Last night, eight of us met at a Vietnamese Vegan joint a few blocks from Disneyland to celebrate, though in truth my birthday isn't till Friday. I decided to go for a vegan place because although I adore Vietnamese food, I feel queasy about consuming certain pork products that this cuisine uses, such as "congealed pork blood" or the like. Yes I know that would probably be frowned on in haute cuisine circles or even among those who aspire to genuine authenticity, but I am who I am, and being Jewish, I never got used to eating or enjoying this sort of stuff, despite the fact that I do not keep kosher. Eating vegan or vegetarian food makes me feel free. I can order anything from the menu with the thought that there is nothing in it I would not choose to eat, given a clear idea of what went into the dish.
I thought for a while we would never get to this place. It was rush hour, and the freeways were monumentally crowded, cars shuffling along in a parade or protest march all the way there, despite the fact that we tried to avoid the rush by not taking the freeway till we were about a quarter of the way there. It was the other 3/4 that took all the time, and the surface streets were also clogged with traffic made even slower by the inexorable and untimely traffic lights that snagged us just as we were about to roll free of the crowd for once.,
Add to the difficulty the unreliable Google Maps we were using. There's is a lot of construction going on in Anaheim, and these changes had apparently not been noted on those maps. So we never did find the road we were supposed to get onto after we exited the freeway. And then my hapless map illiteracy didn't serve us well when I sent us in precisely the wrong direction, away from the restaurant, rather than toward it for miles and miles, because I was holding the map upside down.
But eventually we found the restaurant. We arrived about the same time, most of us, and all but one of the invited guests who had rsvped showed up.
Then the fun began. The menu, as is often the case in such places, was enormous, so we followed the lead of the Yelp reviewers and ordered recommended dishes. We began with a couple of orders of eggrolls (wonderful!) and spring rolls (very good, though I like my own rather lumpy ones just as well, as far as taste goes). Then we got our main dishes. Several of us, me included, got garlic "chicken," which was very convincing, having the mouthfeel, texture, and taste of real chicken. It did become cloying after half a plate though because the dish included no vegetables. They were much missed.
Others at the table got a soupy sort of dish called "chicken and rice," which was more varied, and one person got a nori hand roll that was delicious. Yes, I know this isn't Vietnamese, but it was good all the same.
Richard got a caramel shrimp and pork dish that was absolutely delicious!
We didn't get any of the special drinks on the menu because the costs were mounting up, but we did spring for a couple of vegan flans at the end of the meal, shared around. Delicious!
If I ever get back there, I will definitely order the pho, Vietnamese noodle soup, usually made from offal, assorted parts of the cow and pig, but here obviously not. That dish is supposed to be really wonderful.
I love discovering "new" ethnic restaurants, and this was an excellent discovery.