Nashvegan

A not-very-definitive guide to eating (and living) as a vegan in Nashville.

Cantina Laredo August 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 10:54 am
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Margarita

Margarita

Went to Cantina Laredo for a birthday dinner.  You may look at the Cantina Laredo menu and think to yourself “hmm … there are literally zero dishes on the menu that are vegan, aside from the guacamole.”  This thought will be entirely accurate.  That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to eat at Cantina Laredo.  I called ahead to ask questions about the menu, and I would suggest that you do the same.  You can order what I ordered and consider it to be vegan, but you really should call ahead and ask to speak to the manager and/or chef about vegan options: this sends the message that there is a demand for vegan options, and who knows, a new dish may find its way onto the menu.  Also, you see the lime and avocoado in the bowl there, by my margarita?  Yeah, they’re going to become guacamole later, at your tableside.  And trust me, even if there wasn’t another vegan option on the menu, you would still want to come here to eat this.

Chips & Salsa

Chips & Salsa

Your meal at Cantina Laredo begins with chips and salsa (duh).  They bring out two different kinds: one is spicy and one is mild.  The spicy one is better.  Our server was really good about keeping the chips and salsa coming.  The service at this restaurant is just fantastic.

Cantina Laredo - Guacamole 1Cantina Laredo - Guacamole 2Cantina Laredo - Guacamole 3

So it’s really really neat that they make the guacamole right at your table.  I’m pretty sure the waitress felt awkward while I took these photos, but such is the price of my “profession.”  BEHOLD, the finished product:

Guacamole

Guacamole

Eating this guacamole is basically like having  a party in your mouth–a party to which everyone is invited.  Unfortunately, said guacamole costs about $9.  Seriously, $9??  That’s just ridiculous.  I suppose I was in a fancy restaurant and should expect such things.  It was super fresh, clearly.  Our table of six demolished both those bowls long before our entrees came out.  Speaking of entrees, by the time I was done with all the margaritas and chips and salsa and guacamole, I basically forgot I ordered one.

Enchiladas de Espinaca

Enchiladas de Espinaca

This is a heavily modified version of the Enchiladas de Espinaca – spinach enchiladas.  The menu description for this dish reads as follows: “Sautéed spinach, monterey jack cheese and mushroom enchiladas topped with sour cream poblano sauce.”  These enchiladas have just spinach and mushrooms inside – no cheese.  Also, they clearly do not have any sour cream poblano sauce on top; I topped each of them with a different flavor of salsa.  They come with veggies on the side (be sure to specify no butter) and black beans (ask for no cheese).  The verdict?  It was pretty good.  It wasn’t fantastic.  The vegetables were really good and had slivered almonds.  The black beans were standard.  The enchilada was kind of bland, even with the salsa.  If someone I knew really wanted to go here I would probably go with them, but I likely wouldn’t pick it if restaurant choice was up to me.  Vegans can definitely eat here, but it’s kind of complicated to explain your order to your server and when I called about vegan options, I was put on hold for a while and eventually had to be called back later by someone who could answer my questions.  The guacamole is amazing, the margaritas were tasty, and the service was awesome.

Cantina Laredo

592 12th Ave. S.

Nashville, TN 37203

(615) 259-9282

Website

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Ru San’s August 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 8:33 pm
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Cocktails

Cocktails

I went to Ru San’s for a friend’s birthday dinner.  Ru-San’s is in the Gulch, which is an awesome neighborhood for eating.  Their menu is extremely extensive; it is practically a book.  They have a great and varied selection of vegetarian rolls, all but one of which are $4.50 or less.  There’s also a great mix of vegetarian appetizers.  Ru San’s plays a crazy mix of loud electronic music, which really makes the experience in my opinion.  The birthday girl made reservations for twelve, and they put together a bunch of tables at the back for us.  We all had a great time, and it’s a great place for a special occasion like a birthday (not so much like an anniversary).  Furthermore, those cocktails are simply called “Ultimate.”  None of the cocktails on the drink menu have descriptions, and my group was never able to determine exactly what kind of liquor they contained.  There is also something on the drink menu called “Hardcore! – Penlock [or Perlot or Penklot or something to that effect]” and it costs $8.50.  When I asked what it contained, the server began rattling off “vodka, beer, sake . . .” at which point I just had her stop, because I didn’t really want to know what else was in it.  Apparently, I am not hardcore enough for Penlock (or Peklot or Penkoe or whatever).

Edamame

Edamame

I started my meal with edamame.  It came unsalted, and it’s hard to see it in the photo but there was a generous pile of salt on the plate.  I LOVE edamame.  I love how the pod is weird and hairy.  I love the act of eating the stuff.  Any restaurant that serves edamame is a winner in my book.

Garlic Sesame Tofu

Garlic Sesame Tofu

Next I split this order of Garlic Sesame Tofu with basically everyone at the table.  Most of the tofu dishes on the menu included bonito flakes.  Bonito flakes, in case you don’t know, are basically dried fish.  They are used in all sorts of Japanese dishes, and if you’re at a Japanese restaurant you should ask if bonito is in any of the stuff you’re ordering.  Take miso soup as an example.  I didn’t have the soup at Ru San’s so I don’t know what it contains, but at a lot of Japanese restaurants if you ask if the miso soup has fish the server will tell you “no,” but if you ask if it has bonito the server will tell you “yes.”  Getting back to this dish, I asked if it contained bonito and the answer was no.  And man, it was good!  All the omnis at my table were reaching over to grab bits of tofu, mushrooms, whole garlic cloves, and seaweed salad.  My only complaint is that the tofu was a little mushy.  Seriously, if you go to Ru San’s, eat this.

Vegetable Futo Maki

Vegetable Futo Maki

Ah, my main course: Vegetable Futo Maki.  This roll was supposed to include tamago (egg), but when I asked them to leave it off they happily obliged.  Now, I’m not a big sushi lover, but this was GOOD.  It included carrots, mushrooms, avocado, tofu, and possibly more (I’m not really sure).  I ate it with my hands and got teased, but eating sushi (except for sashimi) with your hands is totally acceptable.  I don’t want this post to turn into some crazy guide to sushi etiquette, and it’s not like I’m an expert, so I’ll include some sushi-licious links at the end of the post.  But yeah, seriously, that roll was awesome . . . especially with soy sauce and wasabi.  Mmmmmmmmmm.  Also, my friend who sat next to me had never had sushi before and chose a fully-cooked noodle dish involving shrimp.  I had him try a piece of my veggie roll and he said it was good.  So, success!

I would definitely eat at Ru San’s again.  The food was good and the atmosphere was fun.  The menu is enormous and you could have something new every visit if you went every day for a month.  There are more dishes I want to try, like the inari tofu.  Plus then I can have more sake bombs.  Kampai!

Ru San’s Japanese Sushi and Seafood Restaurant

505 12th Avenue S

Nashville, TN 37203

615.252.8787

Links:

Ru San’s website (with menu)

How to eat sushi (hey, man, it’s harder than you think if you’re a first timer–all those condiments are confusing!)

Japanese food glossary (so you can find out what kampyo is)

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