Thursday, January 20, 2011

Souley Vegan Wants to Kill Me

And I'm really not complaining. I can think of many many ways to die that would be worse than asphyxiating under a pile of southern fried tofu and potato salad. So can you, I imagine. These photos are from our second trip to this haven of greasy fried goodness in its unassuming Oakland location. I always worry when I visit a great restaurant for the second time that my good experience won't be replicated. In this instance, I particularly had some niggling--and totally unwarranted, as it turns out--doubts about my memory of what I had been proclaiming near and far to be the best potato salad in the world.

Barbecued tofu with potato salad
Southern fried tofu, collards, and potato salad
Southern fried tofu, biscuit and gravy, potato salad, peas.
Souley Vegan treats customers to a very laid back atmosphere. You walk in, order your food from the very nice lady at the front counter, pay, and then wait for your food to brought to you. The inside of the place is sunny and clean, and food is ordered by the item. Basically, you can get one item for $6 and pay $2 for each additional item. If you're an unapologetic newbie and want to try a little of everything, you can get a heaping sampler platter of just about every dish for $19 to which you can add red beans and rice and pile of fried okra for an additional $6. We went that way the first time we ate at Souley Vegan, but this time we were much more focused in our attentions. C ordered some okra to split with Matt, and they got it all to themselves because Diana and I don't have much to do with the stuff. Slimy, folks. Slimy. C also ordered the barbecued tofu, which comes smothered in an earthy, darkly sweet sauce. Matt, Diana, and I all opted for the southern fried tofu, a starchy-proteiny offering that the menu describes as better than fried catfish. I love me some fake fish, dear reader, and while this particular tofu isn't doing much in the way of trying to taste fishy, it is delicious. Imagine thick, marinated slabs of tender tofu generously breaded in a delectable, peppery cornmeal crust. The only item that I was not so impressed by was the biscuit and gravy that Matt ordered. The truth about this may well be that I'm a biscuit snob (add it to the list of ways in which my nose is permanently in the air), but I found the texture too cakey for my taste. I think a biscuit should be dense and flaky, and this was like a slightly savory muffin. Tasty, but not biscuity.

 We all got the potato salad, and Matt ordered black-eyed peas while Diana and I both picked the sauteed collards. And have I mentioned how amazing the potato salad is? Because it is. Amazing. Tangy and creamy, but not overly saucy. In general I'm underwhelmed by potato salad, and as I've stated, would generally rather save my carbs for sweets and liquor. This absolutely does not apply to the potato salad at Souley Vegan. It's a damned good thing I don't live in Oakland.


Anonymous said...

Agreed on the potato salad. It was the equal of my local (non-vegan) soul food joint, and then the scallions put it over the top.

The biscuit was not memorable, but the gravy was spicy and delightful, I thought.

Great pics, too.

- Matt

Mihl said...

The fried tofu looks amazing!

Marla said...

It is sooooo good, Mihl! If you come to San Francisco, I'll take you there!