Monday, August 2, 2010

Papaya Vietnamese Cafe

My dining companion recently rode his bike around Mt Rainier, and as we were driving back home to Seattle he had some pretty specific food desires to balance his calorie deficit and the fact that he had been chowing down carbs all day: fresh, simple, hearty, vegetarian. I also had some pretty specific desires to balance the fact that I had also been chowing down on carbs all day, but had had about zero exercise: fresh, healthy, vegetables.

Vietnamese food is my favorite standby for food that is both fresh and light but also filling and savory. We decided to stop at The Landing in Renton and give Papaya Vietnamese Cafe a try.

We started with some tofu coconut salad rolls. They were awesome... tofu, strips of fresh young coconut, and some bits of crunchy fried something that really gave the rolls some nice texture.

For a main dish, I ordered something I've never seen anywhere before: Vegetarian Tofu Pho, with shredded zucchini and enoki mushrooms substituted for the noodles. It was the PERFECT solution to my desire for a bunch of veggies, and was a pretty dang impressive bowl:

Look at those beautiful shredded zuke/enoki "noodles"!

The quantity was huge, the broth was vegan and highly flavored (described on the menu as a "fruit and veggie broth") there were tons of herbs and they have the option (upon request) of fresh tofu instead of fried.

My dining companion ordered spicy lemongrass tofu bun. If you order this, be sure to specify that you'd like vegan sauce, or else you'll get fish sauce. If they say they don't have a vegetarian sauce, request a bowl of the vegan pho broth to dump on top.

The downside was that it wasn't exactly a cheap meal, especially since we're kind of spoiled on cheap Vietnamese food around here. Mine was $8 for veggie pho, plus $2 for the substitution of the vegetables for noodles (they call it the "DLite" option), and then an additional $1 for "spicy". All said, it was an $11 bowl of soup minus tax or tip.

But wow, what a nice thing to get such a huge and tasty vegetable hit!

The Landing has the very definite feel of a manufactured, new, planned by executives, "community hangout." That said, it was successful at being that and was a super pleasant place to eat... very clean and safe feeling and with tons of families and well behaved folks strolling around, eating, shopping, etc.

Papaya - Vietnamese Cafe on Urbanspoon

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