Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mini Foodventure #59: M Cafe de Chaya (Mid-City Los Angeles)

After making the recommendation for Kirby to try M Cafe de Chaya after she announced she's going on a "(Sort of) detox", I got the cravings for the place myself (moreso after she posted about her trip there), so a little foodventure I embarked.

Sitting near on the corner of Melrose & La Brea (yes, close to the not-so-healthy Pink's), M Cafe has modern European tavern feel to it, with planters of flowers and herbs lining the patio fence, and large communal wooden tables in the interior dining area, and plenty of sunlight spilling in from the full-length South-facing windows and doors.

Of course, all that played second fiddle to its display case of pastries and deli selections, which were vibrantly colorful and absolutely fresh- and yummy-looking. I had a hard time choosing one deli salad to go with my wrap, so the cashier gave me a few forkfuls of the sweet potato-wasabi salad and the curried cauliflower salad to sample:
Both were delightfully delicious. The sweet potato salad was slightly sweet, had a mild wasabi aroma and was exceptionally creamy-smooth (particularly surprising since they don't seem to use dairy in the foods here.) The curry salad was more complex and had a wonderful mix of textures and flavors, from the spicy, aromatic and tender cauliflowers to the crunchy, nutty cashews and the sweet and chewy dried apricots. Definitely a hard choice, but I went with the latter to go with my Madras-Tempeh Wrap
featuring masala-baked tempeh, almonds, raisins, "frizzled" onions and fresh veggies in a whole wheat lavash bread with a side of curry-soy dressing. It was light yet satisfying, the wrap tasted great on its own but the dip definitely takes the flavor up a notch. Thankfully, they didn't try to make the tempeh taste like meat, it had a smoky-nutty-spicy taste and a substantial texture that was unique and complementary to the other ingredients in the wrap -- I didn't even miss the meat here.

Unfortunately, due to a planned sweets run later on that day and how full I got, I had to skip on trying their baked goodies. The green tea-pistachio pound cake was mighty tempting, though.

But carnivores do not need to fear coming here; being a
Macrobiotics-fusion restaurant, as opposed to strictly vegetarian/vegan, they do offer a few seafood options. But given their food philsophy of lots 'o whole grains and vegetables as well as minimal processing, no matter what's on the menu, expect the food to be very fresh, wholesome and tasty too!

M Cafe de Chaya
7119 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles


Anonymous said...

Yum... everything you got looks fantastic, especially the sweet potato-wasabi salad. M Cafe is one of my favorite place to eat in town. Every time I go there I seem to end up dining next to some celebrity.

Kirby! said...

i totally agree with you about the tempeh... i am really not a fan of fake meats because they often taste like a cross between pancakes and hot dogs. not good. M cafe's tempeh really did have its own distinctive, nutty, non-meaty flavor.

H. C. said...

Foodeater, :( -- not such luck of a celebrity sighting this time around. But I'd go back even without the promise of elbow rubbing with stars.

Kirby!, ha! yea the majority of "meat substitutes" have the texture, smell & flavor of rubber tires . . . but I did try a few things during these past 40 days and will post a product review of sorts soon.

mstinawu said...

I went there once w/ my mom a few months ago. I thought most of the items we got were quite bland and boring--some were just bad. If they weren't bland, then they tried to overcompensate with SALT. Lots of it--especially on their fries. I've been to other vegan/macrobiotic-ish places like this, but my impression was that it was more of a hang out for the teenage kids of Beverly Hills execs. I wouldn't go out of my way again to eat at this place though I might stop in for fresh carrot & ginger juice which I really liked.

H. C. said...

mstinawu, that's too bad; but I only going from my one tasting here; everything was flavorful but not salty at all, and I definitely will be giving it another try. Hopefully I won't get a bland and/or oversalted item.


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