390 E Santa Clara St # 3, San Jose, CA
520 E. Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA
There seems to be a portion of E. Santa Clara street in downtown San Jose which is the vegetarian corridor. This month, we went to two vegetarian places located within blocks of each other. Dandelion Vegetarian Cafe is an inexpensive, small cafe type place, more suited for lunch than dinner. Vegetarian House is more fancy and better suited for dinner. In close proximity is another vegetarian restaurant - Tofoo Com Chay, which we have not tried yet.
Dandelion has a small but sunny interior with flowers painted on the walls. The menus are also very colorful. The first time I went there, I tried the spring noodle soup from the menu. My friend got the spicy udon noodle soup. We both really liked the noodles and especially the "tea egg" which was in there. Apparently tea egg is just a hard boiled egg which has been soaked in black tea. The flavor was pretty interesting and the egginess was fully gone. The bill came to around $9 per person including tip.
The second time I went with V, we ordered the pre-made dishes with rice. It is pretty cheap at $5.99 for rice + 3 items. The dishes vary every day and V was very disappointed than they did not have the kung pao chicken on the day that we went. (How can they not have kung pao on a Friday, he lamented!) As a result he did not really enjoy his lunch. I quite liked it for the price and the quality. We both got stir fried pea shoots, veggie beef with broccoli and veggie sweet and sour pork. Again the bill came to $9 per person including tip. I would recommend ordering off the menu if you have the time. The pre-made items are convenient for a quick take-away though.
Vegetarian House is part of a chain of restaurants that are affiliated with the "Supreme Master Tsing Tao". Inside the restaurant, there is a bunch of material promoting her philosophy and teachings. Other restaurants that are affiliated are Loving Hut in Palo Alto and Milpitas, and Merit Vegetarian in Sunnyvale. The food is pretty good at all these places whether or not you want to have anything to do with the Supreme Master!
V and I have been to Vegetarian House almost 2 years back and I have been wanting to go back ever since. We went there this time with our friend D, who always cracks up at the mention of the Supreme Master! :-) Interestingly, on one of my trips to Seoul, I walked into a vegetarian restaurant, and there was this picture of the Supreme Master Tsing Tao smiling down at me! She is everywhere!
The interior of Vegetarian House is nicely done with walls made of colored glass. We decided to order family style. D had her heart set on the "Spicy Cha Cha" and she even pronounced it correctly with her limited knowledge of Chinese. V and I ordered the Dancing Asparagus and Szechuan Strips. Of the three, we liked the Szechuan strips the best for the flavor, although all three were good. The Szechuan Strips had a very tasty sauce and wonderful crisp veggies. V disliked the Asparagus for some reason. The Spicy Cha Cha has crescent-shaped yam flour, which resembled shrimp. I quite liked it, and so did D. V was ambivalent again.
Spicy Cha Cha
The bill came to $50 with tax and tips for the three of us. Although on the pricey side, we would definitely go back there to try their kung pao which our waiter raved about!