Thanh Tinh Chay courts locals with a $5 baseline price for nearly all dishes. It’s a bargain tempting to everyone—vegan or not.
Van Bui had never run a restaurant, but the need for one was clear.
Cost is a large hurdle for those exploring vegan and vegetarian dining, and while City Heights is filled with affordable Vietnamese restaurants, most have limited options for those seeking meat-free meals.
The lack of affordable vegetarian food in City Heights (and beyond) begged for a solution.
Summer Rolls are one of the great culinary inventions in the history of man. A perfect package of crunchy vegetables, fragrant herbs, and the soft but snappy bite of rice paper enriched with the sweetness of some sort of sauce. At Purple Mint Vegetarian Bistro I appreciate that they don’t dilute the rolls with extra noodles, offering rice paper stuffed with tofu, purple mint, lettuces, basil, jicama, and carrots. The sauce, although spiked with crushed peanuts and pickled carrots, runs bland and benefits greatly from a kick of hoisin ($5.95).
Quivering curls of springy ramen noodles bathed in a creamy vegan both and inventive vegan buns await under the hospitable gaze of the East Village’s BESHOCK Ramen & Sake Bar.
Sunlight streams through the floor to ceiling glass walls into the modern interior of BESHOCK Ramen & Sake Bar. Stamped tin tiles and Gaslamp-style pendants line the far wall, reflecting the historic core of the city. Above a matte black counter, large windows provide an open view into the kitchen where steaming curls of noodles slip into deep bath of carefully crafted broths. Rustic wood tables and steel-backed chairs are set under an industrial steel rack neatly lined with sake bottles.
Owner Ayaka Ito, a certified sake master, opened BESHOCK in 2016, but the journey to get into this space was a long and winding one.
Ito spent nearly three years traveling thought over 100 ramen houses in Japan to learn the craft. Though her eyes were always focused on San Diego, she built her first ramen house—Three Little Pigs—in her hometown of Nagoya, Japan, a sister ramen shop—or “ramen lab” as Ito calls it—where she developed the recipes that would become the cornerstones of her East Village restaurant.
Delving into new-to-me dishes at Loving Hut Mira Mesa, I was sure to order a known ally: Amazing Chow ($10). Toothsome wheat noodles, echoing the Chinese egg version, twist around charred soy protein and vegetables. The sauce, sweet and one dimensional, caramelized like soy-candy on the seared edges of everything. Overflowing from the plate, this ample dish makes a meal for days to come. … Loving Hut Mira Mesa (San Diego, CA)
When I moved to LA in 2010 the very first thing I asked people was: “Where should I eat?” Their very first response was normally: “Kogi BBQ!” But whenever my schedule opened up, Kogi BBQ was in the depth of the OC and I’m not about to waste 60 miles of gas for tofu tacos. Fortunately, Chef Roy Choi had also opened Chego in Culver City. Still, the long dinner queue usually shooed me away to less hyped restaurants.
When I finally tried Chego, it offered exactly what I expected: A mediocre vegetarian option.
As a native Culver City girl, I’m absolutely floored by the bunny rabbit style growth of the restaurant scene in my little town. I may live in East LA now, but when I heard that one of the hottest new restaurants had popped up in my old hood, I had to go asap!
First out, the Furikake Kettle Corn ($5) Blazin’ Jay’s, Hawaiian Style. The kettle corn is richly buttered with the salty sweet goodness we all know and love, but then rocketed into the gourmet stratosphere with the addition of puffed corn, sesame seeds, nori flakes, and a blast of spiciness. The punchy mix is sourced from local popcorn vendor Blazin’J’s – watch out J, the word is out, and your booth will surely be blazin’ with foodies in the future.
Along with the kettle corn, we ordered the Moooooo Kimchee ($3)—a modest plate of cubed white radishes swimming in lactic brine. Other than the salty brine, these bite-size dices of crunchy daikon bear no resemblance to kimchee. We selected this over the Heirloom Pickles because my friend doesn’t like “pickles.” She was later surprised to discover the pickle plate wasn’t all cucumbers. Instead it was an earthy mix of carrots, parsnips, red radishes, and something that looked like an apple… maybe an Asian pear?
[Memo to the world: Pickles are not just cucumbers! Also, not all pickles are made with vinegar! The fact that this information is not inherently known stuns me every time]. … A-Frame (Los Angeles, CA)