• mao’s kitchen: silly protests and great vegan chinese food

    March 17th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, mao's kitchen, pizza

    well, well, well…back in the day, my companion mr. meaner wrote a review of mao’s kitchen on melrose in which he commented on the delicious food, yet unpredictable service and portion sizes. the stark and modern byob chinese cafe is the newer sister restaurant to mao’s kitchen in venice and offers really decent, healthy-tasting asian food with loads of vegan options. i have always loved the food there, but last june my experience was so annoying (slow service, overcharging on the bill, and skimping on the main ingredients in our dishes), that i vowed to never return.

    after about 9 months of cooling down and recovering from the situation, i was convinced by my husband to break my protest against mao’s kitchen…after all, they have damn tasty tofu. however when we headed over for lunch one saturday, although i was no longer protesting mao’s, several angry chinese people were. that’s right, there was a fucking picket line outside the melrose cafe, with angry dudes shouting into bullhorns and carrying signs that said things like, “MAO’S KITCHEN = HITLER’S BBQ!! RENAME YOUR RESTAURANT!!” there was such a scene going down, we decided it was all too much and went to bulan instead. i mean, i’m not a fan of mao himself or anything (c’mon, anyone john lennon personally disses in a beatles song is probably a total cunt), but didn’t these chinese protesters have anything better to do? isn’t there some actual violence to object to, rather than picketing outside a cafe owned by ignorant white people who are probably just trying to be trendy? sheesh!

    luckily, i did get a chance to return to mao’s recently with a friend for lunch…no angry mob in sight. the meal was so absolutely delicious, i think i can put all my hard feelings about mao’s kitchen waaaaaay behind me. the portions were huge, the vegetables were plentiful, and our waiter was delightful.

    coconut curry: green beans, eggplant, tomato, broccoli, black mushroom, carrot, onion & bokchoy with choice of protein. (tofu!!) $11

    coconut curry: green beans, eggplant, tomato, broccoli, black mushroom, carrot, onion & bokchoy with choice of protein. (tofu!!) $11

    my friend ordered the green curry with tofu, which i took a pretty huge helping of. i usually don’t order asian curries in restaurants, because coconut milk strikes me as a bit meh. this stuff was amazing though. the sauce was thick with a darker color to it and was packed with spices and tons of heat. floating in the savory and drool-worthy sauce was an ample amount of crispy fresh asian vegetables. no complaints what-so-ever about this dish. oh, and it also came with a grip of fluffy rice (not pictured) to mop up all the curry goodness.

    long march camp-fry: chinese cabbage, snow pea, tomato, wood-ear mushroom, white mushroom, zucchini & bean sprouts. plus tofu. $9

    long march camp-fry: chinese cabbage, snow pea, tomato, wood-ear mushroom, white mushroom, zucchini & bean sprouts. plus tofu. $9

    i went for the long march camp-fry which is normally 7 bucks, but i added tofu which brought it up to $9. this dish was nothing short of w00t. seriously, if you are in a healthy-kick kinda mood and want billions of vegetables with baked tofu in a light vegan (yet extremely flavorful) sauce, eat this! i have been to mao’s several times and never ordered this before, but now i know it will be one of my standard go-to dishes. it was packed with really scrumptious vegetables like cabbage, tomato, peas and my new favorite…wood ear mushrooms! the fluffy little mushrooms look like dark leafy greens but pack all the texture and flavor of a really tasty portobello. i’m going into food high just thinking about it. i especially recommend the long march camp-fry if you are dining out with others and want a vegetable dish to share. it’s artfully prepared, well-balanced and above all delicious. i’m never ordering steamed vegetables again.

    vegan crack: deep fried thingys. free!

    vegan crack: deep fried thingys. free!

    oh and one more thing, the food at mao’s kitchen is very good…so be sure not to fill up on the tempting vegan crack they bring to your table for free when you are seated. these deep fried crackers with sweet vegan sauce will sneak up on you…then all of a sudden…half the bowl is gone and you have no room for food because your brain is swimming in huge amounts of grease you just consumed. beware.

    hit up mao’s kitchen on melrose for really awesome vegan chinese food. to avoid any contamination, just let them know you are vegan and that you want all your sauces animal-free. they seem to be pretty knowledgeable and always able to accommodate. good luck in there…hopefully you won’t run into crazy/bored protesters like me and the mr. did. if you do, there is always bulan or m cafe just blocks away. 😉

    P.S. mao’s kitchen has a parking lot (epic melrose score!), it isn’t busy at lunch time, and you can take in your own booze. you officially have no excuse not to eat there.

    mao's kitchen melrose

    mao's kitchen melrose

    mao’s kitchen
    7315 Melrose Ave
    Los Angeles, CA 90046
    (323) 932-9681
    open 7 days
    11am – 12am

    Tags: , , , ,

8 responses to “mao’s kitchen: silly protests and great vegan chinese food” RSS icon

  • I used to be addicted to the vegan onion pancake they make. Fried crack just like those little crunchy guys. Yum! They have so many dishes that can be made vegan I love it.

  • I went to Mao’s Kitchen on Melrose for the first time in January and I loved it! It seems like the Mao part of it is tongue-in-cheek kitsch. Anyway, I had a yam & tofu dish that was amazing and I can’t wait to go back!

  • I admire the fact that you didn’t just paraphrase the protesters’ point of view … but actually featured a link to their website so that they could state their case in their own words. Quarrygirl is an even-handed site! BTW: I’ve been to both Mao’s Kitchens. Great food!!! … and I personally enjoy the post-Mao artwork ambiance.

  • Yes – the crackers are the best. MMmmmmMMMM fried dough

  • It’s nice to hear the Melrose location is getting more stable the one on Venice has always been great and very consistent. They also have a vegan special right now with bamboo tofu (it is very different for usual tofu but really friggn good) it is quite an interesting and delicious dish!

  • i find mao’s overly salty, skimpy on the tofu and hefty on the bill. no thanks. busaba thai is right across the way, better food and better service.

  • scott: the last time i went there before this post (about 8 months ago) the tofu was skimpy. i think they have rectified everything though. on my most recent visit there was LOADS of tofu and the service was great. i personally like the food better than bulan too.

  • I am not a big tofu person and mao’s always gives me extra veggies NO CHARGE and I think it is suppppper yum (then again we can’t eat the sauces that make real chinese yum, and its been so long since I have had oyster-msg chinese maybe its more the novelty). I appreciate the mission of mao’s (wanting to be super farm fresh and good for you) and I love me the vegan red bean cakes BUT beware because when i took away last time I took a little read and realized that the fortune cookies they give are not vegan (I don’t know if you assumed they were that being said, but, if you did, refrain from nibbling away!) so crack for your fortune and disgard or find a friend who wants your crumbles.

Leave a reply