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Vegetarian "Fake Meat" Restaurants- Recs?

Another poster from the General Chow board was requesting fake meat recs- I have several recs for restaurants so I thought i'd post them here. Can anyone else chime in with recs? Please no comments on why a vegetarian would eat fake meat. I'm not vegetarian, and I don't think of it as imitation meat, I just love the stuff as its own food type and veg restaurants is where they usually serve it. Thanx!

I don't know where you are in the LA are, Pamela, but here are my favorites:

Happy Family Vegetarian Restaurant (chinese)- one in Monterey Park, Montebello and one in Rowland Heights which is where I go.
http://www.vegparadise.com/dining23.html
Several Hundred items on their menu, lots of fake meat. I really enjoy the curry "chicken." The hand rolls are also really good. Their "shrimp" dishes are really good as well. This is my favorite veg restaurant.

Veggie Bistro in Whittier (vietnamese but not all vietnamese food)- http://www.vegparadise.com/dining312....
I love the Vermicelli with "beef", the beef is pretty good here, love the eggplant curry soup, "shrimp dishes", the also have chinese and italian dishes. It's a good spot to bring unadventurous eaters.

One place I haven't been to is Vegi Wokery in Cerritos. http://www.vegparadise.com/dining43.html
They have the little "chicken" drumettes and I've really been wanting to go here for awhile.

Actually, if you peruse the reviews on vegparadise.com you'll find quite a few. I actually just found a few more I'd like to try. Good Luck!!

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  1. Thanks for all the wonderful recommendations, Wendy.

    I've cut and pasted my original comments from the General Chow Board here:

    When I was very young and visited Malaysia, I remember going to a restaurant that was actually inside a cave in some mountain. It was a vegetarian restaurant that did an amazing job (I thought) of preparing dishes that imitated meat. I remember there was this one dish that looked like little chicken drummettes.

    Trader Joe's has a variety of vegetarian frozen foods. I tried the corn dog,which I thought imitated a real corn dog amazingly. In fact, I don't think I would be able to tell the vegetarian corn dog apart from a real corn dog that used a beef frank.

    In Torrance, CA, there is a Chinese vegetarian restaurant that does a so-so to inadequate job of imitating meat. We ordered the vegetarian "peking duck," simply out of curiosity as what one would use to substitute the duck. The skin of the "peking duck" was fine (I can't remember what they used), but the "flesh" part simply comprised of a soft bread. It was a bit strange. Definitely nowhere near the appearance or taste of genuine peking duck.

    Just wanted to see if anyone else had any experiences and/or recommendations with food or restaurants that adequately prepares dishes that imitate meat.

    I realize that some, if not most, vegetarians do not want dishes that resemble or taste like meat, but the meat substitution concept is still quite intriguing.

    1. Happy Family on Atlantic in Monterey Park.

      If you're in the SFValley, Vegetable Delight on Chatsworth.

      At Happy Family, the fake meat is very good in the cold appetizers and in the mini Hunan Ham sandwiches (prepared like hunan hum with honey).

      My fave things there though aren't the mockmeat as much as the well made vegetable dishes, like the enokidake lily flower soup (jinzhen tang), or the houtougu soup (special soup with pom-pom aka lions mane aka monkey-head mushrooms).

      One nice thing at Vegetable delight is their fake shrimp. They use a bit of seaweed to color the vein in teh fake shrimp. Looks great.

      VEGETABLE DELIGHT
      17823 CHATSWORTH ST
      91344
      GRANADA HILLS

      HAPPY FAMILY RESTAURANT
      111 N ATLANTIC BLVD 351
      91754
      MONTEREY PARK

      1. In Irvine there's a place called Wheel of Life. Thai vegetarian with fake meat.

        Link: http://elmomonster.blogspot.com

        1 Reply
        1. re: elmomonster

          Yeah, that place in the Culver shopping center? I highly recommend this place. I've ate lunch there a couple of time and loved it each time. I just keep forgetting about it when I am thinking of what to eat.

        2. There's a Vietnamese restaurant called Au Lac that does pretty good renditions of meat dishes. Their veggie goi cuon (spring rolls?) are the best I've had. My vegan friend wouldn't eat them because he thought the faux shrimp looked too real! And my vegetarian coworker thought they were the cleanest, freshest, healthiest food she's ever eaten. Most of their noodle soups are pretty excellent as well. They're located on Brookhurst across from Mile Square Park.

          Native Foods in Costa Mesa has a pretty good veggie version of a Philly cheesesteak sandwich as well as very real-tasting baja surf tacos. Maybe it's the sauce and salsa, but those fish tacos tasted pretty good to my non-vegetarian taste buds.

          Also Sidney's Cafe in Fullerton has a good breakfast burrito. It's huge, but very tasty.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Tkn

            I've been wanting to try Au Lac too!! Thanks for reminding me. Sidney's Cafe is good too. I love their Tempeh Ruben, I haven't been for breakfast.

            Just because this post has prompted me to go there:
            http://www.sidneyscafe.com/
            http://www.aulac.com
            http://www.nativefoods.com/

            1. re: Tkn

              native foods is pretty great. recently, i took a business associate and my husband there (both omnis) and they really liked it. my associate is hooked on the baja tacos and my (extremely vegan-food suspect) husband ordered the same philly peppersteak sandwich you mention. after we ate, he said, "i've never had such a good meal at a vegetarian restaurant." i love the soy amigo salad, which has seasoned taco meat.

            2. Concur re Happy Family (although I am not a huge fan of fake-meat dishes in general and thus share Jerome's preference for the vegetable dishes that are proud to be vegetables as opposed to those trying to pass as meat.)

              A number of Hounds have been saying nice things about a mostly-veg Filipino place in El Segundo called Papillon--I haven't managed to get there, yet but the whole concept of vegetarian Filipino food is mind-bending enough (I find myself imagining how to make fake balut, or dinuguan with tofu skins instead of pig guts and banana ketchup and chocolate in lieu of the blood) that I am just going to have to make it one of these days.

              Papillon: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

              3 Replies
              1. re: PayOrPlay

                i have really tried very hard to like this place because it is so near my house.
                still, it's just YUCK imho.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  i posted about papillon last year. as a vegan, i like it, but after our second visit written after my post, my husband, the filipino omni, won't go back. his godmother and cousin gave it a 7/10.

                  "papillon, el segundo: filipino veg- and non-veg friendly:" http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                2. re: PayOrPlay

                  I like the fake chicken and shrimp at Papillon...it's worth a try.

                3. Thirded (or fourthed...?) Happy Family - and I, too, am not a big meatless meat fan. I think I like it only because it has doesn't try to hide the vegetarian quality of the vegetarian meat (which at Happy Family I believe is mostly derived from tofu, taro or mushroom.)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: AquaW

                    Some of it I think is made from wheat gluten, the "chicken" in particular. Honestly, I don't really like or use meat subs like you would buy from the grocery store, but I really love the taste and texture of those that I have found in restaurants, sometimes better than real meat. It is the vegetarian quality that is appealing and should probably be considered its own product. I have been actually looking for a good local source to buy these types of products for some time so that I can use them at home. Has anyone seen bags of this stuff at a store? The veg chicken, beef, and shrimp in particular.. I've looked at 99 Ranch with no success, although they do have some canned wheat gluten products.

                  2. i enjoy california vegan, which is a thai place using all fake meat. i particularly like the mock chicken with spicy eggplant. they have a nice cheap lunch special, and there are locations in hollywood and west l.a.

                    1. house of vege is the chinese restaurant you tried? it's actually in lomita, very close to torrance. i agree, it's definitely on the low end of the "so-so" scale.

                      in case anyone wants the info:
                      house of vege
                      2439 pacific coast highway
                      lomita, ca
                      310-530-1180

                      see review here: http://www.vegparadise.com/dining211....

                      1. Fancy vegetarian dishes that look/taste just like the original with-meat version originated as a way of feeding Buddhist monks and observant laypersons. It’s predominantly a Taiwan thing (more so than on the Chinese mainland).


                        Markets:

                        Bodhi Vegetarian Supply
                        316 W. Valley Blvd Alhambra
                        About half a block east of San Gabriel Blvd.
                        (626) 282-0089

                        Tiny shop with a jaw-dropping selection of frozen fake-meat stuff, much of it from Taiwan. Also dried soy chunks/chips that, when soaked in hot water, can take the place of chicken and beef in things like chili, pot pies, stews, etc. Prices here are about as low as I’ve seen them for this kind of stuff. The little old lady behind the register is very pleasant.

                        The frozen food section of “San Gabriel Supercenter” (a large Chinese/Vietnamese supermarket at the corner of Valley and San Gabriel) is also worth checking out. Three or four of their open-top freezer units there are totally vegetarian. There’s also a refrigerated-goods area immediately adjacent with some interesting soy meats, pressed tofu strips, etc.

                        Restaurants:
                        (Everything on the menu in all of the following is meat-free, even if it just says “Fish in black bean sauce” or “Midnight intestines chafing dish.”)

                        Happy Family – this is the one most non-Chinese folks know about. Atlantic Blvd. at Garvey (three-story shopping center on the northwest corner, on the top floor, if memory serves). They do an all-you-can-eat thing, but the dishes on the full menu are a little fancier. There’s a second Happy Family way East on Valley, almost in Rosemead, and there’s one in Rowland Heights too.

                        Vege House (the name has changed recently, and I don't remember what it is now) – Valley Blvd. half block west of New Ave, south side, in a strip mall built around a bowling alley. This is the one with the chineseiest dishes, i.e. the ones with ingredients that qualify as "an acquired taste" for most westerners. I always see lots of Buddhist monks here, which I think is a good sign. The weekday lunch special is too much food, for about $5.

                        Veggie Wok – Valley Blvd., half block west of San Gabriel Blvd., north side, in three-story strip mall. Used to be great food, lousy service, but the last couple times we went there, the food wasn’t that great any more. We think the chef has gone to ...

                        Garden of Life (or something like that) -- it used to be called “Vege Table” but it’s had an ownership change, remodeling, and a new menu. Las Tunas at Mission, northwest corner in a strip mall with a couple busy Vietnamese restaurants (so the parking is tight). The menu here seems to be all the best dishes from three or four good-but-now-defunct Chinese vegetarian restaurants of Alhambra/Monterey Park/Rowland Heights. If you’re gonna go to just one, this would probably be the best first choice, even if it’s a bit far from the freeway.

                        Some people have mentioned Au Lac (a vietnamese place in Fountain Valley). I've been there a few times, and it's okay, but I think their food is generally oversugared. I think Thuyen Vien (11080 Magnolia Street, at Katella at the Garden Grove - Anaheim border) is much better. Have the pickled baby lotus root salad.