Seed Kitchen: Venice's Macrobiotic Vegan Cafe

We were offered a hosted lunch at Venice's Seed Kitchen, the newish Japanese-American fusion vegan macrobiotic restaurant brought to you by Sanae Suzuki and her husband Eric Lechasseur (formerly of M Cafe de Chaya). So we thought, why the heck not? By the way, this review is completely from the standpoint of a non-veggie. But here's a review of Seed by an actual vegan from Quarrygirl.com to give you that perspective, too.

We dragged a friend with us to visit the restaurant on a weekday. Our friend is more into the healthy food than we are, she being a regular Whole Foods and farmers' market shopper, so we figured she'd be able to lend a more knowledgeable perspective on whether the non-meat tastes good or not.

We ordered the Thai coconut red curry ($13.95) with seitan (say-tan) which is a wheat meat substitute. We figured the spicy savoriness of the coconut red curry would be enough to mask the flavorlessness of non-meat. We even had the shakers of spices like shisho powder and sesame salt at the ready. But turns out we didn't have to worry as the seitan's quality was pretty damn good--it wasn't rubbery or spongy or even bland like tofu. And it actually made us salivate.

The Thai coconut curry dish itself was made with fresh broccoli, zucchini, potatoes, snow peas and carrot. Not exactly as yummy as our favorite Thai place's curry dish but good enough. The seitan is what really stole the show though.

Our friend ordered the Saisai donburi macro bowl with seitan ($14.95). We weren't familiar with half its ingredients like kabocha, arame and daily bean but she seemed to like it a lot (By the way, the restaurant's Web site features a glossary of the ingredients for those unfamiliar with all the different types of health food terms.)

Besides the curry bowls and one-dish grain bowls, Seed also offers paninis, burgers and salads. For drinks you can choose from the likes of barley iced tea, artisan soft drinks and organic coffee.

There's even dessert, made with maple or brown rice sweetener. A refrigerated glass case by the counter displayed a beautiful selection of cupcakes, cookies, truffles and mousses but we were, of course, intrigued by the cupcakes. We picked the vanilla coconut and chocolate while our friend went for a couple of green tea cupcakes for her and her boyfriend.

These cakes sort of looked like muffins topped with a high hat of cream but we were optimistic. Unfortunately it was misplaced hope as when we tried the cupcakes later we found them to be very bland. They didn't taste like the flavors they were supposed to represent and instead of a cupcake texture they truly did have the density of muffins.

Our friend wanted to call her boyfriend to tell him to not even bother taking a bite of the green tea cupcake she left on his desk. Yeah, we took no pleasure in these desserts. But then again, we had to think of this from the perspective of a healthy eater.

Perhaps someone not exposed to the likes of Sprinkles, someone who always ate healthy and cut sugar from their diet would LOVE these cupcakes. They wouldn't know what our standards of a good cupcake tastes like and therefore they wouldn't be missing out on anything.

Ah well, at least the faux meat tasted good.

The prices ($9 and over) for the dishes make it difficult for us to consider Seed a regular lunch spot but it would be good for a casual dinner. We'd pick it over vegetarian-friendly Mao's Kitchen down the street for that; not crazy about the food there. There's even a metered parking lot out front.

Seed Kitchen
1604 Pacific Avenue, Venice (map)
(310) 396-1604
Hours: Daily 10am-9pm