At first, Tin Drum Asia Café's rapid service and bright decor evoke the aromatic street stands of Hong Kong, where founder Steven Chan ate throughout his childhood. The traditional ambiance is no accident—the franchise's name also harks back to a bygone era, when a tin drummer would awaken citizens and regale them with current events as they ate the day’s first meal. The electronic kiosks dotting the café, however, plunk this traditional scene in the middle of a cyberpunk setting. They allow patrons to customize their orders based on taste preferences and nutritional content, accommodating dietary endeavors such as vegetarianism and weight-loss goals.
This merger of technology and urban convention reflects a penchant for edgy ideas that also affects the menu. Items inspired by the culinary techniques of Japan, China, Vietnam, and Thailand share space in the savory catalog, taking the form of street tacos, soups, and mango chicken, a take on the general tso's staple that's sweeter than a syrup-soaked army helmet. Music is the final ingredient that charges the atmosphere. Nation's Restaurant News reports that it typically plays at an energizing 120 beats per minute and was a factor in attracting the café's initial college crowds.
Humanitarian and spiritual leader Supreme Master Ching Hai is the mastermind responsible for Loving Hut, a vegan restaurant chain awarded VegNews' Favorite Restaurant Worldwide in 2010. Each Loving Hut location's menu and philosophy is rooted in the idea that a plant-based diet is healthier and more sustainable for the planet. The restaurants span 13 countries including Taiwan and New Zealand, and each offers a 100% plant-based menu of gourmet vegan cuisine. Traditional meat dishes are replicated with tofu, soy proteins, and fresh vegetables. The menus are customized to reflect local cuisine and include chef’s specials that recreate regional dishes, which diners eat as the staff plays the country’s anthem enthusiastically on the tambourine.
At Soul Vegetarian, gravy cascades over the burgers and country-fried steaks and creamy cucumber sauce nestles into a gyro pocket. This picture of decadence aside, even as the chefs eschew animal products, they also avoid heavy fats or preservatives. The result is a surprisingly healthy take on classic Southern cuisine, including macaroni and cheese and cornbread. Savory protein comes in the form of tofu, lentils, and a flexible vegetable-protein roast they've dubbed "kalebone."
Even dessert has a healthy side at Soul Vegetarian. Blenders whir with fruit smoothies and soy shakes, many of which incorporate nutrient-dense foods such as coconut milk and almond butter, and even energy or protein supplements. To make perfectly creamy shakes, the restaurant's food inventors created the soy-based Dream Kream?also available by the scoop.
Cooks at The Big Easy Cafe stir pots of grits and stuff po-boy sandwiches with fried oysters and crawfish. In addition to the Cajun classics of seafood gumbo and jambalaya with Andouille sausage, the chefs also grill Angus beef bacon cheeseburgers and toss blackened chicken in crisp caesar salads.
At iBangkok Thai Restaurant, a casual-yet-elegant ambiance sets the stage for enjoying classic fare. Diners can discover pad thai creations, including one dish that incorporates sautéed thin rice noodles with eggs, bean sprouts, and green onion. Guests with a taste for something spicy can try out one of the curry dishes, which iBangkok makes with coconut milk. After the meal—and instead of gnawing on a piece of dried ice chiseled into the shape of a mint—guests can cool off tongues with special Thai treats such as iced tea and coconut ice cream.
As a high-school student, Dennis Rattiner reached down to pick up a leaf blower and heard an ominous pop in his lower back. He was bedridden for days with pain. At the suggestion of a friend, he paid a visit to a chiropractor, which alleviated his discomfort without the use of drugs or surgery. From then on, he sought to help people in the same way.
Now the owner and head chiropractor at Progressive Healthcare of Gwinnett, Doctor of Chiropractic Rattiner treats patients for ailments including disk herniations, arthritis, and back and neck pain. His massage therapists and chiropractors rehabilitate patients through physical therapy, mollify aches with Swedish and deep-tissue massages, and help clients shed pounds with weight-loss programs and donuts made of antimatter.