Donut Woes

For years now I have searched the streets of Toronto for a good donut. While my absence cannot be explained solely due to my lack of donuts, I can at least claim that I do not function properly with such a low donut tank.

I am American. I grew up eating Top Ramen with extra bouillon cubes and Velveeta in my grilled cheese sandwiches. I have made my way around the donut maze found in every corner store in my home town. I’ve eaten little powdered donuts in boxes. I’ve tasted the sweet goo of grocery bakery donuts. I’ve licked the maple frosting off of my brother’s maple bar.

This is a donut. Credit: Voodoo Dougnut

Luckily, when I transitioned to veganism, donuts were easy. I lived near Portland, Oregon, proud home of Voodoo Doughnut. It was as if vegan donuts were not a thing. Voodoo created the perfect donut, complete with Boston cream filling and cereal topping. I could not taste the difference. I took this God of donuts for granted.

After moving to Toronto, I tried my first vegan donut at a place in Kensington Market that I honestly can’t remember the name of or find on Google. It tasted like a piece of bread with peanut butter on it, and I paid $4 for it. It was the same bakery that I believe supplies Sadie’s Diner, but don’t quote me on that.

I tried a second donut at Through Being Cool, which, again did not satisfy my fluffy, squishy, sugary donut craving. The donuts were too bready and not fluffy enough. The frosting was mediocre; it just didn’t have the sugary addiction and decadence that I miss. Again, $4 per donut, although they’re quite large.

My attempts at donut-finding have been mostly unfruitful. Most vegan bakeries don’t make them, despite them being the single greatest pastry ever invented.

Canadians don’t know what donuts are supposed to be. They are not Tim Horton’s day-old monstrosities of flavourless sugar to be paired with tasteless coffee, nor are they the sugar-coated madness that constitutes Krispy Kreme donuts. They are silky, creamy, moist, yeasty circles and bars of a bread so unhealthy, they put Wonderbread to shame. They are topped with thin, moist glaze that melts on your tongue and smooths out black coffee. They are diamonds amongst the mud that is American cuisine.

In the end, I simply took a pink box of Voodoo Doughnuts back as a carry on item from Portland the last time I flew in to see family. People looking at you like a crazy person is better than going donut-free.

Some people who are from Portland will claim that Voodoo is merely a tourist hotspot. This is true between certain hours and days of the week, but this lively shop is open 24 hours a day, making vegan donut runs at 4 in the morning a thing that I have done.

I should mention there is no better price at around $14 (cash only and no tax because Oregon) for a Voodoo Dozen, which consists of half cake doughnuts and half yeast donuts of the server’s choosing (but they always put in some extra awesome ones).

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I’ve returned from hiatus abruptly. I guess the cold put me into hibernation! Portland never had a real winter so it didn’t have quite the same charm during Spring. I’m amazed at the energy I’ve got!

I was drunk a while ago and needed to cook for some friends. I made some kind of dahl using a spice paste that I’m pretty sure had food coloring in it. I also made a batch of peanut butter oatmeal cookies and served it with Granite Brewery beer.

While my drunken dahl was good, the cookies were where it was at. I salute Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero for putting out Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.


Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies
1 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups oats
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (if you use standard instead of natural, lessen the amount of sugar you add)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (I used molasses and white sugar)
1/3 cup nondairy milk
4 tsp ground flax seed
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup roasted, salted peanuts, chopped (optional)

My cookies varied from the recipe in the book because I didn’t have peanuts or natural peanut butter (hate the stuff).

Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease two cookie sheets. In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oats. In bigger bowl, beat together oil, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, nondairy milk, flax seed, and vanilla until smooth.

Fold in half of the dry mixture to moisten, then fold in the other half. Put the peanuts in a shallow dish. Form a tablespoon ball of dough and press it into the peanuts. Put the dough on cookie sheets and flatten slightly with moistened fingers.

Bake 12 to 14 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

C’est Bon

I figured that I’ve been putting up too many positive reviews for places since the start of this blog. So, I decided that I’d look back on a visit I took to C’est Bon, a cute little Szechuan cuisine place that will deep fry a Mars bar if you ask them to. For the most part, I’ve never had much of a problem with finding vegan food at Asian restaurants, with the notable exception of certain Japanese and Korean hot spots. Toronto as a whole is a very vegan friendly city, even in comparison to my old home town of Portland, Oregon. I did manage to find some vegan food options at C’est Bon, but not before a lot of confusion on my end.

If you clicked the link to their restaurant’s web site, you’ll notice that there’s a nifty little vegetarian link to the vegetarian part of their menu. Or at least, that’s what it should be. Instead I’m not entirely sure what they were thinking when they asked the now non-existent “RATPACK” web development company to make this web site for them. There are clearly several chicken and pork dishes on the “vegetarian menu,” and the web site isn’t far off from reality. I visited C’est Bon‘s second location, just south of Eglinton along Yonge street. If you look at their regular menu, they’ve highlighted supposed vegetarian items in green, which is a bit of a problem because some of the vegetarian items are also spicy, which are marked in red. Scroll down to the “vegetable” section, and you’ll find dishes that could possibly be vegan, which are mixed in with “Braised Tofu with Veggie & Shitake Mushroom in Oyster Sauce.”

I’ve never been one to pester hosts and hostesses over what it and isn’t vegan, so I ordered two vegetable spring rolls and General Tao’s tofu, a dish I’d never had before. I’d never even tasted General Tao anything before, so I can’t tell you how close to the normal meat dish it would be. At first, both dishes were delicious. The tofu was crispy, covered in a sweet and spicy sauce. Make sure to order a side of rice, because stupidly, it doesn’t come with your meal. It was all very flavorful and good, until about the tenth bite of tofu.

Then it was suddenly too sweet. It tasted like I was eating spicy, crispy donuts. Donuts from Krispy Kreme no less! I was also surprised by the number of egg dishes that were sitting on the vegetarian menu, but that’s to be expected from most Chinese places. Still, it would have been nice to have a mark with Vegan next to any vegan options, or at least have descriptions with each one so I know what I’m getting myself into.

The staff wasn’t particularly good or bad. They seemed bored with everything and there weren’t a lot of people in there to be serving. In the end, the food was meh. I’ve had much better for the same price. We payed around twenty five bucks for two meals, which isn’t bad, but the food just wasn’t worth it unfortunately.

At A Glance

C’est Bon is good if you want to have sticky, donut-y spicy tofu in your tummy. The vegetarian menu is only half vegetarian, and be sure to ask if eggs are in anything because I’m not even sure my own meal was completely vegan. If they would just make everything a bit more vegan friendly, I’d rate them higher. But not as is.

Ajimi Sushi

Ajimi Sushi is a decent sushi joint close to our apartment that we’ve been going to for a couple months now. It’s right at the corner of Davisville and Yonge st, a minute’s walk from the subway station. You might expect things to be a bit pricey considering that, but on the contrary, you just have to know what not to order.

The first time we adventured to Ajimi, we made the very painful mistake of using their a la carte, all you can eat menu. That’s the little paper sheet that they give you and don’t tell you what it is. Since I didn’t eat tons of sushi before I came to this city, I had no idea that was what it was. They like to brag about how the all you can eat is only twelve or thirteen dollars, but remember this is for two people, and this is Toronto, the city of taxes. We ordered sake and got a modest amount of food for somewhere close to fifty dollars. It was killer.

Realizing our mistake, we ventured to Ajimi again a couple weeks later. This time, we ordered off of the real menu. They have two different vegetable roll specials. They’re both excellent, as far as I’m concerned. I’m especially fond of the ones with mixed vegetables because they’ve got a lot of flavor in them. The gyoza that we ordered was so-so. It wasn’t fried just right and with gyoza, you’ve got to get it right. Still, they had a good amount of flavor.

Now, due to miso soup generally having fish broth in it, I ordered a vegetable soup instead. Oh, by the way, whenever you’re ordering sushi, if it comes with soup, it’s almost certainly miso so you’ll have to ask them not to bring it to you or give it to an omnivorous friend. The vegetable soup I ordered was way more gigantic than I expected, and it was surprisingly good. Lots of little bean sprouty bits to go with a very light broth. Good stuff.

The third time we poked by Ajimi, they even arranged my sushi plate in little stacks and a flower. So they get a +1 for presentation. My only complaint about this place so far is that the service is nothing special and the confusion over the all you can eat menu is quite pricey. Still, they do hot sake very well and heat it just right. Also, if you pay with cash they knock 10% off of your bill, so come with bills. They even give you these weird little Japanese candies instead of stupid fortune cookies.

At A Glance
Don’t order a la carte, and you’re set to go. A reasonably priced, decent sushi meal with two different vegetarian combos for ten bucks each. Make sure to pay with cash, and be prepared to face delicious.

South St. Burger Co.

Right up on Yonge St. just north of Eglinton station, a neat burger joint is quite the eye catcher. You might have smelled their food before just walking by, or maybe their attractive sign caught your attention. Occasionally, I’m one to enjoy one of my favorite meals of all time, the burger.

South St. Burger Co. is a good place to grab a fairly quick burger while still feeling like you’re eating at a real restaurant. You get to watch them make your fries, build your burger, and grill your burger while you wait. They have a fantastic, smokey-tasting veggie burger. When I asked them if it was vegan, the cashier was able to pull out a wrapper for the burger within five seconds and even let me read it myself when I asked her. That sort of thing is a bit rare these days at meat-based joints.

I’m always a little nervous about getting a veggie burger, because half of the time they’re dry or flavorless. This one was neither. It was well prepared, grilled right there in front of me. It had that charcoaly, smokey flavor like a barbeque at home. They make the fries from fresh cut potatoes instead of frozen, and they are to die for. They do have a meager amount of trans fat, but man, it’s worth it. The medium fries are big, so for a single person I would go with a small. Onion rings are great too, made with good-sized slices of red onion dipped in a crunchy batter.

The burger itself is made by that grilled flavor. They have a variety of different toppings to throw on there at no extra cost to you. I recommend the guacamole.

It’s a great place to eat. The atmosphere gives it a source of gritty, modern vibe without being too much. Although there are probably too many randomly pointing lights in the room. The price is what I would expect for a really good burger, about ten to twelve dollars for a combo meal. It is well worth it, especially on a street like Yonge. The only downside is that vegetarians/vegans only have one meal option, but it’s a burger joint, and they don’t have many different burgers period. A good burger is a good burger.

At A Glance

Fantastic, reasonably priced fresh grilled veggie burgers with a variety of toppings are what you’ll find at South St. Burger Co. With fresh cut fries and onion rings, there isn’t much that can go wrong here. I recommend it for those looking for a real lunch.


Veda is a place I like to go to occasionally for lunch when I don’t feel much like cooking. Proudly advertising to the vegan crowd, Veda pulled me in at the recommendation of a friend. It really is easy to order food there as a vegan. They’ve usually got about three different selections as far as curry goes. You can get a choice of two with rice in a small bowl, or you can get a large bowl. They’ve also got samosas and these ingenious morsels of food called curritos, which are exactly what they sound like. Everything is reasonably priced, and they carry those fancy San Pellegrino soft drinks to add to your combo meal. Even the small curry bowls are quite filling, so I rarely order much more than that.

Also, have to mention this: they’ve got those nifty little metal bowls with handles on the sides. I don’t know why, but they’re fun to carry back to your seat. The food is great for the price.

At A Glance

Veda is an affordable lunch option with fast, yummy results for those too lazy to pack their lunches like me.


Near Bayview and Davisville, I visited one of several Lemongrass locations to try their Thai fusion cuisine once more. I discovered Lemongrass on my very first trip to Toronto before I moved, and was immediately charmed by their modern atmosphere, good service, and surprisingly wonderful food. Lemongrass is unlike other restaurants in that their menu houses a fairly large vegetarian section from which vegans can easily pull things right off the menu without having to ask the hostess lots of questions. I’ve tried a few of their noodle dishes and was unimpressed, but one day they were having a special on pho.

Pho is not Thai, it’s Vietnamese, but I suppose that’s completely forgivable since this is a fusion place. I never would have dreamed of finding decent pho as a vegan, since the main ingredient is generally beef broth which tends to cover more beef plus assorted meats and vegetables. They have three vegetarian phos on the menu, and they all come in magnificent, giant bowls with personal ladles and chopsticks if you ask. The best thing on the menu, and perhaps one of the greatest vegan things I’ve ever tasted, is the “pho laksa veggie” on one of the last pages of the menu. Be careful if you ask for it spicy (you should always be cautious about that one in Thai restaurants, fusion or not), because I’m not sure many people could handle the amount of spice in my giant bowl of pho, but damn was it satisfying. They take the vegetable broth, put tons of delicious spices (heavy on the cilantro, but no complaints here!) in it, meld it with coconut milk, and pour it on just-cooked vegetables of every kind. With my “fresh mango roll” as an appetizer, it was truly a fantastic experience.

I come to Lemongrass every so often just to have this amazing dish. They even use a real banana leaf to serve some of their food items with, unlike the fake ones 90% of other places use.

At A Glance

I highly recommend this place. Lots of vegetarian stuff on the menu, friendly staff, fantastic pho.

Vegans can’t cook

That’s right. I’m going to start off this hippy blog by mentioning a little tidbit that I’ve been whining about for years now. I’ve been to only half a dozen vegetarian or vegan restaurants in my life time, and I’ve only had a handful of vegans cook for me in other cases. Yet, from that sampling, I have concluded that vegans can’t cook worth a damn.

Call me crazy, but half-cooked tofu sandwiches are not my idea of a good meal. As much as I like kale, you’ve got to put it with something to make a meal out of it. Yeah, sure, fresh food is great and all, but just because something is fresh doesn’t mean you can’t add any sort of salt or spice to it.

The last completely vegetarian spot I ate was called Kale, located just north of Eglinton station on Yonge street. The food was bland at best, and they stuffed my premade wrap full of celery. I didn’t realize it until I bit into my spicy tempeh wrap and got a mouthful of celery instead.

Celery remains the only vegetable I won’t eat. Tastes like stringy soap.

There’s a reason why people think it’s hard to be vegan. It’s because everything they’ve likely ever eaten that has been stamped “VEGAN!” by the local tasteless vegetarians has been bland, cold, and boring. The whole point of cooking vegan is to find new and innovative ways to make vegetables taste good. Trust me, it ain’t that hard, because I can do it better than 90% of certified vegan restaurants.

This blog is about good food and good places. It’s not a restaurant guide, and it isn’t a cookbook, and it’s not a tour guide. It’s all the bits and pieces in between, discovering different ways of viewing food and making vegan life interesting. I’ll shine a light on the good parts, all you have to do is watch.