Friday, June 25, 2010

Almost vegan in Dallas III

The night before Matt and I ate at 105 Degrees, en route to Oklahoma City, we stopped in Wichita (about 3 hours southwest of Kansas City) for dinner. A web search beforehand had revealed that Wichita has ONE veg restaurant, which, to be honest, was more than I expected. I mean, serial killers aside, Wichita’s not all bad; I wrote previously about eating "the best baklava in Kansas!" there. Still, I was pleasantly surprised to have discovered Zen Vegetarian.

It was clean and quaint, and quiet for a Friday night. I’d scoped the menu ahead of time, so I knew I wanted the Macadamia Surprise (tell me you don’t love that name!). It was described as "Chunk soy protein sautéed with snow peas and macadamia nuts in a wonderful special brown sauce." Wonderful and special? Say no more! The "chunk soy protein" actually turned out to be seitan (which isn’t soy-based at all, but whatever), and carrots and baby corn accompanied the snow peas. The seitan and the nutty brown rice were nice and chewy, and the sauce was thick and slightly sweet. Besides just a couple stale macnuts, this was very enjoyable.

As good as mine was, I actually liked Matt’s better. He got Zen’s [brown] Rice Bowl with "soy ocean fillet," which was, again, seitan. Pan-fried to crisp perfection, it did indeed have a salty "sea"-taste to it, and with those snappy green beans and that killer teriyaki sauce, it was the winner of the night.

We carried on to OKC, crashed at a $40 hotel alongside I-35, and ate at 105 Degrees the next morning.

When we got to Dallas Saturday afternoon, we found that we’d scored a $220/night room at a Holiday Inn for just $59/night. (Internet, I heart you.) Jubilantly, we drove to our predetermined dinner destination—Kalachandji’s, a vegetarian Indian buffet that turned out to be inside a Hindu temple. It was a very unique setting, complete with muffled chanting audible from the worshipers down the hall. Sadly, I don’t have a pic of my plate, but I do recall eating rasam, veggie pakoras, saag tofu, vegetables korma, aloo gobi, brown basmati rice, and (believe it or not) veg lasagna, plus kheer, apple cobbler, and carob-walnut halvah for dessert. Omnivorous Matt actually enjoyed this place even more than I did.

On Saturday night, we went to a private house party of sorts, where we stayed very late. As such, we woke up on Sunday a little...bleary. Luckily, in my trip-planning clairvoyance, I’d prepared for such grogginess, and we hit the Oak Cliff location of the Spiral Diner & Bakery for brunch.

Remember when I ate at the Chicago Diner? This was similar, with a cute 50’s-retro feel, colorful décor, and punky, tattooed wait staff. I filled my coffee cup at their self-serve bar (which stocked soymilk, raw sugar, stevia, and several flavored agave nectars), while Matt had a berry smoothie made with apple juice and soymilk.

Matt ordered the Lumberjack platter; classic diner brunch food—biscuits and gravy, veg sausage, and tofu scramble.

Always in the mood for salty stuff after a night of drinking, I had Bryan’s Brutal Tacos—three soft corn tortillas stuffed with seasoned seitan, corn, peppers & onions, and spicy salsa, served with vegan sour cream, tomatoes, guacamole, black beans, and lime wedges for spritzing. This was SO much food, but let me tell you, it

We spent the afternoon driving around the Highland Park area, ogling the majestic homes there, before stopping back by the hotel and then refueling at New Start Veggie Garden, a vegetarian Asian buffet.

I ate all kinds of yumminess, including sushi, spring rolls, brown and fried rices, pumpkin soup, sesame "chicken," baked tofu, egg rolls, vegetable tempura, spicy noodles, string beans, and rice vermicelli.

They also had a small shop inside the restaurant, which of course I had to browse. I came away with a pound of curry powder, a pound of raw cashews, a jar of raw honey, and – most exciting of all – a massive bag of Himalayan pink salt.

I’ve read so much about this stuff and other bloggers’ love for it, but was never willing to pony up $10 for a measly 4 oz. at Whole Foods. So when I saw that this 5-lb. bag cost only $25, I snatched it up. It’ll probably take me years to use this amount of salt, but at 5 bucks a pound, how could I pass it up?

That evening, we dressed to the nines and went to a goth club in downtown Dallas called The Church. The place was incredible; everything I hoped it would be, with multiple bars, DJs, and lounges (including an awesome two-floored, chandeliered main room), a rooftop patio with great views of the skyline, and possibly the best music selection I’ve ever heard in a bar or club. All in all, we had a fantastic day and night.

Come back Monday too see our last meal in Dallas. Hint: it was raw bliss!

If you like this, you might also like...
Dallas 2009
Dallas 2008
All my other travels!

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  1. what a sexy pic girl! love all the veggie food too!

  2. Oooh, I definitely would have wanted to try that "soy" fish that Matt got! Crazy town :) And you know what Himalayan Salt works wonders with, right? Chocolate. Chocolate chocolate!

    (P.S. I may not be able to understand you Americans with your thick grey gravy for breakfast, but I love y'all anyway.)

  3. you look so sassssssyyyyy! in that last pic. love it! rawwwrrrrr! i can hear you roar from here :)

    i love baby corn. First pic = swoon

    and who would EVER pay more than $100 for a holiday inn LOL. great job on 59!


  4. Fit&40—Aw, thank ya! ::blush::

    Hannah—The crispy soy "fillet" was stupendous! And I’m with you on the pink-salt-and-chocolate pairing. Re: breakfast gravy, I’m not sure I understand it either, but considering that even I – someone who generally detests creamy anything-not-sweet – am a fan of sausage (well, fake sausage) gravy (well, fake gravy too, I guess; no cream), it must indeed have some weird gravitational pull. Maybe, being in the southern hemisphere, you just don’t feel it quite the same :P

    Averie—Hehe, thank you! I love baby corn too, especially in Asian dishes. To be fair, the Holiday Inn was the nicest I think I’ve been in, but I still have an aversion to paying anything triple-digit for a hotel :]

  5. you won my contest! email me at with your address and I will mail your V-pure to you.

  6. look slike fun!! I wish I could go on vacation soon!

  7. !! I love all your travel updates! You two certainly know how to make use of your free time and explore food! Breakfast is hands down my favorite meal of the day, and this place looks in sane ! ! And the club sounds like so much fun!

  8. bitt—My first giveaway win, how exciting! I've emailed you my info. Thank you so much!

    Erin—Do it! Gotta take some you-time every now and then, right? :]

    Amanda—Thanks, I'm so glad you enjoy them! I'm lucky to have a boyfriend who's open to raw and vegan foods, and lets me pick the restaurants on our trips :D Spiral Diner rocked, and The Church was a blast!

  9. Ah you hit up all of my favorite Dallas restaurants! I lived in Oak Cliff before I moved to Philly...I really miss it!

  10. Lauren—I bet you do! Why ever did you move away from there?

  11. About the temple...

    1. It's not in the best part of town. Amber tends to drag me to places where I question the security of just locking the doors. It's called "adventure" for a reason I suppose. ;)

    2. Literally, chanting going on in there. I don't know what they were saying and, if I had to bet, they probably didn't either. But, it was definitely reminiscent of the Hare Krishna mantra.

    3. Regardless, the food was good. They had a really neat squared off outdoor area with a tree growing in the middle. Too hot to sit out there though. So we watched other people swelter and eat hot food from the peace and comfort of the air conditioned dining area inside.

    4. If you go there, you may get confused by the fact that it looks like the buffet is through the door opposite the gift shop and it starts abruptly. We got food and sat down before anyone even attempted to talk to us. It wasn't until we were close to done when a helper/waitress came by. She also delivered a check (so much for "suggested donation"). You pay in the gift shop.

    Overall, worth a visit.