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Jul 29, 2007 11:14 AM

Vegetarian Vietnamese Food in Monterey Park

I recently met a Vietnamese woman who told me that she was vegetarian. Of course, I started to ask her about the kind of food that she eats. I asked if she ate pho, bun bo hue, spring rolls, etc. She mentioned a place called Happy (something?) in Monterey Park. She said that in spring rolls, any meat items would be subsituted with tofu, and that in bun bo hue, a tomato base would be used instead of a meat base. Does anyone have any recommendations for good vegetarian Vietnamese food in Monterey Park? I'm very curious. Thank you. :)

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  1. The best vegetarian Vietnamese food I've ever had was at Vietnamese Buddhist temples. Most of the temples have set times where you can worship (or visit or etc...) and then enjoy a vegetarian meal. There is either a set price or a donation request. It all goes to the temple's work. You will find tasty vegetarian versions of all sorts of Vietnamese dishes. You'll be surprised to know that all the dishes are meatless. You might try inquiring at some of the temples. It will be a nice cultural and culinary adventure, but you'll have to work for it because I've never been to any Vietnamese temples (in SoCal), so that's all the info I can give you. :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: hch_nguyen

      Thank you. :) This is a great idea. :)

    2. She is talking about Happy Family in Monterey Park (I always thought it was Chinese but your friend may know if they are both). They sub tofu in for most of the meat dishes. I went about 2 months ago and liked it a great deal better than I had previously.

      You might want to check out Lee Kam Kee in Monterey Park (Fremont and Valley Blvds); they are kind of chinese/vietnamese. They definitely serve meat dishes but their menu is extremely long and I would guess they have a number of vegetarian dishes. I like the place, and it is very popular with the local crowd, though some on the Board have criticized it as trying to be too many cuisines at the same time.

      11 Replies
      1. re: NAspy

        Thank you. I've been to Lee Kam Kee once, but I did not look for vegetarian dishes on the menu. Next time, I will. :)

        1. re: NAspy

          yes, Happy Family.

          A favorite for all my vegetarian and meat eating friends. We generally go for the "all you can eat" dinner (after 5:30 pm) for about $10; where you order two dishes per person and continue to order after you finish those.

          Some favorites (from my review on yelp):

          Minced Squab [ 5 stars ]
          Unlike all the other items, you can only order one of these per person. A fresh leaf of lettuce stuffed with crunchy bits and diced fake meats. We always start our feast with this.

          Deep-fried House Chicken w/ Sesame [ 5 stars ]
          Meat made out of mushrooms; an alarming concept at first, but once you taste you will never question it again. Deep-fried, sweet, savory, and sprinkled with sesame seeds. I prefer these dishes to the wheat gluten or silken tofu ones, for savoriness.

          Deep-fried Tofu [ 5 stars ]
          About ten or so large chunks of golden fried and crispy tofu with a side of a rich savory sauce to dip in. One of my favorite dishes.

          Braised Green Beans [ 5 stars ]
          Finely diced caramelized onions and a delicious sauce cover these tasty green beans. We order this dish about four times over with our meal and its the plate that is devoured almost as fast as the deep-fried house chicken.

          Fried Buns [ 5 stars ]
          Delicious, soft, slightly sweet, puffy, slightly crunchy. Perfectly compliments the twenty seven half-eaten dishes on your lazy susan. I've never had a bun this tasty.

          Eggplant w/ Basil [ 4 stars ]
          Tender, marinated eggplant chunks grilled with flagrant pieces of basil.

          Sizzling Pork & Broccoli [ 4 stars ]
          Comes out on a sizzling hot plate with veggies and tofu and fake meats. Not excellent like the other dishes but still tasty and a great presentation to boot.

          Fried Rice [ 3.5 stars ]
          A nice alternative to the steamed rice they typically bring with the meal. Bits of ham (that almost mimic the real thing) and veggies mixed with white rice.

          Happy Family Restaurant 3
          111 N Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

          1. re: adevejian

            hmmm....those all sound delicious and definitely "Asian", but they are not really Vietnamese vegetarian per se. I think the OP was referring to traditional Vietnamese dishes made in a vegetarian-style, spring rolls, canh chua, bun bo hue, ca kho to etc....

            1. re: hch_nguyen

              yes, I think Happy Family for the most part is considered Shanghai-style Chinese.

              But in her original post she said "..a place called Happy (something?) in Monterey Park" so I, like NAspy, thought it was Happy Family.

              1. re: adevejian

                Happy Family does sound like the name of the place that she mentioned, so thank you for pointing that out. :)

                1. re: katkoupai

                  Happy Family is most definitely NOT Vietnamese.

                  It's Chinese.

                  Still pretty good, just never heard of anyone really considering HF as Vietnamese.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    I think Au Lac in Orange County is Vietnamese vegetarian, but I have not been there in years.

                    I really don't know of any other Vietnamese vegetarian places.

                    1. re: katkoupai

                      Try Veggie Life in El Monte.

                      It's vegan/vegetarian and as far as I know they are owned by a Vietnamese family.

                      Veggie Life.
                      9324 Garvey Ave
                      South El Monte
                      (626) 443-8687

                      Veggie Life Restaurant
                      9324 Garvey Ave Ste B, South El Monte, CA 91733

                    2. re: ipsedixit

                      I don't consider Happy Family Vietnamese, it is most definitely Chinese. I only mentioned it because she said "..a place called Happy (something?) in Monterey Park"

                      1. re: adevejian

                        I understand. I think the woman I met may have just mentioned Happy Family as an example of a good vegetarian restaurant, as opposed to a good Vietnamese vegetarian restaurant. And you definitely answered my question about which restaurant in Moneterey Park starts with the word "Happy." So thanks, again. :-)