Saturday, May 29, 2010

SoJu Japanese & Korean Food- Portland, Maine

I really, truly am a lousy vegan. I fully respect those who have an ethical opposition to animal products, but as someone strictly coming from a health-stand-point it makes it very easy for me to be led off the wagon. People say I should call myself vegetarian instead, but then they are surprised when I say that I don't drink milk, eat cheese, or have eggs. I just can't frickin' win here! I choose to say that I am a health-based "vegan" (I use air-quotes in person out of respect to the genuine, hardcore vegans) with the exception of sushi and ice cream. Maybe I'll create my own name for it- who knows. Point being- I have an enormous soft spot for Asian cuisine...or at least Americanized Asian Cuisine. A few weeks ago Jake and I tried out this restaurant called SoJu. It's where the old Thai Buffet used to be, and man oh man they put that buffet to shame!

We weren't really sure what to expect, but thought it was worth a try. We were immediately greeted by everyone in the restaurant (slow day) and seated by the window. Our waitress served us water and warm green tea (on the house!) and we decided to share a glass of Plum Sake. It was reeeeally sweet which I enjoyed at first, but as the meal progressed I just couldn't finish drinking it. We weren't sure of the serving sizes so we ordered a few things to

1. Dumpling Soup
2. Vegetable Fried Rice
3. "Lunch Special" Bento Box

Written down it doesn't look like a lot of food- but then it began. Our waitress brought out three small dishes with kimchee, dressed cucumbers (they had on cute little skirts!, not really), and some kind of slaw...DELICIOUS. They said that they were complimentary and unlimited so we had like five small dishes of kimchee because it was so incredible. After a few minutes, the miso soup from the Bento Box appeared, along with the dumpling soup. I'm not a big fan of miso, but the dumplings were fabulous. It was like finding edible purses filled with warm, delicious, amazingness inside your soup!

The fried rice and Bento Box were brought out together. I'm
pretty sure both our jaws dropped upon seeing the size of the meal. The fried rice was on a plate bigger than my head, and the Bento Box came with tempura shrimp & veggies, white rice, fruit, a california roll, and I AM NOT KIDDING- the best tofu teriyaki I have ever even imagined existing. Not only was the sauce a perfect blend of sweet and salty, but the tofu itself was just crunchy enough on the outside while still being incredibly smooth and soft inside and drenched in teriyaki. I am literally drooling all over my hands (that's actually a lie, that would be disgusting) as I type this. In fact I am pondering going down there right now just for some of that.

We were so full that we had enough leftovers for dinner that night- and let me tell you it is just as incredible cold. I am so thrilled that they have such great quality, but it pains me that they are living with the reputation of that God-awful buffet. One of the employees told us to go home and tell all our friends how great it is because they have not been getting very much business at all. She also said that a lot of people around town were nervous that the quality would be as poor as the previous restaurant. We gave her our word to tell friends, and as we left all of the servers said "Have a wonderful day!" and then piped in, "We are all counting on you!" It was rather adorable.

While I don't think SoJu will be giving Pom's Thai a run for their money quite yet, I do believe that they have the potential. I know that they have my seal of approval, and I plan on frequenting there a lot more often! I love having someplace so close to get my teriyaki fix! King of the Roll has always been my favorite sushi joint, and their prices are certainly better than SoJu for sushi, but on lazy days I just might have to be a traitor. So I hope my fellow Portland foodies give SoJu a try, because if you don't you are very much a moron.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Little KINDness

Things have been gearing up prettttty fast for the trip. My apartment has literally been like a Greek Tragedy with clothes strewn about, random crap I never knew I had crawling out form under the bureau, Zoey's toys torn to shreds with little fluffs of cotton stuffing laying like a battle field across our dirt and hair covered floor...but all in the name of "progress!" We have officially sold each and every gaming system...oh wait that's a lie...I still have my DS....but we have ALMOST sold each and every gaming system! I noted on Twitter that it is sort of sad that someone with the alias of "Byte Size" is no longer geekily equipped. We have also sold both of our iPhones to and switched to old school Motorola Razr/Slivr and cut out data completely. "Why," you ask? Because it will save us $100 per month, and we really don't need to be checking our email constantly anyways.

While I could not give up my precious bloggy-lovechild, we have also chosen to remove ourselves from Social Media. Facebook and Twitter were simply becoming abused by strangers and in the end, knowing what old chums are doing is not worth my safety. On Facebook they constantly change the fine print- here I control what information people have access to. That's the big ole difference.

We are also getting prepared for Flea Market season when we will be frequenting these under cover markets to sell our outrageous amounts of clothes, kitchenware, and random shit that you'd think no one would ever want. We went to one the other day and got a BRAND NEW backpack and or two cell phones for $4! TOTAL! We also had a very generous Army man sell us a plethora of his old gear for $100. I mean bags, and bags of thermal, fleece, reflective, and rain gear, a sleeping bag, boots, and a helmet for good measure. We will likely be selling the boots and helmet as they do not fit us, but the rest of the stuff is in amazing shape and I can't wait to put it to use! And so begins the purge of our current life-as-we-know-it and the plunge into hippiedom. We are hoping that by August our material items are minimal and our brains are only consumed by the thoughts of saving money and the wide-world ahead of us. Even Zoey is excited for the wonderful vacation ahead of her!

The support of our sponsors has been tremendous. Our closet has become a sanctuary of items our sponsors have sent us, so that we save them for the trip. Yesterday I received a bountiful box of treats from KIND Snacks. I especially appreciate their sponsorship because they have an amazing business focus on holistic living and breaking the barriers of modern society. I especially love this quote I discovered on their website:

"Kind’s vision is to transform mindless snacking into KIND Snacking:
snacking that is KIND to your body, your taste buds, & the world.®"

How freaking rad is that? I would love to give a round of applause to the marketing team who came up with that quote because it really hit it home for me. It essentially sums up the purpose of my journey in one sentence. Anyways! They sent Jake and I enough snacks to keep us fueled for quite an extensive amount of time aaaand a fabulous T-shirt for me to sport during the journey! I am excited to tell you guys more about the products once we begin the journey (we aren't going to be sneaking any samples til then!) and share our experiences with you.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Little Lad's Bakery

With the journey fast approaching (September 29!), Jake and I have been working like crazy to keep saving money...which therefore leaves little time to actually see each other. Yesterday, however, we finally had a morning off together so we decided to put it to good use and try out a local eatery that we have been dying to go to.

Ever since becoming vegetarian/mostly vegan we have heard nothing but amazing things about Little Lad's Bakery & Cafe on Congress St. I can't even count the number of times we have tried to go before realizing that they are only open for lunch. Luckily, we remembered in time yesterday and wandered over. We were caught a bit off-guard by the casual setting, as it wasn't overly obvious how we were supposed to go about dining. While I pretty much stood back, wide-eyed, going "ooooh," Jake marched up to the cash register and began looking at the menu. Everything sounded AMAZING...not only that but the most expensive item was $8.99! You can't even get a pizza in Portland without dropping at least $10!

We both immediately decided to get the special which was Spoon Bread, Rice & Beans, Peas, Vegan Mac N' Cheese, and Corn Chowder ($4.99 total!). Needless to say, we decided to split it. First came the chowder...with a side of Little Lad's Herbal Popcorn- THE BEST MOTHER EFFING POPCORN EVER. I mean really. It is so light and flavorful that you can hardly contain yourself. The chowder was also incredible, and I am practically drooling just thinking about it. Once we were finished, the rest of the meal came out. It was my first time ever eating Spoon Bread (wasn't my favorite...) but I was excited to be trying something new. Overall, the meal was fabulous and ended with a delicious vegan chocolate chip cookie :) I 100% recommend Little Lad's to anyone in the Portland, ME area for lunch- But they also have a New York location! They are worth checking out, for sure, and will definitely be my new lunch joint.