Soshoku (simple diet? Lean diet?)


Bean Salsa, Yuzu Sesame Tempeh, Hijiki (seaweed) Salad, Steamed Cauliflower with yuzu dressing, Brown Rice

This is my version of Shojin Ryori (simple vegan meal for monks). I was inspired by bean salsa that I had over the weekend. His version had a lot more ingredients than what I did here and more soupy. Mine became more like salad than salsa. Hijiki salad is not vegan because I used fish-kombu broth to cook with. I could have used shiitake mushroom-kombu broth to be true vegan. The Japanese broth is pretty much the only cheating that I do. Shiitake mushroom-kombu broth is good, but not the same. If you can’t find yuzu juice, substitute with lime juice or lemon juice. But use less if you are using lemon juice, because yuzu is more subtle than lemon.

Bean Salsa:

1 ear of fresh sweet corn (scrape kernels off with a knife)
1 cup cooked beans (azuki beans and pinto beans used here)
3 scallion stalks (chop small)
1/4 red onion (small dice)

One or All of followings:
1 avocado (1/2″ cubes)
2″ cucumber (1/2″ cubes)
1 tomato (1/2″ cubes)
1/2 bell pepper (1/2″ cubes)

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Lime juice
1 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt

Cut up vegetables all about 1/2″ cubes. Mix them with beans, corn, and spices. Let it sit at least for 10 minutes.

Yuzu Sesame Tempeh:

1 block tempeh (1/2″ thick slice)
2 Tbsp yuzu juice
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp hot sesame oil
2 tsp maple syrup

Soak temper slices in the marinade for at least 1 hour. You can leave them over night.

Bake, panfry, or broil them for 10 minutes or so until they become golden brown.


1 head cauliflower
2 Tbsp yuzu juice
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbs maple syrup

Break cauliflower into florets. Steam them just enough about 1 minute.

Mix the yuzu dressing. Drizzle over the steamed cauliflower.


Vedge: the best vegan restaurant in Philly

I went to visit my childhood friend in Philadelphia. She was dying to take me to Vedge, the best vegan restaurant in Philly. Since none of her family members were vegan or vegetarian including herself, she didn’t have much chance to go there. Another friend of mine who lives in New York City cherished Vedge. She is not vegan, either. My verdict? Yes, I agree with them absolutely. I didn’t even have to visit other so called vegan restaurants in Philly. Another one, V Street, is created by the same chefs from Vedge any way. However since V Street has more ethnic influenced menus, I’m going to visit them next time when I’m in Philadelphia.

Everything I ate at Vedge was absolutely delicious. Their dishes are very creative and labor of love. You don’t want to cook them at home. Too much effort. Each dish requires multiple steps if they were not complicated. Vedge is a fancy tapas bar/restaurant. Each dish is small and bit too salty to eat by itself. But if you pair them up with a drink, it is fabulous. I can not drink! Too bad. I had to drink 3 glasses of water with this meal.


Our choice of appetizers at Vedge

Vedge appetizers: Salt Roasted Gold Beets with smoked tofu, capers, dill, avocado,”pastrami”; Asparagus in peapod dashi with yukon gold noodles; Nebrodini Mushrooms as “fazzoletti” basil, roasted tomato.

Dished we ordered were all delicious and quite creative. Asparagus was not what I expected though. I’m trying to pick one favorite among these, but I can’t. Mushroom noodles with grape roasted tomatoes was one of the best Italian appetizers that I ever tasted. But the best creativity reward goes to the Salt Roasted Gold Beets. The naming is not quite right, because beet is not the main in this dish. Smoked tofu and avocado had the equal impact.

Eggplant Brociole: smoked eggplant, italian salsa verde, cured olive

Eggplant Braciole: smoked eggplant, italian salsa verde, cured olive

This one was a home-run. It looks like a sausage, but it melts in your mouth! I was curious what else was in it because the description on the menu was not everything that I as tasting. It turned out that roasted cauliflower and tons of awesome olive oil were mixed in it. Over all, Vedge uses a lot of high quality olive oil. I mean a lot. My stomach had a slight bloating 10 minutes after I ate. My friend suggested that it was because we ate late. She could get us only a 9:30 p.m. reservation. The reservation on a Friday night was tough. At the last minute, they awarded us 9 o’clock reservation, but by the time our order was in, it was 9:30 p.m. any way. And I don’t remember how long it took for the first course to arrive. I ate after 9 p.m. for 2 weeks while I was in Spain and I was fine with it, so I doubt it was because of the lateness made my stomach bloat. I can not eat that much of oil at once, even if it’s a high quality olive oil.

Vedge-Miso Grilled Tofu

Miso Grilled Tofu: edamame puree, roasted miso, yuba crackling, sea bean

Very good, but compared to the eggplant, this was ordinary goodness. The miso dressing was special. We were all puzzled by sea beans. We asked about them. We googled them. We were still mystified by them.


Sheared Maitake Mushroom: celery root fritter, smoked leek lemoulade

Maitake mushrooms are yummy just by quickly cooked with olive oil any way. So yes, once again, this was very good dish, but not in comparison to the eggplant dish.


Dessert: Chocolate Bar and Sour Cherry Cheesecake

Chocolate Bar: elderflower caramel pecans, blackberry jam, lavender ice cream
Sour Cherry Cheesecake: moroccan mint pesto, halva ice cream, za’atar candied pistachios

Chocolate Bar is not gluten free, so that I could not taste it. I tasted the sour cherry cheesecake (minus crust) and the nut icecream. Creamy, sweet and tart, cold, lovely.

My boyfriend said that if they could do vegan desserts well, they are the top notch vegan restaurant. For me, I don’t expect them to do desserts well, but definitely if they can do a gluten free vegan dessert well, I will give them another star. Vedge has one gluten free dessert, but we opted out because when we saw sour cherry on the dessert menu, we had to have it.


Ngam=my favorite neighborhood Thai restaurant

Pad See Ew

Pad See Ew

Papaya Pad Thai

Papaya Pad Thai

Papaya Salad

Papaya Salad

Pumpkin Red Curry

Pumpkin Red Curry



I saw Ngam opened. I saw many people going in. But I didn’t bother to going in by myself until a friend of mine who is mostly vegan and eats gluten-free and pretty picky about food said they are always very good. I already have found a couple of decent Thai restaurants in my nook. One of them is even vegetarian only. I’m glad to say she was right.

What special about this place is that they have a few interesting twists to classic dishes like papaya salad, Pad Thai or fried rice. My papaya salad was made with strawberries and kiwis. Papaya Pad Thai used strings of raw green papaya as noodles instead of flat rice noodles. Green Curry Fried Rice was unusually good, but I didn’t take a picture of it. Classic dishes like Pumpkin Red Curry and Pad See Ew were good, too. Another interesting dish I saw but haven’t tried yet is Zucchini Pad Thai. I assume strings of raw zucchini are used as noodles. Sauces are on a heavy side for all of above I tasted. Noodle dishes are on a smaller side, so that I hurriedly ordered a Chang Mai Fries. A mistake! They were huge, but paper thin sliced kobocha pumpkin and sweet potato dipped in a batter, and deeply deeply fried. M is used to having my oven roasted potato “fries” and these were not them. We couldn’t eat them.

When we go back there, and we will, we will stick to our favorites: Green Curry Fired Rice! and Papaya Pad Thai.

Broccolini and Tomato Salad


This dressing is very yummy. You can mop it up with bread. Make sure to use broccolini or young broccoli.

Ingredients: 1 lb broccolini or young broccoli, 2 tomatoes

For vinaigrette: 1 lemon (grated zest and 2 Tbs juice), 1 large shallot or 1/4 red onion (minced), 2 tsp dried marjoram or dried oregano (1 heaping Tbs if you are using fresh herb), 6 oil-cured olives, 4 Tbs olive oil, salt and black pepper

  1. Break broccolini into florets. Cut the stems into 2″ length, peel them, and halve them lengthwise. Steam broccolini for 3-5 minutes until tender but not mushy.
  2. Seed olives, and mince them. Whisk all the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt and black pepper.
  3. Pour vinaigrette over warm broccolini. Mix with your hands.
  4. Cut tomatoes in wedges. Add tomatoes over broccolini and serve.

Avocado Tomato Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

This is no ordinary pasta salad. If you already have a vegan mayonnaise made, it’s 1, 2, 3 simple.

Ingredients: 2 avocados, 2 tomatoes, 1/4 cup chopped red onion, 1.5 cup cooked chickpeas, 1.5 cup uncooked pasta, 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise, salt and pepper, 1 cucumber (optional), 1.5 cup corns or edamame (optional), 1/2 cup chopped parsley (optional)

  1. Cook pasta. Let it cool.
  2. Drain chickpeas. Dice avocado and tomatoes. Dice cucumber if you are using.
  3. In a big bowl, toss all the ingredients with vegan mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Keep it in a refrigerator until ready to serve.

*This pasta salad gets better after it sits a bit.

* Look for the Best Vegan Mayonnaise in my blog.



Nice Lunch at Cafe Orlin

Vegetarian Combo

Vegetarian Combo

Hijiki Salad

Hijiki Salad

I just came back from a lunch with a friend at Cafe Orlin. A nice surprise. Hijiki Salad came with breaded tofu, watercress and avocado. A nice quiet dressing binds everything. Vegetarian Combo was scrumptious. Even the plain looking rice had a nice touch. Was it coconut milk or broth? I had Iced mint tea to wash it all down. She wanted to eat outside to de-freeze from her ice cold office. A perfect laid back cafe to have a vegetarian lunch. I will come back here.

No-bake Cheesecake (Gluten-Free)

Vegan Cheesecake

Vegan Cheesecake

One thing M missed most when I became vegan was cheesecake. I’m the cook of the house, so he eats whatever I cook. He found a vegan cream cheese at Whole Foods. I thought I would give it a try. He loved it. I loved it. I’m a baked cheesecake fan, but this one is pretty good. Do not waste the crust. It’s yummy by itself.

Ingredients: 8 oz vegan cream cheese, 1/4 tofu cake (3.5 oz), 1-2 lemons (3 Tbs juice and grated zest), 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/2 packet gelatin, 1/4 cup hot water, 1 cup mixed raw nuts (any combination of almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pecans), 8 large dates, 1/4 cup dried shredded coconut

  1. Soak dates in water for a few minutes.
  2. Pour 1/4 cup hot water over gelatin. Let it sit.
  3. Grind mixed nuts in a coffee grinder or a food processor.
  4. Chop dates small or chop by a food processor.
  5. Work dates into the mixed nuts meal by a food processor or by fingers.
  6. Add coconuts to the mixture.
  7. When it becomes crumbly dough, put it in a shallow baking pan and press it into the bottom and side of the pan by hand.
  8. Place drained tofu, cream cheese, maple syrup, lemon juice, grated lemon zest, soaked gelatin in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  9. Pour cream cheese mixture over the nut crust. Cover and cool until ready to eat.

Potato Salad

Potato Salad

Potato Salad

A friend of mine told me that I make a mean potato salad. Yup, it’s good. It is a taste of summer picnic. The secret ingredient? I don’t know…maybe soy sauce?

Ingredients: 4-5 potatoes (about 1.5 lbs), 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, 1 medium cucumber or 2-3 Japanese cucumbers, 1 medium carrot, 1/2 cup chopped italian parsley, 1 celery stalk, 2 tomatoes or 20 grape tomatoes, 5-6 Tbs vegan mayonnaise (Blend well: 1/4 cup raw cashew, 6 oz silken tofu, 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp dijion mustard, 1 tsp maple syrup, 1 tsp sea salt) , 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbs dijion mustard, 1 tsp soy sauce, salt and black pepper to taste

  1. Halve the cucumber and slice as thinly as possible. If you are using Japanese cucumbers, no need to halve. Sprinkle 1 tsp salt. Let it sit.
  2. Scrub potatoes and carrot. Cut potatoes in quarter. Heat water to boil in a medium sauce pan, add 1 tsp salt to the water. Add potatoes and carrot. Cook until done. Carrots are cooked faster than potatoes, so when carrots are done, pull them out and let them cool. When potatoes are soft, drain.
  3. Chop celery stalk. Halve grape tomatoes or roughly chop tomatoes.
  4. Roughly chop the carrot. Roughly smash potatoes with a folk.
  5. Squeeze water out of cucumbers. Put all the ingredients except tomatoes in a big bowl. Add apple cider vinegar, soy mayonnaise, mustard, and season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes at last.
  6. Serve at room temperature or cold.

* I like to mold potato salad in a small bowl and flip it on a plate. It’s kind a kid’s meal.




GustOrganics…bit of disappointment

Quinoa Balance

Quinoa Balance

I used to like this restaurant. They are not vegetarian or vegan, but had enough choices for us, vegans, and servers were cool and music was soft and jazzy. I haven’t been here for a while, then, this time, they disappointed me. Quinoa Balance should be better than this for $17. Everything was edible, but I want my food to be better than edible.

Chickpea “Tuna” Open Sandwich

Chickpea "Tuna" Open Sandwich

Chickpea “Tuna” Open Sandwich

When you thought you had to give up the taste of tuna salad sandwich, here’s a recipe to rescue you. Adapted from The China Study Cook Book, added my twist, this is a winner recipe. Of course, you can make it into a sandwich, so you can take it to go.

Makes 4 open sandwiches

Ingredients: 1 cup cooked chickpeas, 1 celery stalk (chopped), 4 T red onion (minced), 2-3 Tbsp vegan mayonnaise, 1/2 tsp kelp powder ( I used 2″ square nori, and cut it into small strips), 1 tsp dijon mustard, 4 slices tomato, 1 tsp soy sauce, salt and black pepper to taste, 4 slices of bread

  1. Drain cooked chickpeas. Put it in a food processor or by hand mixer, pulse to roughly chop.
  2. Add chopped celery, red onion, kelp powder/nori, salt and black pepper. Mix well.
  3. Toast the bread.
  4. Spread the chickpea mix over the toasts. Put a slice of tomato on each bread.