Monday, June 13, 2011

A Lackluster Lunch At California Vegan

One of the first Vegan restaurants I discovered in Los Angeles was California Vegan. At the time, I was so excited to find a restaurant that provided a huge selection of menu items, many consisting of various faux meats. No longer was I limited to a bland stirfry, but rather I could reminisce in my carnivorous days when my options were plentiful. The restaurant was also conveniently located down the street from my home with ample parking. As I continued to explore the dining scene in Los Angeles, I realized the food at California Vegan is actually subpar, considering its fierce competition. I now rarely frequent the establishment, except for days when I am too tired to leave my vicinity and am having a severe craving for Thai food.

A couple weeks ago, I found myself weak with hunger, driving by California Vegan in Santa Monica. My hunger completely overtook my body and somehow I ended up driving down the ramp into the parking garage. It was just after 1 pm, so the parking was difficult, yet I still managed to find a spot. I opted to try the lunch special, as this is usually a good deal. The lunch special was quite expensive at $9.50 (plus tax) and included soup, salad, an egg roll, choice of entree and brown rice. I ordered the Orange Chicken as my entree. I decided to take it to go, as I was not in the mood to sit down and eat at a restaurant.

I dug into my takeout bag as soon I got home, only to realize there was no soup. I was greatly disappointed in having paid so much, for such a small amount of food. My best guess would be that they leave out the soup for takeout orders. I began eating the salad.

The salad was pretty good. The vegetables were crunchy, although they did not seem very fresh. The dressing was great and was very sweet and slightly creamy.

Next, I moved onto the main course.

The spring roll was very crisp and had a delectable interior, filled with soft, lightly seasoned vegetables. The sauce accompanying it was delicious and heavenly. Unfortunately, the orange chicken was a bit of a letdown. The faux meat was way too spongy and fairly difficult to eat. However, I did enjoy the light breading coating the chicken. The sauce was fairly sweet but lacked a tanginess typically prevalent in orange sauce. Overall, the dish was just too bland. The rice was decent but was a bit overcooked and also could have used more flavor.

I really want to like California Vegan. They have such a great menu, although it is merely a replica of every Vegan Thai restaurant in Los Angeles. There are so many better Vegan Thai restaurants, though, and I would not bother wasting time at this one. Nevertheless, I can't say I won't be back again, since it is just so convenient for me. The lunch special really is not a very good deal, especially with other Vegan Thai restaurants having better quality food at lower prices. I am really hoping one of those will open near me so I don't find myself going back to California Vegan.

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