Category Archives: Vegan

Cheap Vegan Eats in Portland, OR

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Back in the day I worked a few temp jobs in downtown Portland. Kinkos, Bank of America, Wells Fargo; all the fun places. I learned (or should have) that office drone work really isn’t my forte. But one of my favorite things was that I got to eat lunch downtown everyday. I had a rotating list of places but my rule was that lunch had to be 5 dollars or less.

It’s well-documented that times have changed. Food prices haven’t quite skyrocketed like housing prices but these days 10 dollars is considered cheap; many food carts have prices this high. Now, objectively, 10 dollars is a lot of money–4.4 billion people live off that much or less per day. So it’s a bummer to spend that much on a sandwich or curry or whatever.

But fear not! Though many years have passed, I’ve made a list of 5 places you can still eat at for 5 dollars.  They are all downtown or walking distance to it. Here in 2018 Portland! And while American portion sizes are such that you can share one portion and each spend around 5 bucks,  this list is straight up solo traveler 5 dollar meals. You may, of course, indulge in any sharing shenanigans you see fit.

Los Gorditos The Rice & Bean Burrito $3.50 ($4.50 at the Pearl location) or Beans Rice & Avocado $4.75

It’s no secret that I love Los Gorditos the most. I go through cravings and withdrawals when I’m away for it from too long. It even won over my sister, who was initially hesitant. And it’s such a good deal. There’s even a vegan only cart way out on Halsey. If you spend more than 5,  you can get tofu, soy curls, etc.

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Food Front Co-op Half a Sandwich $4.99

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Okay, with the 5 dollar limit you can only get half a sandwich, but you can load it up with baked tofu (spicy if you want) or marinated tempeh plus add hummus or vegenaise or pesto and tons of organic veggies, including pickles and avocados and roasted red peppers and more! A big part of the fun is entirely customizing your sandwich.


Blackbird or Sizzle Pie Vegan Slice of Pizza $>5 (prices vary depending on location and flavor selection.)

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Blackbird has only one location (on Hawthorne) while Sizzle Pie has many (including the Rose Garden). Both serve awesome vegan pizzas by the slice. Sizzle Pie has pretty good salads as well and you can order breadsticks or whole pizzas at either place as well.


Thai (& Vietnamese) Food CartsPad Kee Mao, Bahn Mi, etc $5

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At first I had a specific location listed, but you know what? Let’s open it up a little. There are a handful Thai (and some Vietnamese) food carts downtown where you can still eat for 5 dollars. Sure that would be a feast in Chiang Mai or Hoi An, but for Portland that much for a paltry stir-fry is pretty great. All places naturally have tofu, and if you say vegan they’ll know what you mean. A little reminder that you’re not down with fish sauce doesn’t hurt though.


Sweatpea BakeryBagels, Charlie Browns & More $1.75-4.5

Located in a vegan mini-mall this industrial looking institution has too much yum for just one visit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe proper sandwiches are out of the 5 dollar range but plenty of options remain. I’m partial to the Charlie Brown (chocolate and peanut butter and oats) but my sister swears by the bagels with schmear. Personally I can’t think of a less appetizing word than schmear but those bagels are actually pretty grubbing and you can get earth balance or hummus or peanut butter etc if you don’t want the cream cheese substitute.

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So even in modern Portland there are plenty of food options for those who want to go out but not spend a lot of cash.  I don’t know a lot of the new restaurants either so I’m sure I missed a couple. Let me know some of your favorites in the comments.

 

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Yeti Eats: Rudy’s Pizza

My sister kept excitedly mentioning a place called Rudy’s. I didn’t really care–we already so many places to go to, both old favorites and new places to try. But her enthusiasm would not be denied, so one Sunday, she and her boyfriend and I drove halfway across the city and tested out this place.

It’s about as unassuming as can be from the outside.20170326_163026

But the inside is cozy, the servers are friendly and well-informed (if not actually vegan themselves) and there are signs with all kinds of vegan information.

Not everything is vegan, but there is an impressive array of options. You can choose Follow Your Heart or Daiya cheese–I don’t really know the difference but they’re both good.

 

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We showed absolutely no restraint and ordered vegan wings, cheese bread sticks, pesto breadsticks, and a half-and-half pizza. A lot of food and all of it awesome.20170328_001644

The vegan wings were not something I would have ordered but they were tasty. And it comes with a choice of vegan Ranch, Vegan Blue Cheese, Vegan Creamy Sriracha,
or Vegan Garlic Butter.20170328_001708

The pesto breadsticks only came as a mistake but were maybe the best part of the meal.20170328_001736

Finally the pizza! With 3 people there were dissenting opinions, but we went with my sister’s dream of taco pizza (which had beans on it, in proper fashion) and Vegan BBQ-Ru. Other than a lot of black olives there were no complaints at all.

Not having had pizza for a couple of years, I was really jonesing and this place was perfect. I think it leapfrogged Sizzle Pie and HUB as my favorite portland pizzeria. I’ll definitely be back.

Budget Yeti: Veggie Shopping in Korea

That old myth about going out in Korea being cheaper than cooking at home keeps cropping up and it always bothers me. Granted, many food items here are expensive, and costs keep going up. But it’s still cheaper almost every time to cook at home.

In Seoul, it pays to shop seasonally here. Unlike North America (and probably other places) there is a seasonal shift to produce prices here. Apples are super cheap in September, for instance, and now is Hallabong season. I think this is a good thing, environmentally of course but also habitually. Now some of these seasonal surpluses are strange to my eyes (why oh why is strawberry season in January?) but overall it’s a good system.

The area I live is kind of adjumma central–there aren’t really any bars or even noraebongs. In their place are lots of little markets though, and many good places to stock up on fruit and veg.

And stock up I do. The below list was all purchased at a biggish mart, which isn’t the very cheapest place around but it has good selection. Here’s a look at a week’s worth of veggies for two people. The total price is a little high because it’s a big bag of garlic but even still you can see how cheap it is.

Now this isn’t a complete meal, of course. You’d probably want to get a carb like rice (around $5 for a kilogram, or maybe $7 for 800 grams of brown rice) or udong (about 50 cents a package) or pasta (about 2.50 for 450 grams) or if you venture into Itaewon you can even get something exotic like basmati rice or couscous, though those start to get more expensive.

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A Typical Vegtastic Meal

The shiitake give you a little less protein than your standard mushroom, but not to worry. A big block of fresh tofu is about 2 dollars or the smaller, packaged ones are usually around 1 dollar.

Add it all together and a big, healthy meal with local produce is only a couple of dollars. There’s just not any restaurant that can compete with that. The cheapest comparable is a bowl of kalgooksu, which at a cheap place is around 4 dollars for a big bowl. For less than 4 dollars, this equals 4 bowls so it’s quite a bit cheaper.

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By contrast, this meal from Osegye Hyang, which had mandu, soup, and a gluten/rice dish (plus banchan) costs about 22 bucks.

Now I understand most people want a little more variety in their lives than daily iterations of the same meal. And not everyone is willing to make the effort to cook every night, even when they’re tired. Those are different reasons, though, from the tired old falsism that it’s much cheaper to eat out than cook at home. (And not very good reasons, either, in my opinion, although that’s neither here nor there.)

Yes, things are considerably more expensive now than they were 5 years ago but it’s still possible to cook for yourself and still not break the bank. That’s all for this installment of my rant. Thanks for listening!

Best of 2016 in pictures

Just like last year, I spent almost the entire year in South Korea, with a short trip to Japan constituting my only traveling. (And other than a trip to Seoraksan in the spring, I haven’t even traveled around Korea much this year; my weekends are filled with writing, playing RPGs, and writing.)

If 2015 got me back on my feet, 2016 sat me down at the table and fattened me up. It’s been a great year of urban wanders and veggie cooking. I’m still trying to figure out what’s in store for 2017, but it seems like it should have a bit more travels.

Anyway, here’s a picture from each month for the year.

January 2016

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January – The Frozen Wasteland of Yeoido

January – Yeoido gets quite a few visitors for the fall leaves, a lot more for the spring cherry blossoms, and even more in summer time for riverside picnics. Winter is, by contrast, empty and silent. Which is perfect for stark, chilly winter strolls.


February 2016

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February – Ice Turtle

February – For Sollal (Lunar New Year) I went on a writer’s retreat at a little area outside Seoul called Petite France. Petit France is kind of an underwhelming mini-theme park (with no rides) dedicated to The Little Prince.

After the conference, Nahid and I wandered around the area and climbed a small hill, where we discovered this frozen turtle fountain which was just above an ice festival.


March 2016

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March – Best Cake Ever!

March – Continuing the tradition of a birthday hike, a small group of friends took a quick jaunt up Namsan. Once there we ate some incredible Cookie Cream Pumpkin Spice cake from Plant before heading back into Itaewon and HBC for some live music. Good birthday!


April 2016

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April – Suwon Hwaseong Fortress

April – This spring went by quicker than ever, but a visit down to a friend in Suwon meant a day of walking around the fortress walls followed by an immense feast of Indian food and a round of Game of Thrones the board game. You can’t really see in this picture, but the trees were just bursting with blossoms. I’ve been to Suwon several times but this was the most beautiful of all.


May 2016

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May – Seoraksan’s Buddha

May saw my only trip out of Seoul, a return to my favorite part of Korea. We hiked up to Ulsanbawi, which was everything you could ask for: foggy, stark, dramatic, and squirrel-infested. But it was this friendly Buddha on the way up that really encapsulates the Korean mountainside.


June 2016

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June – Cozy vegan restaurant nestled in Insadong

June – With the dearth of vegan restaurants in Seoul, the discovery of Ose Gye Hyang was a beacon in the wilderness. It’s not a Loving Hut, but it’s owned by the vegetarian food company Vegifood that supplied Loving Huts with their supplies. I’ve been back a few times and for my money it’s the best vegan place in Seoul. (Plant is awesome but doesn’t really do Korean food).


July 2016

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July – Abandoned Bball Court in Children’s Grand Court.

July was hot as balls, and yet Nahid and I spent the weekends wandering far from the safe confines of aircon. One day led us, loaded with books and portable water coloring kits, (respectively) to Seoul Children’s Grand Park we spent a sweaty few hours wandering around and listening to the chorus of cicadas before sitting down to read and paint (respectively.) The discovery of this post-apocalyptic basketball court was just a bonus on our way out.


August 2016

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August- Toyoma Restored Castle

July – I’ve blogged about my disappointment with my big summertime trip to Japan, but the more time that goes by, the better the trip gets in retrospect. I guess that’s how it always works. Anyway, wandering around Toyoma was great practice in exploring a place I had no expectations of.


September 2016

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September – Mini Hike in the hills behind Insadong

September – Insadong keeps on popping up as my favorite place, month after month and year after year. It must be my favorite part of Korea, or at least one of them. This little hike is just an amendment to the proper one but the views from here are pretty cool.


October 2016

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October – Olympic Park and Lotte Tower

October was hot and autumn never really arrived. On the night before Halloween, I took Nahid to Olympic Park where I read “Shadows Over Innsmouth” to her as it slowly got darker and colder. Spooky! The Lotte Tower is doomed to collapse in ruin and tragedy, but for now it looks pretty cool.


November 2016

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November – Forest Temple

November – Fall went by oh-so-quickly this year, though I got out looking for leaves every weekend. This photo from a hill behind my house is one of my favorite views of Seoul.


December 2016

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December – Yeoinaru Station

December traditionally is kind of let-down in this series, but this picture was taken while we were filming a Cyberpunk short film that I wrote. A great entry for one of my best Decembers yet.

Past years: 2009, 2010, 2011,  201220132014 and 2015.

Yeti Eats: Measly, Mighty Feasting

Thanksgiving is not  one of my favorite holidays. Apart from the genocidal context, it’s pretty boring. I mean, I (really) like eating but I prefer holidays with a little more than just that. Especially because it takes hours of cooking and cleaning for 30 minutes of munching. Not the most efficient of holidays, but I can appreciate for a time to connect with friends and family and reflect on the goodness of your life.

But last year I made lentil shepherd’s pie for Nahid and she has repeatedly requested them again. I put her off throughout the summer, telling her it was an autumn food. With our limited cooking facilities (a hot plate and a toaster oven)  and my lack of dough making abilities, it’s a tall order. But if Tday isn’t the day for extravagant food, then I don’t know what is.

We just loaded up on veggies and I stir-fried eggplants, onions, garlic, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, and King Mushrooms. I put that pan aside and cooked some lentils and spiced them with turmeric and sage. Then I made some dough with just flour/salt/baking powder and oil.

So I put down the crust, added the lentils and veggies, then topped with mashed potatoes. Then I put it in the toaster over for 15 minutes and actually it turned out really well.

For “pudding” I cut up some apples and added lemon juice, cinnamon, cloves, and other pumpkinish spices. Then put some crust on top, and then some apples on top of that. It didn’t come out as good as the Sheppard’s pie, but it was okay.

Most importantly, we’ve got leftovers for tomorrow. So maybe it’s not such a bad holiday after all.

Yeti Eats: Vegetus

There’s a new vegan restaurant open in Seoul, and it’s even conveniently located in HBC.

The space is nice, and compared to Plant, it’s positively palatial. There is a beer/cider fridge for those who want to wash down their meals with something intoxicating. The service is great too.

But for me it’s not a very good value. The prices are high and the portions are low and unlike Plant, it mostly tastes like stuff I can make. Take the Burrito Bowl, which at 12,000 won is not cheap. It’s almost entirely rice and lentils, with a little bit of sauce and cut up cilantro. For that price, it would be nice to have seitan or tempeh or well anything other than literally the two cheapest foods in the world.

I hate to be negative about any place, especially a vegan place, especially here in the land of omnivores. And the veggie burger was good. But I don’t know if I’ll go back, not when Marrakesh has a vegan sandwich for 5000 won just 5 minutes down the street.

Yeti Daytrips: Vegan Fiesta in Hongseong Village

Improbably, it was a facebook add that informed me about a Vegan daytrip. Well, FB must know I’m vegan and in Korea, but still it kind of surprised me. It was through a website called Playplanet, which I’d never heard of but looked kind of cool. The daytrip was expensive, but these things are in Korea, and just look at that menu. It looks like something my sister would eat in Portland, not the kind of grub available in Korea.

 

It started off with a long bus ride, then some “Traditional Korean dying” (which we hippies called tiedye.) The coolest part was for the yellow die we just used turmeric, which smelled pretty awesome. We then met some village elders who told us they used actual Ducks to eat the pests and thus go organic , and it is working well enough that 2 million tourists a year descend upon the town of 230 people to witness it. There are little statues of ducks throughout the village too.

Then we went to a fashion show put on by disabled Koreans while we drank lotus tea and ate Hangwa (Korean traditional cookies.)

 

The food, when it came, was pretty great. Buffet style in a historic Joseon dynasty house with no electricity and live musicians playing violin and a traditional korean instrument that sounded suspiciously like a kazoo.

 

 

But the whole thing was kind of weird too. Like, early on we learned that none of the people hosting the event were vegan or even interested in veganism. Frequently they filmed us and asked us questions about what we thought about s0-and-so. The people acted a bit strange and it almost felt like we were going to be recruited into a cult. While we were eating, the brought cameras and lights on us and asked us to sum up the experience in one word. So strange. In the end, we suspected (strongly) they were secretly making a promotional video for a catering company. Or something like that.

I dunno. It was a fun trip, and the food was good, but the bizareness of it kind of outweighed the postives. So all-in-all, pretty much your prototypical Korean experience.