Sunflower Cafe, tea, and curried tempeh


Today I met up with Alex (who loves to see what’s he’s eaten posted on my blog) at the Sunflower Cafe, a vegetarian (95% vegan, actually) restaurant in Vienna, VA. We split an order of the fried “chicken,” which I had heard and read a lot about. Folks: it lives up to the hype. Though it’s a tad salty, this stuff has the consistency and flavor of fried chicken. From what I’ve read, this is what they recommend that the non-vegetarians start with.

Alex went on to order his usual: General Tso’s “Chicken.” It was excellent (as I stole a few from him). I decided to jump in feet first for my inaugural visit to the restaurant and got the Macrobiotic Tofu dish. Boy, that sounds appetizing, eh? It included a number of ingredients I didn’t recognize (but which were, fortunately, cross-referenced to an index in the back of the menu), but it turned out to be a good dish. I swear the tofu multiplied in front of my eyes, though. (More on macrobiotic cooking)

Of course, making the trip out to Vienna also meant I got to go to my favorite tea shop, the Coffee Caboodle and pick up a couple of new teas. I got some China Young Hyson green tea (which I’ve never tried before) and China White Mutan as well. I’m especially stoked about the new white tea, since I’ve only had Sow Mee and Silver Needle. My first cup of this $40/pound gem (I only got 1/4 pound, don’t worry) was, for lack of a better term, exquisite.

When I got home a few hours later, I was going to cook something up for dinner but felt lazy. Unfortunately, all the restaurants in my town were closed by 7pm, so I made a trip to the supermarket and tried out “Curried Tempeh and Rice” from Simply Vegan. Total preparation and cooking time was about 25 minutes and the end result was a chewy, flavorful (but not overpowering) blend of organic tempeh chunks and frozen peas stir-fried in olive oil, onion, tamari, curry powder, garlic powder, and freshly grated black pepper served over basmati rice.

Now that you know my full dining habits for the day… :)

I’ve also been experimenting a bit more, especially with pasta dishes. In the past week, I’ve had two improvised dishes making use of orzo, freshly grated Pecorino cheese, garlic (lots of garlic!), and various herbs and spices. One recipe was good enough that I submitted it to If it’s accepted, I’ll link up to it. Otherwise, I’ll post it here in a few days.

4 Responses to “Sunflower Cafe, tea, and curried tempeh”

  1. Paul

    Good luck on that recipe submission, Cap’n. If things don’t go well, you should consider a recipe section here… I’m very much in need of variety in my meals.

  2. Robert

    I’m jealous you beat me to trying the veggie fried chicken. I’ll make it there some day.

  3. Ryan

    Paul — The links to the right side under “Recipes” are where I start a lot of times (if I don’t start in my own cookbooks). I suppose I’ll start a separate “Original Recipes” section of my own once I actually start making more of my own dishes!

    And I can’t recommend enough Lorna Sass’ Short-Cut Vegetarian as a great go-to book for quick, but unique, veggie recipes.

    Robert — Go during lunch if possible (Monday-Saturday), as their dinner/Sunday prices are significantly higher.

  4. Prakash Sinha

    We had been vegetarian for quite some time now almost 5 years. When i moved here into US, i had no idea that there would be so many alternatives to meat.
    Today 02/21, i just got onto the web to check out if there are any veggie restaurants out here in NVA, as we were sick and tired of eating same food in restaurants. This blog helped me in narrowing down to Sunflower.
    Enough for today, i will come some other time.

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