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Sep 28, 2006 08:10 PM

Vegetarian Beef Noodle Soup At Bean Sprouts Chinese Vegetarian in Arcadia

Finally got around to visiting Bean Sprouts at 103 E. Huntington Dr. in Arcadia. Frankly I had been a little skeptical as some of the general descriptions I had heard of the place made it sound like something you'd find in West L.A., instead of the San Gabriel Valley. However Bean Sprouts turned out to be the real deal. I ordered the Vegetarian Beef Flavor noodle soup, and it looked like the real thing you'd order at Yung Ho or any of the beef noodle places in the San Gabriel Valley. Little tiny chunks of mock beef looked like the genuine thing, and there was even a chunk of mock gristle! The broth looked like the real beef broth, too, complete with the thick oily goo that you always get. Taste was pretty genuine, too, except there wasn't the oily beef taste. For any converted vegetarians out there this is definitely worth trying. Also ordered the crispy soy chicken with white pepper, expecting a fried version of the vegetarian goose/duck dish one sees in Shanghai and Chiu Chow restaurants. However what I got was something that looks, tastes and feels like the pressed almond duck you get at Paul's Kitchen. Definitely one of the better and most interesting lunches I've had in a while.

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    1. re: coconutz

      Yes, it's a vegetarian only place. It's a small cafe sized operation, and the menu isn't too extensive--not much more than a couple of dozen items.

    2. I really have to disagree with you Chandavkl on this one.

      The one time I was there we tried the curry dishes, which were much, much too bland. The noodle beef soup also lacked flavor and the "beef" was stringy and tasted too much like gluten/tofu than what it was supposed to masquerade as -- e.g. beef.

      1. I went with a friend to Bean Sprouts last night - I loved it. Besides the popcorn chicken and beef noodle soup (thanks for the rec's Chandavkl), we also ordered spicy wonton and teriyaki grilled eel rice. I agree with Chandavkl, this Bean Sprouts is the real deal ;-)

        The popcorn chicken was definitely the highlight. The chicken was served hot, crispy, salty and white peppery - delicious. The spicy wonton was good too. The skin was thin, and the filling was light, fragrant, and mushroomy. I am used to a spicier or stronger sauce for this. I think if the chilli oil or sauce were more pronounced, this spicy wonton would be another standout dish on the menu.

        The beef noodle soup is just like Chandavkl described. It looked genuine and the flavor was faithful to the original. While we are on the subject of this "beef", I have to say I do not go into a vegetarian restaurant and take major issues with the mock meats. Pointing out the tofu or gluten does not taste like actual beef or chicken is like arguing Whitney Houston does not sound like Dolly Parton. Of course she doesn't, but Whitney does a great cover version of Dolly's original. It's the reinterpretation of the original and the creativity of that re-appropriation that I take note and appreciate.

        The teriyaki grilled eel rice was quite nice. It was served similar to Sin-Ba-Lah's style: Grilled eel on top of the rice (chewy brown rice actually, healthy healthy), and on the side, pink pickled ginger slices, steamed cauliflower, broccoli, and stir fried vegies. The eel was creamy (super fine soft tofu), fishy (grilled with seaweed underneath), and slightly toasty (loved the toasted sesame seeds on top). The eel had a subtle ginger aroma that was both surprising and wonderful. The teriyaki dressing might be a little sweet for some, but all in all, a solid all-in-one tasty meal right there.

        Simply put, Bean Sprouts is a charming and smart choice for healthy, tasty, and great vegetarian dining.

        The server we had was very friendly and helpful. The restaurant will be closed for a few days for renovations and menu updates (they are adding more dishes). So if you're planning to visit in the next couple of weeks, be sure to call and check with their hours first :-)

        1 Reply
        1. re: cakelicious

          I totally agree about Bean Sprouts. My husband was a vegan until recently, and we loved this restaurant. My absolute favorite thing was the smoked wheat gluten -- really, it was so deeply smoked it reminded me of the very-non-vegan barbecues my grandfather used to have every week when I was a kid. Utterly delicious and singular. Also fantastic are the crispy seaweed and tofu skin roll (sweet and crusted with sesame seeds) and the spicy dumplings. A great little place, and the service is very sweet, informative and attentive.

        2. I like Bean Sprouts pretty well - I'm in Arcadia most Saturdays, and often go here for lunch. I have been to virtually every veggie Chinese place in LA, and a number in other cities. I don't think it's the greatest food ever, but it's good, and it's one of the few Taiwanese veg places I know of. It's one of those restaurants that I somehow can't bring myself to recommend 100% whole-heartedly and yet I go there all the time. I feel comfortable sitting there, eating, and reading a magazine or something.

          I like the radish cakes (can't eat the normal ones, so not much basis for comparison, though), and the egg rolls (which have curry in them). And the little free bean-sprout salad they give you is usually excellent. I think the curry, house special udon noodles, and cold sesame noodles are all pretty good. They're mostly focused on noodle dishes, and I think most of the noodle dishes are good, but not transcendent (as they might be if they were made with fresh hand-pulled noodles or something). The tofu teriyaki "eel" is not bad. To my mind, some of the soups taste a little too savory, as if there's too much MSG and / or mushroom in them. The more herbal tasting Chinese soup is interesting, though maybe a little *too* herbal for my western palate.

          I've taken non-vegetarians there and they liked it pretty well, but overall, I don't know if I would recommend the place to someone who's not veg. My gf, who is Chinese (but not Taiwanese), and not a vegetarian at all, wasn't the hugest fan.

          I am not the biggest fan of their fake meat, and usually try to order stuff with a minimum of it... I've also had a hard time getting a straight answer from them about their ingredients (conveniently, the waiters' English tends to get really bad when I ask, and I haven't wanted to make anyone else ask in Chinese).

          Side note - a former waiter there also works at Little Fat Sheep and saw me there one time. He was a little shocked to see a vegetarian eating there.

          1. Whoa ... vegetarian beef noodle soup?
            I'll have to give Bean Sprouts a try ...
            I drive by it on my way home all the time ...
            My favorite beef noodle soup is still from Mandarin Noodle Deli in Temple City.