5 GREAT VEGAN RESTAURANTS IN THE SAN FERNANDO VALLEYQuick: Think of your five favorite restaurants in Los Angeles. That’s pretty easy. Now try coming up with a list of five great, strictly vegan restaurants. A little harder, right? Now try coming up with five in the San Fernando Valley, on the other side of the hill and removed from most of L.A.’s notable restaurants.
It shouldn't be as tough as you might think. According to HappyCow.org, half of all of the vegan restaurants in L.A. are actually in the Valley.
Vinh Loi Tofu in Yelp's Top 100 Places to Eat!Remember those lofty goals you made this time last month to eat better? Ha, we don't either. So now that we've all thrown those resolutions out the window, let's talk about the spots Yelpers have deemed the ultimate, try-before-you-die, food-coma-inducing, so-good-it-makes-you-want-to-slap-your-momma places to eat across the globe. Add these babies to your Yelp bookmarks STAT and worry about that unused gym membership later.
Vinh Loi Tofu or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mock MeatThere was a time when I firmly believed that vegetarians and vegans with their mock meats were themselves a mockery to the culinary world. I distinctly recall being invited by a young lady who practiced veganism to a vegan Asian restaurant in Garden Grove. When it was time to give the waitress my order, I mockingly raised my fingers and put up air quotes as I requested the “duck.” Both my date and the waitress were visibly unamused by my mockery, and as a result, there were no more dates after that. Not even mock ones.
The joy of soy: fresh tofu in Southern CaliforniaTofu gets a bum rap. Some people dismiss it as health food for vegans and hippies. Others think that it's just a jiggly white brick with no flavor. That may be because people think of tofu only as the characterless cubes sitting cold and forlorn in the back corner of salad bar bins or those hard, joyless bricks that vegetarians bring to backyard barbecues.
It's really a shame because tofu can be a beautiful thing, especially when it's freshly made -- soy beans dried, soaked and boiled in distilled water, lovingly ground to a perfect pulp, boiled, coagulated with sea salt, strained, formed and wrapped still soft and warm, fresh from its milky bath.
Vinh Loi Tofu - SFV's Vegan GemOne of the true gems in the valley is Vinh Loi Tofu in Reseda. This is a truly magical place where owner, Kevin Tran, creates unbelievable vegan delicacies. First, let me say, I am not vegan and enjoy a well-cooked piece of animal flesh any day. However, I also know great food when I taste it.
Chef Kevin's special gift is the ability to make tofu in different shapes, colors, textures and flavors. The beef tofu is greyish pinkish, and has an earthly, musky cinimon flavor that reminds me of a Morrocan beef dish.