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May 9, 2009 02:57 PM

Best vegetables?

I'm sure this is a case of blinders on the horse, but lately I have been craving a place that knows how to cook a damn vegetable. I love vegetables, eat lots of them at home, but when I go to restaurants, they're always just depressing. Either they're religious (i.e., they've had the Hell boiled out of them) or they're grilled and they all taste of char. Even vegetables that don't grill well (hello, carrots) get grilled. Sometimes it'sthat they're overcooked (mushy) and sometimes it's that they're undercooked (I'm sorry, but charred, crunchy broccoli is disgusting).

Even places that do fantastic food often just phone it in when it comes to the vegetables and slop a few still-crunchy, not-topped-and-tailed green beans or some cutesy baby carrots on the plate.

If they do manage to get cooked correctly, then you run the next gauntlet, which is whether they've been seasoned at all, or perhaps overseasoned. That pile of sauteed spinach that is drowned in oil with sixteen frigging cloves of minced garlic? Overseasoned. Or you get the people who include vegetables in other food (stuffing for chiles rellenos, for example) but forget to season the frigging things.

I'd love to be able to eat a meal that featured vegetables cooked well, maybe a little tiny bit of meat (50 grams -- a couple of ounces -- would be plenty). I've had the best luck at Indian -- particularly Southern Indian -- places. I eat at Souplantation so that I can get my vegetables on, but I don't like most of the interesting ones raw.

So where do I go to get great vegetables that are not an afterthought? Any vegetable (let's leave out the potatoes, those aren't going to help me eat better). I could happily make a dinner out of two or three sides of great vegetables and a meat-based appetizer.

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    1. re: westsidegal

      Mmmmmm... that looks really good. (Though the "Nantes carrots" cracks me up, because every carrot ever sold at Albertson's is a Nantes carrot.)

      I did forget about places like M Cafe de Chaya. As long as I avoid the fake meat (Hate. Fake. Meat. So. Much.) they have awesome vegetables... but I'm just having a brain fart.


      1. re: Das Ubergeek

        do try the roasted cauliflower if you go to gjelina; it was the best i've ever had.

      2. re: westsidegal

        I enjoyed the collards at Ngoma (along with plate of grilled goat was how I had it), you already know about the veg options at Ethiopian and Southern Indian. Personally, I love Southern veg sides (greens, sweet potato, fried green tomatos mac & cheese (an honorary southern side veg) but I really don't know where to get that here, I just make them myself. Maybe someone knows which BBQ spots out here have good sides (JR in Culver City had nice greens if I recall atlhough I was not so focused on them)

        Good revs on the asparagus at Tavern on this board.

        I wonder if anyone has a vegetarian prix fixe like at La Folie in SF?

      3. DU, I am so with you!!! There are nights I'd just like a platter of good veggies. I think nostalgically back upon 750 ml in the early days, the original chef did great veggie sides. I will anxiously await postings on this subject.

          1. What about vegetarian tasting menu? Any of the fancy chefs doing that?

            1. Hi Das,

              Great topic! :) I love well-prepared veggies also. Let's see...

              1. Torihei - Their perfectly poached Daikon is wonderful! So is their Marugoto Tomato (Whole Stewed Tomato). Their Mochi Kinchaku is delicious as well. The Wakame (Seaweed) from their Oden Menu is beautiful. If you like Gobo (Burdock), their Jikasei Gobo Age is nice. Musubi Konbu (Sea Tangle), fragrant Roasted Shiitake Mushrooms (from the Yakitori Menu) and more. :)

              And this'll give you the excuse you need to finally try out Torihei's Kyoto-style Oden and Yakitori menus as well. (^_~)


              2. Most San Gabriel Valley Shanghai or Cantonese / HK restaurants (e.g., Sea Harbour or Elite, on the HK/Cantonese side). One of the reasons I'm happy to visit my SGV Hounds (besides their company of course ;), is the chance to get more vegetables! :) That's one of the reasons I appreciate Chinese cuisine. When we go to places like Sea Harbour, we get vegetarian dishes like Ching Tsao (Lightly Stir-Fried) Suan Rohng (with Garlic)...

              * Da Doh Miao (Pea Tips)
              * Ku Gua (Bitter Melon) (although we usually get that with some Black Beans as well)
              * Si Gua (Silk Melon) (you can usually get this with a housemade Crab Sauce as well)
              * Kong Qing Tsai (Water Spinach)
              * Tsai Dahn (Mustard Green IIRC)
              * Nappa Cabbage (with Dried Shrimp)
              * and another 3-6+ other vegetables.

              Most of the time, they are beautifully cooked and executed, especially at the more adept places.

              Elite Restaurant
              700 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

              Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
              3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

              1757 W. Carson Street, Torrance, CA 90501