Category Archives: Studio City

Healthy at Hugo’s

It might seem a tad inconsistent that I often refer to my abstention of fats, sugar, and gluten while my recent posts have all been full of decadent junk food.  This is because, while I am diligent about my healthy diet and I prefer whole foods to processed ones, I am not militant about it–especially when I’m on vacation.  The food I eat on an everyday basis is very boring: a smoothie for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and usually some assortment of veggies and legumes for dinner.  It’s just food that is generally not very blog-worthy.  When I’m on vacation or there is a special occasion, I am more than happy to indulge in treats.

Today I needed to recover from the boozery of yesterday.  I started the day out with a quick four mile run and then met my friend, Jeanine, for a class at Pop Physique in Studio City.  I had the Kelp Noodle Bowl and Jeanine had the The Power of Green Salad (pics are from my crappy cell phone camera.)  Both are nutritional powerhouses.  My dish had ginger, sea vegetables, and sprouts among other superfoods, and was extremely tasty.

Both were great options for a post-workout dish.  You don’t want to negate all the hard work you just did with an unhealthy meal!  I love love love that the kelp bowl comes with a mango-sesame dressing that is oil-free.  Hugo’s has so many great healthy options and they also have choices for days when you want to indulge.  Regardless of what you order, you can be sure you will be getting good clean, organic food at Hugo’s.


Kind Kreme: Ice cream that does a body good

Kind Kreme is one of the best things to happen to the L.A food scene in a long time.  Their ice cream and soft serve is completely raw, vegan, and organic.  Now I lurrrve me some Scoops, but there hasn’t been a place in all of Los Angeles county where one could get a proper banana split until Kind Kreme came along.

Their ice cream is wonderful but I am a sucker for vegan soft serve.  Dairy-free soft serve is much harder to come by than dairy-free ice cream so when there is a chance for me to have it, I take it!  On a recent visit my friend ordered a soft serve cone (chocolate and vanilla swirled) while I ordered the same swirl in a cup with salted caramel sauce.  Salty sweet sauce with vanilla and chocolate soft serve?  Heaven.  Kind Kreme takes me back to the days when my grandma would take me to Hudson’s department store for a swirled cone.  Except Kind Kreme’s has flecks of real vanilla bean in it.  (At least I think that’s what it is!)  I was shocked to hear the soft serve has something like 4 ingredients in it total.  Makes me wonder how everyone else can go get that chemical stuff from Pinkberry and the like.

Scrumptious Specials at Hugo’s Restaurant

You know you are a food nerd when at the beginning of each month, you find yourself constantly refreshing a restaurant’s homepage in anticipation of the release of their new specials.  This is the situation in which I often find myself with Hugo’s Restaurant.  Hugo’s regular menu is rife with amazing vegan dishes, but their specials menu tends to be extra incredible.  With that in mind, the delightful Vegyogini and I set off to lunch at Hugo’s Studio City location this past weekend.

We ended up ordering the exact same thing right down to the substitution of fruit salad for the side caeser salad.  The Sprouted Grain Ezekial Tortilla Bowl just sounded too good to pass up.  The dish is a blend of roasted veggies with brown rice, quinoa and pico de gallo, and is all jumbled up with pipian sauce (as the menu explains, it’s a member of the mole family).  The whole grains added a nice starchy factor that bound all the veggies together.  The pipian gave the whole mix a slightly nutty flavor.

As Vegyogini pointed out, now we finally know what to do with those darn Ezekial tortillas–because anyone who has every used them knows they  don’t wrap without breaking!  Now I just need Vegyogini to duplicate this dish complete with the instructions for making the bowl itself and the ingredients in the very unique pipian.  (Vegyo–Get on that please–I need to start making this at home until Hugo’s decides to put this on their permanent menu!)

It turns out, I couldn’t stop dreaming about the other  July specials, so I went back to Hugo’s the very next day!  I ordered the Sprouted Red Lentil Eggless Omelette.  Our waitress gladly subbed some brown rice for the turmeric rice and left off the yogurt.

The “omelette” is really more of a big fluffy pancake wrapped around sauteed veggies and covered in Hugo’s own tiki masala sauce (Let it be known, I would probably eat tree bark if it were covered in that amazing masala).  I doused the rice in the uber-flavorful tomato and cilantro-mint chutneys.  This is yet another special I’d like to see on the regular menu!

The boyfriend couldn’t resist ordering the infamous Soul Food Plate.  I’ll let the menu do the talking on this one: “BBQ organic tofu steak served with vegan and gluten-free corn bread topped with cauliflower florets covered in a mushroom leek gravy. Served with sides of braised leafy greens with garlic and onions and spiced maple roasted yams.”

I was particularly impressed with the cornbread and maple yams.  The maple was not overpowering so it was the perfect level of sweetness.  The cornbread had an amazing texture, and it too was not overly sweet.  The gravy on the cauliflower was also pretty special.  I love me a good vegan gravy!  The greens and tofu steak were not very memorable–just some basic, clean food.  This dish is the perfect size to split with someone else.

Now you better race off to Hugo’s quick because you only have 2.5 days left to experience these delightful July specials.  The good news is that that means I only have to wait 2.5 days until the August specials are revealed!

P.S.  I have been an absentee blogger as of late, but I’ve really been missing it.  So please stay tuned for more frequent posts on ¡Yo Soy!

Hugo’s Restaurant
12851 Riverside Dr.
Studio City, CA  91607

SunPower Natural Cafe: Worth the Splurge

I have been dying to try the mostly-raw SunPower Natural Cafe ever since I first read about it on To Live and Eat in L.A. Dying as in, I literally dreamed about it on a daily, if not hourly basis. I’m really trying to incorporate more raw foods into my diet and every dish that Foodeater described sounded totally irresistible. There was just one obstacle standing between me and SunPower: cash flow. That’s right. I’m broke.

Well, not broke exactly. You see my t.v. show is on hiatus so I am living off of measly unemployment checks while I look for my next gig and, with rampant runaway production, who knows how long it could be before I find it! Of course I have savings, but I’m hoping those will go towards a big trip to the Yucatan later this year.

It’s not that SunPower is particularly expensive, I am just trying to not eat out at all. This past week I realized how relatively easy it is to feed yourself on a strict budget. Last Sunday I spent a combined total of $26 at the farmer’s market, Bulk Bin, and Vons and have been eating like a queen all week and I still have enough for at least two more meals for this week! Check out the haul. (I’ll have some of the recipes I made this week on the blog soon.)

By the way, I feel like a total sucker for having bought canned beans all these years when you can get dried beans for about a fraction of the price. Never again!!!

Back to SunPower…earlier this week I had to make a stop at Comic Smash in Studio City to pick up Archie #600 (a.k.a. the issue where Archie proposes to that whore Veronica!) so I could mail it to my elementary school friends who used to spend summer mornings with me sitting around reading about the latest drama at Riverdale High. It was 9 bazillion degrees outside and the pup and I were sweating our brains out so I convinced myself that for my own health I needed to stop and pick up one of the SunPower shakes I have heard so much about. Even though I felt guilty knowing the shake would set me back 7 bucks, once I had made the decision to get one, I practically started drooling in anticipation. Imagine the soul crushing defeat I experienced when I tried to open SunPower’s door and found it locked. It was 6pm and the place was closed! Quelle horreur!!!

Luckily for me, an employee saw me tearing up at the door and invited me in and said that it would be his pleasure to make me some take-out. How great is that?! This was a full hour after their (crazy) closing time! Soon I was leaving with my Cacao Superfoods shake in tow.

So, was the shake everything it’s crack up to be? YES, yes it is. It was so incredibly creamy, chocolate-y, and had a little tang (perhaps that’s from the goji berries?) It is everything you could ever want in a dessert. At 7 bucks it costs more than you’re average shake, but it’s also much better than the average shake, so it all works out. Ever since that le Cacao Superfoods and I met, I have been fantasizing day and night about having it again. I am not exaggerating. Is it weird to lose sleep over a beverage? I should ask Dr. Drew.

The only bummer with my beloved is the calories and fat content. The employee I spoke with estimated the calorie count to be somewhere around 450. I was able to use the shake as a replacement for lunch, however, and it definitely kept me sated until dinner rolled around. I don’t even want to think about how many grams of fat that baby has with its half a cup of cashews. Eeeek! But a girl’s got to cheat on her diet and budget every now and then!

I absolutely cannot wait until my next unemployment check rolls in and I can splurge some more at the insanely awesome SunPower Natural Cafe where the food is whole and the people are amazing.

P.S. Don’t fear, the pup didn’t get her sneaky little tongue into my drink. I know all too well the effect chocolate has on dogs thanks to a $650 bill from the animal hospital after Hayley go into a bag of chocolate chips that my roommate had precariously left lying around. Yet another reason why I need to be thrifty with the dollars. Siiiiiiiiigh…

UPDATE: After writing this post I was overcome by the urge to return to SunPower, so I flew over there and got myself a Sweet Kale shake. Holy moly it is blowing my mind!!! It is a lovely pale green and tastes just like pistachio ice cream! How do they do it?!

SunPower Natural Cafe
3711 Cahuenga Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604
818.308. 7420

Hugo’s Tacos: One Reason to Not Hate the Valley

I recently got some terrible news: A really good friend was moving…to…THE VALLEY. (Insert scary horror movie music here). Now, I’m not some snob that refuses to go to the valley ever or give it its props for certain things. It’s just that I have the unique pleasure of having all of my close friends live within walking distance of me, so actually getting in my car and getting on the *gasp!* freeway to get somewhere seems like a big pain in the ass. And it’s no exaggeration that it’s often 10 degrees hotter in the valley than in the rest of L.A., and in the summer that is no picnic.

Upon my first visit to the new pad, however, I changed my tune. Pulling off the 101 onto Coldwater Canyon, there on the corner was Hugo’s Tacos and then I crossed the street and saw Hugo’s restaurant and I was reminded that the valley is full of amazing veg-friendly restaurants that I rarely get the chance to go to! Looks like there will be lots of new culinary adventures in my future!
When I first moved to L.A. and lived in West Hollywood, I would go to the Hugo’s restaurant on Santa Monica quite a bit. I could not get enough of their veggie-packed sweet potato bowl and other vegan goodies. So I was so incredibly pumped to see that my friend lives mere blocks from Hugo’s Studio City locations. Hugo’s Tacos is the restaurant’s sister stand with a choose-your-own-adventure style menu: you choose the type of meal you want (ranging from tacos to salsa burgers), and then the filling and sauce you want to go with it.
On my first visit I ordered a bowl with the soyrizo, potato, and zuchinni filling, and the honey chipotle salsa (yes, I am a honey-eating vegan). The bowl comes with organic Spanish rice, organic white beans, onion, cilantro, lettuce, guacamole, and cotija cheese (which Hugo’s happily offers to sub out with soy cheese). Stir all these lovely ingredients together into a gooey mess and you get one big bowl of delicious!
On my many subsequent visits (eek! How am I supposed to avoid going there when it’s right there by the freeway entrance just begging me to turn in???) I have been unable to force myself to order anything different because I just love the bowl so much. I now ask for no cheese–the soy mozzarella has absolutely no flavor and I don’t see the point in adding extra calories onto this already heavy dish. Although I do love the pain of being so full you want to die after eating the whole thing. I also LOVE the honey chipotle salsa. It is a perfect combo of spicy and sweet and is the element that pushes this dish into the realm of the super tasty.
Hugo’s food is enough to bring me there time after time, but their daily rotation of agua frescas will keep me a fan for life. Their watermelon agua fresca, which is my drink of choice–I would mainline the stuff if I could–is sublime. If their horchata–an excellent balance of cinnamon, sweetness, and rice milk–is any indication of how good their (completely vegan) rice pudding is, I will definitely be hitting up some of that next time so I can have a sugar high on top of my food coma.
Between the icy agua fresca and the misters that are constantly on (and are pictured at top with some awesome skeleton garland), the valley heat doesn’t even interfere with the meal. Recently as I was chowing down and being thankful that there isn’t a Hugo’s closer to my house because I would surely gain a dubrillion pounds, I saw a sign advertising a new location right over the bridge from me in Atwater Village! Le sigh, guess I’ll just have to put in a few more hours at the gym every week…
4749 Coldwater Canyon
Studio City, CA 91607