Tag Archives: Vietnamese

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Banh Mi Boy

209 East Main Street, Newark DE, 19711
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Even though my parents moved to Delaware, I haven’t really eaten at many places in the state. In fact, I don’t think I ate out at all there. I packed my own lunch when I helped my parents move. #veganlife Another time I went down to visit and my parents drove me all the way to Victory Brew-Pub in Pennsylvania. Which is funny, since I went to this place alone. I picked up my Grandparents from the airport, I had everything planned out, but didn’t take in consideration that my Grandparents move at a much slower pace than what I am use to. Both Jon and my parents are seasoned travelers, and we expect very quick pick-ups. Oh no- not my Grandparents, my Pappy requested a wheelchair, and it wasn’t there when they got off the plane. Then when they finally got luggage (not many people that I pick up actually checks their luggage). My Nanna and Pappy described the airport as very fast paced, and I was thinking “duh, it’s an airport!” Now, I know that isn’t fair for me to say since my Grandparents grew up in a slow rural town, and I have almost always used high traffic airports (Philadelphia, Boston, Newark, La Guardia.) Hell, Orlando is a leisurely airport to me. Well once we got on the road there was a huge accident and we had to take a detour. 

So by the time I dropped my Grandparents at my parents house it was 1:00 pm and the last thing I ate was a smoothie at 8 in the morning. I was starving and had to find a place fast. A quick search via HappyCow.com resulted in Banh Mi Boy. They aren’t all vegan, but very vegan friendly. The menu is pretty small, sandwiches, salads, summer rolls and drinks. I apologize for the lack of photos (and having not so great pictures), I was just so hungry and rushed to get back home. 

inside

The store is located in the downtown area of Newark, so parking can stink. But you will be happy to take the time to find parking. This store has a pretty boring outside, but has a bright orange interior. There are tons of snacks and drinks to choose from. Some are healthy, some were the normal junk food. There was normal soda, or green tea. There was pretty much something for everyone. 

So what’s vegan? Each main option, sandwich, salad, and summer roll, has a vegan option. There is a tofu sandwich that comes with pickled veggies, homemade vegan mayo, on a crispy french roll. There is also a tofu salad, using many of the same veggies in sandwich topped with a ginger soy dressing. There are vegetarian summer rolls as well. They have some specialty drinks, but I doubt they are vegan. You could technically get their coffee without the condensed milk to make it vegan. They also have traditional bubble tea but that has half-n-half. They have other flavors, but it looks like they use powder mixes, which most likely will contain whey or some form of powdered milk. Sorry vegans, you will have to stick with canned drinks.

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When I went there had a special lemongrass tofu sandwich, which was awesome. They sliced the tofu into long thin strips, and was well pressed. The pickled veggies were thicker than what I tend to like, but the bread quickly made up for it. Lately I’ve been getting lots of Banh Mi sandwiches that taste yummy but lack a strong roll. This one was flakey and full of flavor.

What I love about Banh Mi is that it isn’t very fussy. You can bring someone and know that it will be a fairly safe bet. It is exotic and different, but is served is a familiar form to most Americans. I was originally planning on bringing my Grandparents to the place, but they insisted that they weren’t hungry. I recommend checking this place out when you are in the area. You can even walk down the street to Brew Ha Ha and pick up a vegan donut made by Dottie’s Donuts.


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I received this book as a Christmas gift. It seemed like a well thought out gift since I love Asian cuisine and I am a vegan. I was pretty excited about the book since it featured recipes outside of popular regions. Hema Parekh reaches out further than India, Japan, and China and puts recipes from Burma, Malaysia, Vietnam, and South Korea. Parekh writes about how she got married and moved out of India to Japan, where she learned to cook. The book is a mixed bag of emotions for me, as I feel like there could of been so much potential for it.

Photos

All the photos are clustered in the middle of the book. I hate this sort of set up, especially since the book is divided by country instead of food “types.” The style of photography is very outdated, all the dishes have clay-red hue. I don’t think there was a photo that I saw and thought- that’s what I want to try and make. 

I wish there were more photos as most cookbooks featuring specific regions of cooking have recipes for dishes I’ve never heard of. So having a photo would help me visualize what the end result should look like. This particularly important for dishes where presentation is very important like dumplings and Japanese cuisine.

Set-up

I can’t help but compare this book to Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero. Terry features cuisine from a larger range of countries, and organizes all the recipes by styles, soups, salads, curries/stews, etc, etc. Parekh on the other hand groups all the recipes by nations, then divides them up by style. So there would be a chapter from India, then listed in that chapter would be soups, desserts, curries, rice, etc. In some ways it is an easier for planning dinners, in other ways it is hard to search around. Especially since many dishes overlap each other. Dumplings are eaten outside of China, so if I was planning a meal I could include them as a side for most dinners.

The book has an introduction but only as a way for the author to say hello. She jumps into the recipes, which would be find if the purpose of the book was not to teach a new cuisine. It would of been nice to have an overview of the ingredients, subtle differences between noodles, and rice types over the countries. There is an ingredients reference at the end of the book, but I didn’t find it till I got towards the end. If anything she could of put page numbers next to ingredients to help guide readers.

The visual representations of the recipes is okay. Since the photos aren’t set up next to the recipes it can be a little frustrating and demanding of the imagination of the reader. The text for the ingredients are small, making it harder to try and piece together the end result.

Writing

There is a lot of confusion in the book, much of it is cultural. Parekh is writing as an Indian living in Japan, which makes the translated names of the dishes confusing. She lists the dish as an English translation, then puts the original name in small text next to it. For example samosas are listed as Crispy Pumpkin Turnovers (the recipe mentions how they normally made with potatoes, not pumpkin) This translation problem continues with ingredients and dishes as she mentions the japanese translation over the English. The most obvious example is that she gives a recipe for Chinese dumplings, but lists them as “gyoza.” This isn’t a problem if you know some Japanese cuisine, but most American’s would recognize dumpling over gyoza.

Aside from the cultural issues, I’ve spotted several spelling/typing errors. There are even issues with recipes, as she leaves out when to add ingredients to recipes. These are not issues that only happened once, but several times. Clearly this was a rushed publication.

Overview

Parekh’s life story seems to shape the outcome of the book. There is a large bias for Indian and Japanese food. Those two chapters make up at least half of the recipes, pushing the other nations into weak collections. This bias extends to the ingredients, listing them under their Japanese names. For example many of the noodle listed for China are of Japanese styled noodles. Yes, there is style overlapping, and some differences. But the point is that if you are making a Chinese sesame noodle, it probably doesn’t call for udon noodles.

This naturally creates confusion for the book. This is a book written by a woman in Japan, for people who probably don’t live in Asia. Some ingredients are going to be easy to find, some will not be. Because of this reason it would be extremely helpful to have a very detailed ingredients guide. Going into detail about common ingredients, and what would be good replacements. Some recipes already do this, some don’t. It also worth mentioning that I live in a culturally diverse area, I live near a Korean, South East Asian, and Indian market. I am sure there are more ethnic markets, I just never found them yet. Some ingredients are hard to find, or are very seasonal.

My other problem with the book is that is wavers back and forth from super authentic to completely not. I have no problem from straying away from tradition and giving a fun twist to a recipe. But in some ways it seems that Parekh doesn’t change things in ways that could honestly make them better. There isn’t ANY innovations to try and add more flavors. Many of us know that Asian cooking use fish and meat by products (think oyster sauce). Parekh seems to take a recipe, remove the offending ingredients, like maybe fish sauce, and calls it quits. This leaves many bland recipes. Nor does Parekh seem fully educated about vegan products, listing one recipes with worcestershire sauce, which contains anchovies. Yes there are vegan versions, but they aren’t common.

I have to say I am sorely disappointed with this cookbook. It was rushed, and I am unsure of who the audience is. Is it for people who live in Asia with easy access to the ingredients? Or is it for anyone, anywhere in the world? I can say there I found some inspiration in the recipes, but mostly because I wanted to make them taste better. All dishes seemed pretty bland and relied heavily on fats, which I am not particularly fond of. 

Recipes

This cookbook I tried my best to pick at least on recipe from each country spotlighted in the book. Since there were a lot of recipes featured from Japan and India, there is naturally more recipes tested from those countries.

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I first heard of Loving Hut from Eat Your Kimchi. They visited one of the Korean branches that catered their menu to have more traditionally Korean foods. The name and logo looked familiar, which I later found out that there use to be a Loving Hut chain on South Street in Philadelphia that I would pass by on a weekly basis. I never had the chance to eat there before it closed down. But I always wanted to give this all vegan chain a try.

When I flew into Orlando to visit my Grandparents, I knew I wanted to go to a vegan restaurant before heading down to a small town. By chance I found out that there was a Loving Hut in Orlando, about 20 minutes away from the airport. Unaware of how the chained worked, I was surprised to see absolutely no Korean food like in the Eat Your Kimchi video, nor did it look like that restaurant. When I returned home, I learned a little bit more about the chain.

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Loving Hut is owned by spiritual leader Ching Hai. She leads the spiritual movement called the Quan Yin Method, in which one of the rules is that followers maintain a vegan diet. Loving Hut was opened to show the world how delicious vegan cooking could be. As a marketing tactic, all stores are allowed to alter the menu. This is great to make the menu reflect the tastes of each region. For example a vegan living in Korea might want Korean styled food over a vegan burger. The downside is that not all Loving Hut chains are created equal. I’ve read reviews that the Philadelphia Loving Hut was embarrassingly bad.

The setting of restaurant was pretty laid back, and reminded me of most Chinese and pizza takeout shops in New Jersey. The store had posters hanging with Vegan “celebrities” including Leonardo da Vinci (which he wasn’t rumored to be vegan, just a vegetarian). There was also a big flat screen TV showing videos of Ching Hai. Aside from the videos, the atmosphere was very open with a wonderful server who was happy to ask where all guests were from. I assume that they got lots of people who were traveling to Disney World and other theme parks.

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This location carried foods that had Southeast Asian influences and some Americanized foods like burgers. We were pretty hungry so we got the Happy Half Moon wontons. They were perfectly deep-fried, the wraps weren’t chewy or oily. This would be a dish I would of recommended to anyone who enjoys dumplings and wontons.

I got the King Spice Cha Cha, Oyster Mushrooms that have a spicy breading and are deep fried. They are served with sauted peppers and onions with a large scoop of rice on the side. Everything was a little more oily than I was use to, but never overwhelming. There also wasn’t too much food, just enough for one really hungry person.

My husband got the Lemongrass Noodles, which had a faux beef topping the noodles. Even though my husband isn’t a huge faux meat person, he loved the dish. For anyone who doesn’t like faux meats or TVP, there is a tofu option. The noodle to protein ratio might of been a little high, but it didn’t seem to bother my husband.

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We finished the dinner with an avocado shake and rose cappuccino. The avocado shake could of been better, as it was little watery. The cappuccino was delicious, not too sweet and it didn’t have a pool of syrup on the bottom of cup. The rose flavors actually worked well with the espresso. Although there wasn’t enough foam to make it a “cappuccino,” it was a pretty tasty latte.

If I had this restaurant nearby me, I would get all my takeout from it. Sadly, even though the staff was very open and welcoming, I didn’t like the atmosphere enough to come back and sit down. It was fine since we was a stop in between traveling.