The road to enlightened eating goes through Ananda Fuara
San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, March 22, 2003
By Lord Martine
Don’t freak out when you drift into this blissful loft
brushed by puffy white clouds and blushing baby blue. This
is Ananda Fuara – a vegetarian’s paradise –
where everything is beautiful, all the time.
I’m like a bird….
And don’t wrinkle your nose at those obscure images
of a particular bald fellow shaking hands with the pope in
one still, then lifting 400 pound dumbbells in the next. And
don’t for an instant get queasy about the TV monitor
of the same old guy glopping paint onto paper with sea sponges
and rags, or think it s simulcast of craft day from a nearby
nursing home. That’s Sri Chinmoy – a living guru
to the people who run Ananda Fuara -- expressing himself.
Om Shanti. (That means peace.)
The serenity reaches up, up, up into the ceilings trimmed
in the brightest white where a lush of philodendrons sprawl.
Streams of sunlight are diffused by sheer valances that fade
from cobalt blue to violet. And the powder blue table tops,
white chairs and denim-blue carpet emit calm, ecstasy, Shangri-la.
Cards on tabletops read: “May my soul-bird everyday
teach my heart a sweet devotion-melody.” These are wise
words by Chinmoy.
Like the winged beasts referenced in writing and in sketch
all over the menu, the waitresses of Ananda Fuara flutter
about wrapped in sarongs printed pretty with springy flower
buds in Grimace grape, earthy split pea greet, turquoise and
…I’ll only fly away…
Near the cash register are shelves of books, all written
by Chinmoy. Some are available to read at your table. Others,
for sale, sport titles such as: “Harmony,” “Imagine,”
“Opportunity,” “Sun Moon and Stars.”
Chinmoy sings, too. Of his albums are, “Songs of the
Soul” and “Journey Beyond Within.”
Chinmoy is a lot like a Martha Stewart of the divine.
Purchase mugs ($10 each) that depict Ganesh– a Hindu
god who resembles an elephant.
Or if you’ve got the cruds, consider the Neera Detox
Diet – a system of heavy syrup and spices with which
you fast. The package claims that you’ll detoxify and
lose 7-12 pounds in one week for $44.95.
…I don’t know where my soul is….
The vittles at Ananda Fuara are of unearthly nirvana. On
the day of our visit, the Peace Special was a Mexican tofu
casserole for $8.95. But we opted for something more grounded.
For starters, we had the vegan Samosas (2 for $3.95) –
fried pastry pockets filled with potato, peas and curry served
with a mango chutney.
Ananda Fuara also offers crispy salads topped with house-made
dressings of lemon tahini, sesame herb, Dijon vinaigrette,
honey mustard, blue cheese and oil and vinegar. Picking include
the “enchanted garden salad” ($5.75), a mountain
of red lettuce with mixed organic greens, zucchini, carrots,
cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes and toasted sunflower seed; and
the “infinite blue” ($6.75) of sautéed
zucchini, broccoli, mushroom, red cabbage, onion and brown
rice over a bed of lettuce, topped with blue cheese.
On her path to enlightenment, my lunch mate passed on the
eggplant hero sandwich ($5.75) of house-made breaded eggplant
slices on a sourdough roll with zippy Italian sauce and Parmesan.
She went for their best-seller, called the “neatloaf
sandwich” ($6.75), which is two thick and tasty slices
of matter made of grains, egg, ricotta cheese, tofu and spices
blended and baked, then topped with a tangy tomato-based sauce.
I nabbed the potato-tofu ravioli entrée ($8.95), which
commenced with a perky bowl of Hungarian mushroom soup. The
ravioli is served with a fresh marinara sauce and two slices
if toasted garlic bread.
You must try the lhassi ($2.50), an invigorating beverage
made with yogurt, cardamom, rose water and sugar. The mango
version is yours for $3.50. Euphoria.
Achieve total illumination with Ananda Fuara’s selection
of loose teas and desserts that include “prana tea”
($1.75), a blend of five herbs made to energize; “enerchi”
($1.95), a rejuvenating tonic of Siberian ginseng, ginger,
jujube dates and licorice; apple mountain cake ($1.75); vegan
mango cake ($2.50); apricot carrot bread ($1.75); vegan mocha
fudge cake ($2.75).
Oh good Lord, have mercy.
Ananda Fuara, 1298 Market Street (at 9th Street); (415) 621-1994.
8am-8pm, Monday-Saturday, except Wednesday, when the restaurant
closes at 3pm. Sunday brunch once a month (the next will be
served from 10 am-2pm Sunday), otherwise closed Sundays. Cash
Ananda Fuara closes for special events so it’s best
to call ahead. The restaurant usually shuts down the second
and third weeks of April, so that followers can attend a celebration
of Sri Chinmoy’s arrival in the West, and the third
and fourth weeks of August to celebrate his birthday.
Guru: It’s a good gig, if you can get it.
Song lyrics by Nelly Furtado
(Caption on photo):
Ananda Fuara vegetarian restaurant is run by the followers
of guru Sri Chinmoy, whose images and sayings add a serene
touch to the dining room.