What I Had for Lunch at Vegetable in Studio City
There are many vegan places to dine in Los Angeles these days, but few that really know how to do plant-based comfort food. Of course, some attempts at an entirely vegan mac and cheese can come close to the real thing, but not many can do a convincing creamy risotto or a Philly cheesesteak. That’s because Chef Jerry Yu knows how to fool your palate into believing that mushrooms are meat and cashews are cheese.
There may be no end of vegan cafés claiming to serve the best avocado toast, though the cozy comfort of Vegetable becomes the place to go when you just want to sink your teeth into something wholesome.
Vegetable’s dishes are full of all the healthy goodness, with just enough oomph to make you wonder if you are actually eating the real deal. In fact, Jerry only recently succumbed to the avocado toast trend. His butternut squash toast on grilled ciabatta is his signature answer to trendy toasts, however, everyone wants that toast in sexy avocado form. Chef Jerry isn’t a copycat or a trend follower.
I had to double check if the goat cheese on my beet salad was made with cashews, not goat milk. As the dishes arrived to the table, I became more awestruck by the taste rather than wonder the dish was plant-based or not. The pan-seared king trumpet mushroom “scallops” with Yukon gold potato garlic mash was everything you could ever desire in flavor. The salty tang and toothsome bite of the mushroom-as-scallop mingled with the buttery cloud of mashed potatoes in a way that didn’t try to compare itself to scallops per se, but makes you consider mushrooms as a delicacy in their own right.
The fresh spring pea and sweet corn risotto measures up to the best of risottos in creamy texture and undeniable richness. A spoonful is enough to satisfy you. Half a bowlful is a meal for anyone if you eat it slowly enough. If this compares to your Nonna’s risotto, you would want her to try this for herself.
The roasted golden and red beet salad with goat cheese, d’Anjou pears, walnuts, pickled shallots, sliced watermelon radish on a bed of mesclun greens had enough French lessons to speak in true chèvre. So delighted I was to delve into this salad that the slightest barnyard notion of the cheese gave me happiness. I could very well believe this was the classique salade de betteraves au fromage de chèvre. Really, you can’t find a more pear-fect salad.
And while I thought I could resist, the house made peanut butter ice cream served with a warm brownie was set before me. I ordered a pot of strong Darjeeling tea and spooned away, making a small dent into the scoop, and a swipe into the chocolate-y cake-y brownie. Then I told myself I’d save some to bring home to my daughter.
3711 CAHUENGA BLVD, STUDIO CITY, CA 91604 818.754.1149 WWW.VEGETABLELA.COM CHEF & PROPRIETOR: JERRY C.P. YU