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.


  1. Do not call yourself a vegan OR a vegetarian if you eat fish.

  2. As I specifically said in the first paragraph I am not what is literally defined as a vegan. I was merely explaining that there is no official title for my diet and that when I try to explain myself those who are not vegan or vegetarian, they typically don't understand. Rather than listing of my health problems which have driven me to this lifestyle choice when someone asks why I'm not eating the chicken at the party, I choose to draw a defined line.

    I specifically said that I am not a vegan, but compared most of my eating habits to someone who is. I understand that veganism is a touchy subject, hence my explanation and attempted thoroughness which I had hoped would result in me NOT getting attacked. No such luck.

    I know of many pescetarians who identify themselves as vegetarian. There are several types of vegetarian diets all with different "rules" to them, but most that I know will call themselves vegetarian because no one in the general public knows what the hell a pescetarian is.

    I am happy that you are passionate about the subject, but if you had taken the time to truly read what I had wrote you would understand where I am coming from and realize that I am not being disrespectful of any particular eating habit, and that I was merely writing a review of a now-non-existent-restaurant and updating on the changes in my own diet. The previous entries on my blog were following my attempt to actually go 100% vegan which is why there are many posts about my failed attempts and revisions to my diet.