Tag Archives: chicago

Adventures in Dining Out: Noon-O-Kabab

Noon-O-Kabab has been one of my favorite Chicago restaurants for several years. It’s a Persian restaurant in the Albany Park neighborhood. It’s grown in size and even has a separate location a few doors down for carry-out orders. My usual order at Noon-O-Kabab was their excellent Lamb Shank, cooked and seasoned to perfection. Other favorites were their rib eye and seasoned ground sirloin. Obviously, I had to find something new to try when I went there for dinner recently.

I’m usually disappointed when I figure out what my limited choices are at a restaurant, but I knew Noon-O-Kabab wouldn’t let me down. They have a handful of vegetarian and vegan options, plus several vegan-friendly appetizers. I chose the Adass Polo: a mix of lentils, raisins, caramelized onions, saffron and Persian barberry served with Persian white rice.

You guys, this was excellent. The rice alone is worth the trip, and you can rest easy knowing that they don’t use butter in their cooking. The mix of lentils with raisins and saffron and the barberry gives the dish an sweet and somewhat tangy mix of flavors. It was served with grilled tomato, onion, and bell pepper. I’m looking forward to trying to make this in my own kitchen.

All my dining experiences at Noon-O-Kabab have been pleasant and there are a few servers who have been there since I first went there years ago. The food is always fresh, the restaurant is casual but cozy, and the demographic of the diners is always diverse. As the restaurant has grown, the quality of the food has remained high.

I’m looking forward to trying out another vegan dish next time I go to Noon-O-Kabab. If you’re in the Chicago area, try it out! –Melissa

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Let Them Eat Cake! I’ll Have Fruit Instead.

It’s really starting to feel like summer here in Chicago! We had some crazy 80 degree weather at the end of March, but that was a complete freak show, weather-wise. It’s mid-May now, so the warmer weather is a lot more appropriate, and much more springy and refreshing: it’s warm but breezy, and cool in the AM and PM. Perfection. Outdoor Farmers Markets are starting up again in full force, I got to indulge in mangoes during peak mango season, and street festivals will be starting soon. I’m pretty freaking excited!

It was a bit of a letdown this past weekend when the Mother’s Day desserts were brought out and none of them were vegan. I passed on having a slice of marzipan cake, which is my absolute favorite, you guys. However, I made up for it by making myself a fresh treat for dessert this evening:

I started with a handful of pretty strawberries. Hey, they match my nail color!

Then I took a sprig of mint…

I cut up the strawberries and shredded a bit of the mint and mixed it together. But, wait! There’s more! I kept thinking that it was missing something, and the missing ingredient I couldn’t stop thinking about was Cool Whip. I blame Mad Men, which had a Cool Whip bit on last week’s episode. Cool Whip is not cool for strict vegans. So I sprinkled some fresh lemon juice and coconut onto the fruit (I stole the lemon juice idea from Jamie Oliver’s recipe; the coconut was all me).

DELISH! Let them eat cake. I’ll have fruit instead! –Melissa

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Vegan Goodies at O’Hare Part 2: Eggplant Parmesan

Last week, I wrote about how I stumbled upon a great spot for vegans at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and reviewed the Grilled Southwest Tofu Wrap. Today, I’d like to tell you about the other prepared food that I purchased: Vegan Eggplant Parmesan.

It wasn’t the most photogenic food, but goodness it was delicious — “gross-looking but tasty” has been a theme this week. I have to admit that I was skeptical. I have had vegan pasta dishes before where tofu subbed in for cheese, but I hadn’t had any worth blogging about.

As you can see, there aren’t that many ingredients. My first bite served as an acclimation to the non-cheese taste. My second bite was better. By my third, I was in love with it. Unlike traditional parmesan dishes, it wasn’t bready, greasy or saucy. It was almost like a light and creamy vegan cake with soft layers of fresh eggplant and perfectly made vegan cheese. It had a great texture to it, and I would have sworn that the cheese was tofu-based if I didn’t see in the ingredients list that it was soy milk-based.

I got three meals out of the 10oz container, which made it worth the price. As a reminder, I found this in the AIRPORT! Unbelievable. I am actually sad to know that my next planned flight will be out of a different terminal, so I won’t be visiting Cibo Express.

There are still more goodies from the airport and Toronto that I’ll tell you about soon, and they’re all snack items. Yay! –Melissa

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Vegan Goodies At … O’Hare? Yes!

It’s weird to think that I may have found a tiny vegan mecca at O’Hare, but I totally did. In a place where true vegan options are limited to icky-looking salad and… well, that’s it, I was thrilled to find Cibo Express in Terminal 3. I discovered it while walking out of the terminal after my flight home yesterday. It’s a bit tucked away in an area with less traffic, which is why I didn’t see it before. I wish I had seen it when I was stuck in the airport for two hours last Friday!

In addition to a wide variety of snacks, treats, fruit and drinks, Cibo Express has several prepared vegan foods by Soul Gourmet, a company whose prepared foods you can often find in local Whole Foods stores. There was a Jerusalem Steak sandwich, Buffalo Tofu, Vegan Root Salad and several other vegan options. There were also non-vegan options like your usual turkey and tuna sandwiches, which looked really great. I went with the Grilled Southwest Tofu Wrap, pictured above.

Whoa. This was tangy and delicious (and fatty, but I could only handle half in one sitting). The tofu had a great texture and didn’t have that tofu taste. In fact, I think this could have fooled a carnivore. I’m pretty weary of airport foot in general, but I found the wrap and its innards to be really fresh (and I picked it up at about 8pm). I also picked up the Vegan Eggplant Parmesan. The best by date on is May 9, which is a little scary, but I’m also confident that it will still be in top shape when I try it tomorrow (and I will certainly report my thoughts on this here blog). I was just super jazzed to find this place. If I hadn’t, I would be blogging about how I ate super size fries for dinner last night.

I picked up some other treats both in the airport and in Toronto, which is where I was over the weekend. I can’t wait to try all my new vegan goodies and share my thoughts with you!

What vegan-friendly gems have you discovered in an airport? Let me know! –Melissa

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