Tag Archives: asian

Muse Thai Bistro in Manchester

I’d heard great things about the vegan offerings at Siam Orchid restaurant in Manchester, so when an opportunity (in the form of visiting company) arose to try it out, I jumped at the chance.

Siam Orchid is crammed into a little plaza on Second Street (the one with Applebee’s).  The first thing I learned about Siam Orchid is that, despite the name on the sign (“Siam Orchid”) and the name on the takeout menu (“Siam Orchid”), they actually changed their name to Muse Thai Bistro effective several months ago.  A little confusing at present, but nothing that a new sign won’t clear up soon.  (The other location in Concord, incidentally, is still Siam Orchid.)

The ambiance was bright and a little eclectic — but I liked it:

interior of Muse Thai Bistro

They have a pretty decent number of options, but I was surprised by how few of them were actually meatless (we get a “Vegetarian Corner” of the menu).  I wasn’t really in the mood for anything weighty (the “corner” is heavy on the fried tofu) so I thought the Green Garden sounded good:

Green Garden: Boiled fresh green beans, baby corn, broccoli, snowpeas, served with a delicious peanut sauce.

Sounds good, right?  Well…when I happily requested the Green Garden, the waitress actually recommended that I NOT order it and ended up succeeding in talking me out of it!  Apparently it is literally ONLY what is in that description, plain boiled veggies, no frills, with peanut sauce on the side.  Well, hmm.  No thanks, then, I guess?

I wound up with the “Tofu, Ginger and Scallions” (tofu was fried, but what can you do):

Tofu, Ginger and Scallions: Fried tofu with assorted vegetables, ginger & black bean sauce.

The presentation, as you can see, was superb.  Perfect portion size (I finished all the veggies and about 1/2 the rice) and very colorful.  And, yes, it was very tasty.  The fried tofu was yummy (sigh) but it should be noted that it was mooshy rather than crispy.  I would have appreciated a warning about the quantity of mushrooms, as they are not really my favorite thing and they made up the majority of the “assorted vegetables.”  Oh well.  I did enjoy the long ribbony ones and the buttons, and my mom happily ate the weird chewy ones for me, so no harm done.

It should also be noted that the ginger in the dish is straight-up GINGER.  Not pickled, not candied, just a big hunk of ginger in your mouth.  I was fine with this.  In fact, I loved it.  If you aren’t a big ginger fan, though, beware!

Finally, one complaint: where is this “black bean sauce”?  I occasionally spotted traces of a thin, clearish, pretty much tasteless sauce, and maybe that’s what “black bean sauce” is supposed to be, but I was hoping for something more beany and flavorful than, um, not.

Anyway.  Next time I’m there I will probably get a curry, as I was enviously eyeing my mom’s throughout the whole lunch.  You, too should go check out Siam Orchid Muse Thai Bistro, and keep that veggie corner on the menu!  May not have been the best Thai food I’ve ever had, but hey — it was a solid, all-veg, relatively inexpensive lunch.  It’s nice that this is available in Manch!

Muse Thai Bistro is located at 581 Second St #C in Manchester, NH.  http://www.musethaibistro.com/

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Grasshopper

First things first: I’m BACK!  I had a wonderful time in L.A., my class was awesome, and I was invited to come back later in the year for the second installment of the course!  And, naturally, I had all manner of delicious vegan food.  Compared to where I live (compared to most places, actually), LA is vegan paradise. Oh man.  I miss it already.

Of course, a big negative to my extended absence from the Northeast was that this blog got slightly abandoned!  Fortunately I can make it up to you today with a pretty amazing restaurant discovery in Allston, Mass.  I spent the morning helping my boyfriend get settled for his first week of grad school at BC, and by 12:30 or so we decided it was time to check out the local restaurant choices.  We didn’t have to go far (thank God, since it was 97 degrees today!).  After just about a half-mile walk down the street we spotted a bright green awning with “ALL VEGAN” on it in white letters.  Now that’s what I like to see!

Grasshopper is one of those seemingly ubiquitous “Asian” restaurants, where you can’t really tell which “Asian” it’s supposed to be, but you can generally count on steamed rice and stir-fried veggies.  I can tell you, however, that Grasshopper went above and beyond most of its competition on a few key things (these may not do it for you, but they were enough for me):

  • Complimentary pot of tea before you even order anything!  This definitely will score you points with me!
  • $6.25 lunch special that came with a cup of your choice of soup: hot and sour, miso, or veggie delight
  • Super-friendly, smiley, helpful waitstaff.
  • Look at the menu!  Cheap appetizers and a pretty impressive selection of entrees.

I ended up ordering the hot and sour soup for starters.

Hot and sour soup. Included with lunch special.

Do not let its simplicity deceive you; this soup was INSANELY delicious.  Just the right combination of thick texture, spicy flavor and tofu:veggie ratio.  Get this one!

My boyfriend got some kind of sweet basil stir-fry thing that I didn’t get to take a picture of.  He’s still warming up to the whole food-blog idea :P.  I got a picture (and a taste) of his miso soup, though!

This was really just average — your basic bland tofu chunks in bland miso broth.  (I LOVE miso soup when it’s done right, just to clarify!) Also appearing to the right in that picture is the really cute cup they gave us to pour the tea in.  The cup to the left is full of ginger dipping sauce for the “chicken” dumpling that came with his entree.

For my entree I chose the stir-fried veggies with “vegi-beef” and brown rice (which I can’t find on that online menu so it must just be a lunch special thing).

tasty stir-fry from grasshopper! with brown rice. what you can't see is that the stir-fry continues UNDER the brown rice...there's at least three more pieces of vegi-beef, plus some broccoli and squash under there.

This was really good!  The sauce was a little oilier than I would’ve liked (I didn’t expect any oil at all, but I should’ve known better), but it was tasty — reminded me almost of a stroganoff-type sauce, thick and flavorful.  I don’t know why they gave me three different utensils to eat the same dish with, but that’s ok…good to be prepared?  It came with a fork, spoon, and chopsticks; I found it especially ironic when I ended up borrowing my bf’s knife to cut the huge veggies, bringing my total utensil count up to four…

The veggies were your standard mushroom-squash-carrot-broccoli-peapod-bamboo mix.  Tasty but nothing special.  I was really impressed with the vegi-beef though.  It reminded me of a brand of vegan jerky I used to eat all the time: Stonewall’s Jerquee.  That’s a good thing, since what I especially liked about that jerky was how chewy and filling it was.  In this case, the beef absorbed the sauce well without getting soggy.  (In fact, none of this dish was soggy — my boyfriend even remarked on how crisp the carrots were, despite being cooked.)  It’s a good thing I liked the “meat,” too, since they were quite generous with it!  I definitely felt like I got my protein (for all of you non-vegans keeping tabs on my protein status) and I couldn’t even finish the whole thing in one sitting.  All in all, certainly the best meal I’ve had since coming back from LA.  I’m VERY glad it’s so close to where my boyfriend will be staying, since it means many repeat trips there for me!

I do have two complaints – one smaller than the other.  First, I was mildly irritated that I had to pay to “upgrade” to brown rice here, when at many comparable restaurants brown rice is standard or at least a free substitute.  But as it was only 50 cents and they gave me a ton of it, I can let it slide.  The big complaint I have had nothing to do with the food — it was the bathroom!  The lights hardly worked, it was dingy and all-around gross-looking, there was stuff all over the floor, and there was no soap left in the dispenser.  I always wonder about the state of the kitchen when I see an unkempt restaurant bathroom, you know?

Bottom line on Grasshopper: Go there.  Order the lunch special (with the hot and sour soup!).  Just try to remember to go to the bathroom BEFORE you leave home.

Grasshopper is located at 1 North Beacon St in Allston, MA.  http://grasshoppervegan.com/index.html