Category Archives: Vegan

REVIEW: Bida Manda – Raleigh, NC

For a land-locked country surrounded by much larger countries, Laos has its own flavors. Bida Manda serves authentic Laotian food and is one of few Laotian restaurants in the U.S. Bida Manda is the Sanskrit term for father and mother; and in the spirit of family, siblings Vansana and Vanvisa Nolintha created this restaurant to honor their heritage and culture. The food takes you to another place, but the atmosphere is created from locally sourced items, such as the wooden sticks from Western North Carolina that decorates the walls.

Laotian food uses some of the same ingredients as the more familiar Thai and Vietnamese cuisines, but with more subtle flavors. Laotian food also lends itself to its French history with items such as the baguette used for sandwiches in Laos. For a more in-depth analysis of the differences between Laotian and Thai food, head over to Victoria’s Food Secrets.

Green Papaya Salad: Tomato, peanuts, spicy lime sauce, sticky rice, and your choice of: Grilled Flatiron Steak Grilled Duck Breast Grilled Ginger and Garlic Pork Neck Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Grilled Vegetables

Green Papaya Salad:
Tomato, peanuts, spicy lime sauce, sticky rice, and your choice of meat, fish or vegetables

I ordered the green papaya salad, one of the restaurant’s specialities. It comes with your choice of meat, fish or vegetables. I got fresh caught N.C. flounder, which was seasoned with salt, pepper and aromatic herbs. The salad tasted fresh and had some of the same ingredients as pad thai sauce, but it was lighter and the taste was more subtle.

“Differences are often subtle to the non-native palate, but generally speaking, Laotian flavors tend to be a little earthier, a little less bright than those of their neighbors,” writes Greg Fox for News & Observer.

Javier ordered the pumpkin curry, which had a variety of root vegetables. It is served with rice, which helps with the spiciness. However, we both liked my dish better. I recommend the green papaya salad for your first time at Bida Manda.

Pumpkin Curry: With root vegetables and jasmine rice

Pumpkin Curry:
With root vegetables and jasmine rice

Bon Appetite!



Enjoy these recipes from Bida Manda, provided by Walter Magazine:

Crispy Rice Lettuce Wrap

2 cups cooked jasmine rice

1 teaspoon curry spice

1/2 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1/3 cup chopped mint

1/3 cup chopped green onion

1 tablespoon crispy fried garlic

3 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 cup crushed peanuts

Lettuce leaves

Mix jasmine rice, curry, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Mold the mixture into thick patties. Fry the patties until golden brown. In another bowl, break the patties into small pieces, and add cilantro, mint, green onion, fried garlic, peanuts, and lime juice. Toss until fully mixed. Wrap the mixture with fresh lettuce leaves.

Serves 4


Caramelized Ginger Ribs

1/2 rack pork ribs, sliced into individual rib pieces

1 cup soy sauce

1 cup black soy sauce

1 cup sliced fresh ginger

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 shelled hard boiled eggs

Firmly rub the the ribs with soy sauce, black soy sauce, ginger, and brown sugar, and let the ribs marinate overnight. At medium heat, braise the ribs for three hours. Once done, strain the sauce from the ribs, add shelled, whole hard boiled eggs to the sauce, and reduce the sauce in a pan over low heat until it thickens. Add the ribs back to the sauce, remove and slice eggs, and serve together.

Serves 2


Bida Manda on Urbanspoon



REVIEW: Sitti – Raleigh, NC

If you work in or near downtown Raleigh, there are so many dining options that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Let me help. Start eating at Sitti once a week. The healthy options will make you feel good about your decision to dine out, while the freshness of the meal will keep you coming back.

I am a huge fan of baba ghanouj (bah-bah guh-noosh), a dip made from roasted eggplant, olive oil, tahini and spices. Sitti’s version of this dish is garnished with pomegranate seeds and bursting with freshness. Along with the restaurant’s warm pita bread, this could be a meal!

Baba Ghanouj – roasted eggplant whipped with tahini, garlic, yogurt and lemon juice

Baba Ghanouj – roasted eggplant whipped with tahini, garlic, yogurt and lemon juice

My friend ordered the goat cheese & orange salad. It was full of fresh fruit, goat cheese and walnuts. This is what I would have ordered too, but I didn’t want to get the same thing – I wanted to be adventurous!

Goat Cheese & Orange Salad – mixed greens, sliced orange, goat cheese, dates and walnuts in a lemon vinaigrette

Goat Cheese & Orange Salad – mixed greens, sliced orange, goat cheese, dates and walnuts in a lemon vinaigrette

I ordered a falafel wrap, but the real star of this dish was the deliciously seasoned french fries. The fries are seasoned with thyme, parsley, sea salt and olive oil. Is your mouth watering too?

Falafel Wrap – crushed chick peas, seasoned and fried, with lettuce, tomato and tahini sauce.

Falafel Wrap – crushed chick peas, seasoned and fried, with lettuce, tomato and tahini sauce.

Sitti has a selection of appetizers, sample platters, wraps, salads, kababs and flatbreads. Take advantage of their special deals during Triangle Restaurant Week.


Happy eating!



Sitti on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Venable – Carrboro, NC

Venable Rotisserie Bistro in Carrboro takes comfort foods like chicken pot pie, ravioli and udon soup and turns them into something fabulous. I lived in Carrboro for two years and I can’t believe I didn’t try this restaurant until now. It is one of my new favorite restaurants in the Triangle. Venable is a fine dining establishment with the attitude (and price!) of a casual Carrboro restaurant. We started our meal with the chèvre salad, “local beets with hazelnuts, goat cheese, mixed greens and a sherry hazelnut dressing.”

Chèvre Salad

This salad was perfect. Creamy goat cheese, sherry vinaigrette and a waffle-cut beet. The presentation was very nice but equally important is the taste, which was phenomenal. It was difficult to pick an entree, given the elaborate choices. Here are some of their options (check out the full menu here):

Bacon-wrapped NC flounder with butternut squash purée, braised red cabbage and roasted sweet potatoes

Rotisserie chicken with carrot, parsnip and celery root stew topped with puff pastry crust

Grilled Atlantic salmon with soy-ginger green beans and skillet-roasted fingerling potatoes

Grilled salmon

Grilled salmon

We went with the grilled salmon, and it ended up being a great choice. The photo above is a half-portion, but with the salad, it was just the right amount of food. We got our salmon cooked medium, as our waiter suggested. It was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. With the description of “fingerling potatoes,” I was expecting a heap of fried potato strings. I was pleasantly surprised with the healthier option of large cuts of sautéed potatoes. I would definitely get this dish again!

Bonus: Venable has a lot of vegetarian and vegan options! And check out their brunch menu…so many delicious options!

I hope I’ve sold you on this wonderful restaurant! It is a great place to eat dinner before checking out a show at DSI Comedy or enjoying a local band at The Station.



Venable Rotisserie Bistro on Urbanspoon

Review: Spotted Dog – Carrboro

Spotted Dog in Carrboro is Man’s Best Friend

My husband and I finally got a chance to go out and celebrate our birthdays, which are held just over two weeks apart. This year we chose to celebrate at the Spotted Dog in Carrboro. Many people know that Carrboro is a vegetarian’s paradise, with many restaurants featuring plenty of great choices for both vegetarians and vegans and the Spotted Dog is no exception. There is a whole page of the menu dedicated to those who don’t eat meat.

vegetarian menu

The menu features many vegetarian items, but there's plenty for meat lovers too!

The restaurant is located right in the middle of Weaver Street and Main Street, so the building has a triangular shape to it. We came to the restaurant early, so were seated in an instant. The restaurant is cleverly decorated with lots of artwork featuring dogs, of course. But unfortunately man’s best friend is not allowed inside the restaurant and there is no outdoor seating, so pooches must be left at home.

The Spotted Dog is smack dab in the middle of Carrboro.

inside the Spotted Dog

The building is a triangular shape and has lots of dog art on the walls.

But this night, both Scott and I chose meals that were not on the vegetarian menu. We started off by having an appetizer of calamari. The Spotted Dog features one of the best dishes of calamari in the Triangle. It has a light, flaky crust and the calamari is as tender as a baby’s cheek. The sauce is a tangy version of Russian dressing with a little bit of cayenne pepper, giving it just a hint of spiciness.


The calamari is a great selection to start off your meal at the Spotted Dog.

For our main courses, I had the Mahi Mahi tacos and Scott had the roasted red pepper pasta with chicken. The tacos were amazing. They are wrapped in a tortilla and fried and are presented much like a very large egg roll. The Mahi Mahi was cooked perfectly. It was moist and succulent, but not undercooked. It was prepared with fresh cabbage, bean sprouts, lime, jalapeno and cilantro. The tortilla was nice and crunchy and since it was wrapped like an egg roll, the contents stayed nice and contained inside the tortilla. The tacos were also served with a fresh black bean salad that had red and green peppers, red onions, cilantro and lime. It was light and refreshing and was the perfect complement to the spicy tacos. Our waitress told us the tacos were very popular and at times they run out of them because so many people order them. I can understand why!

Mahi Mahi Tacos

The Mahi Mahi Tacos are a very popular item at the Spotted Dog.

Scott’s roasted red pepper pasta was a nice blend of roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, and basil served in a cream sauce with nice, large pieces of white chicken, served over linguini. We were told that this is a brand new dish for the Spotted Dog. It also did not disappoint. The flavors were a great combination for the pasta and the chicken was nice and tender.
Though we were both pretty full, we knew that we could not leave the Spotted Dog without having a piece of their famous bread pudding. The night we were there, they were featuring the lemon walnut bread pudding. They change the flavors from time to time, but all of the choices are amazing. The lemon sauce is delicate and is both sweet and tart. The crunchiness of the walnuts gives the bread pudding some texture and the vanilla sorbet helps bring this dish all together. Needless to say, our plates were clean and our bellies were full after this meal. Time to take a stroll around Carrboro and enjoy a lovely spring evening in Carolina!

lemon walnut bread pudding

The lemon walnut bread pudding is one of the most popular dessert items on the menu.

The Spotted Dog is located at 111 Main Street in downtown Carrboro. It is open from Tuesday-Sunday from 11:30a.m.-12a.m.

Spotted Dog Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

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