Ananda Fuara - Vegetarian Restaurant
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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 juicy rose.

…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.

Meditative meals

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 only.

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.