Monday, March 21, 2011

Vegan Feasting and Boozing at Shojin

I am never one who'd decide to go vegetarian one day, but I've heard many great things about Shojin, the organic/vegan/macrobiotic Japanese restaurant in Little Tokyo from fellow bloggers (mainly LA-OC Foodie and inomthings).

Seitan Steak
Seitan Steak Marinade
I've been meaning to try it for a while and an invitation to a blogger dinner provided the last push and I finally made it there!
Shojin's Dining Room
Shojin's dining room was much nicer than I had expected, especially for being in that neglected mall in Little Tokyo. White tablecloth, chandelier, and all.

Shojin also recently started serving alcohol and we tried their "Mojito" made with unprocessed cane sugar, mint, apple juice, cranberry juice, vegan sake (Ichigo)

We started with a tasting of the three most popular appetizers:
Spicy rock shiitake tempura, spicy wasaby mayonnaise
Yuzu ponzu Seitan (pan fried sliced seitan with grated daikon and yuzu citrus sauce)
Spicy fried tofu (fried marinated tofu, spicy soy sauce)
The shiitake tempura was chewy and meaty. I loved the tofu which had a light yet crispy breading. Apparently the batter was made with whole wheat and arrow roots which makes it stay crispy for a long time. The seitan was unremarkable compared to the other two.

Shojin also makes sure to serve vegan wine and sake. Wine isn't always vegan? Nope, apparently most wines are filtered using egg whites or egg shells. The appetizers were paired with some Nottage Hill Chardonnay from Australia.

Shojin serves a variety of vegan "sushi" rolls. We tried the Dragon Roll (shiitake and avocado roll, Seitan (instead of eel) and avocado with sweet soy sauce)

Our favorite: Dynamite Roll (spicy "tuna" roll, spicy mayo and green onion with spicy soy sauce)
Vegan Spicy "Tuna"
Obviously, it's not really tuna in there. The "tuna" is made with tofu, bell peppers, and red miso. It had a great mouthfeel and I did not miss having real tuna in there at all. I dare say this was actually better than most spicy tuna rolls (since they usually use the leftover/cheap tuna cuts in the spicy tuna mix).

Some sake to go along with the sushi:
Junmai Ume Sake

The Kikusui junmai ginjo is of course also organic and vegan (most sake uses gelatin to filter and therefore not vegan). The sake is smooth and flavorful with a light sweetness.

We also got lucky and the owner asked if we wanted to try out their new ume (plum) sake. Of course we did! The Choya junmai ume sake was sweet but lighter than others and not at all cloying or jammy. Naturally, the entire table loved it.

Our entrée duo: Seitan steak marinade with garlic herb butter and Fried tofu steak with sweet miso gravy and sauteed mixed mushrooms
Tofu and Seitan Steak
I liked both of them but I was already expecting to like the fried tofu. The seitan was a pleasant surprise, with its strong savory flavor and the consistency between a meatball and a meatloaf. With these, I didn't really miss the meat in my meal. We had some Nottage Hill Shiraz to go with them.

The desserts at Shojin are worth noting also. I've rarely found a vegan version of standard desserts that I liked (an original vegan recipe is a different matter).

The table favorite was the raw Raspberry chocolate cake
Vegan Raspberry Chocolate Torte

Unlike other vegan cheesecakes I've tried, this cheesecake was quite smooth and creamy. This was apparently their special Valentine's dessert and people liked it so much they kept it on, and I can definitely see why! I still like my carnivorous cheesecakes but I can go for this too.

Pumpkin cheese cake with raspberry sauce
Pumpkin Cheesecake

The crust is made of pumpkin seeds and almonds and was a bit grainy, but again the texture of the "cheesecake" was smooth and creamy. 

Molten Lava Cake with vanilla ice cream
Vegan Chocolate Molten Cake
This was my personal favorite and tasted almost like your regular molten lava cake. The pastry chef used arrow root to fluffen it up. It had a rich chocolate taste and was moist (it was a tad denser than the non-vegan but it was still great). The ice cream was made with rice milk.

The woman behind the savory dishes: Chef Kimiko Ikeda, who studied at the macrobiotic institute

(We didn't get to meet the pastry chef)

Being someone who normally would never consider an all-vegan/vegetarian meal unless I'm dining with a veg-ing friend, I was thoroughly impressed by this meal at Shojin. And the next time my vegetarian/vegan friends come into town, my dining choice would be easy.

333 S Alameda St Unit 310
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 617-0305
Shojin Organic & Natural on Urbanspoon
Shojin in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Disclosure: This meal was hosted.



Sounds like I really missed out! I'll have to check it out some other time - those spicy "tuna" rolls. and really everything you mention, look great!


This is pretty cool. Will definitely keep this in mind for when my vegetarian sister-in-law and her boyfriend come to visit!


arrowroot in the flourless chocolate cake!?!


I have been wanting to come here for a while! One day I shall turn left instead of right up there ;) hehe

Exile Kiss

Hi burumun,

I'm glad you finally made it out to Shojin. :) I love going there to eat healthy when I can. :)

If you ever see them offering their Vegan Sesame Ice Cream, get it! It's *so* good! (^_^)

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