noon rolled around though, thoughts of sushi gradually overwhelmed my concentration on my breathing and we gave up and moved on.

We had decided to try The Eatery on West Broadway near Alma, as they seemed to have quite a few vegan rolls and a few vegan adjacent dishes on their roughly Japanese menu. When we arrived at opening time (noon) there was no problem getting a table.
We started with the Just Yams Please Tempura which was pretty decent and substantial as well. I could have ordered the Veggie Tempura as I didn't realize that this meal would become so sweet potato centric by the time we were done.
The Veggie Gyoza were next and came with an appropriate dip. The filling was veggie obviously but a little non-descript and these were OK but not amazing.
The Inari Nigiri was a little sweet and tasty. A simple treat that we liked.
We ordered 2 rolls from the Funky Veggie Rolls menu, the Coconut Surprise and the Mango Paradise. Both of these were tasty enough with bright flavours.  The Coconut Surprise was a bit of an odd mix with sweet potato and asparagus  (and coconut) while the mango roll was rounded out with avocado.  They tended to fall apart a bit quicker than is convenient and at about $9 per roll they were a little pricy.
Finally, I ordered Japanayam Fries having mixed up the vegan and vegetarian symbols on the menu. We ended up with a big bowl of yam fries with Dragon Sauce on the side. Fortunately, our server was sharp enough to exclude the hollandaise and the rest of the non-vegan ingredients but the result was a little sparse. Pretty good fries but we were getting a little full of sweet potato at this point.
It would have made a little more sense for us to order a donburi and have them veganize it rather than do that with the fires, however...hindsight. This is a funky place with decor that is worth spending some time exploring. I am not sure if there is any kind of theme to the stuff hanging from the ceiling although I am leaning toward Marvel Comics or comics in general?
Our server was friendly and helpful but the menu is so long and a little confusing that there was little that she could do. Although there are enough vegan options on the menu, we were not blown away by any of them. Veganizing the vegetarian options is not a great idea either. I feel like this might be more of a place to hang with friends and have a few drinks with the eats as an afterthought or maybe just the general omnivorous menu makes people happier. We found what we had to be a little pricy and just not a great fit for us.
Food                          2 1/2 out of 5
Vegan options            2 1/2 out of 5
Comfort                      3 1/2 out of 5
Service                       4 out of 5
Value                          2 1/2 out of 5



Quesada - Vegan Options

I would say that the lack of vegan fast food options is a positive thing. Being no longer tempted to stop and grab a Popeyes Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich on the way home will probably add years to my life. Once in a while though, the ability to stop and get something to eat without too much planning would be a bit of a relief and so when I saw that Quesada had vegan options on their menu, we decided to check it out.

There are lots of Quesadas but the nearest to us is in West Abbotsford just north of High Street on Mt Lehman Road. I had never paid attention and didn't know it was there! It was steady enough with customers but not crazy on Saturday at 1 ish. Line up and place your order and they will walk you through what you want on your burrito or tacos or whatever, just like at Subway.
We started with 3 hard shell tacos. Hard shell tacos always remind me of my first brush with what we called Mexican food at Taco Time in Bellingham 50 years ago. Our family drove there many times just for crispy and fairly lame tacos (and Mexi fries) but we thought it was great! Anyway, these were similar but the topping options were a little more impressive with the pickled onion, slaw and cilantro etc.
It was the Saucy Chipotle Tofu that sucked me in here and that Quesada is promoting at the moment, that was our choice of protein on these tacos. I have to be honest that this was pretty tasty and I would order it again. At $11.39 for 3 tacos, it's not a terrible deal considering that we are not in Tijuana.
Next up was a really big burrito and it was not even the largest size! I never order burritos because it is usually just a big flour tortilla with too much rice and beans. In this case that was the goal!
The proteins we chose were black and refried beans. Then we had the same choices of toppings (or fillings, I guess) as the tacos. It is not hard to end up with a nice spicy kick by choosing hot salsa and fresh jalapenos. This was another tasty healthy fast food type option that we enjoyed and will keep in mind!
Hey, this is not vegan but my wife loves churros. Unless I'm cooking or we're at a fully plant-based place, she is her own person. These were pretty good churros by all accounts except that the caramel sauce was a little too solid. That could have been solved with a little heat, I'm sure.
So under $30 including a soft drink, tax and tip and we even brought some leftovers home (please, never waste food!) The eating area was comfortable enough for a fast food joint and they even had an interesting pendant-type light fixture, which I appreciated. The staff were helpful. I told them at the outset that the order would be vegan and they helped me with options (including the rather tasty vegan sauce that I did not mention above). A vegan could do worse in a pinch!
Food                        3 out of 5
Vegan options          3 out of 5
Comdort                   3 out of 5
Service                     3 1/2 out of 5
Value                        3 out of 5

The Plant Butcher / The Wack Kitchen - Chilliwack Vegan Option

We drove to Chilliwack expecting to see the food truck that we saw at the PNE. Somewhat confused, as usual, we entered the Wack at the Cheam Mountain Golf Course on the south side of Hwy 1 just east of Lickman Road and found out, this was the place! It's not much to look at from the front, is it? You are entering next to the golf course pro shop.

It turns out that The Wack Kitchen is also a commissary kitchen for The Plant Butcher and Chasing Smoke BBQ. The current menu is the one you find at Skip The Dishes but you can order in person at The Wack (they don't have a hard copy of the Plant Butcher menu at the Wack). It is a little more confusing than it needs to be. If you Google the Plant Butcher it will take you to the Wack website where there is no Plant Butcher information at all. WTF? Anyway, once we figured all that out, we were off and running. 
We started with Korean Sticky Chick'n. This came on a bit of salad with an Asian vinegar dressing with pickled onions and sesame seeds. The sticky sweet sauce was very good although it wouldn't have hurt to have been a little spicy to really make us think Korean. To be honest, I'm sure it wouldn't have put them out of business to serve a larger portion. Really tasty though!
Next up was Plant Butcher Poutine. We ordered this topped with chick'n bits and this was on the amazing side! I have read reviews in which the reviewer wonders out loud whether they were accidentally served real chicken. We came close to that but upon pulling a piece apart, decided it might have been jack fruit (it turned out to be tempeh). This was crispy and good chick'n! The gravy was amazing and rich and the cheese melty. Extra decent fries as well. This was very good and a pretty good deal we thought, although I don't remember the exact price!
We ordered their regular Plant Butcher Burger for which they used Impossible ground meat (better than the prepared patties). Even our non-vegan server admitted that he eats this once in a while. We were more than a little impressed with this burger. It is one of the best meat adjacent patties that we have had and the vegan brioche bun and condiments built it into a hearty albeit messy affair!
I have a bit of a weakness for pickle chips. These were excellent. They were so crisp (maybe cornmeal in the crust?) and just thick enough to give you that sour hit.
There is cafeteria-style dining inside but on a sunny day, the back patio is a pleasant place to picnic with the nice green golf course for a backdrop. Our server was helpful with the ordering process but for God's sake, why not just make a menu available so we don't have to work so hard to find it? On the whole, this was some pretty good vegan chow and probably the only place you will find in Chilliwack.
Food                        4 out of 5
Vegan options         4 out of 5
Comfort                   4 out of 5
Service                    4 out of 5
Value                       4 out of 5


When I asked and was told that no one working at Folke was vegan, I was skeptical. I mean, how could they know? It's like when I used to hope that the chef preparing my sushi was Japanese! Yet, it was not far into our meal that I was converted into a true believer (not in a MAGA way, God help us) and came to realize that the kitchen crew had to be of the utmost dedication and creative ilk. After all, a chef at a seafood restaurant can take a fat fresh scallop and turn it into a masterpiece with nothing more than a bed of Hollandaise and a bit of caviar (of course, someone had to murder it first) (Hah! I'm working on my militant vegan chops and I think 'murder' nailed it, don't you?). Anyway, a chef at Folke decides to take the humble delicata squash and turn it into a masterpiece but needs to employ some serious chef stuff to make it pop at the same level. That's what they do at Folke! BTW, obviously, the clientele at Folke includes vegans but generally all people who appreciate the chef's craft and fine dining!

Located on West Broadway just west of Arbutus, we made the trek from Aldergrove and arrived at 6 pm to an empty restaurant, exposing us as the country hicks that we are! We had a reservation though! By 7:30 or so when we left, the place was close to full so do make that reservation. We decided to go with the Tasting Plates menu option with some dishes on and some off the menu and the chefs preparing what they feel is appropriate. The small tasting plates came regularly delivered by the chefs themselves who provided detailed descriptions that we often got lost in. As a result, my descriptions below in some cases may be simply reduced to, "Yum!". Trust us on that!
First up was sourdough bread grilled and topped with zatar, an assortment of amazing and unique pickles and compressed melon with Youzu. This was the first of several times that we heard the term compressed. If I understand correctly, the item is placed in a vacuum bag with marinade and sealed at 100% for a period of time. It is a method of profoundly infusing a flavour and it certainly works. Details already escaped me here like the nature of the dip for the bread (I believe it was walnut and bell pepper based)  but everything here was so flavourful. We thought checking the set menu would help us but even that tends to be a little minimal. Just enjoy instead of obsessing!
The chef referred to this as Cabbage or maybe Beet Carpaccio (I think). There was some serious smokiness and some amazing house-made crackers....Yum!
Agedashi Eggplant was a beautiful dish that turned out to be even more delicious than beautiful. The mushroom broth that forms the foundation here was loaded with savoury mushroom flavour while the eggplant went through a series of processes before deep frying. It was hot and slightly crispy and not like any eggplant that we have had before.
Our chef remained calm while I drove him crazy with questions about lettuce root (celtuce, I think). These were Dumplings, of the Vietnamese variety and therefore a little on the chewy side (they are supposed to be), filled with mushrooms and maybe XO. The broth was basically ponzu and the greens were komatsuna. Do you see why I was confused? Yum! Very subtle but amazing!
I think that this is right off the main menu, Carrots. Chicory, barley, bagna cauda and I don't think I ever expected to be so obsessed with barley...or carrots! By this point in the meal, I had managed to slow myself down and savour every bite and each bite was stupidly complex considering that we were basically eating our vegetables! I think that might be the point.
The delicata squash that  I eluded to earlier, made its appearance here. Young and fresh enough that we ate the shell (is that what we call the outside?), I didn't expect that. Pear (possibly compressed ?) with poblano and pumpkin seed and a sort of guac of the two, I guess this was the Mexican dish. This was one of our favourites although...
Then came the pasta. Of course, they make their own. With romano beans, fennel and a sort of garlic crumb topping (which I think showed up somewhere before ), we did not yearn for parmesan. Nothing is like house-made pasta, except they are not using eggs here!
We are not huge dessert people but this could change us forever! A compressed Nectarine (good for dessert all by itself). This was a creme brulee type thing but I think it might be disguised as Nectarine on the regular that possible? Concorde grape took us by surprise at the bottom of the pie. A nice brittle sugar topping, and anise coming from somewhere! Amazing!
Comfy enough but not too elaborate, it seems appropriate for a high-end restaurant that doesn't serve oysters or caviar! All the wait staff were attentive and checked in on a regular basis and seemed enthusiastic about what they offered. If you are wondering the Tasting PLates is $75 pp. Notable is the fact that this is a no-tip zone as they pay their staff a livable wage. Nice! I hope this catches on! Both the vegan and the liveable part! One of our favourites and we will be back!
Food                     5 out of 5
Vegan Options      5 out of 5
Comfort                5 out of 5
Service                  5 out of 5
Value                    5 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...