Mommy, what's macrobiotic?
It sounds like a disease, or perhaps, the medicine used to treat a disease, but macrobiotic is defined simply as "The theory or practice of promoting well-being and longevity, principally by means of a diet consisting chiefly of whole grains and beans."
The theory and accompanying diet come from Japan by way of Europe, emphasizing organically grown whole foods that provide a balance between yin and yang properties.
Most sources break down the diet like this:
- Whole cereals: 50-60%
- Vegetables: 25-30%
- Beans: 10%
- Soup: 5-10%
- Seaweed: 5%
Fortunately, M Cafe de Chaya brings a little finesse to the macrobiotic lifestyle. Describing their fare as contemporary macrobiotic cuisine, M Cafe offers a broad range of dishes that even include healthy versions of naughty foods like cheesecake and chocolate truffles.
Their menu features breakfast, lunch and dinner items, with most of the food available on demand from a glass display case. The upside of this is that the food is available quickly, the downside being that if you go late in the day, which we did, the food may have been sitting out for a while. That's fine if you're getting a wrap or sandwich, but not so great for sushi...
M Cafe's Tuna Inari sushi sure looks pretty, all wrapped up in a tofu pouch with organic brown rice...
Didn't taste so pretty though... the tofu/rice pouch being completely soggy, the tuna stale. Maybe it's better if you get it made fresh.
The hummus and falafel wrap was much better...
A big tortilla chock full of hummus, falafel and veggies, with fresh whole wheat pasta salad and a tahini-soy yogurt dressing. This is big and filling - enough for one man or twelve actresses.
I had the "M" Chopped Salad, which was just OK...
Like the sushi, this tasted like it had been prepared six or seven hours earlier, and had been sitting out in the display case for most of the day. Even so, it was satisfying and seemed like it had potential - great tamari roasted almonds, and the tempeh "bac(fake)on" was an interesting touch... tasted almost like real bacon if you closed your eyes and visualized Ms. Piggy.
The ginger ale tasted more like sparkling apple cider (the Trader Joe's version is way better)
And by far the highlight of the meal was the tofu cheesecake.
Seriously? Tofu cheesecake (the name alone is such an oxymoron I can't stop saying it) is something most people would scoff at. I mean, if you're going to have cheesecake, why not just go for it and get the dense, fat-and-sugar-laden real stuff? I won't lie, I had my doubts about this one...
After tasting M Cafe's cheesecake though, I have to say I prefer the taste and texture of it over regular cheesecake - it's fluffy and creamy, not too sweet, and it feels light in your mouth and in your tummy. I usually get a stomachache with the regular stuff, so this is a good substitute. And yes, it really does taste like cheesecake... almost. Enough to be convincing.
Yes, I'm going to say it: tofu cheesecake is good.
You pay a bit of a premium for M Cafe's fare - about 2 to 3 dollars per entree over what you'd pay at a regular bistro or deli. But if you're into the healthy thing, the upcharge for quality, tasty, health-conscious food is probably worth it.
The best part? Starting in September, there'll be a Pinkberry next door. I have a feeling I'll be getting lunch at M Cafe much more often...
M Cafe de Chaya
7119 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA