Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Real Food Daily - Santa Monica, CA

Before cake decorating, my friend K and I had dinner at Real Food Daily. It's an organic, vegan restaurant in Santa Monica. I parked my car by it last week and noticed that there was a lot of foot traffic going in and out of this place so I suggested we go try it out this week.

There's a restaurant and a bakery right next to each other. They serve the same items, but I guess one is used mostly for take out. We went to the restaurant and were seated at the second floor loft area. I really wanted to try their baked goods but I was too full after the meal to venture next door. I will have to check it out next time.

My friend ordered the pizza and I order their monthly special. Her pizza had a herb corn meal crust, which was wheat and gluten free, with sun-dried tomato pesto, tomatoes, spinach, basil, melted cashew and mozzarella cheese. There was a pile of sauteed kale with cannelini beans on top. Now the menu said it had "cashew and mozzarella cheese" but I thought vegans don't eat cheese. So maybe it's cashew cheese that looks like mozzarella? Anyhow, it sure looked like cheese and tasted like cheese, but I guess it wasn't cheese? hahaha.

The pizza was pretty good, tasted like regular pizza to me with a thick cracker-like base. I ordered their month special, which was called "On the Mexican Riviera." It was a pecan-cornmeal crusted tempeh. What is tempeh, you ask? According to wikipedia, "Tempeh or tempe in Javanese, is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form." So basically a dense piece of soybean paste from Java (I learned something new today). I think they even have tempeh bacon, so they make all sorts of things out of tempeh.

My dish came with coconut yams, sauteed kale, spicy black bean sauce and mango salsa. The coconut yams and kale were pretty good. I am usually not a fan of sweet salsa or fruit in salsa, but I ate the whole thing somehow because I was intrigued by the things I was eating. I took a bite of the tempeh and thought, it tasted really weird but at the same time, it had a very familiar taste to it. So then I took another bite of the tempeh with the black bean sauce to see if that helped and then another bite with the yams and you could see where I was headed. I almost cleared my plate if the waiter hadn't come and asked if we wanted to-go boxes. And then it registered in my brain that I was really full. However, after countless variations of potential flavor combinations with tempeh, I am pretty sure tempeh tastes like chung-gook-jang. You know that super fermented soy bean paste that your grandma makes stew with and it fills the whole house with its pungent odor for days. Yes, that one, except those Javanese people somehow managed to package it in one compact square, to which the people at Real Food Daily coated in pecan and cornmeal and added a Mexican twist. Don't let them fool you folks, it's chung-gook-jang in fancy packaging. =) It was interesting though and I enjoyed the texture and taste, particularly with the sauces and side dishes.
I was definitely full afterwards from the meal but the food wasn't like a ton of bricks in my stomach either. Maybe this is why people eat healthy? It was definitely interesting and I'll be sure to take my health-nut friend J when she comes to town. [It had your name written all over it J. On each table they had a bottle of sesame seeds and I totally thought of you.]

If you're in the mood for vegan or vegetarian food, definitely check this place out. They had a wide selection of salads, soups, sandwiches, pastas and Mexican-inspired dishes and from the looks of it, a pretty extensive baked good section.

Real Food Daily
514 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401


  1. ooh, i'm excited you tried this place. i've been meaning to try it for years now and now that i've seen the yummy pictures, i'm all the more excited to check it out. looks super interesting and yum. not a big fan of tempeh but i'm sure preparation is a big factor.

    next time im in LA! :)

  2. Wow, I really am new to LA. I had no clue it's been around that long. But yeah, next time you're in LA, let's try their desserts.