Walter Mencken 2 p.m., Aug. 22
Rice Is Nice: Sipz Fusion Cafe
I'm not a vegetarian, but I do like vegetarian food. Well, for the most part. I tasted a Tofurkey once, and didn't care for it.
Anyway, I was walking past Sipz Fusion Cafe in North Park when I was enticed to go in and have a look at these:
Once I was in the door, I was further seduced by the warm, fragrant aroma of steamed rice. It was a lovely, homey perfume.
Here's a nice little treat - if you pay cash for any entree, Sipz comps you a mango green tea. It's delicious, almost like a mango nectar rather than tea with mango flavoring.
Sipz offerings are all vegetarian, most of the appetizers and entrees, and all desserts are vegan. Entrees can be ordered with all vegetables, tofu, or soy-based "chicken", "pork" or "fish". I'm suspicious of pretend meat (see the above Tofurkey comment), but I was curious.
I ordered the Thai Curry "Chicken" ($7.95), which came with onions, eggplant, potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, green bell pepper, baby corn and bamboo shoots and a large helping of steamed white rice. You can have brown rice for $1.00 more. Those round nuggets of "chicken" look a lot like the real thing. They didn't taste like chicken, but had a smoky flavor and meaty texture that was very good, and picked up the savory, creamy coconut and green curry flavors of the sauce well. The fresh vegetables were lightly cooked and crisp, the potatoes softly melted into the curry sauce, and the rice was perfectly steamed. I didn't think that using canned mushrooms added to it, but they didn't really take anything away from it either.
John's Kung Pao "Fish" ($7.95) had a similar veggie mix, sans potatoes, with a garlicky, spicy sauce and a shower of peanuts. The "fish" was thinly sliced soy and had a steaky texture that was reminiscent of swordfish. It had a nicely zippy edge without burning off your taste buds.
Our dessert, vegan chocolate and red velvet cupcakes ($2.25 each), was delicious. I'm a firm believer in the use of butter in baked goods, and I didn't miss it at all in either of these. The chocolate cupcake was dense and rich, with deep cocoa flavor and a light, whippy frosting. The red velvet was moist and not too sweet, the "cream cheese" icing could easily pass for the real thing.
If you've never tried vegetarian or vegan food before, Sipz Fusion Cafe is a great place to lose your vegan virginity.
3914 30th St.
San Diego, CA 92104
Sunday - Thursday - 11 am - 9 pm
Friday -Saturday - 11 am - 11 pm
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