Eating & Drinking

CHEAP EATS: Top 11 Foodie Finds for the Frugal Veg*n

What’s a veg*n? It’s code for vegan and vegetarian; the cheap bites on this list are vegetarian and either vegan, or can be made vegan. Here we’ve assembled a few finds from the list of 50+ Cheap Eats.
Full list here –> goo.gl/2ojWV4

1. Green Door buffet

Since 1988, the kitchen has been peeling and chopping and whirring and kneading and showing no sign of doing anything other than getting tastier and tastier and more and more inventive. The daily veggie buffet is priced by weight. Think light or pile it on, depending on your hunger and your wallet. The Green Door Restaurant, $21/kg; $23.75/kg for dessert items. 198 Main St., 613-234-9597

2. Cocoa hemp bites

Zhara Ali says it all started the day she forgot her lunch. Scanning the cafeteria’s offerings, she told the cashier, “I love this place, but you don’t have what I want.” Next day, Ali, owner of Healthy Superfoods, took a package of her sweet little cocoa hemp bites to the cafeteria as an example of the food she had been looking for. The clerk “didn’t even try one” but did start selling them. Next day? Sold out. These darlings look for all the world like truffles. After all, there is that delicious chocolatey coconutiness. And what’s not to like about crunchy peanut butter? (Oh Henry! anyone?) The mysterious perfumed sweetness? Dates! Now you can congratulate yourself on eating healthy hemp seeds. All’s cool. $4.49 for four. Herb & Spice Shop, 375 Bank St., 613-232-4087.

3. Spinach Pie

“Freshly prepared each day and served warm, the spinach pies from Aladdin Bakery are the size of your head, only a few bucks, and they’ll fill your tummy. This shop fills with high school students at lunch but functions like a well-oiled machine — you’ll never wait more than three or four minutes.” – Chef Mandi Loo of the now defunct Auntie Loo’s Treats. 🙁 Find the pies at Aladdin Bakery, 1801 Carling Ave., 613-728-5331.

4. Cold green bean noodles

Anyone who has visited Beijing in summertime appreciates any relief afforded from such scorching heat. Eating liang fen is one way. By green beans, Frank Pay means the mung beans used to make these slippery, translucent noodles. At his Harmony Restaurant, Pay himself makes them. The sauce? Simply soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and chilies. Bring on the heat! $2.95. Harmony Restaurant, 769  Gladstone Ave., 613-234-9379.

5. Vegetarian leftovers

Stroll through the doors of the jam-packed Vaishali’s Super Store, then immediately turn left and head for the pop fridge with the faded 7-Up sign. That’s where they stash the 500-mL containers of leftover curries from busy Little India Café next door. At $5.99, veggie curries such as baiganbharta (spicy eggplant) and alooghobi masala (potatoes, cauliflower, and tomatoes) are a steal. Prepare your own rice, and you have dinner for two for $13, tax included. Heck, with the money you’ve saved, you might consider splurging on an Indian sweet or a $1.99 kulfipopsicle for dessert. Vaishali’s Super Store, 62 Wylie Ave., 613-721-0318.

6. Olive fougasse

Where else in the Ottawa-Outaouais region do you find such fat fougasse? Only at Gatineau bakery La balade des douceurs. Michel Pépin, baker and co-owner, keeps memories of his native France alive with these stuffed breads. One is made with humungous green and black olives. No better lunch than this, to boot! $4.95. Two locations: 1540, boul. Gréber, Gatineau (Gatineau sector), 819-205-1288; 166, rue Montcalm, Gatineau (Hull sector), 819-205-7088.

7. Kolo

“After work, the family always gathers together to talk about their day,” says Samuel Demissie, owner of confectionery Royal Variety. “During that time, especially, we [nibble on] kolo.” The English have their crisps, the Indians their spicy-sweet chevda. Meanwhile, in any Ethiopian merkato, find paper cones of this roasted barley and peanut mix. Nutty and crunchy, with just a touch of salt.
$2.50. Royal Variety, 260 Bank St., 613-235-7797.

8. Potato quarma

Quarma, ghormeh, qorma, korma — all names for braised dishes, whether Iranian lamb, Tajikistani chicken, or Sri Lankan aubergine. At Afghani Kabob Express, manager SharifaAsiel makes hers simply with potatoes. But potatoes like you’ve never had before. The creamy sauce is rich with caramelized onions and, as Asiel says, spices that “warm the tongue.” $4.99. Afghani Kabob Express, 240 Bank St., 613-593-8880.

9. Sambussas

Looking for party food? Make a platter of sambussas, Ethiopia’s refined answer to samosas.
Too much like work? Then order ahead at the Blue Nile. Co-owner TsedayKassa makes her vegetable sambussas with thinly rolled yeast dough, filling them with curried sweet onions, lentils, and green beans. Deep-fried, these deeply golden turnovers are soft and delicate. Once tried, you’ll never forget them. $1.50. Blue Nile, 577 Gladstone Ave., 613-321-0774.

10.  Za’atar pie

Breakfast? Lunch? “Sit here anytime, and you’ll see how many people come in for manakishbi’lza’atar,” says Mohamad Farhat, manager of Aladdin Bakery’s Carling Avenue location. From breakfast to suppertime, za’atar pita is the ultimate quick fix. Za’atar, an earthy Middle Eastern spice mixture, includes thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac. Add olives, tomatoes, and onions to your pie. Eat like a queen for a shade under $3. Aladdin Bakery, 1801 Carling Ave., 613-728-5331; 1020 St. Laurent Blvd., 613-742-4244.

11. The Skinny Kitty

Vegetarians can finally get their (faux) meat-on-a-stick fix. The familiar, is-it-really-meat-free Yves tofu hotdog is dipped in house-made corn-dog batter, which is flecked with herbs to offer that perfect, sinful mix of deep-fried salty goodness. $5.50. Hintonburger, 1096 Wellington St. W., 613-724-4676.~SP