Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Asian dishes to keep vegetarians warm all winter

Bibimpop at Village Sushi

Village Sushi is one of our Roslindale staples -- always good for a last-minute dinner out and great for sushi takeout too. I finally tried a non-sushi item off their extensive menu recently -- the vegetarian bibimbop in a hot pot (the hot pot version is an extremely-worth-it extra $3). I love all things crunchy, and the rice gets cooked to the bottom of the hot pot, and forms a crunchy crust, and then you stir it and more parts get crunchy...mmm. The rice also has tofu, mushrooms, daikon radish, sprouts and possibly another vegetable I can't remember. All good things, and with a red spicy sauce on the side that really makes the dish's flavor. The bibimbops all come with an egg on top, and warning -- it's eggy. I had to do some quick yolk containment with my spoon and Brian's help so it wouldn't get on everything. I really don't think there's going to be anything better on cold nights this winter than this dish. The hot pot keeps it all so warm till the last bite, and I actually felt overheated when I finished eating -- no small feat for me between November and March around here.

Ramen at Wagamama

Wagamama recently opened in Faneuil Hall, and I think it's the best and most veggie-friendly sit-down restaurant in that immediate area. The first time I ate at a Wagamama was 10+ years ago, in London, and it was this total veggie zen moment for me. It was probably the first place I had eaten out as a vegetarian that had multiple meat-free dishes marked on the menu, and definitely the best noodles I'd had up till that point. The first time I ate at the Boston one, a few months ago, I was disappointed -- but things like that are hardly ever as yummy as you remember. Especially 10 years later, and not in London.

Anyway, it's been freezing here this week -- very much soup weather. I'd only had ramen once before, at this place in Denver, and I loved it. I hadn't come across ramen anywhere in Boston though. But Wagamama serves ramen, and the vegetarian version at Wagamama really warmed me up the other night. The broth had a pretty mild flavor, with a touch of soy sauce and sesame oil. The tofu was excellent, nice and browned, and the scallions, leeks and bean sprouts added crunch. The enormous bowl came with an oversized, bamboo-handled spoon, which held a huge slurp of soup in each bite. (It might have ruined me for other utensils, though. I want to eat everything with a giant spoon.) The wheat noodles weren't so flavorful, but all in all this was a perfect vegetarian meal for a cold and windy night in Boston. It made me warm on the inside.