Walking up and down Duval Street, live music abounds, pouring out of restaurants, clubs, and dives onto the streets. The joint that we seemed most drawn to, however, was Willie T’s. It was an open-air, outdoor patio with some of the tables under an overhang. The genre seemed to be predominantly, if not exclusively, solo guitar rock / sometimes margaritaville-like male singers. Each evening, we’d stop and stand on the sidewalk, taking in the sights and sounds. We quickly came to a consensus regarding our favorite—John LaMere. His shtick was classic rock band covers. Geez, could he ever pull of a Mellencamp (as in John Cougar, John Cougar Mellencamp, now John Mellencamp)! It was not uncommon for me to break out in dance right there on the sidewalk! So, after our nightly sidewalk voyeuring, we decided that we would eat our final dinner at Willie T’s and arrive at the beginning of John LaMere’s set that evening. The menu was sparse for us vegans, with the expected “veggie” burger on the menu. I’ve come to learn to not have any great expectations for veggie burgers. It’s usually that standard garden burger that restaurant suppliers sell; and if it’s made in-house, it usually falls apart upon first bite. So, I went with the expectation of hearing some great music amidst a mediocre, run-of-the-mill meal veggie burger and fries. Was I in for a surprise! On the menu, they describe their veggie burger as “Made from scratch with six different Legumes, Brown Rice and lots of Veggies. Served with Red Pepper Jam, Lettuce, Tomato and Sprouts on a Sesame Roll”.
Oh my! It was divine! The burger had so much flavor. While it contained legumes, beans was not at all the pronounced flavor. It was a fusion of all the flavors, melding into one delectable and sapid taste. And the burger held together after each and every bite! Bean burger be gone! Arrived is the Willie T’s Veggie Burger. They must package that thing and get it on the market. Honest. If you go to Key West, you must have their veggie burger. Sure to please!
Directly across from The Café was what appeared to be a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant. If it weren’t for the name, Kojin Noodle Bar (they had me at the word ‘noodle’), I would have walked straight passed it. We were out and about mid-way through our journey and on our way to lunch at The Café, when Richard suggested that since we had eaten there twice already and I was partaking of my nightly slice of coconut cake, that we try something different. Sounded like a reasonable suggestion, so I left it up to him where we would go. We crossed the street, and into Kojin we went.
Richard ordered their Miso Hot Pot, and I their Saigon Salad with Rice Noodles.
Richard’s came in this lovely clay pot with a lid. Tofu, black sesame seeds, and a variety of crispy vegetables perched along the surface while swimming underneath lie the soba noodles and spring vegetables. The broth was a rather savory and umami blonde miso broth.
Soba noodles created the foundation of my salad, with a variety of green veggies attractively arranged on top. Their sat a handful of cilantro (I Love cilantro, so asked for extra), cucumber, jalapeno, scallions, cucumber, Chinese cabbage, and limes. Tofu, chopped peanuts, and white and black sesame seeds topped the veggies. While the dressing was not at all discernible to the eye, it coated the salad with just enough punch to provide a flavor contrast while avoiding overtaking any of the salad’s ingredients. Each ingredient stood on its own, receiving a complimentary nod from the dressing. Outstanding.
We had such a wonderful meal that we went back another evening for dinner. Having tasted Richard’s Miso Hot pot on our first excursion there, I decided, hands down, I was having that.
Richard had a hankering for Pho, so he ordered it with tofu.
As you can see from the photo, he was delighted with his selection.
A small restaurant putting out dishes with big flavor. Definitely not to be missed on any visit to Key West.
So, after nine days, it was time to board the plane and bid “Adieu” , “Adios”, “Ciao”, “Shalom”, “auf Wiedersehen “, “Sayonara”, “Au Revoir”, “Arrivederci”, “Hasta la vista, Baby”, with “I’ll Be Back”.