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.
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.
When the doors opened, the crowd stormed through and commandeered all the tables.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not much to report here. It's rice. It's brown.
Hot and sour soup.
Not really that hot. Not really that sour. Definitely needed more oomph.
Totally bland but oddly soothing. A good accompaniment for the entrees.
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.