Dear Mr. Gold,
While living in Minneapolis, my wife developed an addiction to the mock-duck dishes — especially the curry varieties — available at the many Vietnamese restaurants there. In our eight years here in Southern California, I’ve been unable to locate any restaurants that serve this. Any ideas?
—Wrye M., Los Angeles
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Dear Mr. M.,
There are vegetarian “meats” of every description in the San Gabriel Valley: vegetarian game hens, vegetarian pork kidneys, vegetarian shrimp, vegetarian liver, vegetarian beef — enough to fill an entire refrigerator aisle at major Chinese supermarkets like Shun Fat and 99 Ranch. The best local Shanghainese restaurants do a superb job with vegetarian duck and goose fabricated from mushrooms and various soy and wheat extracts. Try Mei Long Village in San Gabriel or Lake Spring in Monterey Park. Blossom, a Vietnamese bistro downtown in the Old Bank District, has very passable vegetarian versions of cha gio and pho.
But Vinh Loi in Reseda is a full-on Vietnamese mock-meat specialist, with a menu full of meaty things like bun bo hue, noodles with credible versions of prawns and the gritty pigskin strips called bi, even of the charcuterie-stuffed hoagies called banh mi. I’m not sure if there is a mock-duck curry, but there is a spicy take on Vietnamese duck-noodle soup. 18625 Sherman Way, Reseda, (818) 996-9779 or www.vinhloitofu.com.
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