I went to Hoa Sen, the new vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant, Saturday with a group of friends, and we had a great meal!
Oddly enough, when we arrived the owner asked us if we new it was vegetarian or perhaps we were in the wrong restaurant? We assured her that we were there on purpose!
Like the veggie chinese places in Chinatown, all meat and seafood on the menu are mock. Unlike chinatown, some of the mock stuff is homemade, with a variety of tastes and textures.
For appetizers, we shared several types of rolls, all were steamed not fried, served with tangy peanut sauce or a light sweet sauce. All had lots of crunchy fresh ingredients inside, along with various kinds of mock meat or shrimp.
For entrees we had Mongolian chicken (nicely spiced), pan-fried prawns with a spicy red sauce (best dish we had - do try it), sweet and sour chicken with a creepily super bright red sauce, Hong Kong Chow mein, and steamed ginger chicken with a fresh, light, herby sauce.
We also tried an iced coconut drink that was moderately sweet with a few chunks of coconut in it, and a strawberry drink that was very thick and sweet.
Overall the ingredients and sauces were much fresher, with more herbs and much lighter than the Chinese vegetarian restaurants I've been to. I admit that I had never had Vietnamese food before.
Entrees are 6.75 - 9.75. They also have soups, noodle soups, and broken rice dishes. I must go back and try the really exciting offerings, like the vegetarian kidney with basil in schezhuan sauce, and the sizzling homemade eel!
Hoa Sen Vegetarian Vietnamese Restaurant
746 Christian St.