Thursday, January 29, 2009

How the Nintendo DS led to an Herbivore Lunch and to our car being towed (almost)

Might as well get this post over and done with, I know it's long overdue. I believe it was after-Christmas-ish when I FINALLY got to visit a completely vegan restaurant during my vacation in SF. 

The decision to eat in this restaurant started from the Nintendo DS. So brother #5 got a Nintendo DS for Christmas thanks to his ninong (godfather) who is also our cousin. This cousin of ours has two Nintendo DS's of his own and so does cousin #2 (so 4 DS's all in all). We spent a few days in Lake Tahoe after Christmas and a lot of time was spent in front of the fireplace, boys DS-ing their asses off (apparently this futuristic device has some Bluetooth thingy that allows them to play against each other). Then brother #3 got some moolah for Christmas thanks to his ninang (godmother) and got some other handheld game playing device (the name escapes me of the moment). 

Brother #2 got pretty much brainwashed into getting his own DS and with trusty Linda Blair our GPS, we go on a wild goose chase for 2-3 days hunting down a black DS (it HAS to be black because all of bro #2's gadgets are black) with the BEST price -- we did not leave a Best Buy, Costco, and Target store unturned. From San Ramon to Dublin to Walnut Creek and finally to San Francisco we find the perfectly black Nintendo DS of bro #2's dreams (he also bought a crap game in the midst of all his greed). I think I footed the $4 Bay Bridge toll so I DEMANDED that we eat at a vegan restaurant (so I'm cheap, sue me). Also it was about 3pm and we were starving.

Of course being the well prepared person that I am I made it a point to list down every vegan restaurant in the Bay area, in hopes of getting to eat in one of them at least once. My self-proclaimed carnivore and vegetable hater sister wasnít with us during the Search for the Black DS so it was the perfect time to get 2 carnivores (bros #2 and #4) and 2 vegans (me and bro #5) to eat veg for lunch.

So thanks to Linda Blair we parked our car at Herbivore on Divisadero (between Fell and Hayes, I think?) at 3:30pm for a late lunch. Bro #5 and I were soooo excited to finally eat in our first vegan restaurant ever! Actually it was a first for bro #2 and bro #4 as well and good thing they were game. As a vegan let me just say how happy I was to be able to eat anything off the menu, as in anything. Nothing made with the suffering of animals. Nothing contained animals or animal by-products. No one died for us to enjoy our meal. It was such an adventure and a relief.

So first off we ordered a vegetable sampler for our appetizer -- a combination of char-broiled vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, yellow squash, bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes) with 3 sauces: pesto, tahini, and lemon-garlic. The dish was served with sliced baguette. We enjoyed this very much.

Next up we got 4 different entrees which we all shared together (the family that eats together, stays together). 

Bro #4 got the best entree: penne with lemon herb cream sauce with char-broiled portabella mushrooms, zucchini, artichoke hearts, and spinach served with crostini. OMG even the carnivores couldn't believe it was vegan. The sauce was seriously creamy and delicious. I suspect it contained ground cashews or almonds; I don't think silken tofu could get that creamy and satisfying. I tried inquiring with our server what the sauce was made of but she was too busy to pay attention to us...

Bro #2 got a lentil loaf with mashed potatoes topped with mushroom gravy and sauteed greens on the side, with crostini and a tomato sesame salsa. He liked this a lot and the lentil loaf was deliciously rustic and comforting. The greens tasted very much like our local alugbati -- very earthy.
Bro #4 got his comfort food: Pad Thai. Rice noodles sauteed with tofu, red bell peppers, togue (bean sprouts), green onions, wansoy (cilantro), and crushed peanuts with peanut sauce. This was nothing new to us, we heart Thai food so I'm not going to drool over this much. It was good, although I suspect you can get better tasting Pad Thai at a traditional Thai restaurant (that reminds me, I should blog about Som's, a Thai carinderia-style restaurant located near my workplace -- dirt cheap Thai food with a killer veggie pad thai).

I ordered a moussaka -- layers of eggplant, potatoes, soy protein (eek! Fake meat!) tofu ricotta, mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, spinach and marinara sauce with crostini on the side. I used to heart all things tomatoes (at one point I even thought I should've been born in Italy instead of the Philippines) but since discovering different kinds of sauces (peanut sauce, hummus, roasted red pepper-cannelini, sunflower seed pesto, curry, you get the picture) my love wavered a bit... My brothers liked the moussaka, I found it okay. Also I'm not a big potato fan (excess starch!) -- maybe if there were no potatoes I would've enjoyed this dish more.
With my food I ordered a green juice, which sounds disgusting but was actually refreshing and yummy. It was a cocktail made of celery, apple, spinach, parsley, mint, ginger, and lime. The green-ness was so bright! I really should be drinking more green juice...
Anyway, on to dessert! We were absolutely stuffed but I really wanted to try some dessert that was not cake or cupcakes. Bro #4 got a coconut chocolate chip cookie which was alright tasting. We shared a blueberry pie with Maggie Mudd vanilla soy ice cream -- what a hit! I love pie -- I feel like it's "healthier" than regular cake and cupcakes because of the fruit component, nevermind that they are all full of sugar. We can't get blueberries in the Philippines so we really enjoyed this pie. Oh I really should experiment with pies in my kitchen...
Oh yeah, so our car was about to be towed while we were inhaling our food. We parked right in front of the restaurant and thought we were so lucky to have found the perfect spot. I put some quarters in the meter to last us 30 minutes. By 20 minutes I added a few more quarters to buy us extra time (the food hadn't arrived). So while wolfing down the moussaka I checked the time on my phone, which showed that I had 4 minutes left til the meter ran out! So I popped out to refill the meter when I found that the front of the car was attached to a tow truck. The tow guy was towing this other car a few cars in front of mine. I thought the tow guys were waiting for the meter to run out so they could tow it so I immediately put more quarters in the meter. Something didn't feel right though. I waited for the tow guy to go back to my car and I asked why he was towing it -- apparently cars were banned to park on the street between 4 and 6pm and it was 4:15 (we sat down at our table at 3:15 -- Herbivore took so long!). I played the sorry-tourist-card and had bro #2 park the car around the block.

So, all's well that ends well. Bro #2 got his Nintendo DS (he also got another Handheld Game Playing Device for bro #6 -- ah, the joys of consumerism), bro #5 and I got our Herbivore lunch, and we didn't get towed. Overall, a good day.

organic soy latte with agave syrup and bro #2 happily playing with his DS

531 Divisadero, SF
415.885.7133 --> check for other locations!

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