Holy Chow - Vegan Options

Score! I did not know about this place. I think it might be a well-kept secret so it is a good thing that no one reads this blog. I'm not sure how long it has been here under the current management but the facility has clearly been around for a long time Others possibly know it as Yagger's or The Lucky Penny. Holy Chow is located on West Pender, just east of Richards. It is open daily from 11 am to midnight and we showed up kind of in the early afternoon on a Saturday.

To say it was challenging to get in is putting it mildly. Maybe we would have done better if we had known some kind of secret knock. We arrived to find a handwritten sign that said they would be back at 3:45 but 3:45 came and went, then 4:00 and by 5:00 and I was ready to give up and storm away in a huff. My wife decided to phone them and was told that they were open! Apparently, they did not know that the front door was locked and that the 3:45 sign was still on the door. Sigh. It was worth the effort.
There were quite a few vegan items on the menu including the Black Truffle-Mushroom Dumplings. These were hand made in house and had just a subtle flavour on truffle in a nicely chewy wrapper. Served with a dipping sauce, this was a somewhat inspired dish and we were off to a good start.
These vegan Vietnamese Spring Rolls were also pretty special. Crispy and veggie filled, any spring roll connoisseur would be appreciative.
Always important to get your veggies and the Asian Greens were not surprisingly, very good. A crispy topping (garlic etc.?) and an Asian sauce rounded it out.
And finally, we had a nicely hearty Dan Dan bowl. We ordered this with rice and it came with tofu, chili oil, crispy chickpeas and mustard greens. Very tasty. What we like most about the menu at HC is that there is at least one vegan choice in each category. Well, other than Korean Fried Chicken and frankly, some people are doing pretty well making plant based chicken (hint, hint).
The manager/owner came to check on us before we left (which was nice and always makes a customer feel important) and told us a little about their food and operation. It seems that Thursday to Saturday are standup comedy nights at HC with shows at 8 and 10 (I could have gotten details wrong. I would be happy if someone corrected me). That might serve to explain some of the afternoon confusion as things must get to jumping as the evening approaches. They evidently take a lot of care with their food menu, most items made in house, making food as important as comedy and beverages here. We liked that!
Food                          4 1/2 out of 5
Vegan Options          4 out of 5
Comfort                     4 out of 5 (once we actually got in!)
Service                      4 1/2 out of 5 
Value                         4 1/2 out of 5

Vegan Fast Food Burger Roundup

There is nothing about ethical veganism that guarantees a healthy diet. Vegans can eat just as badly as omnivores but without cruelty (except to themselves). And don't bother whining that you think that vegans shouldn't eat imitation meat if they don't want to eat real meat!. That is the most profoundly lame and unthought-out position that you can possibly take! Vegans don't stop eating meat because they don't like it. They stop eating meat because it causes unnecessary harm to our fellow sentient beings (not to mention its significant contribution to climate change).

So anyway, if you want to eat a plant-based burger and you're in a hurry, here are my recent findings!

Burger King. On their website, BK is thoughtful enough to walk you through the Impossible Whopper and makes clear that if you want it vegan, you need to ask for them to hold the mayo.

So that is what I did! The bun itself does not contain egg or milk so you're good there. I've always preferred the Impossible Burger to Beyond. I find it to be meatier than Beyond Meat and will produce a better crust/char. Also to note, if you are more fanatical than I am, the Impossible patty is cooked on the same grill as other patties (most places are like that).  At BK, they will microwave it for you if you prefer but...blah! The IW is priced the same as the Regular Whopper and at about the same number of calories! I found it to be a pretty good sandwich all in all.
As I did advance scouting, a couple of websites told me that the BK Veggie Burger (their other plant-based offering) contained milk and eggs. The BK website (which I would hope is up to date as they need to declare allergens) does not indicate so. Possibly, they removed the mayo to make it officially plant-based. I asked them to hold the mayo anyway. This was a good vegan choice also but the Veggie Burger patty was kind of sad next to the Impossible patty. It reminded me of something that I might have eaten 20 years ago. You can order a side of fries or onion rings to go along with your sandwich according to their website. My photos make both of these burgers appear the same size but the VB is quite a bit smaller (and half the calories). Still not a bad burger.

KFC. OK, so not quite a burger but let's include chicken sandwiches.
Again, ask them to hold the mayo. The manager offered me some hot sauce which was a good adder even though I ordered the Spicy Plant-Based Chicken Sandwich. This was a really good sandwich. Crispy and hot (it arrived a little too quickly which always makes me wonder if it was sitting around but this is fast food) and when I dissected the patty (in the name of science) it pulled apart exactly as chicken meat would. At the same price as their regular chicken sandwich (came to $8.60 ), I would actually order this again!

Wendy's... nothin'
Five Guys...nope... even the bun has egg.
Tim's...hopeless...they have a breakfast Beyond Meat patty but it comes on a non-plant-based biscuit with egg and cheese...I guess you could order the patty only.
Carl's Jr...they advertise a plant-based burger but had run out at Guildford and didn't seem concerned about it. They lose by default. 
Dairy Queen...nope...but they do have a really good plant-based Dilly Bar!

Of, course you can always get fries and a Coke at these places (including the amazing Cajun Fries at Five Guys) but they could all try a little harder. Sometimes they bring in test market stuff and menus change but that is the current sad state of affairs as far as I am aware. Let me know if you know something that I don't...But we are not done yet!

A & W. I was standing at the door when A&W was the first to introduce the Beyond Meat Burger back in 2018. I thought I'd better try another in the name of research.
It has not changed. A Beyond Meat Combo is a good choice as long as you remember that you have to order it vegan with no Uncle Sauce or mayo. As most burgers are really about the condiments, the pickles and onions (hidden under the patty in the photo above), tomato, lettuce and decent bun make this a pretty good sandwich. With amazing onion rings and root beer and you have a pretty good plant-based meal. Roughly the equivalent of a Mama Burger (?) the Beyond Combo is a couple of bucks more. 

Fat Burger. A total surprise and the clear winner!
This place is noisy and fun and the staff are friendly. Of course, we could have just gone to the right location at the right time but the folks working in the open kitchen seemed to be enjoying themselves and yelled greetings as we were leaving. I wanted to yell, "Irassaimase!" but traditionally it is not for customers to yell. 
They have 2 plant-based burgers on the menu here.
We started with another Impossible Burger. This burger is about a buck more than at Burger King but everything is a little pricier at FB. Frankly, FB barely makes it into the category of all the previously mentioned fast food joints. I think of it as a small step up in almost every way so the extra dollar is expected. Anyway, nice bun and condiments. The website confused me as it talks about a brioche bun which would not be plant-based (at least unlikely) and white or whole wheat buns. As we specified that we wanted our order to be plant-based, we had to trust that they used the right bun. Good burger.
The big winner of this roundup is the Fat Burger California Veggie Burger or in this case, just the Veggie Burger. There is no sign of this on the website but it is a large, more veggie, more crumbly, less faux meat, tasty patty surrounded by a very good bun and the usual lineup of condiments! I ordered the California version (hold the egg and mayo) because it comes with guac but they forgot the guac so I paid for the California but got the regular veggie burger. It was still the best! Hearty and filling but fresh and tasty!

No matter where you are, you have to confirm with your server that what you are ordering is vegan. I know the servers can be wrong (or not care) and there may be cross-contamination. There are no real guarantees. Also, you are eating at places that glorify meat consumption and you may object to these corporations generally. Still, if a place offers a vegan option, maybe the public can confirm that they want more plant-based food and gradually meat will be less sought after. That way, everyone wins including the cows.

Sushi Mori, Langley - Vegan Options

I'm not entirely certain how I came across the fact that Sushi Mori has a few vegan-friendly items on their menu. To make sure I was not mistaken, I called them and the manager told me that although they did not have a specific plant-based menu (many items are labelled vegetarian) a lot of items could be prepared animal-product-free. We decided to give them a try as we are not too far away and often end up nearby to get our weekly groceries. 

Located in a strip mall across from T and T on Willowbrook Drive, we arrived around noon on Saturday, and there was seating available right away.
I used to be a nigiri guy in my past omnivore life and there is not a lot available that is naturally vegan. SM does not do the imitation salmon and tuna that specialty vegan sushi restaurants do and I would not expect them to. That leaves squash nigiri and onigiri and both of these were just fine. One of the great tastes of nigiri is well-prepared rice and that was evident here.
In retrospect, I feel like asking again if the tempura batter contained egg. I was assured that it was vegan and often the batter is made without egg. One has to trust. It was of a nice crispy texture and was very tasty. It came with the usual dipping sauce. Very nice. 
We ordered the Tofu and Vegetable Teriyaki Don. Again, this was marked as vegetarian on the menu but could be prepared (or already was) vegan. The tofu was delicately battered and fried and absorbed the Teriyaki flavour very nicely. Included were some steamed but still firm broccoli and sprouts as well as a base of rice. This could have been a decent lunch all by itself.
The stars of the show might well have been the rolls. When I was a nigiri head, I usually sneered at rolls as not really sushi. Now that I am vegan anything I eat is not really sushi so rolls are cool! Again, thee rolls are listed as vegetarian on the menu but your server will be able to confirm which do not contain mayo. I can't remember exactly what we ordered but on the left is Mango-Gomae Roll for sure, Yam Tempura on the right and possibly Inari Roll in the middle. They were all delicious!
This is a very nice room, warmly decorated and calming! Service was impeccable as it often is at Japanese restaurants (wait...is that some kind of reverse cultural appropriation?...good thing no one reads this) and our server helped us though the what's vegan/what's not thing. We will definitely be back.
Food                     4 out of 5
Vegan Options      4 out of 5
Comfort                 4 out of 5
Service                  4 1/2 out of 5
Value                     4 out of 5

Calabash Bistro - Vegan Options

For Calabash Bistro, location, location, location does not necessarily apply. Located on Carrall Street between East Hastings and East Pender, it's not what I would call a dangerous area but on the other hand, I would not choose to loiter here, especially after dark. Have we not got a plan yet to help the unfortunate and mentally ill in our community? I mean beyond clearing the tents off of East Hastings? It's not a simple problem, I realize, but it's not a new problem either. And while it might be more important and responsible for me to address the social problems, we are only really here for the food which at the moment seems kind of shallow. At least I feel that by emphasizing the vegan options, we are providing some sort of socially conscientious service.  At any rate, we approached Calabash Bistro from East Pender (having debarked skytrain at Chinatown Station) and that's what we would recommend, rather than using East Hastings.
We arrived at 5 when they opened and found that there was already a large gang seated inside. Apparently, these folks just arrived out of the blue and so Calabash showed them hospitality by seating them a few minutes before opening. I wouldn't expect anything different. Our server was kind enough to slip our order in ahead of the big groups which probably served to keep our evening rolling. We found that to be a nice gesture!
There is not a ton on the menu that is plant-based and I'm not sure how you would even do a Jerk dish (with tofu maybe? I will be trying to figure that out at home) but what they do have is comforting and substantial. We started with the Hearty Vegan Soup. It was a rich blend of assorted vegetables in a coconut curry broth. Definitely recommended!
The Vegetarian Platter has a vegan option. Another comforting plate with a very good slaw, curry roasted potatoes, zucchini and I'm not sure what else, as well as rice and black-eyed peas. There were also fried plantains, of the hearty substantial variety (rather than French fry style). This is what I imagine Jamaican vegan home cooking might be.
We also tried the Vegan Roti Stack. This was largely more of the same but with roti. Again, substantial and comforting with veggies including plantain and spinach and the very good slaw on the side. The roti itself was nicely chewy and seemed to be of the many-layered type rather than a pancake. Very nice.
So we very much enjoyed our meal and took quite a bit of it home. As you can see the portions were quite generous. We would have enjoyed a little more variety but it seems vegans can't be choosers. We loved this dining room complete with its Hendrix poster. The soundtrack was island-leaning as you may guess and very enjoyable. While we did not listen to any Bob Marley songs, we did get introduced to music from his grandson Skip! 
Food                      4 out of 5
Vegan Options       3 out of 5
Comfort                 4 out of 5
Service                  4 1/2 out of 5
Value                     4 out of 5

Nam Vegan Express - Vegan Restaurant

A fully vegan restaurant means not having to think about anything except what on the menu looks like it will taste the best! In the case of Nam Vegan Restaurant, thinking about what to order is no small deal as they have a lot of dishes to offer and everything looks good!

Located on 10th Avenue in New Westminster between Cariboo and Cumberland, NVE is in the same outdoor strip mall as the Hi-Five Chicken that we once visited in a past life. Place your order at the counter and they will bring you your impressive food when it is ready.
We started by trying their Bao Buns. Nice and fluffy as you would expect, the buns were filled with just enough impressive vegan pork that I'm sure most people wouldn't know the difference.
The Fried Shrimp in tempura batter were also quite impressive. The texture was the surprising thing here as the shrimp had just a bit of that familiar snap and even had some pink colour. They did not have an overly briny shrimp flavour but we honestly didn't come here to eat seafood so we enjoyed them just as they were, with Thai sweet chili sauce.
So, the Fried Fish doesn't look like you may expect. It is wrapped in nori of some kind that provides a nice oceany flavour while the 'fish' itself has brilliant texture. We try not to rate things according to their closeness to the more common sacrificed animal, but we could have been eating fish. NVE kindly marks all of their vegan 'meats' with a "v" on the menu so you don't have to think twice. The tomato sauce also really hit the spot here.
The belle of the ball for us was the Pan Fried Stuffed Eggplant. Stuffed with their house made tofu mixture and served with mushroom vegan oyster sauce, this was substantial and tasty! A bit salty and rich, we're not sure what the tofu mixture is but we would order it again!
Not all places that have vegan options have a vegan dessert so it was hard for us to pass up the Vanilla Strawberry Cake! Delicious!
Not a huge place, NVE is run by the chef and her son, if I understand correctly from their web site. At one time, I think they might have been all take-out but there are a few tables. The room is kind of homey but not too fancy. BTW, in case you assumed we were gluttons, at least half of the food went home with us including an order of very impressive Pho that I forgot to photograph! Not a very professional move I admit, but we are avowed amateurs. We'll be back to try more from the menu!
Food                    4 out of 5
Vegan Options     5 out of 5
Comfort               4 out of 5
Service                4 out of 5
Value                   4 out of 5

Table Bistro, Abbotsford - Vegan Options

I have had my eye on Table Bistro for quite a while but the universe just did not provide the circumstances for us to visit until recently. I had seen that their menu offered quite a  number of vegan options. I recently read a review of this place by a local food blogger but sadly, he did not acknowledge the fact that TB has plant-based options. Just not important? I think it is huge, personally. Our server/head bartender even assured us that the younger management group had specifically made an effort to accommodate the local vegan population plus maybe they just give a damn about the planet and its inhabitants.

TB is located on Bevan Avenue adjacent to Mill Lake in a recently built residential tower. There is street parking which is no problem. We arrived early in the day and were seated right away. 
We decided to try the one vegan pizza on their menu which is the Mediterranean. We were taken aback by the lack of cheese on this pizza (they do use vegan cheese on other items) but in the end, we did not miss it. The crust was quite good although we thought it could have used a little more char and indeed when we reheated the leftovers in our oven, the crust was even better. The sweet potato hummus base was quite delicious as were the roasted eggplant, peppers and balsamic glaze. The arugula on top was a nice touch as the peppery flavour provided a tasty finish.
The Plant Smashburger was a hit for us. The patty is not made in-house so maybe Impossible or something but the smashing process worked very well and gave a bit of a crust which one looks for. A decent bun, melty cheese and basic condiments resulted in a very good burger that we would order again. It came with a side and we went with their Tomato Soup made with San Marzanos and roasted peppers. This was also very good.
The Spicy Peanut Bowl probably qualifies as our favourite. There was some serious substance here. The base noodle was fettuccini and the sauce was just slightly spicy (you can top it up with chilli oil) and very rich and peanuty. More roasted veggies, peanuts, green onion and crispy garlic made this dish excellent whether you are vegan or not!
We found this to be a very pleasant and relaxing environment with very accommodating and informed staff. There are quite a few more plant-based items on the menu that we would like to come back and try. It was nice also, that the menu items are labelled vegan so that we didn't have to search and ask a million questions. We are impressed with the forward-thinking management group and hope that introducing people to more cruelty-free cuisine is a trend out in the Valley. BTW, we took probably 1/3 of our food home due to the generous servings.
Food                     4 1/2 out of 5
Vegan Options      4 out of 5
Comfort                4 1/2 out of 5
Service                 4 1/2 out of 5
Value                    4 1/2 out of 5

Chutneys Indian Grill - Vegan Options

Chutneys is a restaurant where you place your order, and then modify it by choosing the veggies and sauce and toppings from the bounty in front of you to make a dish that suits your mood. Picture Subway with Indian inspired food. We happened to arrive at the Chutneys in Langley on their official grand opening day and it was a little chaotic. Still, given a little more time (I didn't want to be holding up the line) I wouldn't have built something much different.
The new Chutneys is located in the maze between Willowbrook and 200th. We ordered everything vegan that we could find on their menu, to go.
A couple of Samosas that were reasonably priced and filled with potatoes and veggies. Pretty tasty but no big surprises here.
The Build Your Own Bowl option gives one some flexibility and its easy to achieve vegan! You start with a grain choice, and move on to a protein (we chose garbanzo beans for the bowl), choose a sauce (3 of the 4 are vegan) and grab some veggies for toppings.  In the interests of keeping the opening day line moving, we left most of the choices to the CIG staff and we were content with the results.
We followed the same process with the Build Your Own Burroti only we chose tofu as the protein. The results again were pretty tasty. You really can't go wrong with the build your own options which also include salad or a plate.
For some reason we ordered Masala Fries which didn't really do well on the trip back to Aldergrove. You should eat these right away. Still we liked the seasoning.
I don't expect that it will always be this busy. To their credit, they were well staffed for the opening but space behind the counter seemed to be at a premium. They were quite willing and able to ensure that our order was all plant-based.
For opening Day, the Bowl and Burroti were only $7 each which is insane but they are very nicely priced all the time (I think less than $12 for the Burroti). There are a few tables and a front counter if you choose to eat in.  Indian flavours and vegan choices will make this one of our top fast food go-tos in Langley!
Food                     4 out of 5
Vegan Options      4 out of 5
Comfort                 3 1/2 out of 5
Service                  4 1/2 out of 5
Value                     4 1/2 out of 5

Momo Factory, Delta - Vegan Options

Nepalese cuisine, not surprisingly, seems to include quite a bit of fusion with the cuisines of their neighbours, China and India. The result is sometimes spicy, sometimes sweet variety of dishes, many of which are vegan or at least vegan friendly. This is not our first time trying Nepalese food but it was definitely the most enjoyable. Admittedly, we have never actually been to Nepal so how completely authentic our experience has been is anyone's guess. We still enjoyed it.

Last time we were here, this was a Filipino joint, the name of which, I can't recall. They are located in the strip mall at the corner of Scott Road and Nordell Way in the same complex as Happy Singh, Tandoori Flame, Le Meza and apparently the Surrey/Delta Circumcision Clinic. All I'm saying is, make sure you get to the right place.
Ordering too much is always our thing (OK, my thing) and we could have done nicely with a couple of their lunch specials at 15.99 each. This one had 4 deep fried momos, Manchurian fried rice, something just called Manchurian (with your choice of protein) and a delightfully spicy habanero hot sauce. Everything was amazing but we didn't stop there.
We came for the momos and more momos we would have. We asked for them to be deep fried as healthy preparation be damned. You can order them with different proteins including soya chaap or veg for vegans (we asked for soya chaap). You order them with different sauces some of which are vegan but not all. We order this with sandehko which is sort of a pico de Gallo. Very good!
Somehow, I managed to order Veg Manchurian twice (the first was part of the lunch special). That's OK because we really like these things! Sort of like a meatball without the meat. Mixed chopped veggies flavoured with garlic, chilli and soy, we could eat these anytime.
Our final dish was Aloo Gohbi, a familiar Indian dish but we like how they prepared it here with potatoes wedges and Nepali spices. Served with basmati rice but they let us know that the Naan is not vegan. Another nice and warming dish.
For absolutely no reason, and to no advantage, Momo Factory (I am not using the abbreviation MF for obvious reasons) has a robot server! Of course, it is highly Instagramable but when it arrived the first time, our human server came and moved the plates to our table! So...you know. The next time it arrived, I bravely removed the plates myself.
This is a comfortable low-key room and the staff is very nice. Our server helped us figure out the vegan options. It would be nice if the menu was a bit clearer on that as there are quite a few more dishes beyond what we tried. We like the pastoral scene mural at the end of the room. It is a leftover from the Fillipino restaurant that used to occupy the space but if you didn't know better, you could imagine that it was Nepal!
Food                     4 1/2 out of 5
Vegan Options      4 out of 5
Comfort                 4 out of 5
Service                  4 1/2 out of 5
Value                     4 1/2 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...