Like the increasingly popular vegan versions of Thai food that are popping up around town, sushi is starting to catch the Tofurky Syndrome. This is what I call the attempt to make animal-product-like food out of animal-product-free ingredients—Tofurky being, essentially, tofu in the shape, color, and arguably flavor and texture of turkey. In the Thai restaurants that go vegan, this translates into a colorful assortment of protein pretenders that you can’t help but be impressed by, even if you think it’s a bit silly.
Another winner was the udon noodles, which were perfectly stir-fried—not too chewy or soft—and in a light, savory sauce that packed a little heat. It was uncomplicated vegan goodness that didn’t carry the ache of wishing it was something else.
The bento box probably delivers the most food for the money of any dish on the menu, with miso soup, small salads (cucumber-seaweed and green leaves in a gingery dressing) and pan-fried spinach gyoza filling out my sizable order. I forwent the various fishlike options for the entrée slot, instead ordering a grilled portobello with vegetables—in this case, thin, tender-crisp asparagus and a fat ring of onion—on pleasantly glutinous, lightly seasoned brown rice.
There are plenty of folks who’ll love the food at Loving Vegan—especially those who can afford it, because it does add up. And you’ll have to find it first, as it’s tucked in an anonymous strip mall on Coors. Once you make your way into this simple place, however, you’ll encounter a crew of sincere cooks dedicated to the vegan cause. And if you order enough of it, you’ll leave full but not feeling heavy—your conscience included.