- Veggie House
- 5115 Spring Mountain Road #203, 431-5802.
- Daily, 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Vegetarian restaurants intrigue me. Specifically, I’m fascinated by the effort to create meat-like flavors and textures from soybean product and other non-animal proteins. Why does this happen? Are all you healthy vegetarians and vegans secretly craving pork, beef and chicken? It’s the only way to explain why a restaurant like Veggie House exists.
Veggie House is a vegan/vegetarian Chinese restaurant. To oversimplify the menu, it’s a collection of familiar Chinese specialties, from kung pao beef to curried fish to seafood lo mein. The difference is none of these meats are meats. It’s all tofu- or soy-based stuff, creatively manipulated to feel and taste as much like animal flesh as possible. (It’s not completely new to us, as the former Long Life veggie restaurant on Sandhill Road served similar fare.)
Much of it comes pretty close to replicating a meaty experience. Beef with broccoli ($8.95) could have fooled me, its broccoli, mushrooms and tender strips of “beef” saturated with rich brown sauce. Fish with black bean sauce ($11.50), sweetened with diced bell peppers, is a tasty, different take on the dish, and not just because the flaky fake fish is, well, fake. The veggie rib strip with bitter melon ($9.50) is an ultimately weird bite, with mushy protein chunks and the acquired, acrid taste of the melon.
The house specialty is spicy crispy beef ($10.95). That and Veggie House’s version of char siu barbecue pork may be the most meat-like and flavorful dishes. Herbivore or not, there is something for you on this menu. If McDonald’s can open a vegetarian restaurant in India (coming next year), then anything can happen.