San Juan Vegan Eats with Asian Flavors

Lamp - 1st Visit to Sogo Asian Bistro

When I find a place that has Vegan options in Puerto Rico I feel need to share it with you so you can help me spread the word.

I shared on my personal blog part of the awesome experience I had a few days ago during a business lunch  at SOGO Asian Bistro in San Juan.

The next day I took my family for lunch and here is a quick review of the delicious and well prepared meal we enjoyed.

My company eating at SOGO.

Lucy and Daniela ready to try SOGO.

Fast Service with a Smile

We got there during the lunch hour rush which seemed pretty packed. As the patrons left to get back to their duties, we sat and enjoyed the rest of our meal.

That said if you want a good meal at a great value and don’t have more than an hour for a lunch break, the food is served in a very timely manner.

Kahoo Yu - Owner of Sogo

Kahoo Yu, Owner, always smiling.

Vegan Asian Appetizers

We started our meal when the owner Kahoo, (a good friend of mine) recommended ordering sautéed vegetables as a side and some spring rolls. They were both great options.

We also started off with some Jasmine tea to set a relaxing tone to our lunch.

Vegan Options in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Vegetable Spring Rolls

Vegan Appetizer - Veggies

Mix of Sautéed Vegetables

Vegan Asian Entrees

When I visit a restaurant with Vegan options,  I usually ask for as many vegan food items as I can fit in my stomach (I hope my personal trainer is not reading this).

I ordered a bento box which included the following:

  • Salad with Ginger Dressing
  • Fried Vegetable Rice
  • Sautéed Vegetables
  • Veggie Sushi Roll
Part of my Huge Bento Box

Vegan Bento Box

For my daughter (and me) I ordered fried tofu with black mushrooms and Lucy ordered a few sushi vegetable rolls that where all delicious.

Fried Tofu, Black Mushrooms and Vegetables

Fried Tofu, Black Mushrooms and Vegetables

Vegan Dessert

Lychee in Martini Glass

Lychee

After our entrees, we had dessert which were Lychee Fruit in a cute martini glass.

Overall the meal was great and very tasty; something difficult for many regular restaurants when they prepare vegan options.

I am so thankful for Kahoo and how he went the extra mile to cater to our lifestyle, the attention to detail he paid to Daniela, so we could have one of the best meals in a long time.

If you are near San Juan and you’re seeking some vegan eats with an Asian, twist feel free to stop by SOGO Asian Bistro.

More About SOGO Asian Bistro

SOGO Asian Bistro
Centro Comercial San Francisco
San Juan, Puerto Rico
(787) 766-0111

1st Visit to Sogo Asian Bistro

Vegan Friendly Casabe Restaurant

As we drove to the west coast and received the news, via a “For Rent” sign, that our favorite restaurant in Joyudas which caters to vegans and vegetarians was closed, we decided to stop by our favorite placita in Cabo Rojo to get some coffee and snacks for Grandma.

Plaza de Cabo Rojo

Like many other local coffee places in Puerto Rico, they did not have any Soy or milk substitute. I usually ask for my coffee with coconut milk at this particular stand and they did not even have that available on this particular afternoon.

As I watched the rest of my family have their toast & coffee, my uncle decided to walk around and search for a restaurant with vegan options.

My uncle stopped at Casabe and asked Gabriela, who seem to be the waitress/hostess, if there where any vegetarian or vegan options. She answered yes and explained the options and went even further by offering a dish created by the chef if the options available did not coincide with our needs.

Street of Casabe – Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

The Walk Toward the Restaurant

As I walked towards the restaurant, I was skeptical about the vegetarian and vegan options due to past disappointments. I was waiting for the moment I could prove this place was not fit for my Vegan lifestyle.

After we were seated, I started asking Gabriela many questions where many others waiters would have given up on me, Gabriela very nicely explained the process of how they prepare the options I could order.

As an appetizer she recommended a soup that was made of a few root vegetables I can’t recall including Yautia.

They won me over when they where thoughtful enough to make a small batch without any beef or chicken stock.

I have to say the soup was delicious even after the recipe modifications they made to fit my needs.

We also requested some potatoes for my 18-month daughter. They made sure we got her food first confirming they are a family-oriented restaurant.

Potatoes for the Baby

As a main course I requested the only vegan plate on the menu that made me feel like the food critic in one of my favorite Disney movies Ratatouille.

I had the Ratatouille plate that was delicious. This helped Casabe seal the deal in making me a future patron.

Ratatouille @ Casabe

After having a coffee and enjoying our meal I left with a big smile and wanting to return.

Casabe will become my go-to restaurant in Cabo Rojo that caters to vegans like me.

Cafe at Casabe Restaurant

Visit or Contact Casabe

Calle Barbosa #53 Esq. Baldiority
Cabo Rojo, PR

Phone: (787)851-1888 |  (787)851-1888

Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurants in Austin #SXSW

Iron Cactus, Austin photo by @rj_c

As the days get closer and you have probably mapped out where you will stay and what sessions of SXSW you will attend, one of the questions you might want to ask yourself if you are a Vegan or Vegetarian is where will you eat? We have listed some Food Carts that cater to Vegans and Vegetarians for when you are on-the-go.

Here are about six restaurants located Downtown in Austin that we found that serve and cater to vegans and vegetarians.

  • Austin Java will serve you breakfast all day with products that are vegan and vegetarian friendly and non-GMO (They do not use products that are a Genetically Modified Organic.)
  • Clay Pit if you want to do lunch and enjoy Indian Cuisine but check out their schedule before you reserve on the Open Tables system. Here is a list of their vegetarian options.
  • Pita Pit offers you Lebanese style vegetarian options. They are also offering a vegan black bean patty.
  • P.F. Changs If you would like to enjoy a sit down dinner and Asian cuisine.
  • Serranos Tex Mex Restaurant will have vegetarian options for you . If you are a vegan just ask them to prepare your meals with out the cheese.
  • Iron Cactus it has a great view of downtown Boston and Raúl’s experience during #SXSW was great both times  Raúl choose to eat there.
  • Casa de Luz - recommended by Nando Caban-Mendez and Thom Singer according to it’s website their nutritionally trained chefs handcraft plant based, 100% organic, vegan, vegetarian, alkalizing, nutrient-rich meals that will improve your health.

There are more restaurants in the downtown area that will serve you vegan or vegetarian options.

Thanks to VegAustin.com for providing great information. If you feel like venturing outside the downtown area, this site will provide you with other alternatives. I would check the list to make sure the restaurants are still operational as there were some that we found out of business.

We also posted a previous post on Vegetarian and Vegan Food Carts which also can give you a few other options.

Are there other restaurants in the Downtown area of Austin that serve Vegan or Vegetarian options? 

 

Vegan & Vegetarian Food Carts in Austin #SXSW

Thanks for the Free Vegetarian Sandwiches at Short Bus during #SXSW 2011

Being that this is my second year that I will be assisting SXSW (South by Southwest)  I am preparing a bit more before arriving into all the SXSW madness.

My first time as SXSW I was vegetarian so I was consuming dairy products. Most establishments offer multiple vegetarian options and even most SXSW parties have vegetarian friendly snack food or options where you can eat for free.

For the last few months I have made a few changes into my lifestyle and stopped consuming Dairy. So this year I have a different challenge and that is finding vegan options at #SXSW.

Austin Food Carts Site and Mobile/IOS App

Creating my SXSW Guide post for my blog I ran into the Austin Food site and found that they have a mobile app.

Looking into the App I was happy to find two categories with Vegan and Vegetarian friendly food trucks.

App in iTunes Store

I will be definitely using the app during SXSW and try to make my way around the event.

At the moment there are 22 options listed as vegetarian and 14 options as Vegan.

Feel free to download the App and make it easy on yourself when you are in Austin.

Vegan

Arlo’s Austin

Biscuits + Groovy

Cheery Up Charlies

MamboBerry

Moses Falafel

The Flying Carpet

Vegan Yacht

Vegetarian (including list above)

Bufalo Bob’s Chalupa Wagon

Conscious Cravings

Hoover’s Soular Food Trailer

Sun Farm Kitchen

T.N.M. Gyros

Any other suggestions that are not listed here please feel free to share?

Not Just Cowboys and Cow for Dinner in Dallas

Dallas has a reputation:  Southern drawls, women with bleached blond highly hair sprayed coiffures, JR Ewing, Urban Cowboy and the Dallas Cowgirls in high boots and almost-not-there skirts.

My first trip to Dallas was more than 25 years ago. It was a business trip, and I felt some culture shock when at a business dinner, one of the men ordered the food for all of us at the table. I felt like I was a woman living in the ‘40s. The worst part about it was he ordered an array of meats I wouldn’t touch.  Back then, the word vegetarian was not heard much, and certainly the guys at my dinner table would have been clueless about a meat free diet.  I can’t recall, but I’m guessing I ate a small side salad, as I was so used to doing at establishments that didn’t offer vegetarian options. Back in those days, I was even used to going without any food, as the choices often were dismal.

 

Now in 2011, I had another business trip to Dallas. I was determined to try to work in as many of the vegan spots.  A vegan friend gave me some pointers, and I also consulted dallasvegan.com 

The first place I stopped into made me want to return for more.  Spiral Diner looks like a funky chrome-laden diner with plenty of your traditional comfort foods like hot dogs and frito pies and milk shakes and ice cream – all vegan of course.  Since I gave up comfort foods more than 35 years ago, those menu items didn’t appeal to me.  However, Spiral Diner has a vast selection of wraps, sandwiches, and hot plates to choose from.  They also have agave-sweetened caffeine-free sodas. 

While I would have enjoyed ordering an appetizer, main plate and dessert or soda, I kept it simple with a wrap.  My selection was a whole wheat tortilla filled with sweet potato, avocado, hummus, greens, candied walnuts and tahini dressing.  I’ve mixed black beans with sweet potatoes before, and beans and avocado are a natural combo, but this was very different, tasty, crunchy, healthy and filling.

 

Next stop on the vegan express, Bliss Raw Cafe.  I know all the benefits of raw foods, but let’s face it, raw foods aren’t always as comforting as cooked dishes.  Wrong.  I ordered Vietnamese noodles. This raw version was made out of kelp with an almond paste dressing.  I splurged on a dessert. Since I don’t consume any sweeteners except agave, I was in heaven with this agave-sweetened cacao brownie. The next day I returned and the owner suggested their coconut kale enchiladas, which are apparently a best seller.  The tortilla was a reddish paper thin sheet made out of coconut. The enchiladas were stuffed with kale and other greens, and topped with white and orange creamy dairy-free sauces.  Now I know why they call this restaurant Bliss.    

 

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON) opened Dallas’ first vegetarian restaurant 28 years ago. Over the years, it has won many awards for the best vegetarian place in town.  What impressed me most, beyond the good food that I was expecting, was the atmosphere. 

ISKON’s spiritual leader decided Dallas was the place to build a special temple.  Set in a fairly poor working class neighborhood, the Krishna temple, ashram and Kalachandjis restaurant are housed in a palace.

The restaurant has a lovely patio and gift shop.  Kalachandji’s offers lunch and dinner buffets for under ten dollars.  I tried to avoid overdoing it and ate only barbecued tofu, spinach, and a cauliflower zucchini curry.  No soup, no salad, no dessert, no drink, even though they were all included, and I left feeling stuffed.  For the picky eater, you can see the daily buffet items online before you visit, at kalachandjis.com

 

I actually spent more on books than I spent on my meal.  One of the books I bought as a gift, The Higher Taste, is chock full of rationale why people should adopt a karma-free diet.  The first half of the book talks through scientific and spiritual reasons to be vegetarian and includes many quotes from notables such as Paul McCartney, “if anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat.”  The latter half of the book provides vegetarian (not all vegan) recipes in accordance with ayurvedic practices.

 

To round out the circle of plenty, I tried Cosmic Café, a funky place located not far from downtown. On the second floor, the café has a community space for yoga and meditation classes.  The first floor looks a bit like a 60’s style yoga pad. Most the menu items have a taste of India. Even the hummus platter is served with Indian sides like flatbread and mango. This is an all vegetarian restaurant, and most the items can be ordered without cheese or other dairy ingredients. 

There are also plenty of other vegan or vegan-friendly options outside Dallas in Fort Worth, Plano and Richardson, several of which specialize in Asian fare.

So while ranch-hands still may work in Texas there’s plenty of eats beyond Cowboy breakfasts here.

Vegetarian Creativity in the Pearl of the South

Last February I met a small restaurant owner and chef that operates and works in my hometown of Ponce.

One of the biggest issues you can have in Puerto Rico like I have expressed on past occasions is the lack of opportunities for vegetarians to eat out. Much less have a meal prepared by a chef that completely understands the definition of vegetarianism.

I visited Chef Creations in Ponce a place which has been in operation for over 10 years. I had never cared for visiting the place since it did not say welcome vegetarians. When chatting with my friend and also client Romy Baez , we made the decision to have lunch at Chef Creations. I had taken the invitation from the Chef many months ago and he had told me he was going to create a plate especially for me.

When I arrived I engaged in conversation with Chef Jorge (Owner of Chef Creations) on the opportunities that a restaurant on the Island has of having various vegetarian options on the menu. Before he prepared my meal, he ran me through all the important questions that re-assured me that he understood what a Vegetarian and Vegan could consume and not consume.

I felt very much at home. Most of Chef Creations clients are locals that know of the place by word of mouth.

I was very impressed on how cozy and inviting the inside looked. It was very different from the outside which does not say come in and enjoy a great meal.

We arrived when they where about to close and although they had stored everything they decided to take care of us. Chef Jorge decided to create a Vegetarian Pasta mixed with sauces and a creamy sauce.

For me it was something unique because I am not a big fan of Pasta but this Pasta was really delicious. Once I finished my plate he decided that I had not been fed enough and decided to create a salad and a mix of fruits which was something enjoyable that complemented the pasta very well. I was so enchanted by the meal I ended not leaving room for dessert.

After the meal Chef Jorge explained how he is planning to put a few vegetarian items on the menu and the only thing that was holding him back was that he wanted to offer the Vegetarian and Vegan community only the best options on the menu.

He did indicate that if you are Vegan or Vegetarian and have any special food needs you can feel free to let him and he will use his creativity, art, and culinary knowledge to create a unique plate that will go well with the experience of meeting such a talented guy. (But I would recommend calling ahead (787) 848-8384 to make sure they can meet all your diet needs).

Chef Jorge creates themes such as Hawaiian night that compliment the ambiance and food making the name of the restaurant a great fit.

When I was getting ready to leave,  Chef Jorge indicated that the meal was on the house. I have planned my next visit to Chef Creations where we are planning to have a Vegetarian paella.

So if you are visiting and driving around Ponce or the southen part of Puerto Rico I can clearly say that this one of your only options of having a restaurant serving you a vegetarian meal with flavor and passion.

5 stars for Chef Creations and I will update you as soon as we experience the Vegetarian Paella stay tuned! Feel free so sign up for our Subscribe to VegLatino’s Newsletter via Email.

@jetblue Vegetarian and Vegan Friendly Airline

As many of you know I am a huge fan of @jetblue for many reasons but being vegetarian creates another reason why I love the Airline so Much. During my trip to Los Angeles a little more than a week ago I made it a task to make sure I got to eat more than three meals on my long day of Travel.

I left San Juan at about 10 am EST And got to LA About 11pm est. so in between I had a flight from San Juan to JFK and from JFK to LAX.

I started my trip with my first vegetarian friendly meal of the day as part of the Eat Up Tasty Boxed Meals Menu @jetblue offers in the air which offers the following vegetarian friendly options.

Wake Up

Bauli® Classic Croissant
Bonne Maman® Gourmet Strawberry Jam
Justin’s® All-Natural Almond Butter
Cheez-It® Crackers
Dole® Fruit Cup
Horizon™ Chocolate Milk

 

Shape Up

Wild Garden™ Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus
New York Style® Pita Chips
Sheffa Zesty Snack Mix
Emerald® Natural Almonds
Sun-Maid® Raisins
Brothers All Natural Asian Pear Fruit Crisps

 

Cheer Up

Trio Of Premium Cheeses: Swiss, Smoked Cheddar And Hot Pepper
Dried Apples And Cranberries
Crackers

(images of Jetblue Snacks are from Jetblue’s Website)

I choose the Shape Up which actually served as my large snack in between breakfast and lunch that including a few of the free snack options filled me up pretty good especially the PopCorners Popcorn Chips which where amazing I wonder if I could get a hold of these in Puerto Rico.

When I landed in New York’s JFK also better known to @jetblue fans like me as T5. The modern look of the terminal makes you want every airport to have a modern terminal like this one. I walked towards my favorite restaurant Deep Blue where the options are at a very decent price (especially at an airport) and the menu options are not only presented in a very attractive way they are also very tasty.

 

I started my meal with an avocado roll with some hot tea.

As an entree I choose the Grilled Vegetables which where served as kabobs and those japanese mushrooms where well worth the plate’s price.

I ended having dessert which was a lemon sorbet (although I could have lived without the whipped cream) it was very refreshing to get ready for my next flight.

On my flight from JFK to LAX I went ahead and asked for more of those unlimited snacks served on the @jetblue flight and a Cheer Up to bring up the energy of arriving in LA.

I guess I always have @jetblue as my first option to Travel and given how easy they make it for my as a vegetarian they will keep on staying on the top of your list.

As a vegetarian what other options do you look for when you are traveling? Any other travel tips on where to find vegetarian foods in airports or airlines?

New Vegetarian Friendly Indian Restaurant South Puerto Rico

Being vegetarian and living in the Southern Part of Puerto Rico, it is never easy finding a vegetarian friendly restaurant.

Even more difficult is finding one that serves authentic Thai and Indian food. The only restaurant on the Island that I really enjoyed eating their Indian Food was Bangkok & Bombay which use to be in Condado.

We had seen that they had put up a sign for one in Coamo, the town where I use to live and is right next to Santa Isabel where I live right now. In less than 10 minutes I get some of my favorite Indian dishes without having to drive for more than an hour  and deal with traffic.

We arrived with a good friend more like family to tryout the  food and were surprised to find out that the one in Condado no longer exists. I sat down and identified that the menu was the same.

After ordering some pakoras and samosas, I found the dishes to taste even better than when I tried them at Condado. We ordered some Malai Kofta Curry and another entree Mater Paneer. We were very happy with the authentic flavors of Indian Cuisine while providing us a great experience.

Malai Kofta Curry

Mater Paneer

So for all of you that want to try out Indian Cuisine, tasteful vegetarian dishes, and in the southern part of the Island feel free to visit the new Bangkok Bombay.

I have to say that the decorations where unique and made it comforting for you to stay and want to return.

bangkokbombay.com



 

I Found the Fountain of Youth!

Talking about Veglatino with a possible client of My Company I was directed towards a Vegetarian Restaurant at La Ponce De Leon Avenue, in Santurce, Puerto Rico. Little did I know that I was going to find the possible Fountain of Youth.

After ordering my Hummus (homemade) on Pita, Avocado, Organic Greens, and Cheece (doesn’t that sound delicious) I was greeted by Nora who offered a shot of a in house made juice fill with nutrients, vitamin c, and cayenne pepper to boost the system. A different experience that what I usually get when I visit a restaurant. Once I say I am vegetarian I get a funny look. Entering Veggie Fruity was such a unique experience that automatically it made me stay longer and I did not want to leave.

I approached Nora so she could give us a bit of her insight on the reasons why she created Veggie Fruity and she quickly shared the following: I conducted the interview in a very informal way since I saw much value in spreading the word around about this great place.

Nora became part of the Ann Wigmore institute to improve her style of life. The Ann Wigmore Institute is located in Aguada Puerto Rico and focuses on helping vegetarians and people that want a change to achieve better quality of  life.

Based on Nora’s explanations they create awareness and concentrate everything on making sure that you can improve your health by making key changes in your lifestyle. Teaching you the importance of proper chewing, detox cleansing, and exfoliating can make a positive difference. The importance of reducing your need for meat which are full of hormones.

Nora took a course at the AW institute for one month and felt like she had found  how to stop the clock of aging. Her main reason was because just like me and many other fellow vegans and vegetarians would agree your body was not created to eat meat.

Veggie Fruity is open on Weekdays from 8am to 4pm serving breakfast and lunch. Menu options range from daily specials, entrees, variety of soups and the Veggie Deluxe Burger which I tried and highly recommend (below).

Nora recommends trying also her “Pastelon de Yuca” and during the holidays her vegetarian pasteles made with fresh ground spices. Nora is a a fan of using fresh spices such as cilantro, garlic, basil, and many others that can be easily found.

I had the opportunity to try many of the frozen smoothies and raw juices she creates once ordered. While I was waiting to pay for my food a customer ordered a drink containing ginger and the whole place was filled with its delicious smell. Acai is a brazilian grape with great nutritional value which she also includes in her drinks.

Nora also highlights that her shop is vegetarian with various vegan options. Even when she prepares the Quiche which is not vegan she only uses egg whites trying to maximize the nutritional value.  She recommend the use of romaine lettuce and other nutritional leaves over Iceberg Lettuce.

Norah started her business with the purpose of providing better options for a public in need of good nutrition. By creating quality food and drink options at Veggie Fruity she is creating awareness of a better style of living. Nora is giving everyone in Santurce or willing to visit her a better option into eating.

So in Nora’s words

The fountain youth.. on Ponce de Leon Avenue.. Through fruits, vegetable, and better eating, stop the aging process it’s never to late.

It would be great if you can share the great experiences of Vegetarian restaurants owned by Latinos.

Feel free to name a few in the comments sections.

Veggie Fruity

1558 Ave. Ponce de León
Near Francisco Arriví Theater
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00909
(787) 531-2502

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