by Tom Sims
Tom Sims searches the Valley for tips on eating healthy, buying healthy food, growing healthy food, and eating out healthy in the Valley, for this Healthy Eating in the Valley column. Feel free to share your suggestions of places and things to check out!
After four years as a complete vegetarian, I decided to add some fish to my diet last summer. I needed the extra iron and was not getting it from supplements.
Now I am a “pescatarian”. So, I have more options, but generally am attracted to restaurants where I can find a true vegetarian menu. Fish is an occasional and, for me, pleasant exception rooted in a forest of necessity.
As I was asking my friend at Google where to go one Saturday, a Chinese restaurant flashed on my phone screen that has been in Fresno well over ten years and has never been on my radar. Earlier in the season, I ran across a new establishment where I had been accommodated with enthusiasm and very good food. Last week, I was reminded of a fine establishment where they make vegetarian Pho to address that craving in my life. Since this involves a lot of very tedious research with hours of consumption, I did run across a couple of honorable mentions and, perhaps one of them, a future feature.
I will take you on a tour of all these. You may have to visit on your own.
When you walk in the door Doy Mediterranean Grill, you will, most often, be greeted by the owner, Nevzat Ozder. He will probably hug you warmly if it is your second visit.
What a location! You get your dinner and first desert; grab a tiny, tiny scoop of the “healthiest” ice cream you can, and retire for a long conversation over a cup of coffee. Include a workout before and after it all and then do your grocery shopping on the way home.
The greeting you receive from Nezvat will be warm either with or without the hug and he will be happy to tell you his story and the story of his food. He will make sure you are happy. The hospitality is above and beyond anything one could hope for.
Nevzat is a native of Turkey and has had a successful career in the U.S. and in Fresno in the real estate and finance fields. However, he had a deep desire to share his native food with us and opened Doy last year. In Spanish, the word means “give,” but, as I understand it, in Ozder’s language it is more about abundance.
Abundance is a good word for what you get. The pricing is simple. There is one price for one item, another for two and yet another for three. I recommend looking very carefully at the size of the orders before ordering too many items.
On the other hand, there are always take-home containers! You can also order sides and the baklava is enchanting.
The winning point for the vegetarian is that eggplant is a main course choice and it is very, very good. The bulgur is about the best I have had. Meat eaters have plenty of options.
I am thinking that the whole experience of healthy, tasty, affordable food is another definition of “Turkish Delight.”
Little Peking has been in town for a while. Thirteen years rings a bell. It is nondescript in its décor as Chinese restaurant of its sort should be. Situated 7975 N. Cedar in Fresno it is in a small, tasteful strip mall. The Saturday afternoon after-lunch-hour crowd was light, but steady with what seemed to be regular customers. Everyone seemed happy.
Not only do they have vegetarian options, but they will bring you an entire vegetarian menu! It has appetizers, soups, and main dishes with vegetarian meat substitutes of all sorts.No one needs to be deprived. I do not exaggerate when I say that my order fed me for three meals.
The food was very good to my taste buds and the vegetables were fresh and cooked with just the right balance between over and under cooked.
Online ratings are reasonably high and prices are reasonably low.
Pho is pronounced “fu” or “fo” or however you chose. There is a standard however and you can hear it here. Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup, originally street food which combines broth, tiny rice noodles, herbs, and meat. I have had it with chicken, beef, shrimp, tripe, and a variety of carnivorous delights, but in these days, I take it with tofu or with no meat substitute at all.
You add your own amounts of extra ingredients including sweet sauces, hot peppers, and pepper sauce. You finish the soup’s character development at your table. Do so with caution and do not rub your eyes after touching the peppers.
These days, I can barely finish a small bowl and walk away regretting my diminished capacity to guzzle it down!
The problem is, not all establishments know how to make this alluring soup and full meal without beef or chicken broth. I have been tracking most of them that do and one of the best is Jasmine Garden directly across Shaw from Fresno State at 2633 E Shaw Ave Fresno. Parking is an issue with several great places, including a Starbucks in the same shopping center, but it is worth the trouble to find a spot.
I took a discriminating friend there last week and we are returning this coming week with another discriminating friend. Pho is no joke. In San Jose in the early 90s, I ate it at least three times a week.
Prices are pretty comparable with other Vietnamese restaurants. The place is usually full and the ratings are high.
Of course you can make your own Pho and recipes abound online with its growing popularity. There is even a word for ordering it vegetarian style. Here is a great YouTube video on making Pho youtu.be/GlaVCZvI-o8. How to order it is included in the tutorial. The main challenge is the stock.
It took me a while to pick my next subjects. I had to do a great deal of tasting and experimenting, walking, reading, eat, looking, eating, asking, and … eating.
I walked, for the first time, into the long established, Tower Health and Diet Foods at 1130 North Fulton at Olive. I picked up a few “essentials” and have vowed to return and interview the owner for a future article.
The same day, I ate at Livingstones, also in the Tower. One hundred forty one of my friends like the place on Facebook. Since they have only a few vegetarian/healthy options, I will probably not review them here, but I will return and keep ordering the same thing and taking away two meals from what I could not finish there.
This is a really hard job. The research is grueling … and delicious! I think I will stick with it.
Here’s to your health!
Eat well, eat the right things, eat fresh, eat local, eat moderately, and exercise regularly!