I've heard many great things about this Thai vegan restaurant since it opened. I've been to and seen a few mock meat Asian restaurants before like ChuChai in Montreal (which I blogged about here), Golden Lotus in Oakland (there are a number of Asian restaurants in the Bay Area that specialize in faux meats), and Red Bamboo in NYC. Based off my previous dining experiences, I figured the place would be either fancier (like ChuChai and Red Bamboo) or sort of just a hole in the wall. It's the latter. That doesn't mean it is bad, it just means it is a small establishment and more reasonably priced! I would recommend making reservations because from how I counted, there are only 8 tables in the whole restaurant. It is also BYOB.
As far as having an Asian restaurant with an extensive mock meat menu, I'm glad Chicago now has one! It is definitely an interesting dining experience. If I wanted to get a veggie cashew stir-fry, I would just go to any Thai restaurant and tell them to hold the fish/oyster sauce and add in some tofu. I think the primary reason to go to Urban Vegan (or any of the other places I mentioned, really) is to eat the faux meat with vegan pride. It just isn't worth it to go for Buddha's Delight (other than to support a vegan restaurant). That being said, I'm curious as to what vegan meat company they use. There is always the ever popular May Wah based out of NYC. I'm pretty sure this is what Red Bamboo uses. The "fish" in the Tom Yum I had at Urban Vegan tasted a lot like the fillets they sell on May Wah. If anyone knows where Urban Vegan gets their mock meat, I'd love to know. I'm curious!
|Grilled Veggie Dumplings|
The menu is very extensive. They have all the usual Thai foods gone vegan as well as veggie sushi, wrap, burgers, and smoothies. There is also a lunch and dinner combination menu. They include steamed brown rice, a spring roll, salad, and a choice of an entree with either tofu, soy chicken, seitan, pepper steak, or soy fish ($9.95/lunch and $11.95/dinner). Addition of bacon, shrimp, or chicken nuggets is extra ($11.95/lunch and $13.95/dinner). For those of you with gluten allergies, there is a wheat-free menu available.
|Seafood Tom Yum Soup|
|Garlic Pepper Steak|
|Pad Won Zen (w/ Soy Chicken)|
If you want to pick up mock meat in Chicago and make your own food, there are a couple of grocery stores in the city. I personally like the Uptown neighborhood stores to get this stuff. Broadway Supermarket is my favorite. If you go to the very back corner near the produce, you'll find all the veggie meats in the freezer. Golden Pacific Market has faux meats too. Lastly, Tai Nam Food Market seems to carry a lot of products as well, though I've never been (and now I must!).
Urban Vegan Chicago's Facebook Page here.