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Faux Meat
Many vegetarians find it something to behold — and enjoy
Sweet and Sour "Chicken" at the Bamboo Garden got raves from readers.
WHEN WRITING about The Teapot Vegetarian House for our annual Dining Out issue, I asked readers to vote on whether they liked imitation meat dishes. And, if so, which restaurants and dishes they preferred.

The results were overwhelmingly in favor of such vegetarian substitutions. The one dish mentioned most, by far: Sweet and Sour Chicken at Bamboo Garden (364 Roy St., Seattle; 206-282-6616). Like The Teapot, Bamboo Garden is vegan and kosher; as is common in vegetarian restaurants, the "meat" in the dish names indicates imitations, often of tofu or one of two wheat derivatives, gluten or seitan.

"It's the absolute best vegan restaurant in Seattle," said Dawn James. "I highly recommend the Stewed Mushrooms and Vegetables with Shredded Duck Meat Over Noodles with Broth," she said. "My spouse casts his vote for the Mandarin Chicken. (I would rate it right after the duck soup.) I have eaten at many vegan Chinese restaurants and none holds a candle to Bamboo Garden. Be sure to make reservations when dining on the weekend; this is a very popular place, and for very good reason."

Other Bamboo Garden dishes that readers singled out: Lemon Chicken, Almond Fried Chicken, Buddha Basket, Hot Pots, Chicken Noodle Soup.

Last year, Julie Olsen ordered a to-go Thanksgiving dinner for her family from Bamboo Garden. "My nephew was afraid to eat it — he swore they made a mistake and served us real turkey," Olsen said. "I can honestly say the turkey tasted better than real turkey!"

Dawn James also likes Araya's Vegan Thai on University Way, Cafe Ambrosia off Eastlake and Hillside Quickies, also in the U District. ("Best vegan sandwiches on the planet! Try the Tofu Thingee!")

Shanna Sukol mentioned General's Chicken at Tasters Wok in Edmonds.

"I had an amazing meatloaf substitute at Cafe Ambrosia that had my meat-eating boyfriend melting!" said Jenn Forbes.
Fitness Notebook
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A veggie chuckle
Reader Sandra Kornblatt shared this apropos story:

"I saw the Dalai Lama when he was here about 12 years ago. An audience member asked, 'Are you a vegetarian?' He answered that he'd stopped eating meat long ago — causing some applause. (Can applause be rightfully called self-righteous?) However, he went on to say that a few years prior, his doctor told him to start eating meat, which he does every other day. With great amusement he proclaimed he's been a vegetarian half his life!"

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Ask Molly
Questions on workouts, equipment or nutrition? Send them to Ask Molly, Pacific Northwest magazine, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111, or e-mail
Mel!ssa Chubbuck (who does spell her name with that exclamation point) likes The Teapot's Mandarin Crispy "Beef" — "tastes like hot wings! The Tofu Prawns are also excellent, while nothing at all like prawns. . . Cafe Flora has a great tofu 'ricotta' that they put on their pizza. Silence Heart Nest has a Western Round Up breakfast at their Sunday brunch, including soy sausage, sweet potato biscuits, and cashew gravy. It is sooooooo goooooooood."

Dave Bemel voted for The Teapot's Rose Chicken. "The Lemon Chicken at Longlife Veggie House in Berkeley, Calif., is right up there too, though."

Several readers told of their favorite tofu dishes, which might not qualify as "faux meat" but are worth mentioning:

"The best tofu dishes are practically everything at Araya's Vegetarian/Vegan Thai Restaurant in the U District," said Paula Bennett. "My personal favorite is green curry with tofu. Chaiyo out on 15th Avenue Northeast is another source of very good tofu dishes."

"I like the Thai Kitchen in Kirkland's Green Beans and Tofu cooked in peanut sauce for $6.95," said Martha Franklin. "I get it with no stars. In fact, my main objection to vegetarian dishes (such as those found at Indian restaurants) is that they seem to think they're obligated to make them terribly 'hot' with spices to cover up for the absence of meat. I don't miss meat and like tasting my fare. My taste buds are still intact so I enjoy subtle tastes and cannot tolerate such hot, overdone spices."

"Pandasia on Dravus has great food," said K.C. Den. "We like to order 'Pandameinia' (homemade noodles) with tofu. But our hands-down favorite is something with the unassuming name of 'Bean Curd Family Style.' A great variety of vegetables, including mushrooms, stir fried with tofu in a wonderfully spicy-hot sauce. Yum."

Other reader picks:

• Black Pearl in Wedgwood and Shoreline, for its Fried Bean Curd Sheet dish.

• World Wrapps, for its Tofu and Mushroom Teriyaki wraps.

And finally, for those who might find themselves with a hankering for faux meat in Monterey Park, Calif., Seattle native Mark Yasuda weighed in from San Diego with his recommendations: Vegetarian Shredded Pork with Dry Bean Curd and Vegetarian Fish With Bean Sauce at the Happy Family restaurant. There are also Happy Familys in Rowland Heights and San Gabriel, Calif.

And, presumably, happy vegetarian families.

Molly Martin is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine. She can be reached at 206-464-8243, or P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111.

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