I kept pacing, walking, texting, getting insane. Saturday near noon in Little Saigon, with horrific traffic and sad news. I was supposed to meet a pal at Zen Vegetarian Restaurant, a place I hadn't visited in a while but which my vegetarian friend swore by. Only problem: it no longer existed; construction workers were busy ripping apart its former confines to prep for a creperie, while a group of elderly men sat in the patio outside, gossiping in Vietnamese.
I kept waiting. Noon turned into 12:10, 12:20. Five minutes past the 15-minute grace period. I didn't have my friend's number, and he hadn't arrived. I began walking toward Lee's Sandwiches, upset at my pal but sadder that such a great place like Zen wasn't able to make it even in a world that's increasingly more meat-free. I thought better than to eat at Lee's when Ba Le was just across the street. As I turned to get into my car, though, there was Zen: in the same building as its original location but on the other side, now twice as big. Stupid me; lucky stomach.
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My friend and his friend were already there, waiting. Zen's menu is now bigger, but no less great than its first incarnation. I ordered ginger chicken, and the tofu tasted just like bird. It sat on top of sauteed greens (not sure what kind, but muy bueno) accompanied by a sweet dunking sauce. Very cheap, but I never did get my lemonade. Then again, it was as slammed as Bolsa Avenue outside.
NOTE: No tacos sold at Zen, but Taco Man fully endorses.
Zen Vegetarian Restaurant, 9329 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 895-3637; www.zenvegetarian.com. Now, with stage for maximum karaoke!