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Vegetarians in Paradise

 Vegetarian Restaurant Review

R: Vegan kosher Thai food may seem oddly unique, but it's the exceptional feature that makes Bodhi Vegetarian and Vegan Kitchen a go-to eatery in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of West Los Angeles. The restaurant is nestled in a tiny strip mall on the corner of Pico Boulevard and Glenville Avenue in an area known for its large Jewish community.

Z: Sitting at our comfortable banquette against a faux-finished, shades-of-gray cement wall, we noticed several men wearing yarmulkes (skull caps) and could hear snippets of Yiddish spoken at other tables. Having kosher certification is key to success in this neighborhood that touts many kosher restaurants.

Bodhi Vegetarian and Vegan Kitchen R: Bodhi is a casual, small Thai restaurant that opened two years ago when its predecessor, an Israeli felafel restaurant, went out of business. We felt right at home in this cozy eatery with its appealing, jazzed up industrial ambience featuring giant, shiny aluminum air ducts suspended from the high, densely black ceiling. Strong, yet warm shades of avocado and pumpkin grace the walls, while accents of light, knotty pine wood are featured on the walls and banquettes. Dark wood tables and chairs complete the clean, uncluttered décor, while muted jazz notes pleasantly filled the room.

Z: Though the restaurant is small and only seats about 32 people, it feels comfortably spacious, owing to its high ceiling and excellent lighting. The extensive menu matches the cheery ambience, displaying several colorful food photos. It was lunchtime, and Reuben was drawn to the Pumpkin Curry in coconut milk. I decided to try the lunch special Spicy Green Bean with Tofu that comes with brown rice, salad, and a fried won ton.

Bodhi Vegetarian and Vegan Kitchen R: Though we seldom eat a large lunch, we treated ourselves to an appetizer of steamed Dumplings. Nina, the only server during the bustling lunch hour, was like a busy bee darting from table to table delivering attractive dishes from the kitchen. The menu was wisely designed with a "V" in front of each vegan dish. A quick perusal of the menu assured us the restaurant serves mostly vegan dishes, with just a smattering of vegetarian items. Prominent were the words "Kosher Thai."

Z. The 6 little steamed Dumplings were arranged in a neat row on a long, narrow, white plate. At one end stood a tiny cup of dipping sauce and a fluff of long, ultra-thin threads of carrot and purple cabbage. The delicate filling of finely minced carrot, green onion, snow peas, and mushrooms was tasty and paired well with the soy black vinaigrette for dipping. Sprinkled over the top of the dumplings was the perfect finishing touch--tiny tidbits of crunchy fried garlic.

Bodhi Vegetarian and Vegan Kitchen R: I was surprised at the lightness of the dumplings and was delighted it didn't spoil my appetite for the meal ahead. My Pumpkin Curry, attractively served in a square bowl, was a winner with its deliciously seasoned, lightly sweetened, creamy coconut curry sauce generously piled with chunks of kabocha squash, or pumpkin, red and green strips of bell pepper, and large chunks of soy chicken. All entrees can be ordered with a choice of tofu, soy chicken, seitan, or soy beef.

Z: Spooned over the brown rice, the pumpkin curry was not only tasty, but also very eye appealing. Though the bite-sized chunks of pumpkin were not peeled, the chef made a special effort to make the skin attractive and tender by using a fork-like implement to make striations on the deep green surface.

R: Zel's Spicy Green Bean lunch special, called Prig Khing on the A La Carte section, made a very striking presentation. The large, plump green beans, served in a deep bowl, were bathed in a thick, red, lightly spiced Thai chili paste with a touch of sweetness. We enjoyed the perky flavors immensely and loved the tasteful way the meal was plated. The bean bowl was sitting at one corner of a large square platter accompanied with a mound of brown rice and a generous salad of crisp romaine, carrots, and red cabbage at the opposite corner. The remaining spaces were taken by the fried won ton and small cup of soy vinaigrette for the salad.

Bodhi Vegetarian and Vegan Kitchen Z: The green beans were deliciously crisp and richly flavored--the tender tofu chunks a perfect match of opposite textures. Nina, our amazing server, was on top of everything, even refilling our water glasses before they were empty.

R: The menu features all the traditional Thai favorites found in non-vegetarian restaurants and also includes some non-typical items like Wraps, Burritos, and Burgers that are well-loved American favorites. Prices are reasonable with Appetizers ranging from $2.95 to $6.95. Soups are available in two sizes--small at $5.50 or large at $8.95. Salads $7.95 to $8.95. Main dishes like Noodles, A La Carte, Rice Dishes, and Curries are $8.95 to $10.95. Bodhi Specials are $11.25 to $12.25. Wraps and Burritos are $7.95 while Burgers are $5.95 to $6 95.

Z: We were impressed with the generous portions, the lovely presentations, the delicious flavors, and the caring service. Anyone yearning for a kosher restaurant with all those qualities will find Bodhi Vegetarian and Vegan Kitchen the perfect fit. They also deliver to neighborhood residents.

Bodhi Vegetarian and Vegan Kitchen
9303 W. Pico, Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: 310-248-2777
Hours: Sunday through Thursday 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Friday 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Saturday Closed
Website: http://bodhivegetarianla.com

Reviewed September 2012

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