Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Vegan eats and the latest beats*!~

Been hunting vegan style lately. I went out to the woods and for a long walk after the chain of stressful days...got tons of dandelion greens and some berries. The greens are beyond bitter, my mom made a Korea tofu bean soup with them, never having tried dandelion greens before...to say the least, the soup was choked down with tons of rice. I didn't dare try it, the look on my mothers face was enough to scare me off.

To apologize first, I left my camera at home for both restaurants..I will remember next time )O:

Anyways, been going out to some local eateries with fellow vegan Bobby! His real name is Robbie, but our united love of King of the Hill has granted us both the nicknames of Bobby Hill and I, Lu Ann. Bobby just got off the plane from LA and after weeks of not kicking it, we needed to catch up. I wanted to hear of CA adventures, and hell I just finished college, catching up, exchanging stories, and celebrations were in order.
We went to Angkor I have never had Cambodian food before and I've always been curious about it [Thank you Anthony Bourdain.] We arrived to the restaurant around 8:30 pm, they didn't close until ten, so we both figured it wouldn't be too much of a hassle to take us on. The menu isn't very large but offers a lot of vegetarian and vegan friendly options. All of their dishes have a tofu and veggie option, but for omnivores, there is a seafood, or other type of meat option. Prices are pretty reasonable also, appetizers are around $6 and entrees average $10. There is a $15 minimum credit card charge though, so be aware. Bobby and I didn't order soup, so I can't say whether or not the soups are vegan friendly, though I do wish I has asked. Bobby ordered the rice mitapheap with tofu and vegetables. This dish is served with garlic rice, garnished with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and pickle salad, along with a "special' sauce. I ordered the bee boong, a dish of steamed rice noodles, fresh bean sprouts, sliced cucumbers, lettuce, basil, tofu, and vegetables, it also comes with two vegetable spring rolls and a peanut sauce. The server said that what Bobby and I chose were favorites and very tasty. While waiting for our food I scanned the menu some more, there is bubble tea, but I think it is prpeared with cow milk,so vegetarians are lucky. There are several options for the bubble tea, strawberry, banana, coconut, mango, melon, jackfruit, almond, pineapple, taro, papaya, jasmine green tea, and coffee flavoring.

Our food came to us rather quickly, and Bobby's looked very attractive, my bee bong did...from a distance. It was cute and served in a nice white bowl, but the lettuce was browning and the noddles overcooked, they were clumpy! The bean sprouts were not fresh and the tofu was so dry. None of the flavors of the broth or sauce soaked into the tofu, it was inedible. I was really looking forward to this dish and ended up being very disappointed. I put aside all of the noddles and tofu and ate only the green lettuce, cucumber, and carrots. The sauce was also not very flavorful, I asked for hot sauce to enhance some flavor. bobby said his food was good, he ate all of it, though he agreed that the tofu was very dry and unflavored. I am going to blame the time that we went, I really want to like this restaurant, we did go on a Friday night, it was late-ish...I am planning on going again, during the day. Hopefully I will have a better experience with Cambodian cuisine. Anthony, don't let me down, my hopes were all high and everything.

Angkor Restauant
(401) 383-2227
333 Wickenden Street
Providence, RI 02903~~

A couple days later, my parents decided they wanted to go out, so we went to the Golden Abacus. We know the family that owns the place, and I remember that when I was a kid we all used to go there often, and get severely spoiled by the cooks. This time it was just my parents and I. The lunch menu is quite small, and offers only two vegan/vegetarian options. Though the prices are very reasonable, about $6. The lunch special comes with rice (pork fried or white), a soup (egg drop, wonton, or hot and sour) and one appetizer, all of which are not vegan or vegetarian. I got the kung pao tofu with steamed broccoli as opposed to rice, and the soup and appetizer was given to my parents. My tofu was very flavorful, very fresh, and just enough sauce. It wasn't too salty or fatty, and the tofu and vegetables were not lost in the sauce. Everything was very balanced. The sauce was a perfect balance of sweet and spicy, and just enough kick to leave you wanting more. This place was just as good as I remember it, though I recommend going for dinner, the menu becomes MASSIVE and there are so many more vegetarian and vegan options. Expect to pay $7-12 for entrees during dinner, but it's worth it.

Golden Abacus
1275 Providence Highway/ Route 1
Norwood MA, 02062

With beats, I've been listening to the latest Wilco album [Wilco (The Album)], Jeff Tweedy really does have a lot to offer. This album is a great album to just sit and listen to, to think to, to relax to. It's not overwhelming, or too busy, it's pleasurable. This album took about two years to make after their last album, and I feel explores all sorts of emotions. It plays with depression, acceptance, happiness, love, all that jazz really; Wilco was experimental with this one, trying different beats and going a little against their usual norm. It is more upbeat compared to their other albums and it's catchy. Not annoyingly and vapidly so, it's a great album, and Wilco really is awesome. I saw Jeff Tweedy with Spy and it was more than a pleasurable experience. Tweedy is sarcastic, honest, and truly talented, a natural performer. Check out their site, and their work...And for all you Feist fans...they do work together in the song "you and I."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Me time in Boston...ah and Chinatown

Spent the day in Boston yesterday, actually took some me time. I was originally going so I could meet up with a fellow student so we could study for our final, but she bailed. I was already on the train and, well before plans for Korea I did set a goal for myself to kick it through the Beantown streets at least one more time.

 As soon as I got off at South Station I felt safe, comfortable...free almost. There was no criticism following me, endlessly ringing in my ears, nothing...amongst a community of noises, yet I was in the bubble of serenity.

Having not been to Harvard Square in so long I took the subway there, I miss subways. The constant disarray, overwhelming confusion that is just accepted, and communally understood. I was soaking in the surroundings, passing each stop  and witnessing the awkward altercation, conversations, and gazes. Everyone is people watching...Harvard square is...a college section. It was raining, as it has been here for the past three (approaching four) days, so lost in my huge rain coat and with an over-sized umbrella, my only plan was to explore. I stumbled into Dado and got a steaming cup of dark oolong and ginseng tea...instant pleasure.

I haven't gone to a tea house in forever, there isn't much around my spot. )O: Cruising through streets I found a used book store, and Veggie Planet, I have one of their reusable bags and am so glad I know where they're located now. I didn't get anything, but it smelt so comforting. Basil and tomatoes sauce wafted through the air, an open and approachable kitchen  was easily accessible...and even though there wasn't much direction, it was just understood what the "rules" were. Everything seemed reasonabley priced too, the menu looked alluring enough, but wasn't too hungry and I had plans on hitting up my FAVORITE Boston area...China Town.

Durian hunting, that was my mission, and I my plan. along with Bijiu. I haven't had Durian or Bijou since my trip to China and I was seriously missing China. And I want to celebrate, I'm finishing up my FINAL class for my undergrad tomorrow and hell, I want some cheap rice wine!

 I can't quite explain it, or accurately describe how I feel whenever I enter China town. Something feels so right, I mesh right in, I feel confident walking those streets and through the stores. As uncomfortable as I feel in my home when Koreans come over, in China town amongst the Koreans and Chinese, I feel so much more accepted, my lungs expand freely. Right down to the smells of China town I feel at ease. Also it brings me back, these memories flow straight into my head from when I was younger and used to buy grapes juice or cabbage with my mother here, when I would converse in horribly broken Korean with store owners, and the time I was in Changchun. The smells of dumplings filling street corners, along with the crackling of roasting geese and cooking pigs (as much as it pains me, it does remind me.) Even the trash riddled corners, where the cardboard is stacked upon high sandy covered plastic and wooden chopsticks makes me feel at home...so comfortably at ease. The combination of community, people, smells, produce, all of it...it's a taste of Asia that is not at all like Asia but a kiss of it.

I think I went into every store, when I saw produce, I ventured in. Plump pumpkins, wasabi peas (the American brands..pish posh), the dried mushrooms, Ah I love it. I walked into this tiny tiny store and found the usual dried ginseng, fish, sweet potatoes, ramens of all flavors, but there were barely any Korean products, the ones I am so used to seeing, smelling, and tasting. The produce section was so tiny that I feared my Durian mission would be a fail...a man saw my confusion and I showed him a cell phone picture and he guided me straight the the horrid smelling spikey fruit!! YESS!! but...$1.99/lb, these guys are huge...should I drop $20 on this...

I decided to venture on wards, good thing I did too. I stumbled into a bigger store, full of SO much more produce. And I spoiled myself. I made quite a bounty. Got water spinach, Chinese broccoli, and sesame leaves for $1.69/lb, king oyster mushrooms for $3, enoki mushrooms for $1, dried "black fungus" (the same pillowy seaweed like ones I had in Changchun), two bags of white seaweed (I am not sure what they are called but they're so yummy), and yes...durian for $1.50/lb...I spoiled myself hardcore, and well, spending only $32.50 I left a happy vegan gal!
 And luckily next door was a Chinese liquor store, I found my cheap bijiu. The last time I had this I was with Spy and I got more than sick. Bijou is this clear rice liquor from China that seriously is like gin, tequila, and vodka mixed all together to form this gut wrenching, lung clasping, blood stopping liquid consumption reaction. And it does not do well in mixers, so shot it or nothing. I saw so many people swigging these babies back with not even a cringe...an dI couldn't take more than two without feeling like I was going to die. On one of his days off Spy and I bought a bottle (only for 10 kuai=US $1.65) and tried desperately to make it tolerable...peach and kiwi nectar, fail fail fail. I took maybe one shot and while walking to some nearby gathering, I had to turn back...
anyways long story short...I'ma have to be very gentle with this round.

The day in Boston was a great day...I finally enjoyed some me time...and when that exam is turned in and I can stretch out and breath without any assignments eagerly requesting my attention...I'll enjoy a little bijiu, and a section of durian. I'll be to giddy to smell the rotten stench that misrepresents this glorious fruit.