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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise

 Dining in Paradise

R: You might say we were primed for a special meal by a couple of emails we received in praise of Vegi Wokery, a Chinese vegetarian restaurant in a shopping center in Cerritos.

Z: Surely you've already guessed that Reuben is always primed for a good meal, as were our friends who came along. We arrived early for dinner on a Saturday night, and had no trouble finding a table at this cozy little restaurant that has a total of 10 tables, each one seating four people or more.

R: Bonnie, our server, had a manner that radiated peace and contentment. Her bubbling enthusiasm for her work was evident as she greeted us and directed us to a table along the wall. We soon sensed an aura of serenity about the place and became aware of the soft sounds of Chinese meditation music. The mood was peaceful, the décor artful with Chinese calligraphy decorating the walls. Vegi Wokery

Z: As I looked around I became aware of a pink glow throughout the room and realized the tables were set with pink tablecloths covered with glass tops. On the tables were chopsticks and white paper napkins. After Bonnie quickly asked if anyone required a fork, we replied in unison that forks would definitely be helpful.

R: We both wrestle with chopsticks and can actually get through a whole meal with them, but the fork is certainly our utensil of choice. Bonnie suggested we begin with a pot of decaf Cinnamon or Mint Tea, their special teas of the day. We chose the cinnamon that turned out to be mild and very warming.

Z: For our appetizer we selected Soy Chicken Drum Sticks and decided we had to try their Hot and Sour Soup, one of our all-time favorites. This restaurant deserves high marks for their extremely efficient service. In a matter of moments, Tiffany, Bonnie's assistant, brought the soup to table and served each of us graciously.

R: Delicious, yet refreshingly different, this soup stood out from others of its kind. It was less hot and less sour but had excellent flavor. Each of our bowls were filled with colorful and crunchy vegetables. What a great start to the meal!

Z: Soon we were all devouring our Soy Chicken Drum Sticks that we dipped into a savory barbecue sauce. These were outstanding! The texture resembled the real thing. Even the outside had the appealing browned appearance of the real thing. What we were eating was a well-seasoned soy-based imitation chicken that was shaped like a drumstick and wrapped around a small dowel that resembled a chicken leg bone.

R: All four of our thumbs are enthusiastically raised in praise of this dish. While we were busy with the drum sticks, Bonnie brought us a little dish with some Marinated Broccoli Stalks that she said was something like kim chee. Indeed it was! These tasty little chunks had a spicy life of their own! I'm a little timid when it comes to chile peppers, but fearless Zel plunged right in with true bravado. In moments they were gone

Z: Bonnie offered some excellent suggestions for our entrees, recommending their most popular dishes. The House Special Hot Pot was everyone's favorite. Braised together in a little casserole was a combination of veggie shrimp, taro, yam ball, tofu ball, veggie beef, broccoli, cabbage, baby corn, and snow peas that resulted in one of the tastiest Chinese dishes we've ever had.

R: When Bonnie asked if we preferred white rice or brown, we all chimed "brown" in unison, delighted that we were offered that choice. Our server described it as very special because it had seven grains.

Z: When the Brown Rice arrived at our table in a typical covered Chinese rice pot, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that it was a mixture of whole grains such as barley, buckwheat, and oats in addition to several kinds of brown rice. This was indeed veggie comfort food.

R: The Vegetarian Fish with Hot Bean Sauce is a specialty of the house and one they are proud of for good reason. Picture little circles of veggie fish about an inch thick and covered with nori on the outside to resemble a real slice of fish. These aromatic little patties, made from bean curd sheet, were bathed in a nicely seasoned brown sauce and were swimming with lots of vegetables.

Z: We asked Bonnie to suggest a dish that had plenty of vegetables. She quickly suggested the Bean Curd Sheet with Vegetables. Tantalizing chunks of bean curd sheet paired well with the broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, celery, and green beans in a delicate brown sauce that allowed the vegetables to stand on their own.

R: Our meal came to a close with a plate of refreshing, juicy orange slices. During Bonnie's many trips to our table we learned that the restaurant has been open for six years. Bonnie came to the United States from Taiwan 22 years ago.

Z: For newcomers to the restaurant, the selection is quite impressive. We decided this is one restaurant difficult to tire of, but instead invites diners to return many times to sample their many outstanding choices.

R: It's their philosophy I admire. On each table, under the glass top, is a green paper that expresses their commitment to food that is "consciously hand made with the finest vegetarian ingredients. On a daily basis our internal body chemistry is deeply affected by our food choices." They use no eggs, no dairy, and no MSG.

Vegi Wokery
11329 183rd St., Cerritos, CA 90703
Located in a shopping center at the northwest corner of 183rd St. and Gridley
Phone: 562-809-3928
Hours: Monday through Saturday, Closed Sundays
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Dinner: 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Reviewed March 2002

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