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Soy good
Wednesday, 02 January 2013
Photo by Wes Naman
Thai Vegan creates delicious dishes with shrimp, chicken and beef substitutes, perfectly prepared and skillfully presented

By Justin De La Rosa
Albuquerque isn’t exactly the most vegan-friendly city. There are a few places here and there that cater to the meat-and-animal-product-free audience, but it can be hard to find different types of cuisines that offer a vegan choice. Thai Vegan recently opened its second location in the Nob Hill neighborhood and is winning over the hearts and palates of vegans and omnivorous eaters alike.

Thai Vegan
5505 Osuna NE 
3804 Central SE, 505.884.4610
Hours: 11a-2:30p, 5-9p, daily
I thoroughly enjoy a good Thai meal, and Nob Hill has plenty of great options. When Thai Vegan opened in the neighborhood, I was looking forward to trying some familiar flavors with soy substitutes – something I am always open to.

On a recent visit, my dining companion and I were seated by a welcoming wait staff and given a chance to study the menu. We each started the meal with a bowl of Miso Soup ($3.95), which was the ideal way to warm up on a cold and windy day. The miso was fresh, with a rich saltiness that was complemented by tender cubes of tofu, mushrooms and green onions. The servings of soup were certainly more than ample, as we both left about a quarter of a bowl behind when our Freshy Rolls ($6.95) arrived.

Photo by Wes Naman
The Freshy Rolls contain vermicelli, soy chicken, carrots, lettuce and bean sprouts all wrapped in rice paper. They come as a serving of four large rolls, and served as an enjoyable and crisp palate cleanser after the miso soup.

For our entrees, we decided to try the chef’s specialty, a Shrimp and Spinach Noodle dish ($10.95) and the Red Curry with Soy Pepper Steak ($8.95). The shrimp and spinach noodle dish was served on a large plate, piled high and garnished with red cabbage, carrots, cilantro and a lime slice. It was of mild spiciness and featured pronounced flavors of coconut. The soy shrimp was incredibly similar to the real thing. We could only distinguish a difference in the texture. Crisp bell peppers and onions added to the medley of flavors and textures, for a specialty that will certainly be something I order again on my next visit.

The red curry was said to be the hottest of the Thai Vegan curries, but I failed to be overwhelmed by any sort of heat. Luckily, the server was able to supply us with some garlic chili sauce and other spices to kick up the heat in the curry. It was served with a side of brown rice that had been shaped like a heart, showing us the love that goes into crafting each dish.

Photo by Wes Naman
Once we spiced up the curry, it quickly became my favorite part of the meal. This traditional curry has onions, red and green bell peppers and carrots in a slightly creamy red curry sauce. We wondered if the soy pepper steak would adequately pair with the sauce, and much to our delight the soy steak had a nice meaty consistency and a peppery flavor that rounded out the dish in a more-than-satisfying way.

Thai Vegan is one more example of just how good vegan food can be when prepared by the proper hands. Even for those who can’t imagine a meatless meal, it is a great surprise what soy substitutes can do. Thai Vegan’s menu spans salads, specialties, soups, curry, rice and wraps, so they are sure to pair a pleasure with your palate, no matter what your preferences are.

When you go to Thai Vegan, make sure to bring a few friends with you, as the portion sizes seem designed for a group and the sumptuous samplings should be shared by all.

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