Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Meatless in San Gabriel

Papa Monkey is not a big meat eater, so he suggested Gourmet Vegetarian (140 W. Valley Blvd. #222, San Gabriel, (626) 280-5998) for lunch one weekend.
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We got there a little before the place opened, and there was already a throng clamoring to get into the fairly nice-looking place (at least by dinky little Chinese restaurant standards). I was surprised to see so many people waiting on the second floor of the 99 Ranch Market plaza.
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When the doors opened, the crowd stormed through and commandeered all the tables.
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Watching them swoop, you might've thought they hadn't eaten in days.

Ok, I confess. We pretty much ran Pamplona-style to our booth, too.

Tea comes in this cute little thing.
gourmet vegetarian 004
It was good.

There is no meat at Gourmet Vegetarian. It's called Gourmet Vegetarian, people. Because some of you may not be familiar with Chinese vegetarian restaurants, here's a brief explanation -- there are "meat" dishes offered, but everything is composed of soy or gluten products, making for interesting texture adventures.

The lunch special ($5.50) is available daily from 11:00 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. (yes, that precise) and includes the entree of your choice and (1) pumpkin porridge and deep-fried bread, (2) rice and soup, or (3) brown rice and soup.

We got two lunch specials with different sides.

"Fish" with tofu.
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If you're not used to faux fish, this will feel odd to you, but, to the experienced fake meat eater, this is tasty for what it is. Obviously, I prefer the real deal.

Eggplant with basil.
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Delicious. My favorite dishes at restaurants like this are usually the true vegetable dishes. Eggplant is a go-to food for me at such places.

Brown rice.
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Not much to report here. It's rice. It's brown.

Hot and sour soup.
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Not really that hot. Not really that sour. Definitely needed more oomph.

Pumpkin porridge.
gourmet vegetarian 008
Totally bland but oddly soothing. A good accompaniment for the entrees.

Deep-fried bread.
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I live for fried mantou. I'm pretty sure I clapped my hands for this. I do this fairly often for foods I really like. Golden on the outside. Soft and fluffy yet dense on the inside. My favorite.

People seem to love Gourmet Vegetarian. Truth be told, however, there's nothing "gourmet" about the restaurant.

But the $5.50 lunch is hard to beat. It's what keeps the masses coming back.


  1. i love the imagery of y'all running with the bulls for ...eggplant and 5 dollar vegglong. hehe. i love it.

  2. I'm a huge fan of faux-meat. I especially like faux shrimp!

  3. Never tried faux meat, but I do like a good braised tofu. :)

  4. nice find and a good deal for only $5.50 -- I actually like the assorted faux meats in Chinese cuisine, but can never really quite got faux fish.

  5. I'm so glad you did a post about your dad! I had been thinking of him. I don't think I can do fake meat, as I abhor tofu, but the pics were nice!

  6. Ooh, that's a great deal. And I like Asian faux meat, especially faux fish b/c I think that tastes pretty close to the real thing. I hardly ever venture there because the parking is always so horrendous in that center. There's Loving Hut on Main St, Alhambra if you're looking for other vegan options.

  7. Yummm I love fried mantou too. So does my husband, in fact :) So, when are you going to introduce me to Taiwanese food?

  8. I like to believe Chinese faux meat is some of damnedest best there is, so state of the art and 'meaty', ha, ha.

    I fancy Veggie Life for Vietnamese veggie delights.

    And also second W.C's opinion about Loving Hut...such a great concept too!

    hope they make it :)

  9. Can you tell me a little bit more about the brown rice? Just how brown is it?

  10. hmmm, i puffy heart man tou w/ condensed milk. Hell i love condensed milk period.

    Putting this list on my must try in SGV.

    I'm sad now that I don't live so close anymore. I miss the hardcore chinese food where you have to shove your way to the front of the line for a table Asian style.

  11. What a good deal, but the portions look a bit small in the photo. Especially the fake fish. Spicy fake fish is one of my favorite fake meat dishes (1 out of 2).

    It is nice to see how renovated the stores in the plaza got! Back then this placed look ugly, then got weird, but now looks cool. Like the plates too.

  12. Hmm, $5.50 for lunch is good but not that rare in SGV, especially $5.50 for a no-meat affair that as you said wasn't all that great. I think I'll take my pho :P

  13. $5.50? Nice. I am always up for trying meatless products and vegetarian places. I could use to eat less meat in my diet.

  14. Hoarding and running Pamplona style like a true Chinese! I eat faux meat every Sunday at my Buddhist youth group, we get pretty creative. My fave is faux chow fun.

  15. i actually did like the faux meat when we hit up fine garden in SG with the teen. a lot more than she did, that's for sure.


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