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Vegan-friendly in pasadena?

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I'm vegetarian (fish is ok!) but my lunch date for tomorrow is vegan. I've seen some great recs on the boards for Pas area, but everything sounds so meaty... Anything fresh and meat-free? Or herbivore-friendly at least?? Thanks!

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  1. Two places spring immediately to mind: Tibet Nepal House in downtown Pasadena (http://www.tibetnepalhouse.com ) with lots of vegetarian and vegan-friendly options (and tasty, to boot!) and Orean Health Express (http://oreanshealthexpress.com/ ) which is located on Lake north of Orange Grove - it's a drive-through with a few outdoor tables, IIRC. I've taken vegan and vegetarian friends to both and we've all come away full and contented.

    If you're willing to drive a bit, I know that there's several Asian (primarily Chinese, I believe) vegetarian restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley - hopefuly someone will chime in with those.

    5 Replies
    1. re: ElsieDee

      Most of the Chinese vegetarian places in SGV (e.g. Happy Family) would probably not qualify as "vegan" in the strictest sense.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        I consider myself vegan (or at least that's the easiest way to describe how I eat to other people), and I eat at this type of restaurant frequently. It is true that a lot of vegetarian Chinese places use a lot processed fake meats, some of which may contain small amounts of whey, casein, or less often, egg white. You can ask, but restaurants may not always be forthcoming, thinking "it's only just a little", or not realizing that whey or casein are dairy derived. I sometimes just don't worry about it, but usually try to avoid most of the processed fake meat stuff. The following should pretty reliably be safe:
        Tofu
        Seitan / Gluten
        TVP / dehydrated soy protein type mock meats
        Veg Kidney (usually is in my experience)

        I would be more careful with soy ham, shrimp, moister "chicken" and "beef", and other stuff. Most of the soy ham and shrimp I've seen recently doesn't have whey, but some of it does.

        I have asked about wonton wrappers, noodles, etc. at most of these places and have always been told that there is no egg, and I've even made my gf ask in Chinese. However, they may be lying or not checking their ingredients fully... a lot of these places do serve fortune cookies with egg in them, so while buddhist vegetarian places are usually pretty forthcoming about which dishes have egg in them, they may not be super careful about checking all product ingredients.

        Here is a list of most of the veg Chinese places in the greater SGV area:
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/35096...

        You should see if he avoids refined sugar... I imagine there is probably some sugar in the sauces at the Chinese places. Assuming sugar in small amounts is Ok, you could order all you can eat dinner (at Happy Family), with the lettuce cup appetizer, fried green beans (long beans), home style tofu, mustard greens and bean curd sheets, sauteed rice cakes (rice ovals) - that would be plenty of food for the two of you and comes with soup and
        rice.

        I think Bean Sprouts in Arcadia has the nicest ambience of all these, and they have at least a couple of dishes with very little mock meat - but I've never been able to get straight answers out of them re: ingredients of their mock meats; the dishes tend to have a lot of fake meat, but they will prepare them without if you ask. They clearly label which dishes have egg, and I don't think their noodles have any egg. Their smoked gluten is great (as recommended by someone on this board).

        As someone said below, Oreans has consistently lied about selling products containing casein and other dairy products. Also maybe not the best date type place.

        I do like Tibet Nepal House.

        I had a hard time finding stuff to eat when I lived in the Pasadena area (I used to go to Tea Shaker down near the San Gabriel / So Pas border, but they closed and later re-opened in El Monte). Café Santorini isn't the best, but they have been pretty good about accomodating me in the past, and the food is decent. Il Fornaio - same deal.

        Eat a Pita has some good veg and vegan options, but again, not so much of a date place.

        You might consider just heading up the 2 to Eagle Rock or Silver Lake, where there are some other good options to consider (or even heading to Madeleine Bistro up in the valley or Real Food Daily on the west side). You will definitely get lucky after your date has some delicious vegan dessert at Madeleine!

        1. re: will47

          That's a great report will47.

          On the wonton wrappers (and dumpling skins also), while the wrappers themselves do not contain egg, a lot of the times egg yolk is used as a sealant to keep the wrappers "wrapped" around the filling.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Some wonton wrappers and dumpling skins (the commercial ones, not the hand-made ones) do have egg... read the ingredients next time you're in the supermarket.

            I realize that some places use egg to seal the dumplings (and also as a binder in the filling of vegetarian dumplings), but I think they'd be more likely to realize that when you ask if there's egg than if there's egg in the wrapper dough itself.

            Din Tai Fung's veg dumplings supposedly don't have egg in the filling, or in the wrapper, and they claim not to use egg to seal the wrapper either.

            Water has always worked fine for me when I make dumplings myself.

      2. re: ElsieDee

        I've heard Orean's cheese may contain casein.

      3. Father Nature's in Old Pasadena. I don't think they have a website, but here's a link to some more info + reviews....

        http://www.happycow.net/north_america...

        1. for thai try either
          saladang
          or their sister restaurant
          saladang song

          might be good if you called before hand to check out the story on their use of fish sauce.

          1. In addition to my recommendations above, Kansai (Japanese place in old town) has some good vegetarian noodle options, and they seem to be fairly accomodating to vegetarians. I don't think there should be any eggs or dairy in the broth.

            1. My Vegan, Thai vegan restaurant. Just opened in South Pasadena. highly recommended! Just check the reviews on yelp :)