As we bid adieu to Vegetarian Awareness Month — it’s been a good ol’ plant-filled time — we leave you with the message that it’s a big vegan-friendly world out there. Everywhere we look there are restaurants going plant-forward, with restaurants that showcase the most delicious of vegetarian and vegan cooking regardless of the meat on their menus.
Here in San Francisco at OpenTable HQ, we needn’t look far for unusual examples of the way in which what was once an alternative style of cooking and eating have merged with the culinary mainstream. Just blocks from our offices, a restaurant that was featured on our Top Vegetarian and Vegan-Friendly dining list, is the perfect example of how numerous different cuisine types lend themselves creatively to meatless dining.
And, as we recently discovered, some of the most innovative stuff is happening a stone’s throw away. At Saha, an Arabic fusion restaurant located in the Hotel Carlton on Sutter Street in the Lower Nob Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, Mohamed Aboghanem offers a style of cooking all his own, where he rethinks traditional Yemenese, Middle Eastern and North African fusion in a healthier, beautifully presented, local ingredient-driven style.
“People come to [Saha] because, especially if you are vegetarian, you feel like you have equal rights with the carnivores,” says the chef-owner who trained at the Cordon Bleu. “Half of the menu is vegan and gluten-free.”
Dietary designations aside, his food is full of flavor, coaxed from spices of all kinds (turmeric, ginger, cayenne, all spice, cumin, sumac, and za’atar, to name a few), unusual beans and grains, and organic produce. Soy is scarce; alternative flours like garbanzo flour (naturally gluten-free) are not. Take the vegan knaffe (pictured): a vegan shredded phyllo with vegan cream cheese and wild mushrooms baked in a ramekin and served over coconut chermoulah chipotle sauce. No deprivation there.Continue Reading