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02

Aug

Chick Fil-A’s Pseudoreligiosity

Ok, it’s been a while since my last post, and maybe you thought I got murdered in LA (I didn’t - or perhaps this is a Ghost Writer????).  I had heretofore given up on Cheese Sandwich, because I thought I had said everything I needed to be said regarding vegetarian dining in a meat world.  Then Chick Fil-A President Dan Cathy decided to come out and say he believes in a traditional view of marriage, based upon the bible.

I am in favor of gay rights, but I do feel that businesses should be allowed to run as they wish.  If a business wants to be racist or homophobic, that’s their choice. My blog has been trying to point out which restaurants are vegetarian/vegan friendly that vegetarians wouldn’t normally go to.  Rather than shaming businesses that are anti-vegetarian, I’d rather praise those that are pro-vegetarian.

I’ve gotten in many arguments with friends that say “Why do you expect steak houses to cater to vegetarians?” or “Just go to vegetarian restaurants!”.  But after looking at the outrage against Dan Cathy’s comments, it’s a good time to underline the apartheid of the food service industry.  At the majority of restaurants in America, vegetarians are unwelcome.  We have to live in ghettos of other vegetarians and vegans until someone with some business sense decides to make a “vegetarian restaurant”, which will serve food for vegetarians.

Meanwhile, places like Chick Fil-A serve nothing but chicken products and chicken-laced products.  Even their salads all have chicken as an ingredient.  For a company that claims to follow the Bible, they really pick and choose which practices they follow.  According to Romans 14:13 -

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

Which, combined with Acts 15:20 -

Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.

And I Corinthians 8:13 -

Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.

Lays a pretty clear picture that it is your duty as a Christian to look after your brother should they not wish to eat meat for religious purposes (or even for any purpose).  Yet Chick Fil-A has no option for vegetarians to eat.  We could scramble a side salad and carrot and raisin salad into a meal, but that is really the minimum they could do.

I’ve long held the belief that you can always tell how good a restaurant is based upon how they cater to vegetarians.  It’s like the old Malcom Forbes quote:

You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.

Based upon the way Chick Fil-A treats vegetarians, it’s not really surprising that they are anti-gay marriage.  To argue that their views are defended in the Bible just smacks of hypocrisy and pseudoreligiosity.

29

Aug

Rocket Pizza - Los Angeles, CA

I am a huge lover of pizza, and while I try to discern good pizza from bad pizza, I like pizza in all formats.  No matter how disgusting the pizza looks or is, I will likely consume it.  Even if I have already eaten a meal, if a pizza is placed in front of me, I will probably take a slice.  With all due respect to the late Johnny Cash, pizza is my cocaine.  That being said, California is known for having awful pizza.  I knew before I left Los Angeles that I had to have one stupid California pizza, and unfortunately Rocket Pizza in downtown Los Angeles was the location for me to get my dumb Californian pizza.

I should point out that Rocket Pizza is not too different from the standard college town pizza places that you’ll find strewn across America.  And their pizza options are fairly conservative for what I was expecting from a California pizza place.  However, their eponymous Rocket Pizza was probably the strangest option on the menu - onions, green peppers, mushrooms, feta, and eggs on pizza.  It was basically a breakfast pizza, but without any tomato sauce.  And sadly, that was the one thing I felt necessary for this pizza, as a little tanginess from the tomatoes would have tempered the excessive brackish flavor of the pizza.  The pizza was so salty, that I almost felt nauseous eating it.  And while I try to avoid salty foods in general, I can definitely handle excess salt.

Despite being excessively salty, I made the foolish decision of ordering the stupid Californian style pizza, so I can’t fault Rocket Pizza 100%.  The dough was actually pretty tasty, and I would imagine a normal pizza would be quite enjoyable here.  So, I will give Rocket Pizza a presumptuous three and a half cheese sandwiches.  As I presume it would be good, and the pizza is pretty reasonably priced for being LA.

Rocket Pizza
122 West 4th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013 
(213) 687-4992

20

Jul

Ruen Pair - Los Angeles, CA

I told Aaron and Kara that I love Thai food, and they recommended checking out Thai City (or Little Thailand, I can’t remember what they called it).  Basically, it’s an open strip mall that has 7 or 8 Thai restaurants in it, and mandatory valet parking (even though parking is ample).  It definitely had fewer brothels than I expected for being a US-version of Thailand, but it was definitely interesting.  One trend I’ve noticed when it comes to Thai food is that Thai people really like confirming that the food is from Thailand and not anywhere else in southeast Asia (hence the many restaurant names with “Thai” in it: My Thai, Mai Thai, Planet Thai, Pad Thai, Taste of Thai, Thai City, just being a few…).  Aaron and Kara’s favorite place was called Ruen Pair, which from my experience is a good sign if the Thai restaurant doesn’t have to tell you its Thai (although I concede that Ruen Pair might mean “Thai Restaurant” in Thai for all I know)*.



We decided to order three dishes and eat them “family style”, though I convinced them into getting an appetizer first.  We ordered the vegetarian spring rolls, which were pretty standard fare.  I don’t really know why I would expect anything special, vegetarian spring rolls all taste the same.

The first of the three dishes we ordered was the pad thai with tofu (this was my idea).  I know pad thai has oyster sauce and sometimes fish stock, and is not truly vegetarian, but I like it so much.  I was told by the waitress that all of the dishes are truly vegetarian, and don’t have any fish in them.  The pad thai was really tasty, though like spring rolls, it’s pretty hard to screw up pad thai, except for making the noodles mushy, which they were not.



Next up, panang curry with soft tofu, which was a brown curry (with, I am told, no fish stock), which was nicely spicy, and one of my favorite dishes of the night.  Aaron and Kara insisted that we have it with soft tofu instead of fried tofu because we ordered fried tofu with the pad thai.  I just went along with their bizarre notion that you can’t have two dishes with fried tofu (I would have all dishes with fried tofu if I were in charge).  Regardless, the curry was very tasty, even with the soft tofu.



Finally, a dish that I have never tried before in my life.  Sauteed morning glory with garlic.  I had never had morning glory before, and I thought myself to be familiar with most types of vegetables.  This dish is very similar to broccoli rabe, and if broccoli rabe and spinach had a love child, this would be it.  Slightly bitter, with lots of garlic for flavor, I really enjoyed this dish, and paired with the panang curry, was very tasty.

I am a big Thai food fan (even places that put “Thai” in their names), and Ruen Pair might be one of my favorite places to get Thai food.  All the food is reasonably price (cheap by LA standards), though you do have to deal with the valet parking.  The restaurant itself is very strip-mally (as you would expect for a strip-mall), and that detracts somewhat from the atmosphere, but you definitely feel that this is the place that Thai people would eat at if they ate out Thai food. So, I’ll give it four and a half cheese sandwiches, only because its not made blatantly clear what does and does not have fish or other meat dishes in it (as you would expect for an Asian restaurant).

*It means “twin house” based upon my Google translate.

Ruen Pair
5257 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027 
(323) 466-0153

14

Jul

Adventures in Eating: Donut Crawl II: LA Edition

After my first donut crawl, I promised myself that I would never repeat the foolishness and do another donut crawl.  However, I discovered that there are several great donut establishments in Los Angeles, and I couldn’t help but try them out.  Consider me a glutton for punishment, or at least, a glutton.

My first stop on the donut crawl was Donut King in Culver City, which was a 30 minute drive from the Valley, and I tried to time it so that my drive was post-rush-hour so that I didn’t have to be stuck in traffic and eagerly waiting for donuts.  The down side of timing your drive to be so late, you miss out on the freshest doughnuts.  I wanted to control for comparing the various donuts, so I ordered the same chocolate frosted donut in each place I went to.  However, in Donut King, I ordered the first chocolate donut I saw, which was actually a chocolate frosted cake donut.  If you’ve ever had a cake donut, you know that this donut crawl was already starting off behind the 8 ball (like ordering a Guiness on the first stop of a pub crawl).  If you haven’t, just imagine trying to eat 3 donuts, after the first donut is a cake!  Regardless, Donut King is a bit of a hole in the wall, which would be a great place to just grab a bunch of donuts then go to your work, but it’s a lousy place to sit and enjoy your donut.  The cake donut was really tasty, if slightly crumbly, and was one of a myriad varieties of donut that would impress even the most jaded donut consumer.  LA is lucky that they have such a great donut shop, and I’ll give it four cheese sandwiches.

Moving on, I stopped by Randy’s Donuts, famed donut stall known for the giant donut on the top of the stall.  This is the mecca for obese people and diabetics, at least for those who don’t prefer the Cheesecake Factory.

While Donut King was a place you wouldn’t feel comfortable sitting in, you literally cannot sit in Randy’s Donuts, as it is simply a shack of donut decadence.  I ordered the chocolate frosted donut, which I liked much more than the Donut King donut, even though the chocolate frosting tasted very carob-y.  The donut was light and fluffy, but at this point scarfing down the second donut in my car made me realize how alone I was.  Not just in the sense that I was doing a donut crawl by myself, but that I realized just how lonely dining alone has made me.  Donut crawls have a way of scouring even the darkest parts of your soul.  That, or I was hitting the trough of a sugar high.  Despite the depression inducing coma that the second donut gave me, I really like Randy’s donuts, and I’ll give it four cheese sandwiches also.

I met up with my friend Cuttino at the Grove, a giant shopping village/Farmer’s Market that you might recognize if you watch Extra!  Cuttino is a budding standup comedian, and was spending his time writing at the Borders there.  So, I would stop and visit and somehow never manage to see Mario Lopez!  Nevertheless, to cap off the donut crawl, I stopped by Bob’s Coffee and Doughnuts, a stand in the Farmer’s Market.  I actually did not want a donut at this point, but I needed to get something at the Farmer’s Market to validate my parking.  At this point well beyond the apex of donut enjoyment, I must say that Bob’s donuts were actually pretty good.  Unfortunately, I decided to get the chocolate donut, because the cinnamon rolls looked amazing.  However, I have to compare apples to apples.  Bob’s donuts, another solid four cheese sandwiches.

I should point out that LA is fortunate to have a wide selection of delicious donut shops.  The reason I do so is that I have heard from several Boston celebrities on late night talk shows complain about how LA does not have a Dunkin’ Donuts!  This is the epitome of fake nostalgia.  People leave Boston, think fondly about their times at Dunkin’ Donuts, completely oblivious to the fact that it is really awful.  Well, it’s not Bruegger’s Bagels awful, but it’s not something that should be lamented that it is not there, when there are 3 outstanding local donut shops that are vastly superior.

Bob’s Coffee and Doughnuts, 6333 W 3rd St # 450 Los Angeles, CA 90036-3109 (323) 933-8929

Donut King, 3970 Sepulveda Blvd # 2 Culver City, CA 90230-4633 (310) 313-3686

Randy’s Donuts, 805 West Manchester Boulevard Inglewood, CA 90301 (310) 645-4707

05

Jul

Plaza Café - Los Angeles, CA

Every once in a while, you get stranded in a place where there is nothing to eat but whatever is available.  I went to the LaBrea tarpits and the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) to do the usual touristy things that you do there, and it was about 2 pm and I was famished.  However, in that area there’s not anything really good within walking distance.  I parked my car in the parking lot of the tarpits, and didn’t want to move it until I saw everything.  Thus, I was compelled to try the Plaza Café in the LACMA.

The Plaza Café is your typical cafeteria-style eatery, with salad bar, sandwiches, as well as pizzas.  I saw that they had a veggie burger, and I decided to order it (I had just had a pizza the night before).  Unfortunately for me, the veggie burger was your typical Boca burger style fake meat veggie burger, rather than a more interesting vegetable patty.  The burger was served with these fries that took me a while to realize were garlic fries, because the garlic settled all at the bottom.  That was a very nice touch that I did not expect from a museum cafeteria.  The veggie burger was nothing spectacular but it was enough to satiate my appetite so that I could continue to check out the Japanese pavilion (very cool if you can still check it out), and the rest of the modern art wing of the museum.  If you’re ever going to LACMA and the tarpits, try to allot 4-5 hours to see it all, and possibly bring a sandwich next time.

Overall, the food at the Plaza Café was pretty good, and there was a wide selection that catered to vegetarians as well as vegans (not too much for celiacs, but salad options were available).  Thus, I’ll give Plaza Café three and a half cheese sandwiches for being very vegetarian friendly and sufficiently edible for a location where I don’t actually want to get food, but might need it.

Plaza Café at the LACMA
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036 
(323) 857-6000