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Happy Restaurant Discovery
When I headed for dinner earlier, I knew that I would go someplace I'd never been before. You see, I'm on a secret mission in a city I've never before explored.

That place was Lu Lai Garden, a few blocks from my hotel here in Milpitas, California. I didn't know the name of the place when I saw it, only that it was near the end of an all-Asian strip mall, there were Chinese letters, and the word "VEGETARIAN" in bright lights.

I look through the menu posted outside the place on the glass, and there's lots of items with squid, fish, pork, and beef, but at the front of the menu was the note: "100% Vegetarian Food (Some Dishes Contain Eggs and Milk)". I figure that this is one of those Chinese restaurants which use fake meat analogues; I'd eaten at on in Boca Raton, Florida back in 1996 that was quite good, so I decide to head in.

For the length of time I was there, I was the only non-Asian person, but I was treated very friendly. They sat me at a small table, brought out hot tea, and I then had to pick something. Normally, there aren't many vegetarian items to choose from; here, the menu goes up to 193. I ended up choosing a dish from the chef's recommendation list, curry tofu and okra. It's labeled "spicy". I eventually get a big dish of firm tofu rectangles, bell peppers, mushrooms, potatoes, and okra pods, all in a really delicious curry sauce, along with plenty of steamed rice. It takes me a while, but I get through all of the curry stuff and about half of the rice, and I'm left very satisfied.

My total was $10, plus a couple of dollars tip. I grabbed a menu on the way out, and I hope to come back there in the future with other people so we can order a bunch of things and share them. However, even though I know everything is vegetarian, I don't think I'm up for ordering #119: sizzling squid balls & tofu stick.

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Mmm, that sounds great! I've been eating at Zen a lot lately (craving brown rice, for some reason), so I'm in the same kind of groove.

The meeting went really well today, I thought. Glad you could attend. You startled me several times--I'd forget you were on the phone, then you'd speak up and yow! :) Did you get the M&Ms?

Not yet... it does take Miss Skye a little longer to tap out "M" on her phone than it does for us to send off an SMS on our Treos, so I'll give her some slack.

I went to a place like that in Calgary, Canada. It was too realistic for me, though. It was neat to have so many options, admittedly. I need to make it back to veggie heaven...since I married a carnivore, I stopped going.

I think that was part of the reason I ordered a tofu dish... even though I knew something called "fried chicken" wasn't really chicken, I didn't think I'd be too comfortable to someone trying to recreate the texture and flavor of meat.

Although, I do regularly buy some meat analogues like the Smart Deli slices and the Morningstar Buffalo Wings, I think those are enough different that I don't have a problem. Besides, they're emulating something that's already been through a lot of processing.

Definitely get back to Veggie Heaven sometime! That's one place I usually can get my non-veg friends to go to occasionally, since they do such a good job.

next time we're in milipitas together, count me in.

i'm a pretty unrepentant non-vegetarian, but somehow chinese just seems to do veggie right. It's not unusual for me to dive straight into the vegetarian section on the chinese menu, then add a side of shrimp egg rolls or dumplings.

Didn't know you were out in the Bay... on one of my next trips, I'll drop you a line.

Wow.....man, I feel like I'm missing out by being here in Austin! You'd think we could do it right, but Cali just seems to have so much cool stuff.....

*dreamy look*

*Got* to go visit my aunt and uncle out there at some point....give me a good excuse to sample millions of amazing veggie places....

*dreamier look*

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