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Vegetarian Eats, Savannah Edition – Part 1

Isn’t it shameful that I have lived more than nine years in the Peach State, and not once have I visited Savannah? I suppose it was one of those places that we thought we’d visit some weekend but never ended up doing so. Anyway, that was rectified this last weekend when P’s cousin came a-visiting. We traipsed all around Atlanta: checking in at the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola, driving to Tucker so she could get a spiffy new haircut at Studio Sarita, tucking into South Indian fare at Udipi Cafe, Smyrna. The weekend was reserved for Savannah.

Set out on Friday evening, arrived in Downtown Savannah close to midnight. The starched sheets and covers at Springhill Suites were sweet luxury! Such a relief to fall into bed after a long drive…

Saturday was the loveliest day ever… golden sunshine, brilliant and luminous! We walked through Downtown, checking out the cool apparel and gift stores. Pacing down Broughton Street, we chanced on The Coffee Fox and decided to stop for breakfast. A good decision, indeed. Such a cool space with a huge collage wall, riveted metal swivel chairs, dark walls, wooden floors and delicious snacks and coffee. Vegan Brownie! Fig + Chocolate Scones! Gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies! Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies… Oh Yum.

The Coffee Fox, Downtown Savannah

The Coffee Fox, Downtown Savannah

P ordered a cup of Cafe Con Leche (with soy milk) while his cousin got hot chocolate. I went a little crazy ordering Kolache with cheese, one vegan chocolate chip cookie, and a fig + chocolate scone. Well, the plan was to split them between the three of us, so not all that crazy. I sneaked sips from P’s Cafe Con Leche. It was pretty good (considering how unfamiliar I am with the sophisticated world that coffee aficianados inhabit) but I would have liked it with regular milk. Kolache is a baked sweet pastry filled with cheese. It was strictly so-so, one of those baked goodies that goes well with coffee but does not necessarily stand up to scrutiny by itself. The vegan chocolate chip cookie was The Bomb! Soft and crumbly, mildly sweet, rich with the taste of chocolate… A Most Excellent Cookie Indeed.

Our hunger sated, we tramped off. Walked along the gorgeous blue river, sauntered in and out of candy and specialty stores, took pictures with the gulls, checked out artist studios and their wares in City Market… and then it was time for lunch. Walked back to Broughton and stepped into Ruan Thai.

No sooner had we walked in and placed our orders, a huge Asian family with close to 20 members came in. The smiles on the faces of the hostesses couldn’t have been wider. At Ruan, $10.95 gets you a lunch entree with a choice of soup or a spring roll. That day, there was a choice between Coconut Soup and Lemongrass Soup. P selected Lemongrass while his cousin and I opted for a Spring Roll each. For the entrees, we went with Thai Ginger, Garlic Lover and Drunken Noodles. The food came super-fast. Piping hot, perfectly spiced, light and hearty… I think Thai food is a lifesaver for vegetarians. It is generally choc-a-full of lightly cooked crunchy vegetables, light (unless you pick the coconut-based curries), easy on the wallet. P’s Lemongrass soup was tangy and sour-spicy, reminiscent of the South Indian rasam, mushrooms and green onion added!

Ruan Thai, Downtown Savannah

Ruan Thai, Downtown Savannah

In the afternoon, we went to Tybee Island. There were few people on the beach. The wind was chilly and persistent but the sun blazed on. The light was perfect, the blue of the sky mirrored in the ocean waters below. It was a gem of a day, one that I will remember for a long time to come.

Next up… Kayak Cafe and Pakwan Indian Cuisine, Savannah!

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

Green Ginger Asian Fusion, Decatur

This weekend, P and I landed up at Green Ginger for a late lunch. It was well past the lunch hour and the restaurant was nearly deserted. Asian restaurants typically have a good assortment of vegetarian-friendly options, as P says. Green Ginger is no different.

I skimmed through the menu, and ordered a Thai iced tea. Totally untypical for me, I know! But it was a warm day, and I thought I’d treat myself. Sigh, it turned out to be too sweet. And it filled me up before lunch arrived. Silly things I do, in full knowledge and understanding… Lesson learned. As for the overly sweet tea, I waited patiently until the ice melted, so it wasn’t as sweet and tasted a lot nicer.

Green Ginger has a ‘Build your own Noodle Bowl’ section that caught my eye. First, you pick a broth. The selections include Mushroom and Ginger, Red Curry and Coconut Milk, Coconut Soup and some others. The Coconut Soup is flavored with lemongrass. Yum, I thought. But it turned out that it contains chicken stock (thankfully, I remembered to ask our server before ordering), so I skipped it and went ahead with the Red Curry and Coconut Milk. Next, you pick a noodle. Options include Flat Rice Noodle, Udon, Ramen, etc. I asked for the Thin Rice Noodle (Thai version of vermicelli). Then you pick the veggies. I went for Roasted Eggplant, Zucchini, Asparagus and Carrots.

Noodle Bowl

The noodle bowl arrived in a burnished round bowl, wide and large, with a handle. The lid was fitted in with the handle snugly. Cute presentation, a huge bowl of noodles!

This is a serving that could easily suffice for two. Or so it seemed to me (maybe the Thai iced tea had something to do with my judgment!). The curry was a little too sweet (seems like it was a day of extra-sweetness!) but it had a nice little spicy kick to it without being too intense. I was looking forward to the roasted eggplant but it was a letdown. Didn’t taste remotely roasted!

P ordered Pad Si Ewe. It came with a nice glaze of soy sauce and brown sugar, broccoli, snap peas, broccoli and red pepper. The noodles felt too chewy, al dente gone too far. Actually, that was the case with my noodle bowl as well… too-tough rice noodles.

I couldn’t finish my bowl and P was too stuffed with his own entree to help me either. Had to let it go… Hate to waste food.

Not sure if I’d stop by at Green Ginger any time soon (we don’t live in Decatur) but for a vegetarian in the area looking for decent lunch options, this one is a good recommendation.

Green Ginger Asian Fusion
265 Ponce De Leon Place
Decatur GA 30030 

Little Thai

Little Thai sits right across from the parking lot where Sandy Springs Farmers Market is located. That’s where we went for dinner this week.

I am no connoisseur on Thai food but it feels like all Thai food, well most of it, that I have sampled tastes the same. Some curries are sweet while some are spicy, and most dishes feature the same set of vegetables namely carrots, sweet peas, broccoli, baby corn, red peppers, potatoes. Scan the menu of any Thai restaurant and you’ll see the same names – Red Curry, Yellow Curry, Green Curry, Penang Curry, Massaman Curry, Pad Thai, Basil Noodles and so on. I love that the curries are choc-a-full of vegetables, I like the fresh flavors. But I do wonder if I am missing anything. And I don’t mean the meat, you know that.

Little Thai was no exception.

It is a cheerful space, tastefully decorated and casual. The servers were really nice and made us comfortable, stroller et al. We ordered an assortment of appetizers – Tom Yum Goong Soup (huge bowl, lots of vegetables, nicely spiced), Larb (lettuce leaves with a side salad of tofu, red onions, cilantro, lime juice) and Thai Roti (similar to Roti Canai – Malaysian paraantha served with curry that was a tad too sweet and lacked the fire).

On to entrees… Basil Noodles, Massaman Curry and Pad Prik.

We had asked for medium spice levels although I thought all entrees were a tad spicy. Nothing to complain really except that the flavors didn’t really jump out at me. Decent food, many vegetarian options, lots of vegetables, friendly staff- good stuff, hmmm.

For dessert, we got banana dumplings served with vanilla ice cream. As usual, P griped about it (he always does!) but dug his spoon in to the mound of ice cream eagerly when it came.

Would I go to Little Thai again? Sure, why not. Maybe we will sample other dishes on the menu and hopefully have a more unique experience. I know the pictures are fiery red but the light was poor, so I couldn’t take regular pictures! Apologies…

Little Thai Cuisine
220 Sandy Springs Circle, Suite 209
Sandy Springs, GA 30328