This nutty noodley salad actually made for a great lunch.
575 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas
Since I haven’t taken a yoga class in a while, I’ve needed something to fill me with that sense of self-righteousness that comes from doing something more healthy than those around me. Being in Encinitas the other day, the answer struck me in the form of a storefront I’d never noticed before: Sonima Wellness Center, promising an entirely raw vegan menu.
To some extent cooking depletes foods of nutrients, or so some experts contend. Eating uncooked meals may add an extra notch to the healthful benefits column, even if it makes it somewhere between tough and impossible to get every dish your heart craves.
I don’t think many of those who adhere to such a diet advocate steak tartare, or even sashimi. My guess is they’re most often vegan, so the fact Sonima skews that way didn’t disappoint this omnivore. My real question walking into the shop, which resembles a stylish third-wave coffee bar, was whether raw vegan includes anything other than salads.
For the most part, no. But there were a few interesting ready-made options. A raw vegan lasagna turned out to be slices of vegetables stacked into a layered brick — technically a vertical salad. The coconut wrap resembled a Thai spring roll, which of course is also known as a salad roll. Some sesame-seed encrusted balls of raw falafel did deviate from the salad model, but I was being snarky enough as it was and comparing them to the fried originals just didn’t seem fair.
So I settled on the Thai kelp noodles, a $13 salad but with the added allure of noodles. And yes, I asked: kelp noodles are indeed made from seaweed, and the process requires no cooking.
But before I get to the food, here’s my point of contention. All of these dishes are served ready-made, stacked on shelves in plastic to-go containers. That seems a little incongruous. How can I do my healthy eater strut the rest of the day if I’m eating from plastic?
But, okay, they’re recyclable. The crazy thing is that when I paid for the kelp noodles, I was asked if I was dining in and wanted them plated. Well I was, and did, and so a few minutes later the meal was brought to me, divested of its plastic container, with a little seed and ground-nut garnish. So the plastic wasn’t necessary.
But the meal looked good on a plate, the noodles complemented by nuts, cabbage, carrots, and other chopped vegetables. It had a little bit of spice to it and plenty of bright acidity that legitimately kept it from feeling like a salad and more like a tasty cold noodle dish packed with vegetables.
Good eating, plus I felt superior to everyone at Angelo’s Burgers across the street. Next time, maybe I’ll double down on that feeling by taking one of Sonima’s yoga offerings. Or cold-pressed juice. There are all kinds of ways to feel good about yourself.