Review: Vegan Garden Vietnamese Restaurant, Seattle, WA

It is a strange sensation for me to be presented with a restaurant menu where I have 110 legitimate choices of what to eat. As a vegetarian I’m so used to having a choice of one or two appetizers and a single entree, it is bewildering to be faced with all of these options. At Vegan Garden, a bright, clean, and relatively new restaurant in Seattle’s Little Saigon at 12th and Jackson, the options are both numerous and delicious. Not only that, there are items on the menu with no English translation that I can order with impunity! They are rapidly becoming one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants, so I hope to simply eat my way through the entire catalog.

Vietnamese appetizer rolls come in both fresh and deep fried versions, and they can both be spectacular. On a recent visit with Mini-Me we when for the fried Cha Gio Chay, which came out piping hot, super crispy, and filled with little bites of tofu, mushrooms and cabbage. I haven’t had any as good as these since my love affair with the first dilapidated and then departed White Lotus in San Jose, CA. Then we shared Bun, the classic Vietnamese bowl filled with a bed of lettuce, a big bunch of soft, cool and thin rice vermicelli noodles with fresh and pickled vegetables. At Vegan Garden you have a choice of multiple toppings, inlcuding Egg Roll and Shredded Tofu, Lemongrass Tofu, Egg Roll with Grilled Pork and Shredded Tofu, Lemongrass Chicken, and Lemongrass Beef.

Naturally none of the Pork, Chicken or Beef is actually animal product. They are made from tofu, wheat gluten and lotus root. We chose the Lemongrass Chicken today, which had a pleasing texture, not too chewy, and a peppery lemongrass glaze. If you enjoy the mock-meats, Vegan Garden does a solid job of them, and if they aren’t your cup of tea there are plenty of straightforward tofu and vegetable options.

One of the glories of Vietnamese food is Nuoc Cham, a  sauce that includes lime juice, garlic, shallot, sugar, shredded carrots, and … fish sauce. Vegan Garden makes a lovely version that omits the fish sauce and includes some pineapple vinegar. We used it both for the rolls and to pour over the rice noodles of our Bun.

The folks at Vegan Garden are absolutely serious about being vegan, right down to soymilk in the iced coffee and eggless fortune cookies. The fortune cookies also provide insight into the spiritual beliefs underpinning their cuisine. The first one we opened said:

"When we are pushed into a situation, we realize our wisdom"
        – Supreme Master Ching Hai

and referred us to godsdirectcontact.com for more information. (But don’t worry, other than the fortune cookies you won’t be subject to any other religious instruction while you dine).

Our large lunch of rolls and bun came to $12 plus tip, and you could get out even cheaper if you skipped the appetizer. They were also very kind to Mini-Me, providing her with small chopsticks, asking her lots of questions, and looking bemused at her shouts of "no take my plate! I still eating!", which scores plenty of points with us dads.

NOTE: see the comments for this post – when I try new dishes at VG I’ll add a note.

Details:
Vegan Garden
1228 S. Jackson St.
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 726-8669
Daily except Tuesday, 10 AM – 9:30 PM
Carryout available
Parking lot immediately east of restaurant

Vegan Garden in Seattle

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, September 17th, 2007 in Restaurants, Seattle, Vegan or Modifiable.

4 Responses to “Review: Vegan Garden Vietnamese Restaurant, Seattle, WA”

  1. Michael Natkin
    October 6, 2007 at 8:09 pm #

    Follow up info: I’ve eaten there a few more times since the original review, including twice in the past two days. Here’s a few dishes:

    Sesame tofu – fried tofu with a soy glaze and lots of sesame seeds and a few bits of red bell pepper. Very nice with rice.

    Tofu Pho – nice broth, served with the usual platter of bean sprouts, lime, and basil leaves, very good, but the soft tofu was kinda bland. Next time I’d try the House Special Vegetarian Pho.

    Tofu Sour Soup – very interesting soup with bitter melon, pineapple, okra, tomato, tofu and a slightly sour tamarind broth. This one is more something you’d want to share as a side dish, not as a whole meal for one person.

    Curry Tofu – similar to a Thai Yellow curry with potatos and tofu. I ordered it mild to share with Mini-Me. I think I’d like it a lot if I got it spicy.

    I’ll add more as I work my way through the menu.

  2. Michael Natkin
    January 4, 2008 at 8:15 am #

    Yellow Noodle Soup with Tomato Broth (approximate name) – really interesting two-part soup. Big bowl of thin egg noodles in the typical slightly sweet tomato broth with many different fake meats, lime, romaine and jalapeno slice, and a separate small bowl with a clear tasty broth. You don’t mix them, I asked :). Good one.

    Vegan Garden Rolls – outstanding crispy fried rolls. Gotta have em.

  3. Michael Natkin
    January 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm #

    Followup, early 2010 – this place has been renamed to “Loving Hut” but is still under the same ownership. I think the quality has gone down, and the menu has gotten shorter. I no longer eat here on any sort of regular basis.

  4. January 23, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    That looks awesome i’ve always wanted to try this type of food! but there are no restaraunts around my area that i know of. vietnamese food sounds awesome!

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