Turlock: the town with no tofu.
Or canned lentils.
I didn’t think either of these things were luxuries before I arrived in Merced County.
But after being there for four weeks, I will never take tofu or tinned lentils for granted ever again.
And surprisingly, in the town of no tofu, we managed to find a nice pub for dinner that had almost 10 vegan options, as well as North Nomad’s favourite delicacies.
We arrived at 10 East Kitchen & Taphouse just before 7pm on a balmy, sunny evening. We figured in a small town, we wouldn’t need to arrive early to get a good set. We couldn’t have been more wrong.
The Taphouse was packed! It seems every person in every neighbouring town descends on this place on a Friday afternoon. And not only was it jam-packed, the ladies were dressed up to the nines for the local pub.
However, the pub is well-equipped for these numbers. We gave our number to the host, who promised us we’d receive a text telling us when our table was ready.
At this point, it’s clear they don’t get out of towners much. The host has to ask me to repeat everything I say, and the waitress next to her grins every time I open my mouth. Their reaction to accents is kind of cute and endearing.
Surprisingly, our table is ready within 10 minutes. We barely managed a walk up the main street and back.
At the table, our server Nick confirms our suspicions that Turlock doesn’t get many tourists. He’s a lovely guy who looks like he might have been a highschool football player with his big shoulders. “So, what brings you… here…?” he asks, seeming a little bemused.
After a chat, he leaves us with the menus to mull over, and he comes back a little while later to answer any questions. After many microwave meals in the RV, North Nomad is a bit spoilt for choice with many meals he loves on the menu: fish and chips, a variety of spiced ribs, and a variety of burgers and pizzas.
I’d done a bit of a reccie before we’d arrived and noticed two vegan friendly options on the menu – the lettuce cup made with spicy Gardein (an American mock meat company that is wildly popular over here) that sounded similar to Sang Choy Bow, and Thai Rice Paper Spring Rolls.
But the restaurant menu had a little leaf next to 10 or so menu options, with an indicator down the bottom that these could be made vegetarian or vegan.
Quite chuffed at the variety, I asked Nick about the vegan options. He honestly went a bit pale and politely, but nervously said “As you can see there are many options.” I quickly asked for the Asian Five Spice Rice Bowl with Gardein Chicken to put the poor bugger out of his misery.
The Taphouse has a great cocktail selection and some impressive looking bartending/flaring going on. I went for the Moscow Mule and North Nomad chose the Honey Bee – Honey Jack Daniels, triple sec and lemonade. He’s not fussed on his (more of a plain JD man), but mine is delicious, and I feel surprisingly tanked after just one drink.
North Nomad’s pizza arrives – the All Meat Madness. It’s made with marinara sauce, pepperoni , linguica, spicy italian sausage, bacon, mushrooms, olives and red onions.
In true North Nomad style, he orders it without the last three items. It’s a monstrous size and could easily feed two people. Lucky he’s hungry!
My Asian Five Spice Bowl arrives and smells deliciously fragrant. I tuck in quickly. It’s been a while since I’ve had an Asian inspired meal that actually still tastes Asian.
The squash, zucchini, carrots and bean sprouts soak up the loveliness of the five spice. The sticky rice is less sticky than the rice I’ve had made by Japanese or Chinese people, but it’s still cooked nicely.
It’s topped with Gardein 7 Grain Crispy “Chick’n” Tenders * (if you’re interested I’ll list the ingredients at the end of the post). This Gardein mock meat stuff is something I’m trying to get used to in the Northern Hemisphere. I’m not a huge fan of processed meals unless they’re chips or deep fried tofu, but I’m getting used to Gardein when we’re in a bind with meals for me in some of the more remote U.S. locations we visit.
Nick comes over to ask how we’re liking our meals. My response isn’t necessary – he laughs as I’ve managed to polish off everything on my plate. I was hungry, I protested! Similarly, North Nomad finished his entire pizza.
We left for our drive back to Delhi (pronounced DELL-HIGH in the States, not the way they pronounce it in New Delhi in India), satisfied after a really lovely meal.
It’s unlikely you will ever have any reason to go through Turlock (seriously), but if you do, we can highly recommend 10 East & Taphouse – good food, good drinks, lovely service, and a nice atmosphere.
Gardein 7 Grain Crispy “Chick’n” Tenders Ingredients – taken from Gardein:
gardein: water, soy protein isolate*, vital wheat gluten*, expeller pressed/canola oil, organic ancient grain flour (kamut ®, amaranth, millet, quinoa), natural flavor (from plant sources), modified vegetable gum, yeast extract, sea salt, organic cane sugar, potato starch, onion powder, garlic powder, pea protein, vinegar, carrot fiber, beetroot fiber, extractives of paprika and turmeric. seven grain breading: wheat flour*, water, rice flour, oat bran, oats, salt, sugar, spices, millet flour, amaranth flour, quinoa flour, kamut®, leavening (sodium bicarbonate, cream of tartar), yeast, extractives of paprika. *Non-genetically engineered soy and wheat.
Cost: Around $55 incl of tax and tip.
Location & Contact Details: 10 EAST MAIN STREET, TURLOCK, CA 95380 (209) 669-1010
You can connect with South Nomad, Jessica, over at Google+.