Monday, May 26, 2014

Tres Hermanas

At a fundraiser for Alchemist Community Development Corporation earlier this month, I won a gift certificate for Tres Hermanas, a Mexican restaurant in Midtown. This was a particularly welcome prize because I'd never blogged about Tres Hermanas before. So my husband Phil and I headed over there for dinner Saturday night.

As a vegan, I always find the menus at Mexican restaurants to be especially difficult to navigate, since there are so many opportunities for non-vegan ingredients to find their way into dishes that seem like they ought to be vegan. With that in mind, I emailed the restaurant's staff ahead of time to ask a few questions in order to streamline the ordering process.

The dinner menu included a few items that could easily be made vegan, including Veggie Fajitas (order without sour cream), the Ensalada Nortena (but stay away from the cilantro dressing), and the item I ordered, the Achiote Grill. This delicious dish consisted of grilled chayote squash, zucchini, onions, and red and green bell peppers, seasoned with garlic and achiote seasoning (a spice made from the red seed of the annatto tree). It was served with guacamole and tortillas, and I asked that the sour cream that usually accompanies it be omitted. It also came with a choice of soup or salad, a choice of three different types of beans, and rice. The beans are all vegan, but you'll want to ask for the vegetarian rice. The soup served Saturday night was not vegan, so I opted for the salad instead. As nearly as I can tell, only the Italian dressing is vegan.

The lunch menu includes a couple of other options that can be made vegan: the Burrito de Vegetales, if ordered without the cheese or crema, or the Tostada Vegetal, which doesn't appear to include any non-vegan ingredients. I find that it's always best to specify that I don't want cheese on anything, just in case it's used as a garnish.

Tres Hermanas is located at 2416 K Street, and their phone number is 916-443-6919. The restaurant's website address is and their Facebook page can be found at Tres Hermanas is open Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Road Trip! Savor Oakland Chinatown Food Tour

About a year and a half ago, my family and I took a Savor Oakland food tour of Jack London Square. We had a great time, so when my sister suggested taking the Savor Oakland Chinatown food tour, I jumped at the chance.

I made sure to specify that I'm vegan when I purchased my ticket. Carlo, our wonderful guide and one of the owners of Savor Oakland, made sure there was a vegan option for me at all but a couple of the stops on this tour.

This past weekend, we gathered at Lincoln Park, where Carlo gave us a brief history of Oakland's Chinatown, and then we headed to Classic Guilin Rice Noodles. The menu consisted entirely of dishes made with -- you guessed it -- Guilin rice noodles, a specialty of the city of Guilin in southern China. These fat noodles are usually served with a bowl of broth, but since the broth served to the rest of the tour participants contained beef, my noodles were topped with vegetables and served with a side of soy sauce. Among the vegetables included with this dish were mushrooms, peppers, garlic, bok choy, and pickled longbeans. The portion size was generous, and this dish was a very satisfying way to begin the tour.

Our next stop was a fortune cookie factory. Unfortunately, fortune cookies contain egg, so I didn't partake. We went from there to a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant, Banh Cuon Tay Ho. The first item we were served was completely unexpected, at least to me -- sweet potato fritters. We wrapped them in lettuce and dipped them in soy sauce. They were excellent!

After we finished the fritters, the rest of the group ate non-vegan things, while I had delicious spring rolls filled with noodles, bean sprouts, tofu, and cilantro, and served with peanut sauce.

Our visit to Banh Cuon Tay Ho ended with tiny cups of iced coffee from a local roaster called Bicycle Coffee Co., so named because they deliver their coffee beans by bicycle. The coffee was served Vietnamese-style with condensed milk to the other tour participants, but sugar was added to mine instead of milk. I'm not a coffee drinker, but I enjoyed this small taste.

The next stop on the tour was my favorite: Nature Vegetarian Restaurant, where we had quite a feast. Plates of fantastic sesame "chicken," "pork"-fried rice, braised tofu with vegetables, and braised eggplant with spicy sauce were served family-style. I was in a food coma by the time we left the restaurant, and the tour wasn't even over yet.

Since I was already so full, I was glad the next stop involved food that I couldn't eat (pork bao), and then we browsed for awhile in a shop called King of Ginseng Co. Our final stop on the tour was a Zagat-rated Cambodian restaurant called Battambang. Instead of whatever non-vegan things the rest of the tour participants ate, I had avocado rolls with peanut sauce, and my dessert was a cold refreshing coconut.

I thoroughly enjoyed this tour, and would definitely recommend it if you're planning to be in the Bay Area. Be sure to let them know you're vegan when you sign up, something you should do any time you book a food tour. Otherwise, some of the restaurants may not be prepared to serve anything you can eat. More information about Savor Oakland Food Tours is available on their website at or on their Facebook page at

Monday, May 12, 2014

Road Trip! Nectar Cafe in Auburn

I rarely venture very far up I-80, but needing a restaurant to blog about this week, I decided to follow the advice of a fellow vegan and visit Nectar Cafe in Auburn. It was definitely worth the trip!

Nectar Cafe is all vegetarian, with a great selection of vegan items. In fact, all of the menu choices I considered were vegan, and I didn't even have to make any substitutions or ask for anything to be left out.

I started with a cup of excellent split pea soup. Apparently, the soup selections change daily, so split pea may not be an option when you go. The other soup the day I was there was called "Gazpacho with Gusto" and was a very chunky version of gazpacho.

I had a tough time deciding which wrap to order for my main course. The Southwestern Wrap filled with black beans, brown rice, salsa, and cashew chipotle sauce sounded good, as did the Thai Wrap filled with cabbage, spiced nuts, veggies, avocado, and Asian almond sauce. But since I love cauliflower, I chose the Curry Tempeh Wrap, which was stuffed with roasted cauliflower, tempeh, carrots, cabbage, and raisins, then dressed with a coconut curry sauce. So good!

There are several other vegan options at Nectar Cafe as well. You can build your own grain bowl, salad, or wrap using a choice of items from the salad bar. There are a variety of juices available, and there's a whole menu section devoted to "Nibbles & Noshes." They also offer oatmeal or teff muesli for breakfast, which is served until 11:00 daily.

Since I was there to gather material for a blog post, I thought I'd better order a dessert too, so I had the chocolate raspberry tart. This frozen treat was the perfect end to a delicious meal.

Nectar Cafe is located at 948A Lincoln Way in downtown Auburn, and their phone number is 530-820-3314. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant is open Monday through Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Monday, May 5, 2014


Coriander, a new Vietnamese restaurant, opened in Midtown recently. I looked at their online menu and saw they had two items that appeared to be vegan. Naturally, I had to check them out.

The first dish I tried was the Tofu Noodle Soup, a huge bowl of vegetarian broth filled with noodles, carrots, mushrooms, and a very generous helping of tofu. It was flavorful and satisfying, and I found myself wishing we weren't already experiencing temperatures in the eighties and nineties, since this soup will be perfect for fall and winter.

On my next visit, I had the perfect spring and summer dish: the Tofu Salad. It consisted of walnuts, cranberries, and lots of tofu, served on a bed of greens and tossed with the house vinaigrette. I enjoyed it immensely.

I emailed the restaurant staff to make sure there were no hidden non-vegan ingredients in either of these two dishes. The response I received was that they "are completely free of animal products. We fry the tofu in separate pans, soups are simmered in an exclusive pot, and all noodles are strictly rice noodles, no eggs or dairy products."

I also want to mention the Chrysanthemum Jasmine Iced Tea, which I had during my first trip to Coriander. It was delicious and I had hoped to have it again on my next visit, but they were out of it. If you have a chance to try it, I would certainly recommend it.

Coriander is located at 1899 Alhambra Boulevard, and their phone number is 916-456-0888. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.