Like the increasingly popular vegan versions of Thai food that are popping up around town, sushi is starting to catch the Tofurky Syndrome. This is what I call the attempt to make animal-product-like food out of animal-product-free ingredients—Tofurky being, essentially, tofu in the shape, color, and arguably flavor and texture of turkey. In the Thai restaurants that go vegan, this translates into a colorful assortment of protein pretenders that you can’t help but be impressed by, even if you think it’s a bit silly.
Brussels sprouts with bacon is hardly a new idea, but the combination has taken off lately. Now the pairing is a menu meme, a darling of online recipe searches and food TV. But those green brassica balls also go effortlessly and deliciously, for example, in that most vegetarian of dishes: the leafy salad.
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Vegan food has a reputation for being bland and boring. It doesn’t have to be that way, of course, but the cuisine and the people who cook it have inherited this stigma. For proof that vegan food can be comforting and filling, we have Mint Tulip, which opened this spring where 20 Carrots used to be.
When I first heard about Body, I wondered how it was spelled. Given it’s in Santa Fe, I figured maybe it was “Bodhi,” or “Baughty,” or some other inscrutable spelling. But Body? Too obvious. It was the last thing I thought of. That’s the name of a gym.
It’s Wednesday at high noon. A half-dozen food trucks line the parking lot at Talin Market, and they’re ready to serve up more than the usual hot dog. I’m here to sample the goods, beginning with The Chopping Block’s soft fish taco garnished with mango salsa. I wash it down with organic limeade at Make My Lunch, then head to Oz Patisserie’s over-the-top desserts, where I’m handed one of the best crème brûlées I’ve had in town.
Rarely does a restaurant’s name describe its most salient qualities as succinctly as Thai Vegan. Ironically, while the name may turn away some rabid omnivores, many of those may not have even noticed the lack of animal product if they hadn’t been tipped off. More of them still would probably be surprised by how much they like it.