• ca vegan – thai food and more

    July 2nd, 2008quarrygirlCA vegan, LA restaurants

    that’s right, you probably already know that california vegan is one of the many thai-vegan-restaurants-with-the-word-“vegan”-in-its-name that has popped up around los angeles. while i was getting pretty sick of these places for a while, i decided to return and give california vegan another try. we took my dad there for a belated fathers day lunch, because he just can’t seem to get enough of their orange chicken.

    california orange chicken lunch special: battered and fried soy chicken coated in a spicy sweet orange-flavored sprinkled with sesame seeds. served with spring roll, miso soup, salad & brown rice. $7.95

    soy chicken pad thai lunch special: sautéed thai rice noodles with bean sprouts, green onions and crushed peanuts. served with spring roll, miso soup, salad & brown rice. $7.95

    silver noodle salad: glass bean noodles mixed with soy fish tofu for me, bean sprouts and tossed in lime juice. $6.95

    and now for the amazing dish that made the whole trip worth it in my opinion, if there were ever any doubts:

    banana spring rolls & ice cream: bananas and shredded coconut rolled in spring roll pastry and deep fried with a choice of your favorite soy ice cream flavor. $6.95. OMFG. yum.

    now california vegan is one of those restaurants that rules and sucks all at the same time. the prices are reasonable, but the atmosphere blows. the servers are friendly, but somewhat incompetent. the menu is huge, but it’s mostly the same salty meats listed over and over again. the orange chicken tasted amazing, but it arrived half an hour later than everything else because they forgot about it.

    enough of my ambivalence, i know you just wanna read about all the vegan food.

    first off, the pad thai was great. i can’t say i am impressed at their ability to cook yet another dish with soy meat and salty noodles, but this was actually pretty damn good. everything was coated in this amazing sweet, sticky, thick brown sauce that set this dish apart (only slightly) from run-of-the-mill pad thai.

    secondly, the silver noodle salad was just average. i ordered it with tofu, because for some reason the thought of eating soy fish gives me the willies. (i know, it doesn’t makes sense that i will happily consume all the other fake animals and not this one, but that’s just the way it is.) the tofu was fine, but it tasted like something i could have pulled out of my fridge and chopped up—nothing special. blah.

    the noodles were nicely seasoned, but were a little to greasy and slimy for my taste. plus, there were way too many of them. meh. needless to say, i won’t be ordering this dish again.

    next up, the orange chicken! this was by far the best entrée at the table. if you go to california vegan, i recommend giving this a try. they have the whole fried in sweet sauce thing down, and this dish is so much tastier than the real thing. too bad it arrived at the table so damn late, everyone else was done eating.

    finally, even after eating all the food above, we still managed to make room for dessert and ordered the delicious banana spring rolls and ice cream. unfortunately, i don’t have a close up of them because they tasted so good they caused temporary insanity and made me forget about everything else. seriously, the greasy spring rolls were fried up with crunchy coconut and soft banana, then covered in cool creamy vanilla ice cream—an irresistible combo. however, beware, they are likely to cause a food coma and render you useless for several hours.

    overall, i definitely recommend giving california vegan a try. they have some incredible and inexpensive signature dishes that will definitely make it worth your while. i just can’t vouch for the entire menu, the service, or the atmosphere. for all that stuff, you are on your own.

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10 responses to “ca vegan – thai food and more” RSS icon

  • I’ve only been to California Vegan once and it was several years ago. The whole Thai vegan explosion of restaurants doesn’t do it for me, but I’m grateful that they’re around if I need one in a pinch! Did you prefer their pad thai to the vegan one at Toi? Cuz that’s my standard. Oh, and I won’t go near vegan seafood imposters. I didn’t really care much for seafood as an omni and I don’t miss it one bit. In fact, I can’t even eat nori because it tastes too fishy for me.

  • miss anthrope

    vegyogini- i actually like the pad thai at toi much better! it’s my favorite. the pad thai at ca vegan is pretty good, but definitely don’t make the switch from toi. PLUS the atmosphere at toi is soooo much better.

  • Seriously?? There are that many vegan venues in L.A.?? I was in LA two summers ago but only stayed for a day–just long enough to see a celebrity (Nicole Ritchie on Rodeo Drive) but not long enough for a proper sit-down meal. Could the same be said for Santa Cruz (I’m headed there for a little surfing vacation in a month).

  • miss anthrope

    i am not sure about santa cruz, but i’m sure they have some vegan places! yeah i guess i am pretty lucky to live in a town where there are so many vegan restaurants, it feels like i’ll never have time to try them all!

  • When I lived near California Vegan I would order the orange chicken religiously. I must tell you though that as a fellow fake orange chicken lover, the best one I’ve found so far anywhere is at Vegan Plate in Studio City. It’s like eating candy… candy from a fake baby chicken. Their batter and sweet orange stuff are really something special.

  • just curious… what are your thoughts on additives and preservatives? im a veg. but as im on day 2 of the master cleanse im thinking of going vegan but am realizing there are tons of preservatives and sat fat or refined sugar or simple carbs in vegan items, such as vegan cookies and vegan packaged foods.

    questions is… sugar vs fat? vegan and sodium? what about potatoes and other simple carbs?

    what do you do?

    i guess everything in moderation is key?

  • I drove by this place on my way to Elderberries, I hadn’t seen it before. In my quest to support all-vegan restaurants as much as possible, I will stop by and try it out sometime.

  • I love the tofu mint leaves dish. so good & spicy

  • This is one of the restaurants found to contain egg in last year’s “Operation Pancake”. I was just wondering if anything has come of that. I’ve seen that they are now selling pre-packaged “California Orange Chicken” in the Co-Op, which is the dish that failed the test. Any recent word on this?

  • I don’t know about other Thai Vegan restaurants in L.A. but California Vegan are absolutely 100% vegan. We’ve been in business for almost 8 years and my husband’s aunties were vegan for almost 40 years. We never lied to customers about what we used in our food. What you see at Co-op is not us. I think the company is called Healthy Times. My name is Chinie and I’m an owner of California Vegan restaurant. If you have any question you can email me at california_vegan@hotmail.com. I’ll be happy to answer all of your questions.


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