Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Satisfying Cravings At California Vegan

I have a love-hate relationship with California Vegan. I really want to love the restaurant, since they promote a plant-based diet, but I have had such mixed experiences at their restaurant. At best, their food is flavorful, yet lacks innovation. There is nothing that separates them from all the other Vegan Thai restaurants transplanted throughout LA.

My last visit was mediocre, with my "chicken" entree being a little too spongy and the sauce lacking much tanginess. Nevertheless, I returned a couple weeks ago, as my friend and I had serious cravings for Thai food and Breakfast food. A little odd, I know, but sometimes my food cravings can be representative of a pregnant woman. They don't make much sense, but if I don't satisfy them, the cravings only seem to increase. We noticed the restaurant had a special deal for appetizers: buy one at $4 or two for $7. We opted to order two appetizers and share a pancake with fried chicken ($8).

First, our appetizers came out. We ordered fried wontons and tofu satay.

The wontons were delicious. They were deep-fried and very crispy. The interior was filled with a delicate assortment of soft, well-seasoned vegetables. They had a very mild spice, which worked perfectly with the accompanying sweet plum sauce.

Next, I had some tofu satay.

These were very well-cooked and were lightly fried, but still retained a soft, delectable texture. They had a seasoning which made then taste very savory and meaty. There was also a slight charcoal taste from being cooked on a grill. The peanut dipping sauce was my favorite part of the dish and was tasted so luscious and decadent. The sauce was very sweet, with a slight spice and the taste of peanut was very dominant. I also loved the accompanying cucumber salad which consisted of crunchy cucumber, onion and carrot pieces coated in a marvelous light, sweet dressing.

Lastly, I had the pancake with crispy chicken.

The pancake was pretty good. The inside was soft and moist, while the outside was overcooked and crispy. The butter and maple syrup added a sweetness that the pancake lacked. It seemed that there was not enough sugar in the pancake as the flavor was fairly bland. The crispy chicken had a great texture and was in fact, very crispy, although it lacked much seasoning. I would probably not order this dish again.

Overall, I really enjoyed the appetizers. They were the highlight of the meal for me and if I return, I will probably only order appetizers. Nevertheless, somehow all my food cravings were satisfied on this visit. The food was quite tasty, although more spices and seasonings would not hurt. The portions were quite large and the food was filling. With tax and tip, we each spent about $9, which was a pretty good deal. My hope is that the service and food will improve before my next visit, but I know this is unlikely to occur.

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