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Vegan Restaurant Dweeb No. 1

January 21, 2010

Hello fellow vegans, Spokanites, and Washingtonians!

I am a recent immigrant to Washington from California, having moved from Mendocino County to North Whitman County in Malden, just below the border of Spokane County. I live about 40 miles away from Spokane . In this column I hope to review the various restaurants, cafes and assorted eateries around my new home. I am partial to Asian cuisine, so it is mainly places of this type that I will review. I’ve been procrastinating on this project and I have a bit of a backlog, so I’ll try to put a few reviews at a time in my first few columns. I will try to review chronologically, and give as exact a date as possible, but sometimes this information may be only approximate.

Pho 666, 2904 E Sprague Ave, Spokane

This only had one vegan selection on the menu, a soup. It was a very large bowl. I assume the broth was soy-based and there were long rice noodles, mung bean sprouts and many other lightly cooked, almost raw vegetables. (I like them this way, so absolutely no complaint there.) I believe there was some sort of fresh herb plentifully added as a garnish, I believe cilantro. The owner, cook and waiter, a middle-aged Vietnamese man, was quite friendly and helpful in pointing out his one vegan selection.

Vien Dong Fareast. 1730 E. Sprague Avenue, Spokane.

I walked in an asked if they had a vegetarian menu, I believe, very politely and casually, not in a demanding manner. There was a young man sitting down to a meal, apparently at the “employees’ table”. (I hadn’t asked him, but the young teenager who asked me what she could do for me.)

He answered in a weary and slightly annoyed tone that NO, he did NOT have a vegetarian menu. I don’t remember if he said anymore beside this. I just said, Okay, thank you, and left. (Not angrily or anything.)

Southeast Oriental Express, 4003 E Sprague Avenue, Spokane

When I walked in and asked if there was anything vegetarian on the menu (I usually start with “vegetarian” and then ask for “no eggs”—dairy is almost never used in Asian cuisine.) The young woman hesitated and with what seemed to be mild annoyance said they don’t really have “much” vegetarian, but she did point to the vegetable chow mein. I then hesitated because the noodles in these usually have eggs. At that point I considered just saying thank you and leaving, but it seemed like they needed business so I’d give them a chance and asked if they could just make a vegetarian stir fry and serve it with rice? She seemed a little perturbed by that but agreed. The cook also seemed put out by my request.

When I complimented him on his cooking (which was quite good) just before leaving he coldly ignored it. I know that some of this *could* have been my perception, they both could have just been having a bad day, and they may have improved their vegan/vegetarian menu since, but I probably won’t be returning. I’m not mad or anything. I just don’t want to “inconvenience” them. Most of the restaurants I’ve visited since have been much friendlier and more polite.

Next issue, I’ll review one more “less-than-positive ” place, and then a bunch of better ones.

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