Friday, December 23, 2011

Raw Vegan Pad Thai from Organic Lives has bite

OrganicLives on Urbanspoon
You may have heard that Organic Lives opened a downtown Granville location last week in the Chopra Yoga Centre. I had had a delicious chocolate cake ("The Ridiculous") from them earlier this year, and was curious about their non-dessert menu.

The menu is raw (with the exception of some few ingredients in select items -- I was told the maple syrup in some dessert doesn't classify as raw), organic, and vegan, but you may not notice.

The Chopra Yoga Centre front desk is now divided into two parts. The reception desk on the left, and Organic Lives on the right. Yes, the entire kitchen is right behind the reception desk in the spacious lobby. Run by a single chef. The ladies behind the counter have a peaceful serenity that borders on the eerie, but I'm sure that's harmless.
Because it's a small space, the full menu from their larger store/restaurant on Quebec Street near Science World isn't available. The all-important chocolate cake is there, and a decent spread of choices.

I wanted a take-home item that would survive the trip and still look beautiful for my mom, so I was eyeing either the pad thai or the sushi. The chef wasn't so sure about the pad thai going for a long trek, but I didn't have far to go and she also agreed to have the sauces on the side.

PAD THAI - $15 - This beloved dish of Thailand comes to life with our fresh Young Thai coconut meat and kelp noodles combined with fresh herbs and spices tossed in a beautiful sauce inspired by our Young Thai coconut water.

What you get is quite a large portion of, essentially, a salad. The $15 price tag looks pricey, but the overall portion is decent enough for a lunch.
The "kelp noodles" look so much like vermicelli that my mom kept insisting it was. It's crunchier and (to me) just as tasteless. It's a bit tricky to tell the coconut from the cabbage if you're not paying attention to the look and crunch, but it's there. Overall, there's a fresh salad-like feel to the basic mix. It of course looks nothing like a traditional pad thai, which is predominantly a mound of rice noodle.

If you do a take-out, you get little containers of things to mix in: two portions of what looks like peanut sauce, one portion of a slightly hot translucent sauce that may be orange and chili, and some chopped up nuts.

I didn't notice the nuts once they went in. The hot sauce was an excellent addition and wasn't too hot. The muddy khaki sauce has a strong kick of ginger taste, and may daunt you if you tried it straight. Whatever you do, go easy with this on the pad thai. I didn't think they'd give me excess sauce so I poured it all in, but in hindsight that was a mistake. It quite overpowered everything and I missed a lot of the subtlety of the mixed veggie flavour of the salad. Even so, the result was still quite tasty but mostly for the cool, fresh, salad taste and the bite from the sauces.

There's a bit of bench space in the Chopra Yoga Centre, but not much. The Granville location of Organic Lives is really a beautiful, high-ceilinged, posh-looking takeout window. You also get to watch the chef patiently prepare your meal on the impeccably clean counter. No rushed beat-the-clock chopping and dicing here, which is a nice change. (I did, however, swing by at close to 3pm in the dead-time between lunch and dinner.)


  1. Hi Simon,

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  2. @Greg - Thank you Greg! I'll give it a go next time I have a restaurant review.