Monday, September 3, 2007

Mighty Vege House, Alhambra

Mighty Vege House is located in an Alhambra mini mall built around a bowling alley. I’ve never bowled there but the idea of enjoying lane-side seaweed tofu bamboo veggie ham soup from Mighty Vege House and dumplings from 101 Noodle Express (also in the same mall) is appealing.

Most of the soy or gluten meats on the menu have been disappointing with the kind of off flavor that anyone who has ever attempted making soy milk will recognize as the hardest thing to eliminate in its production. Many restaurants attempt to mask the conspicuous soy flavor by deep frying the “meat” which is why a meal at a vegetarian Chinese restaurant can be a heavy affair. I generally avoid the deep fried dishes which is why I’ve never tried anything from the fried appetizers selection such the veggie kabob with spicy BBQ sauce.

veggie chicken, mushroom, water chestnut, green pepper with Szechuan sauce
I can't recommend the "chicken"

I have however, been impressed with the entire dish as well as the flavor and texture of the “pork” in the steamed veggie pork with pumpkin and lotus leaves and in the veggie pork sliced with cabbage and green pepper.

They offer a decent variation of “veggie five ingredients with chili” sometimes called chili eight (or five) treasure - a stir fry of small uniform sized cubes of bean curd, some other form of soy meat, water-chestnuts, pepper, and sometimes peanuts in a mildly spicy brown sauce.

The spicy soup hot pots are a unique feature at Mighty Vege House. Hot pot can be a great joy and it is possible to buy all of the necessary ingredients to make a vegetarian version at home. In restaurants however, the base is a meat broth and even if the restaurant is willing to make a water based broth, the fillings are limited to just a few vegetables. Mighty Vege House brings out every fake meat form in the kitchen from shrimp, to squid, to meatballs to beyond identification for their meat intensive (boiled, not fried) variations of hot pot. The soup is indeed spicy and comes close in flavor to Szechuan hot pot broth.

"many veggie ingredients with spicy soup" (Szechuan hot pot)

I haven’t tried the six hot pots on the menu that are not served in a spicy soup but I assume they are just as laden with a sampling of non-animal protein.

Their steamed vegetable buns (large, round, thick-skinned dumplings also available fried), filled with vegetables and tofu and are satisfying and I would probably order them more often if a superior dumpling were not available a few doors away at 101 Noodle Express.

There are still enough interesting sounding menu items that I’ve yet to try:

dried bean curd & water spinach with Satay sauce
dried bean curd, celery with soy sauce
sour bamboo, veggie pork with soy sauce
veggie sausage, basil, mushroom with soy sauce
vege abalone, Shimeji mushrooms, green pepper, carrot
vege pork steak with spicy black bean sauce
vege ham in honey with sliced bread
Chinese herbal yam, green vegetable, veggie pork
sesame gobo
special tofu with green sauce

The average price for dinner menu items are $8 with $4.50 lunch specials.

1400 East Valley Blvd. (West of New Ave.) 626-293-8189

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