I cook, almost exclusively, all of the food that I eat. There are a couple (just a couple) of restaurants that I frequent. But for the most part, when it comes to plant-based food, I always feel like I could have made it better myself. There are some very delicious exceptions, and those places have now become regular spots when I decide to eat out.
UBUNTU LA can just take all my money… anytime! Inspired by West African cuisine, just about everything on the cozy menu is perfection. Some of the dishes are so delicious (Jollof Arancia) that I have to order them every time I visit, no matter what else I’ve decided to try that day. In reality I don’t actually dislike anything on the menu (I’ve tried everything), but I definitely have my favorites. Couple that with an incredibly attentive and knowledgeable staff, and this place remains a winner for me.
PLANTA COCINA is a regular spot for me now because it’s a nice way to introduce people who are shy about trying plant-based food for the first time. Nothing on the menu is intrusive in terms of presentation or taste. The vibe is chill and it’s a lovely place to relax and nosh and watch the sun set.
At home, if I’m too lazy to cook (and there are no leftovers… because I am the queen of making too much food for our little household) then I’ll eat a packet of tempha (a play on tempeh) from Dave’s Korean Vegan. They make their product from black beans (versus soy) so its sweeter than the original. I prefer the spicy variety of this tempha with jalapenos and carrots.
My new obsession is with Kenchan Ramen. I randomly found them during a weekly trip to the Farmer’s Market. I’m a bit of a ramen snob, especially in the plant-based space. Without meat to season the broth, many chefs find it challenging to truly nail that umami flavor. But these folks have done it! They have two vegan options: White Truffle and Ginger/Garlic – and they are both insanely delicious. I rarely find a “take home” product that I don’t have to fix with seasonings. When I tell you that I don’t have to do a single thing to improve this flavor… LISTEN! This ramen is exquisite. They have absolutely nailed ‘restaurant quality’ ramen in the best way. And to be honest, they have done even better. I’ve been to some of he best plant-based restaurants and suffered through subpar ramen. Each kit contains two servings, and even though I can eat more than the average bear, even I have to respect that serving size. The ramen is filling and delicious, and I officially have a new favorite.
I’m fortunate enough to live in a place where plant-based ingredients and options are abundant. It can be a blessing and a curse because plant-based or not… some folks just can’t cook. And because everyone and their cousin is putting up a sign to sell their wares, there have been quite a few misses. But these products and places are tried and tested, and I hope to continually patronize them for as long as they’ll have me.