Garden Fresh

    My mother keeps a strict Buddhist habit of eating vegan twice a month, once on new moon day and once on full moon day. It’s a good way of practicing self control, especially when those vegan days fall on party days. Such as Thanksgiving dinner. While everyone was feasting away at the fat 20lb turkey, my mom watched the Dallas Cowboys and the Seahawks with a bowl of vegan instant pho.

    I thought of a PhD comic in which Tajel and Cecilia prepared “tofurkey” for Thanksgiving and wondered if she would have preferred that to the pho. Then over the phone Mudpie brought up the likelihood of being a complete vegan in the future, possibly due to californianization. So I was reminded of a place we ate in Mountain View. A vegan place, surprised, no?

    How about some (tofu) crab soup for starter?

    I’m never a soup fan, first it’s too hot then it gets cold quickly, it’s like hot pocket without the pocket. But this one was baby bear’s soup. It was just the right amount, too. Tofu cubes, sweet corn, diced carrots, cilantro, and perhaps a little flour to thicken the broth? Very heart warming.

    Scallion pancake: just simple fried batter with scallion, I suppose. But scallion is the hit. It smells good. Its flavor dominates and instead of blanddom you get all time favorite snack. Pickled carrots and green beans soften the greasy effect.

    Do they look like drumsticks to you? Maybe. But not chicken legs. They didn’t taste like dark meat either. But they definitely were worth the bite. Crunchy and fun to eat. I like these. The only thing I would miss from a real chicken drumstick is the cartilage and the bone marrow (ok, that were two things), but if they’re deep fried there’s little chance any bone marrow would survive the fire anyway. Now onto the main course.

    What is the classic dish every American would get at a Chinese restaurant (that is not sweet-n-sour chicken)? Orange Chicken! Our friendly hostess recommended it to us tonight. Presumably you can never go wrong with a chinese chicken, even if it’s not a real chicken. Tofu clumps of various shapes pretended to be oddly cut chicken pieces, browned (not oranged) in sugar and soy sauce and many other ingredients I can’t dissect. They might have been too flavorful by themselves, but were great with fried rice, just like a good chicken always is.

    What is the one Chinese dish every American, including my Greek professor who has lived in America for a long time, knows the name of? Peking Duck, you got it! This is no Peking duck, just duck. In fact, it’s no duck, just a bundle of different kinds of tofu, but close enough. It looked just like the real duck, with skin, bone, fat and everything. I felt there were strands of “meat” when I ate this. The only difference is we could eat the bone, which makes it better than real duck. It’s been too long to remember if it was sweet or salty or what, but the stew sauce was arguably the best part of the dish. It shows seasoning is the key to make something taste good, not the stuff being seasoned.

    We probably would have gone for dessert to complete a three-course supper, had the restaurant any dessert. But thank God they didn’t, we were so full by the time we said goodbye to the friendly hostess. For only $36.15, we had enough leftovers for another lunch. Excellent service. Take a look at the menu. (It grew since last time we were there.)

    Address: Garden Fresh Vegetarian Restaurant
    1245 West El Camino Real
    Mountain View, CA 94040
    (650) 254-1688

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