Wednesday, August 18, 2010

All Board! -- Orean the Health Express

My latest food meanderings resulted in a stop to Orean the Health Express, a drive-thru (and walk-up, if desired) establishment in Pasadena, CA.

And of course, "drive-thru" = fast food! I have good memories of downing a Big'n Tasty burger from McDonald's once during high school, and less-than-good memories of my parents feeding us 29-cent hamburgers and 39-cent cheeseburgers for breakfast on many mornings.

I'll cut to the chase. I ordered an Orean Cheese Burger and Chili Fries, two things I normally wouldn't have, but you've guessed it right if you thought to yourself, "This place must be vegan."

So look again at my burger and fry gluttony. Yes, I pretty much ate all of that, sans a bun and a heaping of chili that I saved for another day. Sure, I had run 6 miles and did weights in the morning, followed by a decently small breakfast. But look at that -- wow, my stomach was reeling, but my sense of adventure was indeed fueled.

Note: I added more desciptions as I've made subsequent visits to this place. =/ Haven't gained any weight yet, though I think I've already gotten a good sampling of the menu and don't plan on going back anytime soon ("The Ukrainian" made me agree to this for at least a month, because vegan or not, he doesn't think it's good for me).

Note 2: Their soy ice cream and cheese are rumored to contain casein, a milk protein. I'm not sure if I'm allergic to casein, but no mal effects yet. But yeah, if you are a strict vegan, I would be wary.

Cheese Burger: I know the pic doesn't do it justice, but it's actually pretty sloppy on the inside. Top bun was sprouted and then doused in BBQ and some sort of mayo. I didn't want to eat it, but I did due to my weakness to mayo. Some green lettuce and tomato followed, and then the patty. The patty was made out of some sorts of grain... I could not tell, really. It was moist though kind of fell apart after a while. Bottom bun contained relish, a pickle, plenty of mustard, and shredded fake cheddar cheese of some sort.

My overall impression of the burger was: yum! Definitely tasted WAY better than anything I can get at McD's.

Chili Fries: The fries at this place are "air"/oven-baked. That didn't make me feel much better about eating a copious amount of them, but at least the fact is out there. I like air fries more than normal fries, and not just because of health reasons. I think they come out crunchier, which is a big plus. The chili was nothing ununsual... a lot of pinto-type beans and TVP standing in for meat. I've had better veggie chili, but this was still yummy.

Chai Milkshake: Thick, and oh-so-creamy! The right amount of sweetness. If you're lactose intolerant and miss shakes, you gotta have one! I liked this because it did not cause me to have an itchy throat like cold dairy can give me, but then again, I only had the first inch of this big cup.

Chicken-O-Nuggets: Mmm, deep-fried texturized vegetable protein... very meaty, a little greasy, and comes with BBQ sauce and poor-quality coleslaw that tasted limp, not enough mayo or vinegar, and pepper?

Mata Burrito (not pictured -- @#$% camera!): Huge and warm, served in a whole wheat tortilla and is sort of like fajitas -- onions, bell peppers, some sort of crumbly soy meat, cabbage, and fake seitan(?) beef. All in all, good. I had about 1/6 of it. This burrito can probably make lunch for three days. =)

I know that fast food is still fast food, vegan or not. I downed a lot of carbs and unnecessary fats in that meal, but it definitely has put me off to the idea of more fast food for a while. However, I did get inspired to make some version of this for "The Ukrainian" if I don't take him here first. Still, I did spend about $10 on the burger and fry gorge-fest, so maybe it would be good to learn to make this stuff.

Finally, I learned something new about Pasadena while coming here, which is that it is definitely not uniformly glamorous. This place sits in a bit of a shady area of town, about 2.5 miles away from the beauty of Old Town Pasadena. There were several other drive-thrus on the same block, as if knowing that nobody in the right mind would want to really dine there. People walk across the streets with disregard for lights....


  1. Shady area in Pasadena? Let me tell you - when I was in High School, Muir High was in our league. It was always a scary ride on the bus to get there!

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