it’s a whole new year, and that means a whole lot of new food at vinh loi tofu. if you haven’t heard of vinh loi, they are an amazing tofu factory/vietnamese eatery that we named one of the best vegan restaurants in los angeles. seriously, this place is incredible. not only do they make their own tofu and tofu-based products…but they have the best, spiciest, and most authentic meat-free asian cuisine in town.
kevin tran is the mastermind behind vinh loi tofu…and like any genius, he is always perfecting his art. in the new year he decided to add a whole slew of items to VL’s menu, and they are items that you would only really know about if you befriended the restaurant on facebook. practically everyday kevin posts a new crowd-pleasing special, appetizer, or noodle dish on his “wall”. (after all, that’s how i found out about vinh loi’s amazing holiday turkey!)
earlier this week we trekked all the way out to reseda in order to try some of kevin’s new creations, and boy, we were not disappointed!
we shared a couple entrees, the first being kevin’s facebook advertised daily special: the soup 2010. like most of vinh loi’s delicious liquid-based meals, this consisted of a spicy broth along with thick noodles, loads of fake meat and fresh cilantro. i am a big fan of kevin’s soups, but this was better than any i’ve tried before. not just was it tasty and uber satisfying, but the soy duck was better than any of his other fake meats and the to-go packaging was perfect: VL packed the liquid in a huge container protected by a plastic bag, with the noodles and vegetables all stowed separately to maintain ultimate freshness. i appreciate that.
our next main dish was a new item that kevin highly recommended, the vegan beef udon salad. wow, this thing was the perfect—full of vegetables, greens, salty soy meat, fat ass noodles, and special seasonings. what more do i require?! at under 10 bucks, this was also a bargain. seriously, go to vinh loi and request this dish pronto!
we also tried the “ham” roll sushi, which was probably my favorite find of the evening. leave it up to kevin tran to give vegan sushi a completely new take—this was the meatiest, stickiest, most flavorful roll i’ve ever had. with no vegetables, it relied solely on the vinh loi vegan meats for flavor, which i love more than anything! plus the seaweed was excellently sticky, and each roll held together just perfectly. guh, i should have gotten some of these to stockpile!
aside from trying the new menu items, we also tasted some vinh loi classic dishes, the first being the veggie steamed bun. whoa, this things is all kinds of yum! it reminded me a lot of the seitan bun from the new year’s eve menu at madeleine bistro, except this was full of vegetables and served in a to-go fashion. it was a whole mess of savory vegetables and sauce encased in a sweet sticky bun, PERFECT.
lastly, as usual, we had to get an order of kevin’s homemade tofu. he has several flavors to choose from including plain, lemongrass and chili, and mushroom….all for just $1.25 per serving. i am not kidding when i say this is the best tofu i have ever had, and every time i visit vinh loi i have to buy at least a couple portions. this makes normal tofu taste like ugh. this is the BEST TOFU EVER!
so the moral of this whole story is: if you haven’t checked out vinh loi tofu already, you are missing out. AND EVEN IF YOU HAVE CHECKED OUT VINH LOI TOFU, you are probably still MISSING OUT!
the only way to get the full on low down/experience is to befriend vinh loi on facebook. it’s so worth it for the daily specials, holiday offers, and new menu items.
come on, be a vegan in the know!
vinh loi tofuTags: reseda, the valley, tofu, vietnamese
18625 Sherman Way #101
Reseda, CA 91335
for the holiday season, vinh loi tofu is offering full size vegan faux turkeys, and you just have to try one! we ordered one of these for our thanksgiving celebration with my omnivorous family, and it was definitely a crowd-pleaser.
the vegan loaf is shaped like a real animal, with little fake legs and a hole for stuffing. it isn’t realistic enough to be gross though, if anything it made for a great conversation piece and i thought it was kinda cute. we pre-baked a batch of homemade stuffing and carefully put it inside the vinh loi turkey before heating it.
the turkey comes already cooked from vinh loi, but we put it in the oven for a while to heat it up. after about 40 minutes it was just right, and the outer skin was perfectly crispy. the soy meat inside was soft and juicy, and the overall flavor was amazing.
there were four of us, and we didn’t even finish off half of this thing. in fact, i still have tons of leftovers in the freezer. the turkey cost $49.50, and was worth every cent. it’s definitely some of the best fake meat i’ve ever had.
call vinh loi tofu to order a delicious vegan turkey for your xmas meal. you can have a traditional holiday feast, except without the murder. oh, and they also have a vegan ham tray as well! YUM.
vinh loi tofuTags: fake meat, holidays, the valley, turkey
18625 Sherman Way #101
Reseda, CA 91335
vegan sandwiches are awesome, and they just don’t get enough attention. what’s the best sandwich you’ve ever eaten? if you live in los angeles, the answer very well could be a banh mi sub from vinh loi tofu.
although vinh loi is an entirely vegan restaurant, their sandwiches aren’t filled with vegetables. no, no, no…they specialize in sturdy, meaty subs that would satisfy any omnivore.
take the enormous “ham” sub, filled with pink faux meat and spicy chilies, measuring around 9 inches for just $5.50.
or the extravagant vinh loi sub, which comes stuffed with “chicken”, “beef”, AND tofu for just 6 bucks.
these banh mi are massive, the price is right, and they are packed with taste. what more do you want from a sandwich?
you probably already knew about the bad ass subs at vinh loi tofu…but i thought you needed a reminder. i hereby name today vegan sandwich appreciation day. now what are you gonna do to celebrate?
vinh loi tofuTags: banh mi, sandwich, sandwich appreciation day, the valley, vietnamese
18625 Sherman Way #101
Reseda, CA 91335
September 27th, 2009LA restaurants, madeleine bistro, products, pure luck (closed), shojin, stuff i eat, vinh loi tofu
Following three years of eating out on LA’s vegan restaurant scene we thought it would be good to come up with a “top list” of the establishments we, and the commenters on this esteemed blog, thought were really good. Check out the end for honorable mentions, restaurants that didn’t quite make the list. Want to bump a mention off the list, or add your own? Please comment. Don’t be shy. We had to start somewhere.
Advice when visiting Madeline Bistro: Sit facing away from the window and forget that you walked past the exotic lingerie store a few doors down, after an excruciatingly long drive from pretty much wherever you live. If you can suspend the belief of where you are and how you got there for long enough, you’ll enjoy some of the most incredible vegan food on the West Coast, and probably in the world.
Chef Dave Anderson has spared no expense or time in thinking through and preparing the most minute details of every menu item. From a doughnut that is so light and fluffy it practically levitates, to a veganized carbon-copy emulation of a Big Mag (which I’m told by omnivores tastes way, way better than the real thing), through magical soufflés and German Mac ‘n’ Cheese (complete with Bacon bits!) you are certain to delight in the experience of fine vegan dining with a menu as inventive as it is familiar. Every dish at Madeleine’s has that “HOW DO THEY DO THIS?” question mark hanging over it. Dave Anderson is a culinary genius, and we should all be glad he decided to practice his art on us vegans.
Situated on a quiet street a block from busy Manchester Blvd. on the edge of Inglewood is an absolute gem of a vegan restaurant: Stuff I Eat. With an eclectic menu of options spanning the gamut from soul food through Mexican-inspired and down to earth, honest to goodness, American-style favorites, Stuff I Eat excels in every category. The staff are all so helpful, polite and caring that one feels grateful to be in ‘their’ restaurant. The portions are HUGE, and the quality of every food item, from the way it looks to the way it tastes cannot be overstated.
Feeling hungry? The $18 “Organic Soul Food Platter” will fill you up, as well as one or two of your guests. The burritos are to die for (how many burritos have fresh, steamed broccoli topping them?). Any place that has a menu item called “Sumthin-Sumthin”, makes its own dressings from scratch every day and serves a $5 taco with so much filling that they throw in an extra tortilla so you can “make two out of one” clearly has an appreciation of food. If you have the same (or even if you don’t), Stuff I Eat will be some of the best Stuff you will EVER Eat.
Kevin Tran, the chef/owner/cashier of Vinh Loi Tofu is probably the King of Los Angeles vegan cuisine. Sitting on his throne behind the counter at Vinh Loi Tofu, he rules his mini-kingdom of obedient, smiling tofu-preparing workers who create some of the most stunning vegan food in town. In his modest Reseda restaurant (about the size of a donut shop!) he manages to squeeze in not only a tofu factory but also a kitchen that prepares no less than 126 vegan specialty menu items, along with several “new inventions” that Kevin has cooked up to try out on us unsuspecting, but very lucky, vegans.
With so many menu items it’s really hard to choose favorites (and, to be fair, I try to mix up what I order, but in a lifetime one can only scratch the surface of Kevin’s creativity). Signature dishes we see people ordering time and time again include the Banh Mi subs (of which there are 13 varieties) ranging between $4.50 and and extortionate $6! Kevin’s tofu and fake meats blend perfectly with fresh vegetables in his soups, stir fries, teriyaki noodles and salads. If you’re feeling really adventurous, just ask him for his “special of the day”. You won’t be sorry.
On our first visit to Pure Luck, we were intrigued to watch a tattooed dude (who we later discovered was Ben, the guy who dreamed up the establishment) wheeling a toilet through a busy restaurant and out of the door. He returned to climb, precariously, above the food area while he installed a WiFi access point suspended from the ceiling by green cables, that’s still there to this day. While this entertainment was going on, my friends and I got quietly drunk on craft beer, and full of potato pals, followed by several plates of fresh salads, rolls with exotic ingredients and burritos. Pure luck doesn’t quite have the atmosphere of a bar, but you can squint your eyes and fake it real easy, with at least 10 beers on tap and an endless supply of comfort food you can’t go wrong.
Must-have dishes are the jackfruit-anything (especially the Todd’s BBQ Sandwich or Torta), Fresh Noodle Salad and the deep fried stuff (Potato Pals, Rosemary Fries, Sweet Potato Fries). The Tofu Pesto Sandwich is also an excellent choice, arriving on a crusty, fresh La Brea Bakery roll. Chow on some great bar food, drink some of LA’s finest beers and smile in the haze of how great it is to be vegan in this day and age. Thanks, Pure Luck, for all the good times.
Oh, and the toilet was abandoned in the parking lot by the dumpster when we left.
I recall hanging out as a teenager in the Tokyo district of Akihabara, where bright lights, video arcades and electronics stores are punctuated only by sushi bars and upscale dining. The shopping mall in Little Tokyo (just south of Downtown LA) contains all of the above plus an amazing find if you trudge to the top of the escalator: Shojin Restaurant. to call this place “fine dining” would be an understatement. Hand polished silverware resting on starched tablecloths await your vegan self. Nuvo-Japonaise decor and Frank Sinatra on the speakers round out this most eclectic of dining experiences. Your shy, yet overly-attentive and awkwardly chatty serving staff will do whatever it takes for you to have a great time, as plate upon plate of amazing food spirits itself out of the kitchen to your pristine table.
Whether you go for the sushi (with seitan, tofu and other faux-fish accoutrements), the pan-fried seitan stir-fry or the incredibly tasty hand-made deserts you will know that such care has been put into preparing your food with prime, organic ingredients that you just can’t go wrong. Order as much stuff as you like — the portions are small, but the taste is big.
Check back tomorrow, for our list of the top five vegetarian restaurants that are vegan friendly.Tags: downtown la, east hollywood, inglewood, the valley, top 5
hey readers, i wanna encourage you to click over and check out this blog post i wrote for the popular LA blog, losanjealous.com. what you’ll find is some bona fide banh mi sandwich porn, and write-up on one of our favorite vegan eateries, vinh loi tofu.
if you don’t read losanjealous already, i suggest you start now. it’s a kick ass blog that’s updated regularly with los angeles news, concert pix, giveaways, food reviews and ramblings. plus, they cuss. and you know how much i love that. i’ll be writing for them sporadically in the “under $10” section, a recurring series of restaurant reviews for the tight wallet. hopefully i can help spread the word around los angeles about all the great, cheap vegan food there is to eat. stay tuned…
vinh loi tofu is one of those addictive restaurants that’s so good, i can’t even describe it. a tofu factory in the valley run by the genius that is kevin tran, vinh loi serves up incredible vietnamese vegan food that’s like nothing i’ve ever tasted. savory soups, sandwiches, noodle dishes and salads along with the most magical tofu and fake meats i’ve ever tried is just some of the stuff you’ll find on the menu at vinh loi. i am making it a personal mission to trek out to reseda as often as possible and get as much of this food as i can.
on my most recent visit, the husband and i shared a few dishes, one of them being the veggie sub.
when this sub arrived at our table i though, “meh, looks pretty good…” but when i took a bite of this thing i thought, “HOLY FUCKING SHIT THIS IS AWESOME, I DON’T WANNA SHARE!” seriously, by looking at that picture, there’s no way you can tell how friggin’ tasty it was. the french bread was crispy and kind of chewy and the pickled radish was cold and fresh, wrapped all around the most amazing warm and salty soy chicken. mmmmmmm. i think this is one of the best sandwiches i’ve ever had. oh yeah, and it was only $4!!! wtf mate! food like this is just too good to be true.
in an attempt to overcome our huge fear of fake shrimp (something about them is just creepy), we also ordered some vegan rolls.
as you can see, these rolls were packed with little faux crustaceans and strips of fake chicken. while i was a little afraid to eat these, once i got going, i couldn’t stop! it tasted nothing like real shrimp, and there was so much crispy and leafy goodness in the wrap, everything just went together soooo well. i think i’m well on my way to overcoming my fear of fake sea creatures…thanks, vinh loi!
for a large entree, we ordered the house special steamed rice with beef….and it was every bit as delicious as our starters.
not only did this come with a huge bed of salad and vegetables, but also a hearty serving of chunky tofu and a big mound of soy beef bits. so freaking good! i don’t know how kevin makes his fake meat, but it’s seriously the best ever. oh, and he has a fridge full of it in the restaurant, so you can do what we did and take several tubs of it home to be enjoyed later. you won’t be sorry.
so there ya have it, another amazing meal at vinh loi tofu. there’s really nothing i can say about this place except you HAVE TO TRY IT. it’s definitely one of the best vegan restaurants this fine city has to offer.
vinh loi tofu
18625 Sherman Way #101
Reseda, CA 91335
open 7 days a week 9 am to 9 pm
the best tofu you will ever eat lives in reseda.
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.
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.
and, ummm….not to sound like a broken record, but the veggie spring rolls were also the best ever.
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.
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 tofuTags: asian, noodles, soup, spring rolls, tofu, tofu robot, vietnamese
18625 Sherman Way #101
Reseda, CA 91335