The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Five40 Kitchen and Social House

I came to know about Five40 Kitchen and Social House a few weeks ago. The menu sounded hip and interesting even though it had only a handful of vegetarian options. The website is minimalist in design. (Some would call it ‘sparse’). And the chef Bhavesh Patel is of Indian origin. Plus, best of all, it is very close to where I live.

Five40 Kitchen and Social House

Five40 Kitchen and Social House

Made plans to go with others but none materialized. Finally, I decided to brave the horrible lunchtime traffic on Barrett Parkway and go to 540 Tapas all by myself for a weekday afternoon meal. That plan finally came to fruition today.

I had contacted the chef earlier to let him know that I wished to write about 540 Tapas on this blog. So he knew beforehand that I’d be coming. When I entered the restaurant, I was greeted by Dipesh, the bartender (I guess). I told him that I didn’t drink alcohol and asked if they had any non-alcoholic drinks on the menu. They didn’t have any but he offered to make one for me. I asked if he could include ginger and mint. Soon enough, a slim glass appeared on my table.

Ginger Mint Mocktail

Ginger Mint Mocktail

Fizzy and light, my special drink featured sharp ginger ale and fresh mint leaves and a bunch of ice cubes. It was tangy and spicy, hitting all the right notes on a dull day. I hardly ever order drinks at a restaurant (not even the non-alcoholic kind), preferring to stick to a glass of regular water, so this was a new experience for me.

On to the food…
I would have liked to order the Orchietta (short rib, butternut squash, truffle butter, mushrooms), sans the short rib. However, I was told that that the sauce is meat-based. Ahh, well… sounds like a delicious combination! The soup of the day was a cold tomato gazpacho. Didn’t feel like the right day for a cold soup, hmmm. Finally, I asked for a Kale salad with lemongrass honey, star anise and orange and an Heirloom Tomato Salad with basil oil, basil seeds, smoked tomato and mozzarella.

The Kale salad is a nice, medium-sized bowl of finely shredded kale and orange slices, laced with a sweet-tangy vinaigrette and garnished with almond slivers. I wonder if the sweetness of the vinaigrette owed itself to the lemongrass honey. A tad too tart for my taste, I thought. But the kale had a great crispness to it. Wasn’t tough, wasn’t soggy, wasn’t inordinately leafy. I couldn’t detect any anise flavors in the salad, though.

Kale Salad

Kale Salad

Adored the Heirloom Tomato Salad wholeheartedly. Smoked tomatoes have a slightly charred taste that is almost indiscernible. The salad featured regular mozzarella but I wonder if buffalo mozzarella would have been a better choice. Mixed greens, a dash of pesto (would have liked more of it) and a little pile of rehydrated basil seeds (gelee) completed the pretty picture.

Smoked Tomato Salad

Smoked Tomato Salad

Halfway through the meal, the chef sauntered by. Chef Bhavesh Patel has lived in London, Miami and Atlanta. I asked if he visited India often. Hardly, he said. His family is based in Gujarat, India. I suppose, as a food blogger, I should have asked him about culinary training, inspiration, etc. Well, we had a regular conversation where I asked him none of those chef-blogger questions. By the way, Chef Patel bears a close resemblance to this young Bollywood hero right down to the smile… 🙂

Chef Bhavesh patel

Chef Bhavesh patel

I asked him if the little pile of basil seeds is what goes as “takmaria” in India. Without batting an eyelid, he responded, “Yes.” The guy may not have visited India but he sure knows Indian food. I was suitably impressed. Not many people, Indian or otherwise, are necessarily familiar with these little chia-like seeds (also known as “subza”) that flavor cooling summer drinks and desserts in India and other parts of Asia.

Couldn’t pass up dessert, could I? I opted for an strawberry shortcake ice cream sandwich. A nice generous portion that I wasn’t intending to finish… but I did. A perfect sweet ending to a good meal.

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sandwich

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sandwich

The bill amounted to roughly $29. Not cheap by any standards, I think. I had a Scoutmob coupon that shaved $10 off the bill. Aah, well.

Hoping that Chef Patel will take my feedback and incorporate more vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu!

Five40 Kitchen and Social House
840 Ernest W Barrett Parkway NW, Suite 540
Kennesaw GA 30144
678-290-8224

www.540tapas.com
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Feasting on Sushi

Sushi! Sushi! Sushi!

No reason behind the ecstatic declaration of ‘Sushi,’ really. A year or so ago, J and J, P and I went to a sushi joint near our home. It was one of those places where the tables are surrounded by glass cases filled with aquatic life. Not my idea of a perfect dining place, mind you. However, I brushed aside my apprehensions, let J & J do the ordering, and sat back to enjoy the meal. We got a ‘boat’ of vegetarian sushi and it was fabulous. Handmade rolls of sushi rice bound together by thin strips of seaweed, some containing slices of asparagus, some with mushrooms, then some others with avocado. I loved the fresh flavors, the lovely presentation, the lightness of the ingredients.

And then that place closed down. I looked long and hard for another sushi place, checked out a couple but none came close to delivering anything remotely close. Then P discovered that our old joint had reopened in the same neighborhood. And so off we went there one chilly evening. Cheerful ambience, classy decor, super-friendly and helpful server… And this time, there were no lobsters staring out at us from glass cases, yay!

Fuji Hana Thai Peppers does not have a selection of vegetarian sushi on the menu. But P asked our server if the chef would be able to make us the ‘boat’ with vegetarian sushi. The answer came back, “Yes.” And so that’s what we got. The ‘boat’ comes with a bowl of miso soup with seaweed and green salad with ginger dressing. The soup was excellent, as good a version of miso as I have ever eaten. I loved the piquant ginger dressing, so sharp and vibrant.

Miso Soup with Seaweed

The star of the show, without a doubt, was the boat of sushi rice rolls. Asparagus, avocado, dates, fried tofu, mushrooms, cucumber… Yum. The chef had also made us cucumber rolls filled with shredded carrot, mushrooms, dates. Also served were glass noodles, radish sprouts and verdant seaweed salad. The wasabi was dynamite in little doses, the pink pickled ginger was perfect. It was such a sumptuous repast, so luxurious… I was happy. It is one of those moments when you are touched not simply by the flavors of the food but also by the sensation of having feasted liberally… no skimping, none whatsoever. That chef must have got a ton of blessings that night, hehe!

Sushi Rice Rolls

The Sushi Boat

P’s hunger was not sated yet. So he ordered a plate of Basil Noodles. I was too full but I couldn’t resist sneaking bites off his plate. It was a great plate of noodles. What can I say about Basil Noodles that does not sound tired and repetitive? Okay, at the risk of repeating myself, I must say – fresh flavors, loaded with crunchy vegetables, bright and tasty!

Basil Noodles

I was fully prepared to go ahead and order the Fried Ice Cream off the dessert menu but I had to regretfully admit that it was impossible to gild this lily of a delightful meal. Fried Ice Cream, as delectable as it sounded, was given a miss.

I’d go back to Fuji Hana Thai Peppers in a heartbeat. There is something about sushi’s clean flavors and how lightly it sits in my stomach that makes me a huge fan. Also, the Thai side of the menu looks promising if the Basil Noodles are an indicator of any kind. And then there is always the Fried Ice Cream, hmmm.

Fuji Hana Thai Peppers
2606 George Busbee Parkway
Kennesaw GA 30144
770-419-9500

www.fujihanathaipeppers.com
Fuji Hana Thai Peppers on Urbanspoon