A Vegan Feast

On Thursday, the .retool. extended family (Jacob, Jamye, and Will) got together for a vegan feast.  Jamye and I planned a rather eclectic menu:

  • toasted bread with avocado and cilantro jalapeno cashew cream;
  • spring rolls with Jamaican Jerk tofu, rice stick noodles, carrots, and lettuce;
  • collard green rolls with black eyed peas and barbecue sauce;
  • pumpkin curry; and
  • cranberry muffins.

Given the wide ranging influences of the menu, we were pleasantly surprised that all of the flavors worked really well together.

Much of the prep work was done in advance, including marinating and baking the tofu, preparing the black eyed peas, and making the muffin batter.  I was in charge of the bread and spring rolls, Jamye tackled the collard greens, pumpkin curry, and muffins, while Will handled a bunch of the prep work.

Here are some photos and yes, everything did taste as good as it looks!  🙂

Noe Valley – A couple of quick food options

Food Options in Noe Valley

You can’t take more than ten steps along 24th Street in Noe Valley without encountering a restaurant.

We wanted to point out two inexpensive spots with vegan options on the menu.

Hahns Hibachi (yes, we know Korean BBQ doesn’t scream vegan options) has jap chae that comes with nicely seared tofu, really fresh broccoli, spinach and carrot mixed in with the noodles. Again, can’t vouch for the piles of meat – we’re just happy that when we’ve gone in for lunch it hasn’t smelled strongly of cooking beef. The Noe location is on Castro Street near 24th Street.

Half a block away, along 24th Street is The Little Chihuahua. Their vegetarian black beans and rice are seasoned well, will fill you up, and will give you a little more spring in your step as you dodge strollers and dogs on your way to the Mission. A close second on the .retool. rating system would be their tofu taco gluten free version, served on a corn tortilla. If you’re super hungry, get both and you’ll still only spend about $7.

East Bay Love

Six Places We Like – East Bay Food Edition

Ok, so we have been a little obsessed with food lately. We do have some non-food related blog posts coming up soon, so stay tuned. Until then, why not grab a bite to eat at one of these .retool.-approved establishments? A few of them (Souley Vegan,  Cinnaholic, and Shangri-La) are 100% vegan. The rest have multiple mouth-watering vegan options.

  • Souley Vegan
    One of our all time favorite vegan restaurants. We especially love the everything plate. It’s great for sharing. Or not.
    301 Broadway, Oakland
  • Cinnaholic
    Tasty sweet treats. Vegans like cinnamon rolls (at least these vegans do). Our fave – Classic cinnamon roll with coffee frosting. You can also get frosting shots. Dangerous.
    2132 Oxford St, Berkeley
  • Shangri-la
    Your choice of the daily special in Large or Small.  Always tasty. Always organic. Yum.
    4001 Linden St, Oakland
  • Vik’s Chaat Corner
    Awesome Indian food. Street food prices. You can’t go wrong with the Sev Puri or Mix Veg Pakoras.
    2390 4th St, Berkeley
  • Cafe Tibet
    Savory, comforting Tibetan/Nepalese food near campus. Fun fact: the Tibetan owner will tell you stories about the pictures on the walls (mostly taken in India).
    2020 University Ave, Berkeley
  • Razan’s Organic Kitchen
    Middle Eastern fare including several tasty vegan options like the Mediterranean Plate and Hummus Plate (with Sumac).
    2119 Kittredge, Berkeley

Lunch at Cha-Ya

Agadashi tofu in the foreground; Sea vegetable salad in the background. Both were delicious!

Agadashi tofu in the foreground; Sea vegetable salad in the background. Both were delicious!


One of the things we love about living in San Francisco is the vast array of tasty vegan food options. Even restaurants that aren’t specifically vegetarian generally have a few interesting looking items or are happy to modify their non-vegan offerings.

That said, it’s  still nice to go to a restaurant and know that you can order absolutely anything on the entire menu.

One of our go-to vegan restaurants in San Francisco is Cha-Ya.  We stopped by for lunch recently after our weekly .retool. business meeting.

Here’s what we ordered:

Agedashi Tofu – deep-fried tofu in a special sauce, garnished with kaiware, green onion, grated daikon, ginger, and nori.

Sea Vegetable Salad – a variety of marine vegetables including seasoned hijiki served with a creamy sesame dressing.

Cha-Ya Delight – brown rice bowl. seasoned organic brown rice topped with carrots, kabocha, broccoli, cauliflower, shiitake, lotus root, zucchini, snap peas, snow peas, atsuage tofu, hijiki, pickled burdock and daikon, broccolini, and kaiware.

Their menu is huge, so we like to get one or two dishes we know and love and then experiment with a new option.  The new option this time around was the Agedashi Tofu. It quickly became one of our favorites – the special sauce is quite tasty and the mix of seaweed, onion, ginger, and daikon was just about perfect.  We’ll definitely be ordering this one again.

The Cha-Ya Delight was awesome, too. The vegetables were super-fresh as always and the seasoned brown rice was nice and savory without overpowering the vegetables. There are two of most vegetables in the bowl, so if you’re sharing and you want some of everything, you have to be a little careful when dividing the servings.

The Sea Vegetable Salad was refreshing and complemented the other dishes quite nicely.

We’ll be back soon!

M is for Mochi

Mmmm… Mochi

We here at .retool. are adventurous eaters. At the same time we can also be a bit skeptical of new food options.  I’m happy to say we have added a new tasty vegan treat to the rotation.

Cashew-date mochi

Cashew-date mochi

I’ve always loved mochi at Japanese restaurants. A particularly pleasing version can be found on the dessert menu at Cha-Ya – they serve warm bits of mochi in an azuki bean sauce.

I’d seen these packages of Mochi for ages at Rainbow Grocery.  But somehow they always seemed just a little too odd.  Until I went shopping when I was hungry.  Strange things happen when I shop while hungry.  Items I would ordinarily never consider purchasing, let alone eating, end up in the cart.  It’s worth it though, because every once in a while I find a new treat.

The mochi was indeed ‘delicious, easy and fun to prepare’ as promised by the packaging.  Basically, you cut the mochi into 1-2″ squares and bake them for 8-10 minutes (easy!).  They puff up (fun!) when they are ready.  The baked mochi puffs are delightfully chewy.  The cashew-date flavor is very slightly sweet and has a touch of cinnamon (delicious!).

I would have included pictures of the finished mochi squares, but I was hungry.  They are all gone.