You can feel fairly confident that a restaurant is worth visiting when it keeps popping up on vegan meet-up group websites. We first learned of Bombay Bazar from the consistent posts of the Charleston Veggie Meetup group. They seem to like it so well we had to make it part of our tour of restaurants when we visited Charleston, SC.
We love eating at Indian restaurants. Because of the long tradition of vegetarianism in the Indian culture, the food is a natural fit for vegan diners. There are many dishes to choose from, some vegan, some vegetarian, so you do have to pay attention if you are strictly vegan. Bombay Bazar and Restaurant was our first stop on this tour of Charleston’s eclectic cuisines.
We are happy to report Bombay Bazar did not disappoint. Rich and I arrived in the late afternoon when we practically had the place to ourselves. As you walk in you’ll see the entrance to the restaurant on the left and the entrance to the Bazar, or market, on the right. (We’ll address the market in a separate post.)
The restaurant is divided into three rooms. The first section has booths hugging the wall with a divider and more booths on the opposite wall. The second room is where you’ll find tables bedecked with white tablecloths, napkins and place settings.
Rich ordered the Vegetable Jalfrezi, a mix of vegetables and herbs in a delightful curry sauce. The vegetables consisted of tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, onions, green peppers and cilantro.($9.95).
I ordered the Baingan Ka Bharta, slow roasted eggplant with onions, tomatoes and peas. ($9.95) I couldn’t begin to tell you which one was best, they were both outstanding!
Of the twenty-four vegetarian entrees I counted on the menu, fifteen were vegan so variety is not an issue. There are always several vegan options on the daily lunch buffet as well. Bombay Bazar also offers vegan appetizers, soups and flat-breads as well.
Bombay Bazar offers delicious Indian food at reasonable prices, plus they have an Indian market next door where you can buy ingredients to experiment on your own. If you find yourself in North Charleston, be sure to give them a try!
Nothing gives me more pleasure than introducing a new company with a healthy heart. At the heart of MixMyOwn are the quintessential entrepreneurs, Klara Charvatova and her fiancé, David Filipi. From the Czech Republic, the couple felt unfulfilled working for large companies, David in web and internet application development and Klara in marketing. They wanted to make a complete change from corporate culture to a lifestyle that was more satisfying and personally rewarding. Klara and David first looked at what they considered to be most important element in their own lives, which was connecting with people through a healthy lifestyle.
Here is a great interview from Bill Moyers on Farmers Markets
Planteaters, a newcomer to app scene, directs hungry diners to meals from a variety of veg-friendly, though not necessarily vegan and vegetarian restaurants. It can be downloaded for free from www.getplanteaters.com. Planteaters is the brain child of Dave Hersh from New York City who developed it out of a need to, as he says, “scratch his own itch.” He found since becoming vegan four years ago he usually has to make greater compromises than his meat-eating friends when dining out together, often having to order a salad or abstain from eating altogether.
Hersh saw a need for an app which will direct diners to restaurants which offer plant-based meals as well as meals for their carnivorous companions. It is worth noting there are a number of non-vegan restaurants out there that offer excellent vegan meals. For example, Dave mentions a restaurant near where he works that offers the best vegan burrito he’s ever eaten and the name of the restaurant means “Three Meats!” Planteaters is the only app available which focuses on individual meals as opposed to vegetarian or vegan restaurants per se.
Grow Crowd App provides a local marketplace for organic food producers to sell fresh, organic products (vegetables, herbs, fruits, nuts, mushrooms, etc.) directly to their local communities. It is essentially a virtual farmers market. Users can browse local farmers and their products to find the freshest food available at the moment of purchase. Customers can order their produce on-line and pre-arrange pickup times and locations.
Grow Crowd, was created by Johan Steneros of Southern Spain. A backyard organic gardener for the past three years, Steneros became aware of the growth of organic farming as well as growing demands of the consumer for organically grown produce. Johan has a background in web design, building applications as well as creative projects. “I am very much involved in the App world and mobile communication, says Steneros. “I did my research and saw there wasn’t very much happening in this area so I thought I’d get it moving.” He began working on the Grow Crowd App a year ago and it was launched October 8, 2013. It is available on iTunes and the Apple AppStore worldwide as a free download.
Once in a blue moon I’ll discover a truly unique gem of a resource that I simply feel duty bound to share with the world. Natural Imports of Asheville, NC, is one such discovery. Natural Imports is a purveyor of traditional Japanese culinary products of the highest caliber. Great care is taken to assure excellence, offering foods of a medicinal quality, prepared in time honored traditions by skilled Japanese craftsmen. Mass production and quicker, low-quality methods are threatening the livelihoods of these Japanese artisans, who prepare foods using the principal of Ishoku Dogen, “medicine and food have the same source.” You’ll find no mass market food and no arsenic laden Chinese seaweed here, only traditionally crafted products and sea vegetables grown in deep waters of Japan, protected for centuries with organic, sustainable practices.
Bruce MacDonald, now semi-retired, is the founder of Natural Imports. His daughter, Crystal, has been his partner and business manager since its inception in 1993, since she was 19 years old. Crystal speaks fluent Japanese and is a wealth of information about all aspects of how the seaweed is harvested, the medicinal and nutritional ingredients of every product, the sustainability practices of her suppliers and any glitch that effects the ecosystem and thereby affecting the quality of their products. She is a dynamic powerhouse who stays on top of all issues pertaining to Natural Imports.
Crystal essentially grew up in the business. Her parents divorced when she was young and she spent summers working at Commodities, a Japanese import store Bruce owned in New York City, where she learned about Japanese food. Bruce had previously worked for Erehwon in Boston, which was the original importer of natural foods in the US and subsequently for Erehwon West in California and later for Bread and Circus, which was sold to become the original Whole Foods Market.
It is the second Sunday of the month, meaning King Street has been cordoned off for the day. Restaurants spill onto the curbs with tables and bright umbrellas in an air of camaraderie and joie de vivre. Waiters carry fragrant platters of myriad foodstuffs and drink to cheerful tourists. Dog walkers and young mothers pushing baby strollers maneuver around them and the city becomes alive with students, street musicians, Citadel cadets and sundry on-lookers, the young and wizened alike.
The first leg of our vegan trek through the historic city of Charleston, SC, takes us to CO, a charming Vietnamese restaurant located on King Street. It is nestled amid the lovely sunbathed pastel architecture indicative of Charleston, right in the heart of its busy shopping district near the intersection of George Street.
We order our usual water with no ice and I ask Sam, our waitress, to point out the vegan items on the menu. She exchanges the menu in my hand with a vegan and gluten-free menu and the issue is immediately resolved. The name “CO” means “Feast” in Vietnamese, which certainly is appropriate for this restaurant which offers a wide range of choices. We spoke at length with Josh, the general manager. He explains the produce used in preparing CO’s food is locally sourced, though no great attention has been paid to the presence of GMO’s. After suffering, with patience and grace, through my lecture on the subject perhaps in the future that will change. One restaurant at a time is my policy! (He’ll be quizzed on the subject on our next visit.)
While en-route to Charleston, SC, to celebrate the 26th anniversary of our first date (Nov 11th), Rich and I found ourselves on I-26 absolutely famished and still nearly two hours from our destination. We stopped at Columbia, SC, and were lucky to discover Lamb’s Bread Vegan Café, an animal free, organic, NON-GMO restaurant right off I-26 on Main Street! You’ll know you are at the right place when you see their street sign with the name of their restaurant followed by “Love is the Key.” What a perfect preamble to enjoying a healthy meal!
2 tablespoons vegetarian oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup green onions
1 1/2 cups mixed vegetables
3/4 cups fried tofu
1 teaspoon minced garlic
chili pepper to taste
Blanch vegetables in boiling water for 10-15 seconds.
In a hot wok or skillet add oil. When the oil is hot add garlic and stir. Add vegetables and tofu. Stir. Add the the sauce, green onions and chili peppers. Continue to stir until heated through. The vegetables will deepen in color. Transfer to a bowl and serve with brown or white rice.