For Takeout: Grand Panda – Saugus

Grand Panda - Saugus

I wanted to do a review from the dining-in perspective but I think being able to order takeout is important too. Grand Panda is a Chinese restaurant with two locations in the Santa Clarita Valley; one in Newhall and this one in Saugus. The restaurants are family owned and operated, though I have never been to the Newhall location I know the owners do move between stores so both locations should be fairly the same. The Saugus restaurant has a family atmosphere and a good size dining area split on both sides of the restaurant.

Grand Panda String beans, Sizzling tofu and sauteed broccoli

Grand Panda sets itself apart from other Chinese restaurants in the SCV with one item that is not even on the menu, but enjoyed by myself and the restaurant staff. The Black-Pepper Sizzling Tofu, if ordered at the restaurant is not just impressive in taste but also in presentation. Arriving to the table in a separate dish, then transferred to a sizzling plate in a burst of steam and the sound of deliciousness. Everyone seated at the surrounding tables will be watching and some may ask you the name of the menu item. This is a MUST TRY dish, one of the most amazing things I have ever eaten. When ordering takeout you miss the presentation, but the taste is still extraordinary.

Another MUST TRY is the Dry Sauteed String Beans. Along with the Sizzling Tofu, these are the two items I always order no matter what. String beans are one of my favorite vegetables anyway, but so far I have not found a restaurant that has them as good as found at Grand Panda. If you’re an eggplant fan you may also like the Eggplant with Hot Garlic Sauce. Typical vegetable dishes can be had here like sauteed broccoli, snow peas and mixed vegetables. They will also make you a vegetable fried rice, no egg.

I always ask that my food be completely vegetarian, no fish sauce, no oyster sauce, no egg, no chicken stock, no beef stock, etc. I don’t know if they normally use these things but in Chinese restaurants those are the ingredients to watch out for. They are happy to prepare food this way and you will be happy eating there.

Grand Panda is located in Saugus at:
27924 Seco Canyon Rd. (corner of Seco and Copper Hill)
Saugus, CA 91350

Grand Panda-Newhall:
23802 Lyons Ave.
Newhall, CA 91321

Vegan offerings at Souplantation (4/1/08 – 4/11/08)

Souplantation meal

I should have posted this earlier but I wanted some padding between entries or this would start to sound like the Souplantation blog. Anyway, Souplantation has some good vegan offerings on the current menu. As I noted in the previous post about my favorite soup & salad bar, they change their menu every two weeks. Right now till April 11th, Souplantation will have the Lemon Rice with Cashews in the salad bar, and two soups; the Indian Lentil and Vegetarian Harvest, all of which are vegan. These in addition to their excellent salad bar and baked potatoes. I haven’t had time to stop by this week but I am planning on it to get some lunch and take pictures. I will add photos to this entry as soon as I do. *edit] Pictured above a large salad, Indian Lentil soup and Lemon Cashew rice.

I really like the Indian lentil soup; it’s spiced like a good dal at an Indian restaurant. The Vegetarian Harvest is also very good. A squash-based soup that is very satisfying and packed with vegetables. The Lemon Cashew Rice is good but some people may not like cold rice or lemony flavors. April is going to be lemon month at the ‘plantation so look for this prepared salad to stick around a while. [/edit

I know I need to add some more restaurants and I will as I visit those places, order up some meals so I can write a proper review complete with pictures. If you don’t want to wait and want to know of other places you can eat at NOW, you can see some of my informal reviews on the SCVegan Forums under the “Places to eat” thread. I list some restaurants along with ordering suggestions of places I visit and eat at. I will add more to that list in time, and if you register at the forums you can list your own favorite places or ask questions about dining out or just being vegan in general.

SCVegan Haiku

I was reading through some blog forums where someone mentioned writing haiku poems. Right there and then, one popped into my head and I wanted to write it out before I forgot it. Here it goes:

Santa Clarita
How many vegans live here?
Let’s have a pot luck!

Feel free to comment with your own “SCVegan” themed haiku.

Costco and Soymilk

Costco for vegans in the SCV can be a surprisingly good place to shop for certain items. Their stock changes from time to time but for things like soymilk, snacks, salad greens and quick meal items it can be a good resource. Soymilk is something you will find in mass quantity and surprising variety at Costco. I believe there were four different varieties there when I strolled around the aisles on Saturday.

Costco Soymilk vanilla The Vanilla Organic Soymilk from Kirkland Signature is a refrigerated 3-pack of 1-half gallon cartons. The cost is $6.99

Costco Soymilk plainOrganic Plain Soymilk also by Kirkland Signature is a box of 12, 1-quart cartons that do not require refrigeration before opening. Also available in vanilla. The cost is $11.39

Costco Soymilk vitasoy chocolate Organic Chocolate Soymilk from Vitasoy comes in a box of 12 non-refrigerated bottles each 11.5 fl oz.. The cost is $12.99

Souplantation – Vegan menu options

Souplantation - Valencia

Souplantation is one of my favorite places to eat here in the SCV. For those unfamiliar, Souplantation is a reasonably-priced buffet that features a large and extensive salad bar, soups, pastas and baked goods. Their salad bar offers freshly prepared tossed salads, fresh green lettuces, spinach or mixed greens with tons of fresh veggies to make your own salad. In addition to that they offer “prepared salads” (think potato, pasta and bean salads) some of which are also vegan. I have yet to see a vegan dish at the pasta bar but they do have several vegan soups that are available from time to time. Baked potatoes, fresh fruit, juice and tea are all available as well.

Ingredient lists for each item is available in a three-ring binder behind each buffet counter. You can view it upon request, and I have read it dozens of times. I have nearly memorized which items are vegan and which ones are not. They have these surveys that customers may fill out; so I would, and I always ask for more vegan items. I have sent e-mails making the same requests and finally I started calling their corporate phone number. Some people would say this is going a tad overboard with the whole thing, but remember that they did ask for my opinion when they handed me those surveys. Besides, for those of you whom are not willing to put yourselves out there and talk to these people then be glad that some of us are; it benefits all of us.

In my last conversation with Souplantation they told me that they have been getting lots of responses from vegans and they decided to actually add the word “VEGAN” to items in their nutritional booklets and their on-line menu. I was also told they were considering putting the word “VEGAN” to the actual name tag on the salad bar to note which items were indeed vegan. They already list “Vegetarian” on these name tags but vegetarian to them includes dairy and eggs, so if you’re not sure just check the binder. (Note: in some of the vegetarian soups there is an ingredient called “Vegetarian Base” which contains lactose, so if you see this in the ingredient binder it is not vegan).

Menu items change every two weeks and you can see what your local Souplantation is serving by checking the menu on their website. (Hint: Click “Future Menu” to see what they will be offering weeks from now). I prefer to go when there are vegan soups offered, so if I check today I can see that they are offering one vegan soup (Santa Fe black bean chili) and one vegan prepared salad (Mandarin noodles w/broccoli). Coupons are offered constantly in the paper (Sunday, L.A. Times), and you can get printable coupons e-mailed to you if you join their “Club Veg” mailing list. Coupons are usually valid up to four people so bring your friends or family and enjoy a good meal at Souplantation-Valencia.

Souplantation-Valencia is located in the Valencia Town Center @
24303 Town Center Drive, Suite 150
Valencia, CA 91351

“No Age Are The Raddest Vegans Ever” – MTV News’ John Norris

No Age on MTV News

L.A. punk rock duo No Age get interviewed by John Norris of MTV News. Both band members Randy Randall (guitar) and Dean Spunt (drums/vocals) are vegan with Spunt being raised in the Santa Clarita Valley and a graduate of Saugus high school. John Norris of MTV News is a vegan himself, so they touched on that along with places for vegans to eat while in Austin TX. Also, check out their “5×5” video segment where five questions are given to them to ask each other.

Read the full article here.

First!

I’m surprised that you managed to find your way here since I haven’t advertised this blog yet, but welcome and I’m glad you found it. I’m still working on the site but we should be up and running soon.

I am a vegan living in Southern California’s beautiful Santa Clarita Valley. I often wonder how many vegans are actually in the SCV; perhaps this little blog project will give us a clue. The purpose of this blog is to initiate some kind of discussion and awareness among SCV’s vegan population. Any related news, vegan-friendly eateries and events will be posted here.

I’m new to the blog scene so any suggestions or criticisms are greatly appreciated. I also have a web forum so please check it out and let your voice be heard.

In kale we trust,

nolan