• vegan vietnamese at vinh loi tofu

    December 10th, 2008quarrygirlLA restaurants, vinh loi tofu

    the best tofu you will ever eat lives in reseda.

    fried tofu (lemongrass and chili) $1.25

    fried tofu (lemongrass and chili) $1.25

    it is a good time to be a vegan and live in the san fernando valley. they’ve got everything over there. follow your heart, madeleine’s bistro, hugo’s tacos and a slew of vegan thai huts. i didn’t think the valley could possibly offer anything better than all of that. well, i was wrong. after months of putting it off because i didn’t want to make the drive to reseda, i finally checked out the 100% vegan vietnamese restaurant and tofu factory, vinh loi tofu.

    you see, foodeater over at to live and eat in la (the vegan blog i frequent most) had been singing the praises of this place forever. she has gone on and on about the noodles, soups, sandwiches, even the non-GMO soy beans. i kind of took it all with a grain of salt, thinking, how good could some vegan asian food be….right? i get plenty of that! well, i was wrong. all the stuff she said was 100% true. vinh loi tofu is an odd gem in an a huge sea of fried udon, faux meat and salty broth. i can’t possibly describe to you how fucking good it is.

    it’s the kind of food that you start chomping on with another person and for the next half hour the conversation is littered with outbursts like, “no, really this is so fucking good,” “….i know, right? god this is amazing,” “wow, this food is much better than i thought would be…” and then various chewing noises.

    the best thing i tasted from vinh loi tofu was of course the tofu itself. created in the tofu factory within the restaurant by the mad scientists/chefs/magicians, the soybean concoction that vinh loi comes up with is utterly perfect. and when they fry it up with lemongrass and chili for just a buck 25, it’s enough to have you on your bloody knees begging for more.

    but that’s just the tofu. they have tons of other drool-worthy dishes on the big, vegan, vietnamese menu. stuff that looks like run-o-the-mill asian foodz like noodles, soups and rice dishes are completely reinvented.

    house special duck soup: yellow noodles with bean curd seasoned in a duck broth. $8.50

    house special duck soup: yellow noodles with bean curd seasoned in a duck broth. $8.50

    the duck soup (everything is totally vegan, so need to even ask) was insanely delicious. flavorful meat with delicately cooked noodles, swimming in a savory broth. garnished with fresh vegetables, this garlicky and spicy dish was honestly i think the best soup i’ve ever had. seriously, it’s true! i know you won’t believe me…unless you’ve had it as well.

    same goes for the stir-fried udon noodles. cooked up in the most scrumptious sauce, covered with thick faux meat and fresh chilis, this dish packed so much flavor and so much heat. i really don’t think we knew what we were getting into. a fight went down and spoonful was divided until the bitter end.

    stir-fried udon: wheat noodles stir-fried with chicken or beef, tofu and vegetables. $9

    stir-fried udon: wheat noodles stir-fried with chicken or beef, tofu and vegetables. $9

    and, ummm….not to sound like a broken record, but the veggie spring rolls were also the best ever.

    veggie spring rolls (3): green leaves and shredded fried tofu wrapped in rice paper. served with coconut sauce. $4

    veggie spring rolls (3): green leaves and shredded fried tofu wrapped in rice paper. served with coconut sauce. $4

    most spring rolls have a clear, thin and moist skin. not these. the wrappers on these were thick, tough and stretchy. the vegetables were crisp and the fried tofu was all kinds of wow. 3 of these could easily be a meal on their own. they are also packed with a lot more food than most rolls. all the ingredients must be shoved in so tight, because there is so damn much inside.

    seriously, if you are a vegan in los angeles you can’t say shit about anything until you’ve tried vinh loi tofu. they take a cuisine (vegan asian food) that is usually so meh, and they make it spectacular. i don’t think i’ve ever in my life eaten soup, noodles, spring rolls, or tofu that has gotten me so enthusiastic. i mean, i love talking shit on restaurants. but i just can’t with vinh loi tofu. there is nothing negative to say.

    even the owner, kevin tran was working the counter when we went in. chatting away to customers and answering all kinds of questions about the food, he was more friendly and helpful than any restaurant owner i’ve ever seen in action.

    PLUS, owner kevin tran was even sporting a shirt picturing the webmaster of quarrygirl.com, the one and only tofu robot. we knew we were in good hands. here is a spy iphone pic to prove it:

    kevin tran, owner of vinh loi tofu wearing a shirt picturing tofu robot, the mascot of quarrygirl.com

    kevin tran, owner of vinh loi tofu wearing a shirt picturing tofu robot, the mascot of quarrygirl.com

    so no matter where you live in la, vegans, make the bloody drive to vinh loi tofu. they are in the valley, so of course, they are located in a strip mall. kevin excitedly told us though, that they were planning on opening a restaurant in silver lake. oh how awesome that would be. we can only hope.

    vinh loi tofu
    18625 Sherman Way #101
    Reseda, CA 91335
    (818) 996-9779

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11 responses to “vegan vietnamese at vinh loi tofu” RSS icon

  • Seriously, right? This food is as good as it gets. Like sex, it cannot be described. You’ve just got to try it yourself and then you’ll understand.

    I’ve never tried that duck soup… it looks crazy good.

  • I am so glad you finally got to Vinh Loi. Indeed, the Duck Soup is amazing.
    Also tipping my “orgasmic bite of food” meter, the Banh Mi sandwiches. The bread at Vinh Loi really punctuates the French influence on Viet cuisine. So f’ing perfect.

  • The stuff I had there was way good, but you are a far superior menu navigator than I! I’m heading back asap for those bowls and fried tofu!

  • this place makes me proud of vietnamese cuisine. the flavors, spices, and fresh herbs showcases the complexity and depth of vietnamese flavors. though some dishes are not entirely authentic, some being new fusions influenced by other cultures, the boldness and tones are all there. i’m amazed at kevin’s passion and his care for all the details.

  • I’m so happy you loved Vinh Loi so much! Kevin’s food is absolutely amazing and there is so much from which to chooose. I’m happy that he’s talking about expanding, but I hope that doesn’t mean he’s going to leave the original location is someone else’s hands. Part of the restaurant’s charm is having him there!

  • checked it out. phenominal! the HS duck soup was amazing! the tofu i got for some reason didnt look exactly like yours. mine was a bit more dry. still good though.
    one thing i would add: in the frig with the drinks is a selection of veggie meats, all spiced and sauced up ready to be brought home… they looked intensely delicious.

  • Why did you wait sooo long!!!? I live about 5 minutes away and try to eat at Vinh Loi’s OFTEN.
    I am new vegan so the first time I went there I was soo “fooled” I kept asking Kevin if it was really vegan duck. In all of the times I have visited I have never been disappointed. F.Y.I. you have to try the coconut cake, which is not really a cake in the traditional since but a jello, vegan of course, with slices of banana, a peanut/seasame seed topping and a coconut creme dippping sauce….out of this world.
    By the way did you catch his appearance on “A lyon in the kitchen”?

  • Living here in the San Fernando Valley, you have restaurants that are 100% vegetarian. Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian. I have to say that the flavors at Vinh Loi Tofu are in my opinion the most flavorful I’ve ever tasted. I’ve yet to look at the menu. I just ask Kevin to surprise me. He asks how hungry I am and proceeds to make the most delicious meals I have ever had. Anybody else hungry for some Vinh Loi Tofu?

  • you MUST MUST MUST try his bbq duck banh mi sandwich!

  • I highly recommend #5 on the menu and the 2010 soup! Yummy, yummy, yummy!!! 😛

  • I recently was lucky enough to move to the eastern sierra, but a few necessary trips back to the valley each month are less painful knowing I will return home with several days worth of truly yummy food. Yesterday I tried to banana cake with sesame seeds and coconut cream and it is to die for. The house special soup keeps very well for a few days, the delicious sandwiches shorten the drive home….everything is so tasty, and Kevin is justly proud to be serving some of the absolute best vegan food anywhere.

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