AFter 4 years of living in LA, yesterday was the first time I got a chance to go to SGV, where there is much more variety and availability for authentic asian vegetarian food. (My perspectives down below are from a life-long vegetarian..so my views do not take into account what an experience at the following restaurants would be if you were not a vegetarian or have a more extensive diet)
First stop was Din Tai Fung for lunch. THe overall experience wasnt bad. We ordered a Fried Tofu Soup (in clear broth), veggie dumplings and red bean dumplings. THe soup was pretty bland, and I am not a big fan of clear broth soups. I usually like a serious experience in every soup I order. Next were the veggie dumplings. I liked the shape and the dumpling dough, but they were small and not that good. I added a lot of chilli's and oil, and vinegar, and that still didnt help. Last, but not least, were the Red Bean Dumplings. A very nice way to end a meal. Jut hit the spot. After reading some posts from yesterday, I should have ordered the veggie appetizer. Ah well.
THen for dinner we started off at Mr. Baguette. I was excited to check out the Veggie ham sandwhich. WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT. The bread was stale, the crappiest banh mi fixings I have ever had (only 10 shreads of pickled carrot and chilis). There was nothing inthe sandwhich! I have had much better sandwhiches taht I thought were not "authentic" but I am now reconsidering. East West Sandwhiches in Westwood is SOOOO much better.
After a disappointment, I thought I sould go to Baguette express, to let the SGV banh mi experience redeem itself. However, right across the street I saw New Happy Family. This has been the other restaurant I have been linging to go to for four years. SO I was excited again!
We ordered the House Chicken Special (batter fried mushrooms with a sweet and spicy sauce), Sizzling platter ( a mix of veggies and fake meats in a brown sauce, and Hot and Sour Soup). I asked our server for good tasting, authentic foods that they would highly recommend. The food came very quickly, staring off with the soup. THe soup was very very good. THe house chicken was good too, but I was disappointed to find whole mushrooms as the "fake" meat. The sizzling plate was okay. However, what bothered me the most was that I thought SGV would have "authentic" tasting foods, and yet they are just as americanized as any other Chinese / Asian rest. in the rest of LA. Most of the other diners were asian, but still, I wasnt satisified. I have had much better tasting chinese food at other restaurants for MUCH better prices as well. Though the food tasted good and there was a lot of quantity, I wasnt happy with the overall experience of what I was expecting.
So now I am bummed with my whole SGV experience. Maybe its what I ordered. I dont know. Sorry, this rant has become quite long now. Your thoughts would be appreciated.
LEt me end with some of my favorite asian vegetarian or ve friendly restaurants (I am not counting Indian rest):
1) Vinh Loi Tofu (Reseda) (Great prices!)
2) Yashima (Sawtelle)
3) Buddha' Garden (Calgary, Canada - I know it it is far from here!)
4) Kung Pao Bistro (Multiple)
5) Vegan Express