All Reviews by djmichael
332 Tate St, Greensboro, USA
Wish we had something like this in Raleigh-Durham
Boba House gets a star just for being entirely vegetarian. Still, I can't give it 5 stars because I did have some issues. I will certainly return, but I will be a bit more careful with my selections next time.
I like the ambiance, especially the interesting lantern-type lights. The wait staff are dressed all in black, which is a nice change compared to the blue jeans and tee shirts one finds in some restaurants.
To start, my dining companion and I got the appetizer sampler. The taste was good, but the Satay Skewers were cold, and the "special teriyaki sauce" for the Celestial Tofu tasted simply like rice vinegar--no teriyaki sauce taste or consistency.
The Green Light soup was original (creamy broccoli and avocado) but overly salty.
For an entree, I wish I'd gotten something simple, like mock meat and veggies. But I opted for the Hula Pot with mock "duck." I liked the sweet potato in it, as well as the duck. However, I could have done without all the onion and basil. Also, though I asked for Mild, the dish was so spicy that I literally had to go to the bathroom two or three times to blow my nose because the spice made my nose run so much. My companion got an entree of green beans and mock "beef." She enjoyed it; I thought the green beans were a bit overcooked.
For dessert, we got vegan chocolate cake and raspberry amaretto cake. The latter had a nice raspberry taste; the former had very little chocolate taste. Both cakes were way too sweet...
Despite my being less than bowled over by the food, I am thrilled that Boba House exists, and I wish we had something like it in the Raleigh-Durham area.
Updated from previous review on Monday July 01, 2013
301 10th Ave N, Jacksonville Beach, USA
Formerly Buddha's Belly: Great service and food
It was my good fortune that the place I'd planned to go was closed on Mondays. Thanks to Happy Cow, I found instead Buddha's Thai Bistro, where I received perhaps the best service I've ever gotten at a restaurant. If money were no object, I would have left a 100% tip for my waitress. And the food was great, too.
Name change: Apparently another business by the name of Buddha's Belly brought legal action against this establishment, forcing it to change its name to Buddha Thai Bistro. However, as of August, 2012, the shopping center sign, the building sign, and the menu all still say "Buddha's Belly."
Thanks to the listing on Happy Cow, I knew that this restaurant had mock meats and was vegan friendly. You have to know to ask, because the menu does not make that clear.
I was surprised that this Thai restaurant had a mostly American wait staff. Most of the diners in the restaurant were American, too. But the owners and cooks are Thai--it is family owned.
Aside from tofu, one can get dishes with mock fish, shrimp, or chicken. One of the several questions I asked of my waitress was the source of the mock meats. If I recall correctly, it is a place called VegeUSA, out of CA. Though I'm not big on mock meats, the fake chicken I had in my dish was quite good.
Each time I asked a question of my waitress, she went back to the kitchen and came back immediately with an answer. I found that to be an amazing level of service.
The prices are a bit higher than I'm used to seeing in Asian restaurants, but this place is a cut above the rest, including its upscale ambiance. I got a kick out of seeing "Jeopardy" airing on the TV above the bar.
I ordered a dish from the Curry section of the menu called "Pra Ram (Amazing)," which is a "rich peanut curry sauce over spinach and steamed broccoli on a sizzling hot plate." I chose mock chicken, a generous portion of which came atop the vegetables. A large amount of sauce came in a gravy boat, so that I could pour it myself. Though not listed on the menu, carrots were a part of the dish.
For dessert, I wanted to try the vegan taro custard, but it was out of stock. So instead I ordered mango sticky rice. It was great, with perfectly ripe mango atop purple sticky rice, sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds and presented on a plate complete with a drizzle of kiwi dipping sauce.
Don't miss this place if you get the chance.
Updated from previous review on Saturday August 18, 2012
2140 Peachtree Rd, Atlanta, USA
More than just a cafe
When I hear the term "cafe," I expect something fairly casual. But Sunflower Cafe is actually a fairly upscale restaurant, with premium vegan food selections and premium pricing.
Sunflower Cafe reminds me a lot of Laughing Seed Cafe in Asheville.
I was glad to be able to order local, organic hot tea, which was served in a pot.
For dinner, I ordered one of the daily specials: "Tilapia Style Peach Tofu," $18. Grilled tofu, cauliflower & butternut squash mash, steamed veggies (carrots + broccoli), mango peach Port wine sauce. The presentation was very nice, and the taste was excellent--but I was surprised by the small portion size. Still, I know that part of what I'm paying for is the labor that goes into creating such a fancy vegan dish.
I was tempted to order the other special of the day: Chimichuri Seitan Steak.
The menu was filled with lots of great-sounding offerings, including about a dozen "Starters" plus various types of salad.
For dessert, my server brought out a plate showing about eight different types of cakes/pies--all vegan--such as German chocolate cake, key lime pie, etc. I had to use all my willpower to pass them up.
I was impressed by the Dr. Bronner's liquid soap in the bathroom.
If I ever come to Atlanta again, I'll be sure to dine at Sunflower Cafe.
2114 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, USA
A Vegan Oasis in the West
I was glad to make it to Fei's Health Café just before she closed (7pm is closing time). It was a Friday night, but the place was empty: Fei explained to me that she does a good lunch business and that a lot of UofNM students leave town on the weekends. Fei's has been in business for about 6 years.
Fei's is entirely vegan, and the prices are very low. For a mere $5.95, I ordered a "House Special" (a combo plate with various options), which included "special seitan," cold sesame noodles, steamed broccoli, pot stickers, a small piece of "veggie ham," and some homemade bread. Though I'm not a fan of fake meats, I enjoyed the veggie ham (made of soy). The seitan was good but too salty. I liked the bread. A $2.00 pot of jasmine tea was excellent.
For dessert, I ordered a purple-colored pastry made with taro. It was quite tasty.
I found Fei to be charming, though I had a bit of trouble communicating with her due to the difference in our native tongues. She is from Taiwan, and she informed me that she orders most of her food from Taiwan. That got me wondering about the quality of the food: Is the soy gmo, for instance? I was very surprised to see packets of Sweet 'n Low on the tables--to me, something totally out of place in a cafe that caters to vegans.
Fei's cafe is small, with about 5 tables and no apparent wait staff (just Fei and a cook).
One final comment: The men's restroom was shockingly dirty--dirtier than some gas station restrooms. It appeared that the sink had not been cleaned/scrubbed for months. It made me wonder about the cleanliness of the kitchen. I looked around the cafe for a health dept. rating notice but did not see one.
Driving across the country from NC to CA for the second time in 3 years has made me appreciate even more the vegetarian food options I enjoy in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area of NC, where we have many health food stores and many vegetarian options at local restaurants. Not so in states such as Arkansas and Texas, even in the major cities.
I love what Fei is doing and told her how much I appreciated her offering vegan foods. But the bathroom situation may be enough to keep me from returning.
134 N Spruce St, Winston-salem, USA
Beautiful Presentation, Average Food
The official name of this restaurant is Wen Hwa Asian Fusion Cuisine. It's located in an artsy district of downtown Winston-Salem, in walking distance of the Marriott. I'm not sure what the fusion is, unless it's the fusion of soy-based meat analogs with Chinese food. As far as I could tell, most items on the menu are Chinese-type dishes. Anyway, we were greeted warmly by owner Connie, who told us that she is vegan. The place is beautiful, with lots of black and red. The menu is quite unique: printed on a rolled up fabric scroll that is inside a hollow, dried bamboo stalk. The menu posted on the restaurant's website does not show all the vegetarian dishes, though you'll find the very unusual vegetarian sea bass and vegetarian salmon listed under Special Entrees. What's nice is that any dish on the menu can be made vegan; and they offer vegan chicken or pork in addition to tofu. I wanted to try the "pork," but it was unavailable. We started with a great-tasting appetizer of steamed vegetable dumplings. I was so glad that they arrived in a covered metal serving dish, so they stayed warm. For my entree, I got a sizzling tofu and vegetable dish, but with the vegan chicken replacing the tofu. Alas, the vegan chicken was thin reddish slices and tasted more like ham. And the overriding taste of the dish was SALT: It was as if regular soy sauce had been poured over the food rather than any sort of special sauce. My partner had the same experience with her dish. That was a big disappointment. Also, I was quite surprised that Wen Hwa does not offer brown rice. I would try this place again, but I'd be more careful in my entree selection... I give Wen Hwa a "very good" rating because of the atmosphere and because of the extra effort to cater to vegans/vegetarians.
1800 Hendersonville Rd, Asheville, USA
Generally, I don't like to eat at a restaurant that is not full-service. But Green Sage was a pleasant surprise. You go to the counter and place your order, and they bring your food to your table. The food was exceptionally good and a good value. I got the Caribbean Pineapple rice bowl with tempeh. It included red cabbage and red pepper, which were not listed on the menu but were a welcome addition to the dish. Some of the ingredients at Green Sage are even organic. The menu is well marked as to what is vegan, organic, and gluten-free. Ambiance is simple and clean and spacious. I'm glad I discovered this place. This is a second, newer branch of Green Sage, whose original location is in downtown Asheville.
1529 Piedmont Ave Ste D, Atlanta, USA
I'll admit that I was hoping for a bit more than the experience I had. Still, I wish there were a restaurant like Green Sprout in the Raleigh-Durham area, where I live. Green Sprout reminds me of the now-closed Vegetable Garden, of Bethesda MD, but the quality is not quite as good.
I drove down to Atlanta to audition for the show "Jeopardy." Thanks to Happy Cow, I was able to pre-plan where to eat for dinner. One of the places I chose was Green Sprout.
When I called Green Sprout prior to my visit, I got a generic voice mail message (no mention of the restaurant on the voice mail message) that said the voice mailbox was full. Huh? I thought the restaurant must be out of business. But since it was close to my hotel, I drove over there. It was open! One minus for not having a functioning voice mail system that provides an appropriate greeting.
On entering the restaurant, I was greeted with a smell that I call "old restaurant smell." Not pleasant, but not noticeable once you're there for a few minutes. One minus for the smell. I mentioned to the woman who greeted me about the voice mail, but she did not really seem to care.
Somehow, I expect vegan restaurants to be a bit more effusive in their greeting of customers, but usually I am disappointed. Not much of a greeting here, but perhaps I got off on the wrong foot by mentioning the voice mail.
The restaurant has a good menu, with nice descriptions of each dish. How nice to be able to choose from various soups/appetizers/entrees that are all vegan.
Running out of room, so I must truncate my review. I got a Chef's Special dish: Empire Soy Chicken (mild), which contains soy chicken (which I was told is non-GMO) and veggies. The "chicken" is battered and fried. The food was hot (in terms of temperature)--a big plus for that. The veggies were cooked very well--just the right amount of crunch/softness. The sauce was tasty but a bit too sweet and cloyingly thick (corn starch?).
The proprietor seemed to know his regulars, but I was not afforded any special treatment. My server did not even check to see if my food was okay--a minus for that in any restaurant.
There is an extra charge for rice ($1.00 brown, $.75 white)--why not just include it with the entree, as most Chinese restaurants do?
Nice new age music playing.
Though I did not feel welcomed or appreciated as a customer, I'd still go back to try other dishes. And I still wish that there were a place like this in my area.
40 Wall St, Asheville, USA
Used to be my favorite restaurant
I travel to Asheville from Durham about once a year. I always used to go to Laughing Seed at least once per visit--but no longer. Don't get me wrong: I love that they are entirely vegetarian. There's nothing like it here in Durham. But lately, I've been disappointed: The menu is smaller (still lots of great choices), and the prices are high. On my most recent visit, I ordered a daily special tempeh dish, and I just didn't really enjoy it. Aside from the tempeh being rather bland, the food was not HOT. When I'm paying $15 for an entree, I don't think it's a lot to ask to have the food served PIPING HOT. In this case, I sent back my plate--and it came back only slightly warmer. Henceforth, I'll be frequenting alternatives in Asheville, such as Nine Mile and Green Sage, which are less expensive, have very tasty food, and serve their food HOT.
1431 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, USA
I was a bit wary after reading some of the negative reviews of Sublime. But because there is nothing like Sublime in my neck of the woods (Durham NC), I decided to check it out. I felt welcomed from the time I entered: I arrived at 9pm on a Sunday night and got a very friendly greeting from the hostess and waitress who were at the hostess stand.
They confirmed my suspicion that Sublime purposely does not advertise itself as vegan (on website or menu), presumably in order not to scare away potential customers who are not of the vegan/vegetarian persuasion.
Sublime has a nice, upscale look, with pleasing background music. I liked seeing rotating images of classic paintings on the TV screen behind the bar rather than sports or other typical TV fare.
Before my meal arrived, I was given a complimentary portion of pesto polenta--yummy. My dinner took about 20-25 minutes to arrive (longer than I would have liked), but it was worth the wait. I like that the menu is not overly complicated: That made it fairly easy for me to choose. I got the Vegetable Platter ($17): blackened tofu, broccolini, kale, mashed potatoes.
Best part: Food was hot (in terms of temperature), not lukewarm as at so many restaurants. The tofu had a pleasant spiciness and texture. The kale, to my surprise, was cold--but delicious. It was chopped,with lemon juice and bits of tomato and onion. Very reminiscent of tabouli, without the bulgur wheat.
Overall a great experience.
5200 Capital Blvd, Raleigh, USA
A Great Find
I believe this restaurant has been in Raleigh for many years, but I ate there for the first time last night. I was quite pleased with the experience: lots of great choices for vegetarians and vegans.
The place is spacious (huge) and modern in appearance, with wood (bamboo?) floors and comfortable lighting. Sweet Tomatoes is part of a national chain.
For the very reasonable price of $11.79, you get to enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet. There are no servers-just some staff who restock the buffet and clear away dirty plates.
Prepared food items are labeled clearly as VE (vegan), VG (vegetarian), and/or G (gluten-free). Most all the food is vegetarian. But that does not mean it’s all healthy: There is plenty of white flour and sugar to be found in prepared items. Good news for vegans: Per the website, “If you're looking for ingredient lists, each of our restaurants feature [sic] ‘Product Information Binders’ behind each bar. These binders list all our menu items and ingredients in each.”
My favorite part of the buffet was the soup bar: The flavors change regularly, with about six from which to choose—including some very unique options. All are made from scratch. There was a vegetarian Pesto Pumpkin Bisque and a vegan Sizzling Sriracha Udon. Yes, vegan soup! And it was yummy.
The hot bar includes baked russet and sweet potatoes, several types of focaccia (all with cheese), some hot pasta (all three choices looked plain to me), and miscellaneous baked items such as cornbread (all vegetarian, none vegan). Items apparently change regularly.
Here is how the company describes its salad bar: “We have over 45 feet of fresh salad ingredients and 10 house-made dressings where you can build your own salad masterpiece.” I really enjoyed being able to make a salad with raw spinach and mixed greens, plus shredded jicama, black beans, kidney beans, etc. The salad bar included a prepared citrus arugula pasta salad (vegan) that was quite tasty.
My only complaint: A lot of the plates and bowls were dirty. At a buffet-type eatery, I like to eat small amounts at a time, trying various items--so I went through a lot of bowls and plates. I had to set aside several soup bowls and several plates that had bits of food stuck to them. And most of the plates had droplets of water on them. Perhaps it is time to buy a new dishwasher? The dirtiness of the dishes is the reason I have given Sweet Tomatoes 4 stars rather than 5.
144 Morrisville Square Way, Morrisville, USA
2002 review + newer comments
This place is entirely vegetarian, which is great. However, last time I was there, the service was not good--so I've not been back since.
Here is a link to a review from the Triangle Vegetarian Society (NC):
4125 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd, Durham, USA
Eclectic and Vegan
I went here for the first time as part of a birthday party--a group of about 20 folks. The restaurant is fairly small, and business was brisk.
The menu is limited: It has mostly raw vegan offerings, plus a few Daily Specials that are hot. I ordered one of the specials: Organic curry lentils over organic coconut rice served with organic kale salad and baked plantain.
My biggest problem with eating out in restaurants is that the food is never hot (in terms of temperature). I like my food to be very hot, which is why I cook a lot of my food at home in a wok. Unfortunately we had to wait a long time to get our food (about 45 minutes), and my dish was just lukewarm when it arrived. Granted, we had a big group, which may have caused the delay, as well as the cooling off of my food.
The taste of my dish was great. Funny, but the greens in the kale salad tasted more like collards. And I don't recall getting a baked plantain as part of my dish. I found the $10 price for my dish to be very reasonable, considering it was vegan and contained mostly organic ingredients.
The menu includes a variety of unusual vegan wraps, which you can get wrapped in your choice of lettuce, seaweed, or collard greens. I found the menu a bit confusing because of the various choices among the wraps.
Not much ambiance, but worth checking out. As far as I know, this is the only vegan restaurant in Durham. This is a locally owned, minority owned business.