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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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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.

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