Friday, December 10, 2010

Hangawi in NYC

Although Hangawi has received numerous "best vegetarian restaurant" type awards in NYC, we had yet to ever try it. Because we were in town longer this time, I wanted to venture beyond our usual spots. It was in walking distance from Madison Square Garden, where we'd just went to see Wintuk, Cirque du Soleil's holiday show (recommended!). I also really wanted to visit Hangawi since Asia has been the topic of our homeschool studies.

This picture doesn't capture the restaurant's true loveliness. When you enter, you are asked to remove your shoes, which are taken from you and stored in cubbies. You are seated on floor pillows, but there is actually a hole under the table for your feet. This was our first time (that I can remember) in a Korean restaurant.

This picture is very sad, but I will include it merely to say we started off with the Vermicelli Delight (sweet potato noodles with assorted vegetables). We enjoyed trying new things at Hangawi such as "sweet potato noodles."

The kids really wanted tea, and we agreed it would be perfect for the experience. They shared two (large) cups of Citron Juice "tea."

Combination Rolls:
emperor's rolls, seaweed rolls, mushroom rolls and kimchi vermicelli rolls

one of the cutest, most fun plates I've ever ordered and
so fun to try all of the different ones

Kabocha Pumpkin Pancakes with Mung Beans

My 10 year old, especially, couldn't get enough of these.

Fried Vegetable Dumplings

(you can also get them steamed)

The entrees came in these stone bowls which stayed HOT the entire meal. We enjoyed sharing and sampling all of the dishes.

Avocado Stone Bowl Rice

avocado with a variety of vegetables & tofu over rice, mixed with miso sauce

Ryan said this was his favorite.

a grilled tofu with seaweed bowl

They also served us a cabbage roll and kimchi, which I was thrilled about since I've been obsessed with kimchi lately.

Organic Brown Rice Stone Bowl with Organic Tofu and Mixed Vegetables

I love how you order something seemingly "plain," like rice with tofu and veggies, but it comes out looking beautiful, with nothing plain about it. I also really love how Hangawi has organic options.

Tofu Cheesecake

Tofu Ice Cream

The desserts were tasty (and only $7 apiece, which wasn't too crazy compared to other restaurants). And at least they were served beautifully. On leaves!

As soon as we started eating our food, I was oohing and aahing that this would definitely be one of our main restaurants we choose whenever we're in town. I rarely ever eat Asian food because the potential ingredients scare me a little bit. (This probably started in highschool while I was on a double date. We stopped at a Chinese place, which I was not looking forward to. I ordered "rice," the most benign item on the menu. And it came out rice with tiny shredded bits of fried egg that was impossible to sift through.) Anyway, Hangawi made quite an impression on us visually and orally.

And then we got the bill.

Might not be rushing back here anytime soon.

I questioned our server about the $10 beverage charge (since we all had water). Is this a normal thing at restaurants? He explained it to me, and I still can't tell you what it is. I found that extra $10 tacked on very irksome. The wonderful taste in my mouth was slightly tainted by the almost $200 tab (after tip). Oh, well. I know you can eat there a little more economically. Even though we finished all of our food, we could have done without one of the entrees. (But as I was listing everything we were ordering, I asked the server if that seemed like the right amount of food for us, and he suggested another entree. The ever-agreeable me said, "Okay.") He also told us the bowls probably weren't big enough to share, but they were. And we could have done without dessert. I grabbed a take-out menu, and those prices seem noticeably less.

Hangawi: 10 thumbs up and will visit again most likely when it's just Ryan and me. Or if it's all of us, we'll make sure we're not incredibly hungry before we go.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Giveaway Winner and Other Random Stuff

I'm sorry I haven't announced the Candle Cafe Cookbook giveaway winner. I'm surrounded in my post-vacation MESS that's put me into some sort of funky denial. I don't want to come to terms with the mile long list of things I have to do right now. I have no idea how a Christmas tree or our many tubs of decorations would even fit into my home right now.

So, instead I turned off those thoughts and turned on my DVRed episodes of Life Unexpected and Guliana and Bill, etc. that I missed while I was gone. I have no choice now but to get back to real life.

The winner is: Seglare. The cookbook is going to be making its way to Copenhagen! Enjoy, Seglare.

One nagging concern of mine right now is my camera battery charger that I left plugged into the outlet at my apartment in NYC. Sigh. I haven't been able to use my camera since we left Hardy, Virginia...I have only my phone to use, therefore I have been taking my plates of food outside for pictures. I have to decide whether to wait any longer to see if the apartment people will actually mail it to me (they haven't returned my email) - or shell out $40 for a new charger.

Anyway, I made a batch of White Bean & Sweet Potato Burgers like I wrote about a few posts ago. This time I paid attention to quantities, and this is how it played out:

1 cup of white beans (this time they were canned cannelini)
1 cup of microwaved sweet potato (about a half of a large one)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup organic wheat Panko crumbs

This mix definitely needs spices of some sort, but I'll let you spice experts figure that one out. It held up again really well. I overcooked it a bit as I was trying to do 5 things at once, as usual.

Here is the prettier picture from the other day.

I also tried making Sweet Potato Bites because my friend Lori had made them for my kids recently. I thought they were so cute, different than sweet potato fries. AND my 5 year old, who "doesn't like" sweet potatoes liked them!

I thought mine were good, and he did eat them with the promise of dessert. (Yes, I bribe my children.) However, he informed me that they were "too soft," and I realized I didn't chop them into tiny enough pieces like she had. And maybe I didn't turn the oven up high enough. I'll try again later.


Here is a random, funny story you may appreciate. My sister Cary, who lives in St. Louis, recently drove by a "restaurant" called Village Vegetarian. Well, I can imagine MY excitement over finding such a place, and she was equally intrigued. She was headed to a get-together with her friends one night, and she decided to go early to grab a bite at Village Vegetarian. She has two small kids (who were at home with their dad); this would be a rare type of indulgence for most moms. She pulls into Village Vegetarian all excited about the vegetarian treats of which she was about to partake...and realized it actually said Village Veterinarian....hahaha...I'm chuckling again as I type this. Poor sister.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vegan MoFo: One More About Candle

We have returned from our 16 day Road Trip Extravaganza. I'll post more restaurant reviews in the weeks to come. It has been a let down, to say the least, to return to my refrigerator that is need of a grocery run. I feel like my face is in a scowl as I stare at its contents, wondering what to fix...thinking of the "good 'ol days" when I could just sit and choose from an array of vegan gourmet meals...then someone would serve it for me with a smile on his face.

And all I had to do was say, "Thank you!"

Those were the days.

I wrote about our first night in NYC at Candle Cafe and our other trip to Candle 79, its sister restaurant. We made one other visit to Candle Cafe this trip.

There was an hour wait for a table, therefore we ordered our food to-go. I finally got my Cajun Seitan Sandwich that I was merely teased with, from one bite of my husband's the other night. I wrote last time that this is one of our favorite sandwiches ever. This is the inside view of "pan-seared seitan with steamed greens, onion, avocado, and ancho chili aioli, served on toasted foccacia."

This time the greens were a little bitter, so I picked them off and ate them first so they wouldn't distract from the otherwise perfect taste in my mouth.

Ryan chose the Barbecue Tempeh & Sweet Potato Sandwich (with wilted kale, onion, and shallot sage aioli), and it was definitely another hit!

We also shared the Classic Caesar Salad. I really love caesar salads. I like to order them because they always vary from restaurant to restaurant.


A week or so before our trip, I had made Aztec Salad (from the Candle Cafe Cookbook) for dinner. It really and truly, at that point (before I went on vacation, of course) was the tastiest, most wonderful food I'd eaten in quite awhile. In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, I am making this again as soon as I get back from the grocery store.

The only downside to this salad is the many steps involved. (The recipe is actually online at this site where the book can be purchased. Click on the Google Preview under the photo and there are many recipes included from the book.)

One layer of the salad is this Quinoa Salad, which is tasty enough to eat by itself. I used red quinoa, organic frozen corn, onion, cilantro, bell pepper, black beans, lime, and a tiny bit of vinaigrette (store-bought, not the recipe version, for sake of time).

I also used seitan instead of tempeh because that's what I had. The marinade (which consists of apple juice, tamari, garlic, agave, and chipotle barbecue sauce - I did NOT use as much agave as it called for) is phenomenal.

Another fun, tasty aspect of the salad is the toasted pumpkin seeds on top. This is another step I cut out; rather than toasting them myself, I bought some tamari roasted seeds in bulk at WF.

The seitan and quinoa salad layers were bursting with so much flavor I didn't feel any need to add more dressing on top.

I'll pick a winner for the Candle Cafe Cookbook tonight!
Last chance to enter HERE.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vegan MoFo: White Beans, 3 Ways

I am interrupting my vacation stories to finish this post I started before I left. In my continuing effort to cook more frugally - and to...well...cook at is what I did one week with a bag of Great Northern Beans from Wal-Mart:

First night: White Bean and Kale Enchiladas

homemade enchilada sauce (tomato paste, water, chili powder, garlic, other spices, organic cornstarch), beans, thawed frozen kale, Daiya, organic corn tortilla shells

roll 'em up, cover with more Daiya and bake

served with romaine on the side

Second night: White Bean and Sweet Potato Burgers
food process whole cooked sweet potato,
whole wheat bread crumbs, sesame seeds, beans
I wrote down the quantities, but as usual, have misplaced it. These particular ingredients, though, make a great patty that cooks up nicely and evenly in a skillet.

Third night: White Bean Chili

I had intended to make Heather's (from Where's the Beach?) Spicy White Chili, then I discovered I was out of some of the ingredients, including vegetable stock. I used her white beans and soy chik'n as inspiration, though. I mixed pasta sauce with water and spices for the base, then added the beans, sauteed Gardein Buffalo Wings (plain without using the sauce), and sauteed spinach.

Don't think any of us were sick of white beans. The dishes were so different, we weren't at all. In fact, my daughter woke up one morning and asked for "beans with ketchup" (with the small amount of beans that were leftover) for breakfast.

Breakfast is served.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Candle 79 and Giveaway!

After spending a couple of hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday, we walked a few blocks over to Candle 79. We weren't definitely going to eat here during this particular trip with the kids because it's the upscale version of Candle Cafe. It is intended for the "sophisticated eater," whereas our family as a whole is a little more...I'd say redneck than sophisticated.

It was so close to the Met, though, and I just couldn't pass it up. Ryan and I had the best experience eating there last summer on my birthday/anniversary trip. (Last time, we sat upstairs at a window seat: see above - very romantic!) Fortunately, the kids were well-behaved, and the staff welcomed us with open arms.

They even brought us out a complimentary plate of polenta fries as an appetizer. So nice! The fries were really good - I don't know if I've ever had polenta fries - and served with chipotle ketchup.

We also chose the Angel's Nachos for an appetizer. I'm pretty sure it took us about one minute to empty this plate.

Ryan and I shared two entrees. The first was the BBQ Seitan Sandwich: carmelized onions, garlic-herb kale spread (yum!), & avocado, served with lettuce and polenta fries on the side.

My pictures are strangely lit because I didn't want to use my flash. It's not bad to use your flash once or twice in a restaurant, but when you end up with as many dishes as we do, it's too much of a show. Therefore, I feel badly that the photography doesn't do this delicious food justice.

Ryan had picked the Burrito as our other entree. It might not have been the best choice since it seemed like something we would eat at home regularly, but that isn't a complaint about the food itself. It was loaded with chili-herb grilled seitan, carmelized onions, sauteed greens, chipotle black beans, brown rice, (non-dairy) cheese. The sour cream, sauce, and guacamole on the side were perfect additions. It was definitely big enough to give Sissy half of mine.

The boys shared the Spaghetti and Wheatballs. We are unsure if they gave us a half portion because we were discussing that option, or if this is the complete $18 plate. (Some of their dish portions are a bit on the small size for the price.) The boys liked their spaghetti and thought it was fun to order "meatballs" at a restaurant.

They offer a tempting, hard-to-choose-from dessert menu. We might have ordered more desserts, but at around $12 apiece, we stuck to two. (We're nearing the end of our trip, and we've already ate our way through our budget. It's sort of unreal how much money a family of five can spend during two weeks at vegan restaurants.)

Anyway, I was very excited to try the Cannoli (vanilla cream filling, vanilla chocolate chip icecream with chocolate drizzle) because that's one of those desserts it's hard to find vegan. I only took one bite since it was technically the boys' dessert, but I loved it! I'd definitely order that one again. favorite dessert not only at Candle 79 - but indeed on the ENTIRE PLANET is the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss. I wrote about trying it for the first time on this post. I've mentioned that other restaurants haven't had my favorite type of dessert. This obviously falls into my "favorite type of dessert" category.

It's so cute and teeny-tiny, but the taste more than makes up for its diminuitiveness.

There is a chocolate mousse layer and a peanut butter mousse layer. Both are surrounded in a chocolate shell and sitting on a chocolate wafer. It is decorated with a berry coulis and peanuts. (And good news for you gluten-free people, it's listed as a gf option!)

My only complaint was not being able to savor each bite the way I would have liked. I was sharing it with my daughter, and if I let up for a second, she would have gotten it all. I'm like Mother of the Year, aren't I?

So...the owner of Candle 79 and Candle Cafe, Joy Pierson, came to our table to greet us and thank us for coming. I always love that; I think it's a very memorable touch. We started talking about how we are from Arkansas, home of zero vegan restaurants and how much we just love coming to hers. She was sooo nice; I almost felt like I was meeting a celebrity - the owner of two of the best restaurants in the world, in my opinion. :) We talked about my blog and Vegan MoFo, and she wanted to give me a cookbook! I told her I actually already own it, so she gave me a copy of this book, a collection of wit and wisdom from the co-owner and founder of Candle 79 and Candle Cafe, Bart Potenza.

Apparently, these aphorism became known as he posts them in his restaurants, then he put them together for this book.

He happened to be sitting at the bar, eating lunch, and she rushed over to get him to sign it for us. We loved that.

I enjoyed reading the history of their establishments on their website. Bart purchased the Upper East side health food store, Sunny's, in 1984. The previous owner lit candles every night to bless the establishment. He renamed it The Healthy Candle, and it grew from a vitamin shop/juice bar to a full service cafe. He had met Joy, a nutritionist, as she was coming into his store, and they had become partners. They wanted to expand...then in 1993, they won $53,000 in the lottery! Isn't that so fun?! That is how Candle Cafe ultimately came into existence, and now we can all benefit from their lottery win. :)

Obviously if you aren't going to be in NYC anytime soon, then I'm just being mean, taunting you with these pictures. I can offer one person a little something in consolation: a copy of The Candle Cafe Cookbook. I have enjoyed using this book myself, and I just love the recipes I've tried.

As Bart Potenza says in his book, "If you want a piece of the pie, you may have to bake it yourself."

To enter, just leave a comment on this post! You're welcome to do any other entries that ya want: follower, blog roll, subscriber, tweet, whatever you want to do - enter as many times as you want. You can even be creative with your entries if you feel like it. (Flattery is always welcome.)Open to anyone, anywhere.
I'll pick a name on November 30, the last day of Vegan MoFo, before I go to bed.

Update: I just wrote another Candle Cafe review here, including a delicious recipe I made from the book. Our first visit to Candle Cafe on this particular trip is here.

Happy Thanksgiving, by the way, to those who celebrate.
I hope your day was filled with blessings.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Angelica's Kitchen

One of our best dining experiences this week in NYC took place at Angelica Kitchen. We have nothing but positive things to report. Located in the East Village, the restaurant space is pleasantly designed, clean, and peaceful. Our server was sweet, helpful, and complimentary toward my family (which is always a plus; we're either annoying or endearing, depending on how you want to look at us). The owner (or manager?) also came to our table to check on us, asking where we were from, had we ever eaten here before, etc.

Ryan and I had eaten here many years ago (when Tornado was a wee little guy), and although we did like it, we didn't stop back in on our following trips, for some reason. On this trip, I have been craving healthier meals (rather than my novelty burgers/fries/milkshakes I sometimes aim toward on vacation). And that is what we received here.

For an appetizer, we shared the Agrarian Selgado, which is "baked rounds of mashed Yukon Gold potatoes and seitan, with a parsley-almond pesto center; topped with dill-tofu sour cream and garnished with piquant marinated kale." Yum! It was sooo good. I loved the mixture of the sauce with the greens, and the baked shell over the soft, delicious mashed potatoes.

This is listed as the "Special Appetizer," with proceeds of the sale going toward Friends of the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement. Angelica Kitchen seems very committed toward charity, fair-trade, local farming, sustainability, and composting.

Ryan and Tornado both ordered the Hot Open Face Tempeh Sandwich: slices of sourdough baguette topped with slightly marinated & baked tempeh...with savory mushroom gravy. Served on a bed of raw spinach, garnished with ruby kraut. They also added the optional scoop of mashed potatoes. (Tornado would order the optional scoop of mashed potatoes NO MATTER WHAT he was eating...the kid loves mashed potatoes.)

Ryan now officially declares this to be his favorite meal in NYC.

I had been trying to avoid ordering a sandwich at every single restaurant (I love sandwiches!), but this one seemed quite a bit different than my regular fare, so I chose it.
Sam or I Sandwich
Herbed baked tofu layered with marinated hiziki & arame,
crisp grated daikon, ruby kraut, a smear of mellow sesame spread & lettuce

It wasn't overly flavorful, which is less of a criticism toward them and more of a problem of MINE. I'm too addicted to salt, and I'm not the most flavorful cook. Therefore, my food usually tastes salty. I'd like to get used to enjoying a variety of flavors in food, you know? My meal felt very light and healthy. And I don't know if I've eaten daikon much before. The ruby kraut felt new to me, as well. I also love sea vegetables, but I don't know if I've ever thought to put them on my sandwiches.

I ordered the 3-item Pantry Plate for my daughter, and she chose hummus (which came with crispy pita and veggie sticks, baked tofu, and the daily vegetable, which happened to be this quinoa salad with carrots, beets, etc. I thought her little plate looked so cute.

My 5 year old has a a bit pickier palate. He just ordered tofu and rice, which didn't make for an interesting photograph.

Angelica Kitchen does not use refined sugars or preservatives (OR any animal products). They have a very unique dessert menu, which admittedly looks a little healthier than I usually choose for my desserts. (Daily desserts may include choices like strawberry jam dot cookies, date ginger muffins, raspberry crumb tart, etc.) Therefore, I told Ryan to choose, since his taste buds lean toward healthier creations. The five of us shared this warm bread pudding with fruit (pears?) and maple tofu whip. It was sooo good.

We also took a bag of Organic Brittle with us to eat on the subway ride home. We had never eaten anything exactly like this before, and it happily vanished from the bag in no time.

We have encountered our fair share of rude people and bad service while in NYC this week. It was such a relief to enjoy a nice meal served by nice people. We will always come back to Angelica Kitchen whenever we are in town.