New Vegan Options in Kzoo!

Every month Kalamazoo gets a bit more vegan! Below are some great new restaurant and food options from our friends at Bigbee Coffee, Natural Health Food Center, Sawall Health Foods, and Water Street Coffee Joint. Plus we’re happy to announce two new local vegan-friendly restaurants: Chau Haus and Maru Sushi.

Join our Facebook group for fun discussions of food, animals, movies, current events, and all things vegan.

Please remember to put your holiday dollars where your vegan heart is. A gift certificate from one of the dozens of vegan-friendly restaurants and other businesses listed on our Website will be very appreciated, and you’ll be doing your bit to grow our local vegan economy.

We have some amazing events planned in 2017 and I can’t wait to see you at them. I always welcome your suggestions for the group, and am here to answer any question you might have on anything vegan.

Biggby Coffee. Specific locations (Texas Corners, Schoolcraft, and Sprinkle Rd/E Michigan Ave) are currently testing coconut milk (and already offer soy). Unlike a certain national chain, Bigbee doesn’t charge extra for dairy alternatives.

Natural Health Food Center is now selling MacroVegetarian ready-to-eat vegan meals, including dumplings and Pad Thai.

Sawall Health Foods has added PIZZA to its deli offerings. Their menu now includes two-all vegan pizzas: Schiacchiata (squash, arugula, etc., and “walnut parmesan”) and Funghi (mushrooms, etc., and cashew truffle cream), and you can veganize several of their other pies. In the name of research 🙂 I had a pie and it was delicious. Top it off with their Amorino super-rich sorbet (vegan, of course) for dessert.

Water Street Coffee Joint has lots of news. Last fall’s vegan apple cake was a hit, and now they are planning: “new vegan layer cake-cherry almond…chocolate hazelnut cake to follow in late January. New vegan sandwich, available ALL the time-walnut and white bean spread with roasted pears, roasted red peppers and fresh spinach on sprouted, organic, multi-grain bread.: Also, “several new salads that are vegan as well as a quinoa stir-fry. Keeping 1-3 soups per week vegan as well. Sweet potato coconut will be back soon!”

And a hearty Vegan Kalamazoo welcome to…

Chau Haus Schnitzel Station. A unique, new place right next to the State Theater. Come for wonderful vegan German food, friendly people, and music jams. Owner Francis says: “Since so many vegans have been coming in to the Chau Haus, I have been able to add a few more things to the menu, and run vegan daily specials. I can also accommodate gluten free diets. I’ve got barley burgers, mushroom schnitzel, the vegestopheles sub, and a vegan soup every day.”

Maru Sushi. The beloved Michigan “Japanese fusion” chain is opening a Kzoo branch downtown (427 E Michigan Ave., next to Hopcat). Per our good friends at VegOut Kalamazoo: “Most of Maru’s vegetarian rolls are vegan. Those that aren’t can easily be altered with a simple sauce substitution. Just ask. Megan’s favorites are the Green Turtle, the Archer, and the Boogie veggie rolls. Or try the Tofu Hibachi Grill, vegan when ordered without the teriyaki sauce.”

Wild Ginger Restaurant Review

Wild Ginger is a contemporary Asian restaurant, offering delicious Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Thai dishes. In addition to many traditional favorites, they develop their own unique dishes. They also have a full bar. Wild Ginger is located in the D&W mall complex on Romence Road, just west of Westnedge.

barThey offer several tasty options that either are already vegan or can be customized to be vegan. Most (but not all) of the items marked as vegetarian on their menu can be made vegan. However, some of the items marked as vegetarian actually contain fish sauce, so be sure to read the menu description for mention of fish or oyster sauce or eggs, and talk to your server about your needs.

We have found the wait staff to be very knowledgeable and helpful. They would specify for the chefs to omit fish sauce or eggs to keep dishes vegans. This was shown on the receipt, which made us feel more confident that it was actually happening.

Appetizers that can be made vegan include: spring rolls, edamame, and vegetable pot sticker dumplings. The sweet chili dipping sauce for the spring rolls is vegan, but the spicy mayo and unagi are not.

They offer a variety of maki rolls, but only 3 are vegan: avocado roll, cucumber roll, and vegetable roll.

Entrees that can be made vegan (with fried tofu) include: Udon Basil Fried Tofu; Coconut Curry; Broccoli & Onion; Mongolian; Kung Pao; Hunan; Thai Basil; Cashew Nut; Singapore Rice Noodle; and others.

broccoli & onions with fried spring rollMy husband and I went there for lunch. For an appetizer, my husband ordered the vegetable roll and I ordered the pot sticker dumplings (steamed). Both were yummy, and also nicely presented, with fresh ginger and wasabi with the vegetable roll and a nice dipping sauce with the dumplings.  As an entrée, my husband ordered the Broccoli and Onion with fried tofu, and I ordered the Black Bean Sauce with fried tofu. Lunch entrees (which are served between 11 AM and 3 PM) are served with steamed white rice (no brown rice option and the fried rice has egg), a fried spring roll (unfortunately, there was no fresh spring roll option), and soup. The vegan soup option is hot & sour soup; it had a strong mushroom flavor, which wasn’t my favorite (I don’t like mushrooms), but my husband enjoyed his. Both entrees were awesome, and we gobbled them down.

This was not our first time eating at Wild Ginger. Other entrees that we’ve tried and particularly loved include: Udon Basil Fried Tofu; Coconut Curry, Mongolian, and Singapore Rice Noodles (which are awesome if you like curry).

Warning: The fortune cookies are NOT vegan (contain egg) so be sure to tell the server to omit them.

In addition to dine-in, Wild Ginger offers takeout and delivery. (Be sure to specify no fortune cookies before they pack up the food.)

By Wendy Jaehnig

Eating Vegan On Vacation!

It’s getting easier and easier to eat vegan while on vacation. A couple of years back, my partner and I found a vegan cafe in REALLY rural Colorado, for example; and last year (wonder of wonders!) we found an amazing all-vegan ramen restaurant right smack in the main Tokyo train station. (Only problem was that the lines were always long!)

Here are some suggestions for finding vegan food on your travels:

  • Use Google. Specifically, search on: “vegan DESTINATION NAME.” Typically some restaurants will pop up, but also many times you’ll get the name of the local veg club or Meetup. That organization will often post an up-to-date list of local vegan-friendly restaurants and shops, like this one! :-), or you can email them for more info.
  • Use Happycow and VegGuide, which are like vegan versions of Yelp, and very comprehensive.
  • Trip Advisor offers reviews of lots of vegan-friendly restaurants, B&Bs, and inns.
  • Ethnic restaurants, including Lebanese / Mediterranean, Chinese, Indian, and Thai ones, typically have loads of great vegan options.
  • For a faster meal, Chipotle, Blaze Pizza, Native Foods, and Tropical Smoothie Cafe all have terrific vegan options.
  • For “emergencies,” bring along some peanut butter, hummus, or Kind bars (only the “pressed” bars marked vegan are vegan). Also, my partner and I carry shelf-stable “juice boxes” of soy milk for coffee, cereal, etc.–although we always ask for soy milk, etc., to let the restaurant or store know that there is a demand.

If you have any comments or other suggestions, please leave them on our Facebook group page!