Rutabegorz: traditional restaurant offerings without sacrificing taste

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Rutabegorz! A place I’ve been wanting to blog about for a while now. Why? Because it fits the criteria of my blog’s focus: they offer a few Asian inspired dishes, it’s health-conscious, and their food is offered at reasonable prices. Also because it’s a unique place! The atmosphere is cozy with “lots of built in cabinetry and beautiful woodwork”. Built in an Old Town Orange home – seems their ambience would make anyone feel right at home when visiting. RUTA’S Orange also provides a fantastic out front patio, which is ideal for sunny day California weather or a casual summer evening enjoying the cool breeze!

Their menu has EVERYTHING! And they’re very generous with their portions, so I think it’s worth every penny! They have Yummy Appetizers, Soups, Chili, Salads, Wraps, House Favorites, Sandwiches, Dessert and a variety of unique drinks to choose from also, like coffee drinks, smoothies, juices —  iced apple cider and hot cherry cider under ‘other drinks’, also Cocktails, Wine & Beer.

Their mission is “to provide our communities with a healthy alternative to traditional restaurant offerings without sacrificing taste. We provide “old school” vegetarian values – lots of fresh and natural foods.” As stated by owner Paul Berkman on restaurant’s website. The section about ‘traditional restaurant offerings without sacrificing taste’ is what I like to hear and experience. I believe that is what most health-conscious people seek — a place that uses fresh natural ingredients yet food that doesn’t taste bland instead very flavorful.

One downfall, however, it seems, that Rutabegorz is not known to have great service, which is unfortunate because everything else, in my opinion, is great! I’ve experienced their OK service firsthand every time I’ve dined here; nonetheless, their good food and pleasant atmosphere far outweigh the ‘not so good’, so I keep coming back.

The most recent time visiting Ruta’s Orange, I ordered their Veggie Mu Shu Medley (as seen in photograph). This dish consists of: ‘Asian inspired veggies – water chestnuts, broccoli, carrots, snow peas and mushrooms – atop a bed of brown rice, then topped with slivered almonds, crunchy noodles and mu shu sauce’. I was told by a friend that the Chinese term “mu shu” is an assortment of veggies quickly seared, as in stir fry. And the gal at the restaurant says the sauce in the medley is a ‘sweet plum sauce’, which to me tasted like teriyaki sauce. I didn’t mind the sweet taste at all. And I enjoyed eating all those veggies — such a generous amount of them! Overall, it was a happy positive experience!

So there you have it! A neat restaurant in Downtown Orange that you can bring your grand-papa, kids, uncle, neighbor, friends, co-workers, and/or a romantic date to — a place that serves everything for everyone, and that is not overpriced considering the unique healthy choices they provide. Try it sometime, and tell me what you think!

Loving Hut: peace, love & harmony.

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Discovered a small vegan restaurant when least expected as I scouted for a place to eat in a Huntington Beach shopping center. Originally I had spotted a Mediterranean place, so I walked towards it from where I parked (only space available towards the end), and to my surprise came across the word “vegan” before even arriving to my intended destination. I walked in to learn it was everything I’ve been wanting to find! Always have my eyes open for healthy Asian food restaurants; preferably distinct hole-in-the wall places, and if affordable like this place, that’s a plus! I had not found a place like this in a while so I felt delighted and intrigued already without having tried anything on their menu.

Observing their menu, what jumped out at me the most was their ‘Crispy Chow Fun’ food item; which is “soy protein, tofu, various fresh veggies including broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, snow pea and mushroom simmered in special house sauce served with crispy rice noodle.” Also ordered their avocado smoothie. Another perk to this restaurant — they serve healthy smoothies, too! Yum!

The Chow Fun was an array of colors made with wholesome vegan ingredients (as everything else on their menu is made with) and it was cooked beautifully; definitely a good balance of flavors. This dish was a rather large portion, took some ‘to go’ in a Chinese take-out box. The environment was friendly, clean, and vibrant. Their vision is “that all beings could live in peace, love and harmony with each other and the planet” – that sounds good to me! (By the way, they also serve vegan western food; like burgers, wraps, and sandwiches, for those who prefer western cuisine!)

Well, what else can I say other than I’m happy to have stumbled across this unique vegan restaurant. Felt content after my delicious meal and I’m looking forward to sampling more creative dishes from the Loving Hut menu, for sure! There will be another time for Mediterranean…


 

The Wheel of Life: Vegetarian Thai Cuisine

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A pleasant Saturday evening spent with my friend Ali having dinner at The Wheel of Life in Irvine. A nice modern restaurant known as a Vegetarian Thai Cuisine. Ali knows the owners quite well — they greeted us with kindness as we walked in. It was my first time visiting this local eatery and I liked it from the start. What makes this restaurant stand out, I think, is the staff and their good food, nothing too unusual or creative about their ambiance, nonetheless, I felt relaxed and welcomed, and that definitely calls for an enjoyable atmosphere.

We ordered their Chow Mein, The Wheel Fresh Spring Rolls, and Teriyaki Tofu with Special Sauce. All 3 dishes imparted a lot of goodness, and great to know their food is made with fresh organic ingredients. Anyone (vegan or not) interested in a restaurant that serves flavorful food with no MSG, no cholesterol, low in fat, and high in flavor, then this place is definitely worth a try! My dining experience here, so far, was very delicious and satisfying. I’m eager to try their vegan soups!

Celebrating @ Avanti Cafe

Candle light dinner at Avanti Cafe with Ali and Eric, celebrating my birthday. We began our night with a nice refreshing pitcher of Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pills (draft beer) and wonderful bites of the Avanti cheese plate. Gotta have the cheese!

Then we ordered 3 types of different pizzas to mix & match. Given a choice, I would prefer the Margarita Pizza to Shitake Artichoke Pesto and Sausage Build Your Own Pizza (Eric’s creation) I tried, too. It must have been the blend of fire roasted tomato sauce, organic heirloom tomatoes, smoked organic mozzarella, arugula and spinach. Brilliant!

Last but not least we savored into a banana chocolate strudel with house made peanut ice crème and a rich chocolate walnut brownie; two very enjoyable desserts! I discovered, however, that the banana chocolate strudel was much more appealing to me than the chocolate brownie. Must visit again, soon! even if only for another delicious serving of the banana chocolate strudel with peanut ice crème; it was like Mana from Heaven in every bite, Mmmmm.

It’s quite intriguing to me this small and fascinating vegetarian & vegan restaurant serves the best of traditional European and Asian healthful food. What a truly creative and interesting food concept.

Also, the few times dining at Avanti Chef Mark is always present greeting everyone in cheerful delight. He’s very personable with his customers, I’ve observed. The experience is pleasant and intimate; a nice evening ambiance to unwind to if need be.

Ali, Eric, and I departed Avanti happy and grateful for our wonderful time spent together: talking, laughing and eating; celebrating life!