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Sep 15, 2006 09:53 PM

Fantastic New Chinese Vegetarian Restaurant

One of my most reliable tipsters phoned to say that a great new Chinese vegetarian restaurant had just opened up. Happy Veggie Garden is in the 99 Ranch Market mall in Rowland Heights, and indeed is directly across from the market entrance. Based on the mob of people at Happy Veggie Garden it must be pretty good. I mean, the last time I had ever seen such a large crowd waiting to dine at a vegetarian restaurant was, well, never. Not being in the mood to wait, I just ordered takeout. The crispy bean curd was unlike that at Triumphal Palace in that it had some kind of fruit filling, as well as sunflower seeds, and was very good. The menu is tilted more towards mock meat dishes, though there is also a good representation of vegetable, tofu, and noodle dishes. This location has been a disaster for tenants, the previous two restaurants there lasting just a few weeks each. However, Happy Veggie Garden seems to be breaking the jinx. The restaurant opens only until 9 pm on weeknights, but on Friday and Saturday they open all the way up to 9:20 pm.

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  1. Sweet. I'm always on the lookout for Chinese vegetarian restaurants, which IMHO is the best vegetarian cuisine out there. Over 3,000 years tradition of feeding vegetarian/vegan monks won't lead you wrong.

    Thanks for the tip!

    - Chubbypanda

    1. Ew. Sorry. I went there about a month ago and it was just miserable. They've spent way too much on the decor, and not enough in the kitchen. (Make sure you check out the impractical glass-bowl wash basin in the men's room).

      You had take-out, so I assume they didn't bring out a horrible little cabbage salad with an overly sweet dressing on it for you. They brought three our table for some reason (there were only two of us dining, and we didn't eat more than a couple nibbles of the first one). The entrees were unimpressive and all very much the same. We asked the waitress to recommend the best dish in the house and it turned out to be oily fried eggplant in a ho-hum brown sauce.

      And they charged us for rice. In a Chinese restaurant? I mean come ON.

      Also: the booth was uncomfortable and the table was wobbly. There was an error on the check which I caught and they rectified without a fuss.

      I was pretty embarassed because I took someone there who had never had Chinese-Buddhist food before, and what we had was nothing that would make him want to try it again, I fear. We left unsmiling, but no one bothered to ask if there was anything wrong. Oops.

      Yeah, I could go back and give it another shot in a couple months, but it's nowhere near as good as any of three or four similar places in the Alhambra/Monterey Park zone, and it's a pale, pale shadow of the terrific Purple Bamboo restaurant that was in that same shopping center until about a year ago (outside on the southern facade, where the Hunan restaurant is now).

      1 Reply
      1. re: ladelfa

        Well, there has to be a reason for the mob. The grand opening is over so I don't think it's the looky loo crowd. And my informant is a picky eater from Taiwan who never steered me wrong before.

      2. I have to disagree. Happy Veggie is not that great - generally bland and uninspired dishes.

        All the soy sauce based dishes tasted the same (e.g. braised fish, green beans, ma-pao tofu, etc.) and all the non soy-sauce dishes had an oft-putting sweetness to them.

        While not great, Happy Family is definitely a notch above.

        1. Went by there today on a tip from a friend who knew the former owner of Happy Family in Rowland Heights. Apparently there had been some behind the scenes drama and the owner ended up opening Happy Veggie Garden as a result.

          Dishes were on par with Happy Family and with competition, it never hurts to have one more vegetarian restaurant in the area.