One of the many things you don't think of when you hear the words “South Bay” is awesome vegan food, but maybe you should, because Redondo Beach's Happy Veggie serves a pretty damn good animal-less pho.
Obviously, the best part of the dish is the meal itself. Served with tofu, shallots, roasted ginger, soy chicken (which, by the way, is amazing) and what the menu claims are “10 healthy herbs and spices simmered to perfection,” this pho also comes with a side plate comprised of fresh bean sprouts, basil, lime and jalapeno. As with many traditional pho, these accompanying foods are meant to be added to the soup for some sort of food orgy fornicating in a vegetable swinger's lounge. However, the sprouts are fresh and tasty while the other ingredients provide enough of a taste explosion that the pho doesn't suffer without them. So, in reality, it's a soup and salad combo.
You don't have to, but if you're really adventurous, add the Sriracha and vegetarian hoisin sauce. They work well individually, but when paired, it's like Christmas morning for your mouth.
But there is a second-best part about Happy Veggie's pho and that's the fact that the entire eatery is 100 percent vegan, meaning that everything there is made without meat, dairy, poultry, fish, eggs, MSG and anything else vegans don't or won't eat. For herbivores, this is crucial — because no matter how much faith herbivores put into the staff at non-veggie restaurants, there's always that looming notion that maybe the soy chicken was cooked in lard or the glass used for their water had milk in it three hours earlier.
The menu says the pho is suitable for two, which is accurate assuming neither party is starving. If that's the case, order the pho as an appetizer, then get something else. For parties of one, however, the pho is more than enough food to satisfy lonely bellies.
By going to Happy Veggie, you not only get an awesome vegan pho but you also get a legitimate reason to visit the South Bay, which happens less frequently than vegan pho. Just kidding … kind of.
Editor's note: This post has been revised since initial publication.