Notice of Retraction

May 9, 2007

Some readers may have noticed that at approximately 11:55 pm E.D.T. today, Vegetarian Haven’s VfM (Value for Money) ranking on this website dropped by one-half avocado. This change comes as a direct result of increased competition in vegan food production from China. Following visits to a trio of low-priced vegan restaurants in Chinatown (namely Buddha’s Vegetarian Foods, Full Moon, and Bo De Duyen), it became clear that an immediate revaluation of VfM rankings on this website was necessary.

Although protectionists will likely clamour for subsidies to rankings for restaurants outside of Chinatown, we believe that interventionist policies such as these would undermine competition in the market place and would be detrimental to consumer welfare. As a result, we have elected to allow VfM rankings to adjust flexibly to changes in market conditions. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused for our readers.


Restaurant Review: Buddha’s Vegetarian Foods

April 22, 2007

Buddha’s Vegetarian Foods may just be the most depressing restaurant in the GTA. It looks like a hastily converted bathroom: grey tile floors with white tiles partway up a white wall, all basked in the chilling glow of fluorescent lights. The only music during my visit came from the hum of a nearby refrigerator.

Feeling fairly hungry after a long day at the office, I ordered a wonton appetizer, a small corn and tofu soup, and a noodle dish. The soup came first, and I was shocked to find out that “small” at Buddha’s Vegetarian means “approx. 1 litre”. Perhaps something was lost in translation. A heap of noodles with meagre amounts of bok choy, mushrooms, and tofu soon followed. Wondering how one person could possibly be expected to eat so much, I began to wonder if I was the subject of some strange joke.

Already stuffed to the bursting point, I began to hope that the waitress had forgotten the wontons. No such luck. I was presented with no less than a dozen of them, each one the size of a pancake. Unable to even make a dent in the meal, I left the restaurant with a large doggy bag.

As one might expect, there was a volume/quality tradeoff. The soup was bland, the main course contained equal parts noodles and salt, and the wontons were pedestrian at best.

Suffice to say this restaurant is not rated great by the Recreational Vegan1, unless of course you are either a sumo wrestler looking to put on some weight, or perhaps a hungry family of four with $15 between you. Fortunately there are no shortage of alternatives, as Buddha’s Vegetarian is nestled directly between the wonderful 668 Café and Full Moon restaurants (reviews forthcoming).

1 This review is based on a single visit to the restaurant. The usual small sample caveats apply.

Rankings (out of 5 avocados):

Deliciousness: avocado_full.jpg

VfM: avocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpg

Fruit in meal: No

Ambience: 0

Buddha’s Vegetarian Foods, 666 Dundas St. W., Feed a family of four for $15.

Restaurant Review: King’s Café

April 18, 2007

King’s cafe: 95% vegan

As a restaurant that proudly proclaims 95% veganism on its menu, one would expect King’s Café to be the perfect restaurant for economically rational %95 vegans. The restaurant was put to the test with a recent lunch-time visit.

Located in the hippy heartland of Toronto (i.e., Kensington Market), King’s Café serves vegan asian fusion cuisine with a sprinkling of hippy revisionist history. According to the menu,

“Vegetarian diets have been with us since ancient times. In face [sic], our body is designed to eat grains and fruits. Modern man suffer [sic] illnesses that were unheard of ages ago. And one of the reasons for this is due to diet.”

While the recreational vegan supports a return to the superior diet and health of our vegan gorilla ancestors, the making of such claims without the support of proper econometric analysis is regrettable.

As for the food, the restaurant serves a wide variety of beautifully presented dishes. The soups are especially noteworthy, with their delicious broth and generous portions. However, many of the entreés are not entirely compelling, lacking the creativity of competing restaurants such as Vegetarian Haven on Baldwin.

dumpling noodle soup

Rankings (out of 5 avocados):

Deliciousness: avocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpg

VfM: avocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_half.gif

Fruit in meal: No

Ambience: avocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpg

King’s Café, 192 Augusta Ave., 95% vegan. Average main less than $10.

Restaurant Review: Urban Herbivore

April 11, 2007

Nothing says Sunday afternoon Kensington market like a light meal. And nothing says light meal like a vegan soup, salad, and/or sandwich. Urban Herbivore, in the heart.png of the market, is a great stop before hitting the fruit stands. Upon my last visit, I was delighted with the barbeque tofu sandwich I ordered. They have hearty soups and relatively filling salads, and combinations are available. The restaurant itself has a clean feeling to it, a toned down version of Fressen, who share owners. Seating involves bar style seats by the street-facing window and a large square wooden table. In terms of VfM, it’s not soup and salad prices. Expect to pay minimum of $8-10 for a bite. That said, ingrediently speaking, it’s not soup and salad quality.

Rankings (out of 5 avocados):

Deliciousness: avocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_half.gif

VfM: avocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpg

Fruit in meal: No

Ambience: avocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpg

Urban Herbivore is located at 64 Oxford St. (at Augusta) in Toronto’s Kensington Market.

Restaurant Review: Annapurna

March 29, 2007

The Indian restaurant Annapurna has the distinction of being the oldest vegetarian eatery in Toronto. It is also by far the kookiest.1 The restaurant is run by a cult which worships the Indian mystic Sri Chinmoy. Judging by the naive slogans stamped on sugar packets and the plethora of propaganda magazines which are sometimes forced upon patrons dining alone, the cult’s primary goal seems to be world domination through mind control, happy thoughts, and vegetarian cuisine.

The food is plentiful and cheap. The Indian Assortment provides an obscenely large dinner for $17. Unfortunately, price is an indicator of quality in this case and the food is only a few notches above cafeteria level. But for strong-willed individuals with sufficiently robust tinfoil hats, huge appetites, and a limited budget, this restaurant is highly recommended.

Rankings (out of 5 avocados):

Deliciousness: avocado_full.jpg

VfM: avocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpg

Fruit in meal: No

Ambience: avocado_full.jpgavocado_half.gif (for a pleasant tackiness)


Words of Wisdom from Sri Chinmoy: A moment’s love can and shall make the world perfect.

Annapurna, 1085 Bathurst, ovo-lacto vegetarian and vegan dishes. Average main less than $10.

1 In fact, the restaurant is more or less uncontested in both fields following the closure of Hey Good Cooking.

Restaurant Review: Happy Buddha

March 5, 2007

Located at Yonge and Eglinton, Happy Buddha provides a good mid-town alternative to the 1.7 million sushi restaurants and Starbucks in the area. The restaurant is small, simple, but is visually appealing. The food is of the North Americanized Chinese variety, but delicious nonetheless. I was advised by the server that 2 main dishes plus one large soup to share was appropriate for the 3 of us. We ordered the hot and sour soup, “shrimp” with cashews and vegetables, and spicy eggplant. The soup was thick, not too spicy, and full of juicy tofu. The “shrimp” dish was excellent, probably because of the cashews – one of the world’s greatest nuts. Regarding the eggplant, regular readers will note the hypocritical nature of the order. I must say that the eggplant dish was superb, and was joined by green beans and tofu bits.

Overall, we agreed that the food could be described as “rich”. Dishes were in large portions, and averaged around $10, which led to a decent VfM showing.

VfM: avocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_half.gif

Deliciousness: avocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpg

Fruit in meal: No

Ambience: avocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpgavocado_full.jpg

Happy Buddha is located at 2366 Yonge Street, just north of Eglinton. Dinner for 3, tax and tip, $45. Alcohol is not available.

Soy Breakfast in Chinatown

February 25, 2007

In December, I posted about the delicious warm soy milk and donut breakfast so common in China. I discovered that several restaurants in Toronto’s (downtown) Chinatown serve this breakfast. For one to have this experience, one must get over the large (dead) animals hanging in front of the window. I checked out Goldstone Noodle Restaurant, a popular diner type joint on Spadina. The food, a long plain donut and a bowl of warm sweet soy milk, was fantastic and cheap (under $8 for two people including tea). Basic story: brunch on Bloor or College is overrrated.

Goldstone is located at 266 Spadina, just south of Dundas. When ordering, make sure to ask for a bowl of soy milk. Otherwise, you may end up with a cup — highly unsuitable for donut dipping.