Souley Vegan

Happy Sunday, my friends. My mind and body are in a feast-induced stupor after the meals I’ve had this weekend. S came up from Santa Cruz to visit, and we pulled out all the stops, starting at Souley Vegan, where we’ve seriously been trying to eat at for two years. They used to open during odd hours, but it improved and now they even have Sunday brunch what what! Can you blame me for loving Oakland? Only here does vegan and soul food coexist.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the restaurant looked like a soul food joint, first and foremost. There were barely any indications of veganism. Inside, it was simple and airy, like a large bar. Order at the front and wait just minutes before the food arrives.

Souley Vegan offers lots of veggie burgers, gumbo and deep-fried goodies. There's only one real option for newcomers, though.

The Everything Plate (25) with fried okra, ranch dressing, red beans and rice, herby mustard greens, steamed black eyed peas, spiced lentils, agave yams, BBQ tofu, Southern fried tofu, mac and cheez, potato salad, corn bread. Not included, but also offered were fried kale and mashed potatoes and gravy.

My first experience with fried okra wasn't a shock. I like the sliminess and with a crispy cornmeal coating, it's still enjoyable. What we really fought tooth and nail over was that vegan ranch sauce. So tangy and flavorful, while everything else on this dish was slightly bland. I got to know the bottle of hot sauce on our table real well.

The only thing I didn't completely enjoy on this plate was the BBQ tofu. Not a huge fan of chewy tofu skin and uber-smokey sauce. The beans and greens evoked my healthy home-cooked meals, but I probably wouldn't order them again. Everyone agreed that the fried tofu and mac and cheese were phenomenal and we can't wait to come back for them again. The tofu tasted so much like catfish in flavor and texture it was bizarre, and the mac and cheese reminded me of my favorite childhood lunch, tuna casserole. I felt like I was being hugged by hot blankets of soft mac and cheese, without the taste/smell of feet. (I know I just lost all my friends by admitting I hate real cheese.) Three of us struggled to finish all this food, but not a crumb was left in the end. That's how it's done son!

Of course we couldn’t finish the meal without loosening our belts for dessert. Sadly, the apple cobbler was soggy and forgettable, while the sweet potato pie tasted too sticky and sweet, without a strong flavor. If you want a hxc vegan dessert, go to one of the real bakeries in Oakland. Personally, I'd just get another round of mac and cheese.

Plans to return asap have been solidified. And newly inspired, I’ve dug out my old vegan mac and cheese recipes. Stay tuned for an even better dinner in which we eat many animals…

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