Socal Eats: Part One

I’m writing this only two days into my spring break socal trip and already it has been too good to me. As I type I’m still digesting a home-cooked meal of fried whole wheat tortillas, guacamole, carribbean black beans, salad, and raw chocolate hazelnut mousse. Tomorrow’s food agenda is sounding a little daunting at this point. But I will push through (the indigestion) like a champ to bring you the best of socal vegan eats. Let’s back up to yesterday, my first day.

After I arrived at 8am I hit up the adorably-named Cream Pan bakery. Like everything else around these suburbs, it's located in a seemingly dead area where I wouldn't expect to find fancy and innovative grub. I actually appreciate that because it makes me feel like I've just discovered some delicious unknown treasure hidden in the middle of a strip mall, when it would normally be in a hip happenin place in the bay area. We ain't in Kansas anymore. I realize that figure of speech is totally misguiding in this case. I think the simple block letters go rather well with the warehouse aesthetic. Once you walk inside, shazam, it's glorious.

Cream Pan's displays were nothing short of artistic - so pristine they reminded me of the fake food in Japanese restaurant displays. Rarely does food look this good and whoever designed them clearly knew how to optimally light and place food.

Prices are insanely low for the kind of rare Japanese/Western fusion treats they sell. I'm used to dingy donut joints or Chinatown bakeries but neither are as classy or cute.

When the situation calls for it I have no prob turning my back on veganism but just out of curiosity, I asked if they had anything appropos. “What? What’s beegan?” said the lady who looked Asian but was more likely Hispanic(?) Two minutes later, I successfully got the point across but she never did realize how to pronounce it.

The strawberry cream croissants and azuki cream pan are raved about, but I wasn't in the mood for custard lovin so I went for the azuki donut with a powdered sugar/sesame paste coating (kinako). Pure magic. The bean filling was made fresh and so much better than canned and the topping imparted such a familiar and unique Asian element. Red bean's cool but sesame donuts need to start showing up in my life more.

A few hours later, we hit up one of the vegan places on my list, Greens Cafe. The owners are Chinese and while I never personally meet any Chinese vegans, they seem to dominate in the OC. Dishes like fried rice and sweet and sour “chicken” were expected, but there were also exciting entrees like BBQ sandwiches and vegan alfredo and grain bowls. It’s nice that everything is organic. It’s nicer that they have two huge flat screens streaming grandmaster supreme nonstop.

I ordered "seasoned soy protein strips, sauteed veggies, soy cheese, and refried beans in a wheat tortilla. With a side salad" (6). The cheese was too pungent so I scraped it off and this was one of the saddest salads I've ever seen, barring airplane food BUT the the soy strips were deliciously seasoned and fried. It didn't taste exactly like meat but it had all the elements I enjoy in fried chicken, so I associate it with that. Simple and tasty fare I'd come back for.

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