For a taste of Buddhist-style Vietnamese vegetarian, check out Thien Tam. It’s a Viet joint with $6 dishes. There’s not much to drink besides tea and water. “The interior decor is garish: deep maroon walls with white wall tiles coupled with black and white tiles in a checkerboard pattern,” says raytamsgv. “You can’t miss the Buddhist theme in the restaurant, ranging from the pictures on the walls to the CDs and pamphlets by the door.”

But the food! The food varies from decent to absolutely awesome. Com bi nem nuong—grilled “ham” strips with rice and shredded tofu—is tasty, with a reasonable impersonation of the Vietnamese pork meatball, nem nuong.

Com ga hai nam—Hainanese “chicken” with rice—is excellent, with a nice bowl of ginger sauce to pour over the faux chicken and rice. The mock chicken is well-prepared, resembling chicken thigh in color and texture. “This dish might actually fool an omnivore into thinking that it’s a meat dish,” says raytamsgv, who also tried com ga xao xa ot—”chicken” in lemongrass and chile sauce. “The combination of the lemongrass and chili was an absolute delight—easily my favorite dish there,” says raytamsgv.

The food is mostly vegan with a few vegetarian things, mostly involving egg noodles.

Thien Tam [San Gabriel Valley]
10345 E. Garvey Avenue, El Monte

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