Few Good Lunch Entrees

Returning back from Egypt and Turkey trip in beginning of August put me back in the mood for some good food. Well, center city has few good options for lunch. It’s not only a good break from the office but spending some quality time with Linda and Sarah – I am tempted to call us the “V&K’s angels” ha!

Here are some photos from my lunch adventures while at work. I hope to do this once a week. But, if I am having fun, who knows, you might get more than once a week treat.

Avocado Sushi Rolls from Tokyo Lunch Box

Tufu with cashew and green beans in garlic sauce from Square on Square

Tofu with Lo Main and green beans from Hot Wok in the Liberty Food Court:

Kimchi vegetarian soup with Tofu from Giwa

Salad with cranberries and grapes from Duane Morris Cafe

Egypt: no sign of falafel (From Cairo to Aswan to Luxor)

Alright, after one week of being well fed in Turkey, I had such high expectations for food in Egypt. Especially for a good dose of falafel. Well I had to wait all of six days to have a taste of falafel on my seventh day in Egypt, and by this time last thing I wanted was a falael. No offense to the country or the tour company we went through but as you can already see, I was pretty disappointed. Not only because I didn’t get a falafel, but I didn’t get any good vegetarian food at all. We were taken to a decent buffet style restaurants for food in between the tour, but Turkey set the high standard.

After visiting Sakkarra, we were taken to Restaurant Pharous. We haven’t even got to the entrance and we hear bunch of people playing music welcoming us and expecting baksis (tip). When we sat down, we got a decent choice of vegetarian pre-picked menu items. We had no choice in it – in face, there was no menu. our guide told them about us being vegetarian and they brought out about ten little plates of food. When we asked whether they had falafel, they said no. The food did not seem bad but it didn’t have any taste to it. I ended up eating lots of bread.

Alright, let’s move on to the best part of the trip in Egypt. CAIRO! It started out as us checking in at the Oberoi Meena House. The hotel was amazing. It was totally a 5 star. We found out that they had 3-4 restaurants, breakfast cafe (which is right across from the Great Pyramid and has a great view, see photo at bottom), pool side bar, and inside bar. We only had time to check out two restaurants: Indian (The Moghul Room) and Oriental (Abu Nawas). The Tulsi Paneer under appetizer was the best paneer we have ever had. We in fact went there for dinner two nights just to get the Tulsi Paneer. For dinner we had Malai Kofta with Garlic naan and rice. The next night we had Chana Masala.

At Abu Nawas, we had apple avocado salad and kaysheri, along with entertainment of Belly Dance and the Whirling Dervishes

This was our view from Oberoi breakfast cafe every morning:

Istanbul, Turkey

We arrived in Istanbul by a flight from Nevsehir. Of course, I had to have Ayran when I got to the airport. Ayran is like water in Turkey. If there is no Turkish Tea or Coffee, that is what people drink. We loved it because it is same as Lassi in India. Ayran is plain yogurt watered-down with a pinch of salf. It was very refreshing as it was really hot at end of July. I think I had on average about two Ayran per day.

When we got to the hotel, we asked the front desk few spots to get good vegetarian food. Pretty much it was the same no matter where we went. 95% of the restaurant we stopped by to look at the menu had a vegetarian option. We went around the corner from the Best Point Hotel to a local restaurant. We both shared sampler veggie appetizer and a veggie casserole that was cooked in a pot (rather than in a clay in Cappadocia).

My sixth day in Turkey and I was already missing Gaziantep and its baklava. To buy water bottles, we made stop at this local store twice a day (in the morning after leaving the hotel and before coming back to hotel). The owner seemed very friendly. So, I asked him where to get the best baklava. He writes me a note that read “Baklavaci Said”. He kind of tell me where it was but wasn’t really clear. So, I asked around the train station and people pointed us toward the Grand Bazzar station. It was about 10-15 minute walk from the hotel. We went to Baklavaci Said every night for three nights. I would say it was the best part of Istanbul. They served us the baklava with a cup of tea and had tables out on the street. It was extremely cute.
Unless you have had a baklava from Baklavaci Said you haven’t had a good one. My favorite was the pistachio roll.

While at the Grand Bazzar, we took a break from shopping (really haggling) to have tea break. Well, I decided to have the Turkish coffee, while Mehul had tea. Both were really good, real smooth, and you can actually taste the flavors.

Cappadocia (kapa-doh-kia), Turkey

We took a bus from Gaziantep to Nevsehir and it was definitely an experience. We were little nervous about being alone in the bus ride for 6 hours and having to do an exchange from Nevsehir to Goreme. But, once we got there it was easy to figure out and people were really friendly and helped us figure out the right bust station to Goreme. The bus services are real nice. They serve tea and ice cream non-stop. And, we had a stop in some town in between where we snacked on Chips and Ice Cream.

We stayed at the Goreme House Hotel for two and half day and it was a really good cave-like hotel. The restaurant (Mercan) around the hotel were also delish! They made us a special veggie Kebab and Pides.

The next morning, we took a green tour that went around the underground city to caves to Ihlara valley. In between the hike on Ihlara valley, we stopped to grab a bite. The restaurants are all located on the river. So, your tables are built on water for more relaxing lunch and there are tables and chairs also on the water. So, you can just take your shoes off and relax in VERY hot weather.

That day was very long. After we came back to the hotel, we hiked up on a cave to watch the sunset. Then, it was dinner time, so we walked around Goreme main street for us to just relax while we have light dinner. Well, it turns out that I got (yet again) way excited by the menu at a local restaurant and ordered their veggie casserole with Efes. The casserole came in a clay pot that I had to break with a knife. It was really delicious and fun to eat.

As you can see Cappadocia has variety of options for vegetarians and we were in love! I am looking forward to planning our next trip already.

Turkish Food/Drinks (Gaziantep)

My husband and I spent a full week in Turkey. The trip got triggered by a friend’s wedding invitation, which was going to take place in Gaziantep, Turkey. We were very excited to be part of the wedding festivities that we went ahead and also decided to see more than Gaziantep. We decided to go to Gaziantep first, then to Cappadocia and to Istanbul, before going to Egypt or a week (another entry for this coming up).

Turkey overall had the BEST vegetarian food to offer. At first, we were nervous not being able to ind vegetarian food (we packed odwalla bars with us :))

In Gaziantep, we had a very nice time with the Ozyazgan’s. They were the sweetest host. They constantly fed us and had tea or turkish coffee on spot all the time. We were really spoiled. To add to the excitement, we were invited to their farm house where they grilled veggies before the meat for both Mehul and I. Ayran was unlimited. Here are some photos of delights from Gaziantep.
Turkish Tea Pot and Cups:
Farm house food:

The wedding was amazing. Again, it filled with food. Even before we sat down, we were asked what we wanted for drinks. Then, the moment we sat down, the waiter was over with appetizers and it was all downhill from there. I ate so much that I could barely dance. Then there was dessert and cake 🙂

After food and dancing, we drove around Gaziantep honking horns. Apparently, you go around the town after marriage in a parade-like-form and honk around (letting everyone know that you just got hitched). We ended up at the Groom’s house where we danced more on the street before going back to the hotel. It was an awesome experience.

I might have to have a different entry capturing Cappadocia and Istanbul as I am getting carried away with this blog. FUN!