Oyster Po’ Boy

A Vegan Tasting Adventure

The Chopper, a jackfruit burger served at Spokes Grill, was a different experience altogether. The patty, which had masala-inspired flavors, tasted nothing like a meat patty. Levin explained that the goal was not to replicate meat but to create another dish entirely. The burger was unique in its spices and ingredients and incorporated a striking flavor in the patty. I was expecting some jackfruit texture, but the patty was more mashed potato than anything. It was topped with a crunchy mix of fried jalapenos and onions, adding a nice texture contrast to the soft patty. The burger opened my eyes to a new use for jackfruit, and I think vegan dishes that don’t attempt meat imitation absolutely need more representation on menus.

For the third and final entree, the Oyster Mushroom Carnitas Tacos, I biked to the outskirts of campus to access the remote Scrubs Cafe. This time, I was able to talk to Sous Chef Michael Chiu, another important contributor to the vegan dishes. Chiu said that the king oyster carnitas, a slight variation of the species of oyster mushrooms used in the po’ boy, was aimed to replicate the texture and look of pulled pork, but not so much the taste. The goal, like for the po’ boy, was to reach a larger audience by altering a traditionally meat dish. The mushroom carnitas had a chewy feel and a slight char that contributed to its textual complexity. They were topped with onions and cilantro and placed on corn tortillas with a bright, delicious avocado “crema” infused with charred scallions and jalapeno. The tacos were light and refreshing, and I washed the delectable dish down with a complementary Thai tea boba, a bittersweet farewell to my culinary expedition.

I thought the tacos and po’ boy dishes were both strong competitors, but the po’ boy was a clear winner in creativity and depth of flavour. I quickly sent in my supporting vote after the experience, and I hope these dishes become popular enough to earn a permanent place on the menu. Overall, this was an enlightening experience in the nuances of vegan cuisine and a spectacular time to be a student reporter.


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