Well hellllooooo there! It has been a while! I’ll save the boring details behind my blogging absence and just sum it up by telling you I have a new job where pilot season (Feb-April) is absolute insanity. The good news is that in the months of unemployment before I landed my new gig, I ventured out and tried a slew of new (to me) restaurants and cooked up a storm. So let’s get down to brass tax and start off my return to blogging with my birthday food!
Now, my b-day was back in February, but I have been dreaming about the awesome food I had that day ever since! On my actual birthday, I had only been working at my new job for fewer than 2 weeks. I am not one to insist everyone I know make some huge deal out of my birthday, but it’s slightly depressing to be at a new place where no one even knows it’s your special day. Add that to the fact that I always get depressed on my birthday anyway and you have one somber Liz. But my mood picked right up after my two new bosses surprised me with…vegan cupcakes! I barely knew these people at the time and they went out of their way to track down some cupcakes for me at Yummy Cupcakes. It was an extremely tasty surprise.
The cupcakes were vanilla with chocolate frosting. The cake part was a bit chewier than I am used to but the flavors and frosting were perfect. I find a lot of vegan frostings to be too sweet but this stuff was light and fluffy and it let the chocolate shine through. (By the way, I have since had one of Yummy Cupcakes’ cupcakes-in-a-jar and it was INCREDIBLE)
I knew exactly where I wanted to go for my birthday dinner–my newest obsession–Madeline Bistro. However, there was no way I was gonna drive out to Tarzana at rush hour. So I opted instead to hit the vegan Japanese joint Shojin for the first time. I have been hearing the other vegan bloggers rave about Shojin for some time, but it was never at the top of my list to try, mostly because I didn’t think it would be that different from eating vegan options at a regular Japanese restaurant–you know, veggie rolls, noodle bowls, et cetera. I can get those in my own neighborhood so why bother going farther for the same stuff? Well, I am very happy I finally made it down to this hole-in-the-wall spot because the food was far above the fare you get at your standard sushi spot.
Shojin is located in the top floor of the Little Tokyo Shopping Center. (Aside: The quirky little mall will always hold a dear place in my heart, as soon after I first moved to L.A., Kirby Von Scrumptious and I went on a wild day-long adventure in search of the elusive Fingerstar machine in this shopping center. Alas, much to our dismay, the machine was out of order. Damn you Fingerstar!!!) Shojin is a tiny little joint but unlike much of the rest of the mall is nicely decorated. I was pretty sure I was gonna like this place as soon as I saw that they provide magic markers for you to draw on the paper tablecloths with!
The boyfriend and I started with the Dragon Roll which was described as shitake mushrooms, avocado, BBQ seitan and avocado with sweet soy sauce. Now, I really don’t mind the various sorts of standard vegetable rolls one can get at your usual Japanese restaurant, but it was a total treat having this decadent roll! It definitely brought me back to my days of eating giant spicy tuna rolls and the like. I loved how thinly sliced the seitan was.
For my entree I ordered a noodle bowl, which doesn’t appear to be on the current incarnation of the Shojin menu. It was basically a soup with soba noodles and mountain vegetables. I don’t know how they do it, but the broth is so rich. I think the only veggie broth I’ve had that comes as close to it in flavor is at Pho Cafe. This was the perfect dish for a windy February night. It was really big, so I took half of it home.
The boyfriend ordered a dish, which also no longer appears on the menu…fresh veggies in black pepper sauce. He loved it and I liked it. It was a little too much like something you would get at a typical Chinese restaurant, i.e. greasy and oversalted. I did enjoy it, but I definitely think it is one of Shojin’s lesser dishes.
For dessert, we ordered the chocolate molten lava cake with raspberry-vanilla swirl ice cream. Right before it came out all the lights went out in the restaurant and we were like “oh sheesh, someone didn’t pay the electric bill.” But then our server brought out our dessert with a candle in it and got the whole restaurant to sing me happy birthday!!! It was awesome! And as you can see below, the dessert was personalized. Like I said, I’m not one to ask that people make a fuss about my b-day, but I have to tell you this was such a fun experience!
As for the dessert itself…awesomesauce!!! The molten lava cake was perfect and incredibly moist. I must say it was far superior to Madeleine Bistro’s chocolate souffle, which is really saying something because I luuurrv Madeleine. The ice cream was super creamy and was a perfect compliment to the chocolate.
I can’t wait to go back to Shojin. It is an awesome little spot with great food and is such a fun place to go for a special occasion! Maybe now that pilot season is over, I will get a chance to go there again soon!
2918 W. Magnolia Blvd
Burbank, CA 91505
333 S. Alameda St. Suite 310
Los Angeles, CA 90013