4661 Park Boulevard, University Heights
I never had anything against going to Plumeria. I always knew I’d get around to going. I knew it was a vegetarian and vegan restaurant, and as an omnivore of convenience I suppose I was keeping it in my back pocket until the day I had a vegan date to impress.
But I didn’t realize it’s a Thai restaurant, which changes everything. Across the street from Plumeria is Bahn Thai, a reliably good source of noodles and curries featuring a choice of meaty proteins. I’ve gone to University Heights many times looking for Thai but never for vegetarian.
I might still be waiting to try Plumeria if I hadn’t lucked into a parking spot in front of the place. I spotted a broccoli-and-peanut sauce dish on the menu, including carrots and zucchini with the option of mock duck.
Meat isn’t the thing that makes Thai food great. In fact, mediocre meat is the first thing that can sink an otherwise-decent Thai restaurant. So even though I wanted that seitan mock duck, I was actually in it for the peanut sauce and to a lesser extent the broccoli.
The nine-dollar dish couldn’t have been cuter, with a star-shaped serving of rice — actually a mixture of brown and jasmine rice. That’s an ingenious mix, combining healthy and flavorful. The star shape made it feel special.
The mock duck had some crispy edges, which I also found special. I wouldn’t say it wholly replaced duck, but it proved duck-like enough to suspend disbelief. The peanut sauce was spot-on and brought the steamed vegetables along for the ride, and within a couple of minutes my pretty plate didn’t look so pretty anymore.
Part of me wants to take this experience as inspiration to give some other vegetarian restaurants a shot. Problem is, I might wind up being disappointed when they don’t also serve a healthy take on Thai.