Thai Vegan's website describes its Santa Monica location as a “kiosk,” but the restaurant is more like a food truck without wheels. Which is to say you order from a tiny window, there's a chalkboard menu, you can eat either in the sun or under the shade and if you aren't careful you can walk right past it.
That said, you should not walk right past the restaurant – opened in 2011 by by owner Ratree Boonpatara – because then you wouldn't get to try the pineapple tofu fried rice, which is pretty much the greatest four-word combination in the English language. Not surprisingly, this dish doesn't disappoint. ]
You'd think with so many ingredients (pan-fried rice, yellow curry paste, tofu, pineapple, raisin, green onion, onion, tomatoes, celery, garlic, cilantro, pepper and cucumber served in soy bean-mushroom sauce) that your palate might get a bit confused, but that's not the case. The garlic is subtle enough for daters or job interviews, while the heat level is at a minimum. The pineapple creates sweet relief if you've taken too many bites of celery in a row.
Sadly, not every dish is as ruling as the pineapple tofu fried rice. Case in point: the Massaman tofu curry, which isn't bad but tastes a bit too much like any other Massaman curry you'd find at another Thai eatery.
While this kind of familiarity might be good for some carnivores, even those who think every veganized meal tastes like hemp-infused cardboard, vegans who want a little something extra should probably go for the spicy mint noodles.
Made with flat pan-fried rice noodles, tofu, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, onion, basil, garlic, vinegar and pepper and served with more of that soy bean-mushroom sauce, the plate has a kick that can make even the driest eyes tear up. Thankfully, Thai Vegan's roll-up patio means you can wear sunglasses indoors, so no one will walk down Main Street near Hollister Avenue and think you're crying.