Simply Food Vegetarian Restaurant - Where Healthy and Tasty Meet
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
Simply Food is located in the Seventh Day Adventist Mission Building in Agana Heights, next to the Seventh Day Adventist Church. It is Guam's only full-on vegetarian restaurant with a dining room, and is co-located with the Adventist Book and Food Center. It's hard to believe that my last review of Simply Food was in September 2001, although I've eaten here at least once if not twice a year since that review. It's the only place I go to where I feel like I'm appeasing my conscience, since most of what I eat is everything other than vegetarian. Though most of the food selection and atmosphere has remained the same, there are a few new menu changes, notably the Dinner Roll Mini Sandwich ($2.95, which includes 4 items from the list of sandwich fillers).
Simply Food is more than just a restaurant - it embodies a nutritional philosophy that emphasizes both spiritual and physical health, so it's no wonder I always feel a sense of elevation and completeness after dining there. The people who eat at Simply Food appreciate the straightforwardness of the foods that are served, and it's easy to understand why they are attracted to an eating experience they consider to be both wholesome and nutritious.
The Lunch Counter at Simply Food is open weekdays only from 11am-2pm, while the grocery store is open Mon-Thu from 8am-5:30pm, and from 8am-3pm on Friday. Food can be ordered for take-out or to eat in. Simply Food has a user-friendly do-it-yourself order menu, which has sections for the Daily Specials, Entrees, a la carte items, Sandwiches, Drinks, and Desserts.
It is amazing to see the range of food selections available. There seems to be something for every appetite and taste. Simply Food runs Daily Specials each month, and the special for Tuesday was a Vegetable Wrap with Brown Vegetable Rice and Black Bean Soup ($5.99), which was what I ordered. My companion ordered the Mushroom Loaf with Whole Wheat Rolls ($5.99). She added corn soup as an add on for $2, and I decided to try the Cheese Lasagna with Garlic Bread ($5.99), though I was tempted to do the Tofu Spinach Lasagna....guess my craving for cheese overcame my yearning for spinach! For drinks, my partner had a Tofu Shake (L $3.95), which blends one fruit juice (passion orange guava) with one fruit (strawberry). I went for a Smoothie (L $3.95), which blended my juice choice (guava) and a fruit (strawberry) with frozen yogurt. Once you complete your order sheet by checking and/or circling your selections, you turn it in and go find a table.
I happened to run into Senator "Bob" Klitzke who was reading at a table while awaiting his meal. He said he liked coming to Simply Food and even had a nickname for it, calling it "Soybean City"! Judging from the people I usually encounter at Simply Food, I am getting the impression that this place must be serving "brain food" since the customers are highly intelligent and avid readers.
The first to arrive was our soup orders. The corn soup was more like a corn chowder..it was so thick, with big sweet kernels of corn in a white, creamy base. It was flavorful. The black bean soup was less thick and was palatable, however, we both preferred the corn soup for taste. The first entree to arrive was the Mushroom Loaf. Though it looked like a plank of meat loaf covered in a white gravy, it tasted like corn stuffing, and even had a stuffing-like texture. It was garnished with a sprig of celery leaf and two cucumber slices. It was light, pleasing, and exactly what we'd ordered. The surprise of this dish were the whole wheat dinner rolls! These were two, dense, yeasty full-flavored, soft rolls that we could have eaten forever. These were fresh, home-baked roll (the same used in the Dinner Roll Mini Sandwich on the menu).
The Vegetable Wrap special was delivered next. I was glad I had the camera this time so I could share the image (the last review was done before we used photos). It was marvelous. It had a spinach flour tortilla shell surrounded by a cluster of fresh veggies, with a few beans and Stripples (soy bacon, which is a flavorful soy protein meat substitute, giving you all the smoked flavor of bacon sans fat!) The veggies included tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers and lettuce. The dipping sauce was a home-made ranch dressing, and the two wrap halves shared the plate with a mound of brown vegetable rice.
The Lasagna was served next. It looked really good, occupying about a third of the plate and couched by two big planks of garlic French bread. The thick crust of cheese was layered atop the molten red tomato sauce. When we started eating this, we realized that something wasn't quite right. There was too much tomato paste/sauce in this lasagne, and not enough pasta and cheese to bind it together. It wasn't bad, but I know it can be better since I'd ordered it before. My Smoothie was delicious, and lasted beyond my meal being a full 16 ounces.
If you are inclined to have sandwiches at Simply Food, you can design your own for $4.95 (choice of bread and four fillers) The bread choice includes 7-Grain, french bun, rye, whole wheat and Ezekiel, while the sandwich fillers (all non-meat products) range from Bolono, chicken, corned beef, salami, smoked beef, smoked turkey, Stripples and tofu. Also in the filler line-up are Tuno salad. Wham (soy ham), American cheese, Swiss and mozzarella cheese. You can also add avocado, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, onions, pickles, sauerkraut, sprouts, and tomatoes. Other sandwiches are the Tuno Salad, Reuben, and the Hard to Handle.
The other daily specials for August are:
Mondays - Tofu Steak with Mushroom Sauce, Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Vegetables
Tuesdays - Vegetable Wrap with Brown Vegetable Rice and Black Bean Soup
Wednesdays - Indian Rice and Curry with Lentils and Pumpkin Soup
Thursdays - Falafel, Hummus & Tabouli on Whole Wheat Pita and Tahini Minestrone
Fridays - Thai Curry with Brown Rice and Garlic Garbanzo Soup
Simply Food has a bakery that puts out loaves of Banana Bread, Carrot Cakes, muffins, and cookies. Some of these are stacked up near the check-out counter so you can buy them to take with you for the ride, or for a late-day snack. They also have a Baked Hot Dog Bun, that has a soy protein link baked inside a bun. This is a convenient snack item and the bun is whole wheat.
As we were paying our bill at the checkout counter, we were greeted by Sharon Schmidt, Simply Food's manager. She saw that we'd ordered the lasagna and apologized that it was a little off from it's normal consistency and composition. Apparently, one of the their key cooks was out. Though we did not complain, Sharon was proactive and offered us replacement coupons for a free lasagna, since she knew we weren't fully satisfied. That's an excellent example of customer service.
Simply Food allows diners a golden opportunity to enjoy guilt-free dining with their wide selection of flavorful quality foods that are both healthy and appetizing. Even the meat substitutes are tasty enough and have similar textures to the real meats being replace. The Soy Corned Beef on the Reuben Sandwich is close to the real thing with much fewer calories.
Try Simply Food for a healthy, inspired lunch, and be sure to invite someone you really care about. This kind of eating sustains and stimulates. It's simply food in which you can believe. Call 472-2382 to order take-out.