On one of our pilgrimages to Knoxville to visit the Apple Store and the most wonderful Asian market EVER (Sunrise Market on Kingston Pike), we discovered a restaurant we have somehow missed on previous visits to this bustling city. Gosh is one of the few family-owned restaurants in Knoxville where you can find a healthy, plant-based meal without the bother of a litany of questions. Ethiopia has a long history of religious fasting days in which no animal protein is allowed, so whenever you order vegetarian at an Ethiopian restaurant, vegan is what you get. You can count on that!
The menu offers individual stews a la carte from $7.99 to $8.99 each or you can opt for a vegetarian (actually vegan) four dish option from the vegetarian menu, plus a salad for $9.99. Finally, there is the option of six vegetarian dishes plus salad for $11.99.
We chose the six veggie combination plate including Kik Alicha (mild pureed yellow split peas seasoned with onions and turmeric), Yemiser Wot (red split lentils cooked in a uniquely Ethiopian spice blend called Berbere), Yemiser Alicha (red split lentils cooked in a mild sauce of onion, garlic and curry), Tikil Gomen (a mild stew of carrots, potato and cabbage), Gomen ( a mild stew of collard greens cooked with onions, garlic and jalapeño peppers), Shurro Wot (ground split peas cooked in Berbere spice blend with onions and fresh garlic), as well as a house salad. This is served with a special flatbread native to Ethiopia called Injera, made from teff, a highly nutritious grain that is fermented to give the bread its unique sourdough flavor. It’s texture is somewhere between a crepe and a pancake and it is used not only as the lining of your plate, upon which the various stews are placed, but will also serve as your utensils. To eat Ethiopian food, unroll a piece of injera and pinch a portion of the stew within the folds of your injera. Then just pop it into your mouth!
For arguably the best pizza in the Tri-Cities area you need look no farther than Scratch Brick Oven. Located in Johnson City’s historic North Roan Street district, in a restored 1900’s home on the corner of Unaka and Roan, it is only two easy blocks from Interstate 26 in Johnson City, TN.
Fourteen years ago Rich and I moved to Butler, Tennessee, a small burg tucked away in the mountains of Appalachia with a population of less than 800. The best place to eat closed down years ago. It was a gas station/restaurant where, from a row of booths sandwiched between the gas pumps in the front and the garage in the rear of the store, one could enjoy a chili dog and at the same time shop for spark plugs or tampons while breathing in oil and gas fumes. A lot has changed since we first arrived. Now vegans, we would not longer consider eating a chili dog and the restaurants that served them are long gone. There is neither a grocery store nor a gas station in the area.
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.
Tommy Thai, situated on State of Franklin across from EarthFare in Johnson City has an distinctively Asian air with a Bhudda in the corner entrance, several stools supported by wooden elephants and feminine deities interspersed throughout. Tommy’s seats 60, not counting 16 in the outdoor patio area. At 1:30pm we had no problem finding a table.
The restaurant sports and extensive menu of fresh entrees which includes a variety of vegan options and a full bar for those wishing a cocktail with their meal. Most everything on the menu from noodle dishes to curries to stir fries can be made vegan upon request. The prices are reasonable and the food is quite good. Most items come with a choice of tofu (fried or steamed) or extra vegetables or some kind of meat for your carnivorous companions. You will also be given a choice of white and brown rice, except for the noodle dishes.
1 tablespoon yellow curry paste
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons vegetarian fish sauce
2 cups mixed vegetables (in this demo she is using broccoli, carrots, boiled potato and onion)
1/2 cup fried tofu
Add oil to hot wok or skillet. Add yellow curry paste. Stir to combine.
Add coconut milk. Lower heat and stir to combine. Add vegetarian fish sauce and the sugar. Mix together until creamy.
Add fresh vegetables and tofu. Cook unit vegetables deepen in color. They should still have a little crunch when you bite into them.
Serve with brown or white rice.