Boardwalk Fries Burgers Shakes - Vegan Options

So we take my Mother to get her groceries on Saturday morning and I noted a new fast food joint that was opening soon across the parking lot. A quick search revealed that Boardwalks Fries, Burger and Shakes offered a couple of veggie burgers (which I assumed would be veganizable in some way). So when it opened, we decided to give it a try.

Boardwalk's website provides no ingredient lists, nor do they have a head office phone number, nor do they answer emails sent to them from their "Contact us" page. To find out if what we were eating was vegan for sure, I resorted to messaging them on Instagram where I got very confused responses. I also phoned some of their Ontario stores thinking that since they had been around longer, they might have a bit better grasp on ingredients, than the local folks. Here is what I think that I know:
We ordered a Beyond Meat Burger and Sweet Potato Fries. We asked for them to hold the mayo and so the bun came with nothing on it. Our fries came with ketchup so we used a little bit of that. The bun wasn't bad and I am pretty sure it is vegan given a conversation that I had with a staffer in Hamilton, Ontario who seemed to know her stuff. They also did a pretty good job of grilling the patty which had just a bit of char to make it tasty. The sp fries were amazing and I would return just for them! Why can't I do that at home?
We also ordered the Organic Veggie Burger and Onion Rings. Right up front, I will tell you that the O-rings are not vegan and I know that I will burn in hell but I will also admit that they were really good. The burger required the same drill; no mayo so we used a little ketchup. They could figure out something to put on the bun in the back but whatever. This was a very good patty. Some rice maybe, veggies and I'm not sure what else but again very nicely grilled.
So while I appreciate that they had not one but 2 veggie options, I feel like the company as a whole could do a little more to court vegans. Even MacDonalds gives access to ingredients on their website and by the way, their sesame seed bun does not contain animal products (unfortunately almost everything else on the menu does). The confusion of my Insta communication seems to indicate that even employees don't know what's in the product. What about people with allergies including lactose intolerance? What do they do? These were nice folks and what we did try, we kind of enjoyed we really need more burger places?
Food                                  3 out of 5
Vegan Options                   2 1/2 out of 5
Comfort                             3 1/2 out of 5
Service                              3 1/2 out of 5
Value                                 3 out of 5

The Polly Fox Bakery and Cafe - Vegan Options

According to their home page, the Polly Fox is "all gluten-free (but not completely vegan)". That's funny because I am exactly the opposite! We again grabbed our Plant Curious Plant-Based coupon book and headed for Abbotsford.

Located on Essendene in the revitalized downtown core of Abbotsford, PF is located in a heritage-style building that might make you think that you were in Gastown.
While there are quite a few vegan bakery items, there is a little less on the food menu. Still, there was enough to keep us interested. One impressive thing about their Vegan BLT is that you have a choice of bread or these wonderful waffles. Having had amazing vegan waffles at Krause Berry Farms, I am now convinced that the vegan version is better than the original. These were crispy and still substantial and worked perfectly in the sandwich. The sandwich was delicious and the rice paper bacon was not bad. Having made a few types of vegan bacon at home, I can say that they need more flavouring to get there. Liquid smoke, used judiciously, and soy sauce, could be a little more forward.
The Vegan Sandwich also hit the spot. Thank you, PF, for not using green bell peppers. The orange provides a lot of flavour and when combined with, beets, carrots et al and served on focaccia, this was a very good lunch.
The vegan baked goods (I just don't care about the gluten-free part) are very impressive. We had an amazing Vegan Nanaimo Bar and an equally impressive Vegan Apple Fritter. We also enjoyed a Cappuccino with oat milk. There are many choices of baked goods not to mention beverages.
This is a very nice casual place with high ceilings and windows. The staff are very friendly and even allowed us to use both of our Plant-Based Deals Book coupons. There are a couple more vegan items on the menu including a soup but it would be nice to see a breakfast sandwich and maybe a couple more sandwich choices. Still, we can't complain when any restaurant provides plant-based options.
Food                         4 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

Tasty Indian Bistro, Delta - Vegan Options

Tasty Indian Bistro is definitely a place where you should make a reservation and dine in as it is a beautiful restaurant and should be experienced. Unfortunately, we were babysitting and only takeout would work for us under the circumstances, so we went with that! 

Located on Scott Road between 82nd and 84th, TIB also has Yaletown digs. I tried ordering online but the website kicked me out based on my pick-up time being too early (and yet when I phoned an order in, they gave me an earlier pickup time).  Seriously, their website leaves quite a bit to be desired as the main menu does not match the order online menu and trying to figure out which dishes are plant-based is a bit confusing, even though they have a plant-based section (which I am really a fan of but there are other menu items that are quite likely to be vegan). 
We ordered the Veg Manchurian which has become one of our favourite reliably vegan dishes available in quite a few places. This is an Indo-Chinese dish of vegetable balls served in a spicy sweet sauce. These were substantial and delicious and paired perfectly with rice.
We also ordered Bhindi Do Piazza which is okra cooked in tomatoes and onions. I am not always a fan of okra but this was quite good. The okra was not overcooked and slimy as it can be but was substantial, earthy and tasty. 
We also tried the Yellow Dal Fry, obviously lentils cooked with onions and spices. It is a bit of a staple for me at home during the week but I prefer theirs. This was nicely spicey. In fact, I ordered everything medium and was pleased that there was a nice heat to all of the dishes. We love heat but for me personally, proximity to a place to take a shower is critical if we are going all out!
No Indian meal is complete without bread and we chose the tandoor-baked Gobi Paratha, stuffed with cauliflower. This was pretty good and perfect for scooping up dal and mopping up sauce. It was not cheap at $6.50 for one piece but its not like I have a tandoor at home.
This was a beautiful restaurant, as mentioned and the staff were very friendly and matched the beautiful surroundings! Definitely not cheap, we paid $64 before the tip for 3 dishes and bread. Maybe I am just a victim of post covid sticker shock or I am just too used to the inexpensive Mom and Pop type Indian restaurants. This is definitely more of a fine dining experience and by that metric and the quality of the food, this was actually rather inexpensive. 
Food                                 4 1/2 out of 5
Vegan Options                  4 out of 5
Comfort                            4 1/2 out of 5 (this is assuming we had dined in!)
Service                              4 1/2 out of 5
Value                                 4 out of 5

Vegan Foodie Festival - Chilliwack

While, I'm guessing, most of the vegans from Metro Vancouver headed north to Squamish for the vegan festival there, we chose to head east to the first Vegan Foodie Festival in Chilliwack! I wouldn't really have pegged Chilliwack as a hotbed of veganism but it is the one year anniversary of The Veganist, a decent vegan supply store in the downtown area. They are the ones who organized this small festival in the hopes of drawing more people to a better way of life for themselves, the animals and the planet.

The festival happened at Central Community Park on Young Street just north of the city centre. Highlights included plant based food trucks, vendors and booths representing various vegan resources and a line up of speakers.
We had the privilege of listening to these women tell the story of BFFBC (Ban Fur Farms BC) including some successes and the work they have yet to do. The good news is there is room for all of us to participate. It seems that while the mink farming industry is being shut down in BC, fur farming of other animals such as foxes and chinchillas is sneaking in to take its place! My questions is who the fuck still buys furs? Why is it necessary to fight an industry that should be shut down due to its own despicable nature? Well, I guess we still have big tobacco so I shouldn't be so surprised. Follow them on social media! They are gutsy and brash in their tactics because that is what is necessary if no one listens!
Food trucks included Veg Out. The people of Chilliwack seemed willing to line up for an hour for delicious deep fried plant based goodies (and more). We have enjoyed the Veg Out experience in the past and so decided to try a local plant-based food truck that often is found hanging out in Veddar Crossing (check their website).
Stormy's Food Truck is known for their fruit smoothies and smoothie bowls, which was perfect for what turned out to be a pretty nice day! Bear in mind that the imminent danger of brain freeze always looms!
We tried a smoothie and a bowl and remembered that our Plant-Based Coupon Book had us covered! The Dragon Z bowl actually featured dragon fruit and pineapple with the toppings featuring their Rawnola which was delicious. The Berry Yummy Smoothie featured blueberries, bananas and strawberries and was also wonderful as you might guess. Remember to eat these slowly!
Among the other interesting vendors, we found La Bakeria Bakeshop which features Mexican inspired plant based baking. Unfortunately, they were sold out of product but we will track them down at their commissary kitchen located on Industrial Avenue in Vancouver, or at one up their upcoming market appearances. Check out their social media as well.
Just a block away and around a corner is The Veganista, Chilliwack's own vegan grocery store. They have a lot of variety and a lot of product here! Yes, of course they are a little pricey but specialty stores always are and you don't want to drive to Vancouver just to save a dollar. Before you say, eating vegan is so expensive, remember that we shop for some of these products when we want to treat ourselves (although they have some harder to find vegan necessities). Eating plant based can be quite inexpensive as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes are cheap compared to what you might spend on meat. Just another reason to go vegan! Thanks for the festival, you guys!

Earnest Ice Cream - Vegan Ice Cream!

I'm a little shocked that I forgot to post something about our visit to Earnest Ice Cream on the North Shore back at the beginning of April. Ice cream is one of those things that you have to plan a little more carefully for if you prefer to eat cruelty-free. Oh, sure, you can eat sorbet or sherbet all day but it's really not the same thing. Fortunately, Earnest Ice Cream is one of those places where they are highly creative and make brilliant vegan ice cream flavours and treats.

Located just a block west of Lonsdale on West 1rst in North Van, we arrived to a busy place as it was an early beautiful weekend in Metro Vancouver. I can't remember what all the choices were on the day we were there but I notice that they have 4 vegan flavours today in North Van. I think the menu changes pretty regularly.
Its been a while and I can't remember exactly but this Sunday had raspberry sauce and and some sort of chocolate hardening sauce and I think there were caramel bits in the tuile. It was rich and delicious that much I remember.
Once again, can't remember the flavours but Mharie got a double scoop cone. No, she doesn't have man hands as that is me posing the picture. Looks like some kind of berry for the top scoop and maybe chocolate chips in the bottom scoop. Does it really matter though? We are talking plant based ice cream here, people!
There is some seating here in North Van at EIC including a few window seats. The line was formidable when we arrived but the service is highly efficient even though everyone has trouble making up their minds. There are 4 Earnest locations and you can check on line to see what they are serving. Nice!
Food                                     5 out of 5
Vegan Options                     4 out of 5
Comfort                                4 out of 5
Service                                 5 out of 5
Value                                    4 1/2 out of 5

High Street Pizza - Vegan Options

Pizza again! Plant-based cheese has become an affordable and really delicious and melty commodity. I currently have a fridge full of Violite shreds as Save-On had it on sale for a couple of weeks and it is so good! There is no excuse for a pizza joint not to have at least a couple of vegan options but it is up to customers to ask for it. In the meantime, I will continue to let you know what I find!

High Street Pizza is located just behind Coquitlam Centre Mall at 1153 The High Street. HSP is a small operation and not a part of a chain making it somehow more impressive that they offer plant-based choices. Our Plant Curious coupon book led us here!
They offer 2 Vegan Pizzas here and on the surface they don't sound overly exciting but we persevered! The first is the Vegan Spinach Pizza. We fully expected to be overwhelmed by spinach but the green stuff was only a small part of this. It starts with an tomato sauce and in addition to the spinach includes tomatoes, mushroom and an impressive quantity of very good vegan cheese. The most impressive part was the crust itself. It was just nicely charred and crispy and reheated very well in our oven on a pizza stone at home.
The other vegan Pizza offering at HS is the Vegan Corn Pizza. Totally weird, right? Somehow this really worked! Corn and black olives were the main performers here and who knew that they would play together so well! Again, lots of cheese. Italians will be freaking out but I have to tell you that this was a pretty good pizza!
There are a couple of tables at High Street Pizza and one outside but clearly this is a takeout joint. We were more than pleasantly surprised by the pizza and we had a nice chat with the very personable manager. There may be only 2 vegan pizzas on the menu but if they become popular (they should!) maybe the menu will expand.
Food                             4  1/2 out of 5
Vegan options               3 out of 5
Comfort                        NA although it smelled very good here
Service                          4 out of 5
Value                             4 out of 5

Wela - Vegan Options

We tend to shy away from places where there is a suggestion that they are "wellness" focused. Not that wellness is terrible, but it so often leads to woo and talk of superfoods and prebiotics and probiotics and GMO-free and gluten-free and OMG it is all so unnecessary! Unless you have a specific condition and are under a doctor's care and are instructed to eat or avoid certain things, then balance is the key to health and wellness. Stop reading prevention magazines! I worry that the whole vegan thing tends to attract the crazies and I don't want to be associated with that. Happily, we came with the Plant-Based Coupon Book but left knowing that Wela is not overly woo-leaning (despite the plaques about superfoods on the wall) and actually provides some pretty good plant-based eats (healthy food despite my rant!). Admittedly, it is the name "Wela" that threw me but I didn't even ask where it really came from. This is not even a fully vegan place but just has some good vegan options.

Located at 980 Howe Street, Wela would be a healthy and tasty lunch option for the law courts folks and many others here in the downtown core. We arrived on Saturday afternoon which is clearly not their busiest time.
So we ordered a couple of bowls, a wrap and a smoothie and ended up taking most of the wrap home with us (lots of food). There are 4 vegan bowls on the menu or you can put together your own. The Bangkok Bowl is a pleasant dish of rice, romaine, chickpeas etc. and a Thai peanut dressing. Crispy onions on top were our choice of a few things that they will add for you. Not shocking but just fine and I would gladly eat this for lunch everyday!
The Chilango was our second choice and had all the stuff you would expect from a Mexican-inspired dish including a red pepper chipotle dressing. Just a very small touch of heat. The pickled red onions were our choice as a topping and there is hot sauce available as well. Another perfectly serviceable lunch item for vegans and others working in the area.
We tried the Falamus Wrap which starts with falafel and hummus. Add some fresh veggies and a spinach tortilla and you have a tasty item. Surprisingly creamy and quite substantial, I don't do wraps at home but this has me thinking about it.
Wellness rears its ugly head as some of the smoothies are labelled as cleansers and immune boosters but I am going to ignore that and declare this mango smoothie delicious. Thick and cold with just the occasional small chunk of mango, I have no problem paying $7 for this even though I am usually grumpy about smoothie prices.
Wela is mostly about take out although there are about 8 bar stools. These folks were very friendly and were open to offering suggestions. Prices are reasonable, and the food is fresh, tasty and satisfying. And the woo was kept to a minimum!
Food                        4 out of 5
Vegan Options         4 out of 5
Comfort                    3 out of 5
Service                     4 out of 5
Value                        4 out of 5                        

Bean Curd Sheet Vegan Adventures

I'll bet that's a blog post title that you just could not resist! A few weeks ago, I saw a recipe that someone had posted on Instagram that looked so good that I had to try it.

This is vegan Teriyaki Chicken from a recipe @veggieanh. It uses king oyster mushrooms and tofu skin which is where my adventure began. It was seriously delicious and the tofu skin was weirdly similar to chicken skin. I had a terrible time untangling the tofu skins (also known as bean curd sheets and a bunch of other things) and I am inclined to chalk that up to not knowing what type of tofu skin to use. In case you aren't familiar with it, tofu skin is a little like the skin that forms on top of pudding but as part of the tofu making process. For technical info, you'll have to look elsewhere but I do know that there are people out there making it at home.
I had purchased the first bean curd skin that I saw which was the fresh stuff at T and T Market. It tended to be very sticky and hard to flatten out into sheets. I made a huge mess but the recipe turned out tasty and the 'chicken skin' turned out very well. The advantage of this was that it was very thin but I feel like it would be better sliced up into noodles or something maybe as it was so hard to flatten. 
From this point, I started watching YouTube videos by people who knew what they were doing. Some folks got from somewhere, dried large sheets that flattened easily and rehydrated with very little liquid. I have still not found that product and I feel like the key is on the Chinese symbols that identify the product. The English translation gives no clues as to what the nature of the product actually is. 
One of my next attempts was a recipe for Vegan Duck (from this point forward the recipes are a mish-mash of YouTuber recipes). Again, I obviously used the wrong product but the results were still amazing (it is all about the sauce).
This time I had purchased dried bean curd sheets that would need rehydrating. After a couple of hours in water, this became something that I would compare to vinyl wallpaper and was definitely not the product that I would choose for the duck recipe. However, it is what I had so I went ahead and rolled the sheets as the YouTube video instructed. This brand of sheets did not behave well (although it tasted just like all bean curd does) but I was able to salvage a few finished rolls as you see above.
Next, I attempted to make bean curd skin 'bacon'. Vegans seem quite enthused (myself included) about making something that tastes like bacon and ideas are all over social media. I tried a couple of different types of products and finally found a thin sheet that comes in maybe 4" by 8" squares.
These sheets worked the best as 'bacon' although I took the thin sheets and folded them once so the strips are double layered. Again the whole trick is in the marinade and this was a very good one. Just Google a recipe and you will find something that suits you. I think this came from a YouTuber called Sauce Stache and the result was smokey and sweet and I will make it again.
Finally, we tried another more traditional Chinese recipe for a Bean Curd Roll. I used another brand of thicker sheets and you can see from the photo and the texture that it is a little heavier. I'm not sure if traditionally, a thick sheet would be used. These are both fried and then braised (or maybe steamed) and just filled with all kinds of vegan ingredients. They were quite tasty and once again the sauce was the star! 

Some of the thicker product worked just fine when torn into pieces and paired with a nice stir fry sauce as in the dish above. Of course, tofu and all its related products are quite neutral in flavour and so provide a palette for whatever you like as sauces and marinades. Healthy, of course, as soy provides one of the few complete non-animal proteins. I will continue to look for the very thin large sheets that I see in the YouTube videos. But this was fun and educational, at least for me! 

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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...