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Veganamese In The Valley

If you happen to find yourself in The Valley (SAT style analogy– The Valley : LA :: Jersey : NY) and your stomach is eating your brain causing Hungry Dumbness, you’ve got lots of great options:

There’s Follow Your Heart, which, in addition to being a grocery, has a hidden restaurant in the back serving things like sandwiches the size of two sandwiches.

There’s Hugo’s and Hugo’s Taco Stand, which are so different it’s hard to imagine they’re owned by the same Hugo person.

There’s Garden Wok if you’re in the mood for Chinese & yum.

There’s some of the finest haute vegan food I’ve ever had at Madeline Bistro, if it happens to be one of the several minutes per week it’s open.

OR, there’s today’s subject, Vinh Loi Tofu. This place is a mecca of Veganamese food (that’s Vegan Vietnamese). I recently visited this small, fast-casual (order at the counter, table service) restaurant again with Mama Wach, who is not Vegan and had never had Vietnamese food! The menu is expansive, so with a little help, we finally settled on the Ham Sub $6.50 (a Banh Mi) and the Curry Chicken Noodle $9.00.

The sandwich, with sweet soy sauce, sliced cucumber, pickled radish & carrots, green chili and cilantro is perfect for sharing; it comes halved into two shoe-sized portions. This Banh Mi is so good it rivals the Mandoline Grill’s.

The noodle dish was even better. The flavor was terrific– the “chicken” was so well seasoned my carnivorous mother couldn’t stop eating it and I forgot to get photographic documentation until the bowl was half empty. It WAS a huge bowl of rice vermicelli noodles with curry chicken, mixed greens, cucumber, pickled radish & carrots, bean sprouts, peanuts and curry sauce.

In addition to the delicious wall of food, Vinh Loi also has a little market in the back where you can buy all sorts of nifty imported Veganamese products like sauces, noodles, giant tubs of fried garlic, and homemade soymilk & tofu that are as much fun figuring out how to use as they are delicious. My only problem with VLT is that I’m always too full to try their desserts. Next time, I’m ordering a Pandan Pudding first and then maybe a Pho! If you haven’t been to Vinh Loi Tofu yet, make the pilgrimage.

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