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The “duck” was “disappointing”

Go with the tofu at Purple Mint

Flavorful and satisfying lettuce wraps
Flavorful and satisfying lettuce wraps
Place

Purple Mint

6171 Mission Gorge Road, San Diego

I’m a meat-eater, but I don’t eat meat all the time and I love Thai food. So when I learned of Purple Mint Vegetarian Bistro, I was ready to check it out. David and I went in for lunch and were pleased that this strip-mall restaurant had a comfortable open interior with a stylish, rustic Thai vibe.

Inside Purple Mint
The “duck”
Egg Noodle Soup
Lemon Grass “Chicken”
Thai Iced Tea, complete with boba

As with many vegetarian restaurants, all the mock meat items were listed with the protein mocked in quotation marks. For example, we began with the Peking “Duck” Lettuce Wraps ($9.95) with what was described as “minced soy proteins,” shiitake mushrooms, and water chestnuts. It was an excellent way to begin, because those things are delicious — all the flavor of P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps with none of the concern I sometimes have for ending up with a chewy bit of gristle. Along with the iceberg lettuce cups were stalks of basil and mint, which went great with the diced, umami-flavored filling and the tangy sauce.

After a start like that, the entrée was a disappointment. I ordered the Braised “Duck” with Egg Noodle Soup ($8.95). The brick of mock duck had the texture of plastic and didn’t taste much better. The moment I bit down I realized that when it comes to vegetarian food, it’s best for me to stick with tofu. I like tofu, and I really don’t like the chewy, tasteless mess that is most mock meat. So, lesson learned.

The other half of this dish (the only half I picked at, because the “duck” was downright inedible) was a noodle soup with baby bok choy and shiitake mushrooms in what was advertised as a “savory broth.” I found the broth to be bland, with a hint of anise.

We had more luck with David’s dish, the Lemon Grass “Chicken” ($9.95). The lemon grass, garlic, and chili flakes were detectable and well balanced so that it wasn’t too bright or too spicy and with the grilled onions it packed plenty of flavor punch. And these “meatless strips” of soy protein were more tender and toothsome. Next time I’m ordering this entrée or one of the many other options with tofu instead of overly processed soy.

We didn’t need dessert, because I’d ordered the Thai Iced Tea ($3.75), which turned out to be huge and plenty sweet, filled with boba (chewy tapioca balls).

The poor choice of mock meat aside, between the lettuce wraps and that lemon “chicken,” the flavors came together to form a great reminder that you don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy the fare at a vegetarian restaurant.

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Flavorful and satisfying lettuce wraps
Flavorful and satisfying lettuce wraps
Place

Purple Mint

6171 Mission Gorge Road, San Diego

I’m a meat-eater, but I don’t eat meat all the time and I love Thai food. So when I learned of Purple Mint Vegetarian Bistro, I was ready to check it out. David and I went in for lunch and were pleased that this strip-mall restaurant had a comfortable open interior with a stylish, rustic Thai vibe.

Inside Purple Mint
The “duck”
Egg Noodle Soup
Lemon Grass “Chicken”
Thai Iced Tea, complete with boba

As with many vegetarian restaurants, all the mock meat items were listed with the protein mocked in quotation marks. For example, we began with the Peking “Duck” Lettuce Wraps ($9.95) with what was described as “minced soy proteins,” shiitake mushrooms, and water chestnuts. It was an excellent way to begin, because those things are delicious — all the flavor of P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps with none of the concern I sometimes have for ending up with a chewy bit of gristle. Along with the iceberg lettuce cups were stalks of basil and mint, which went great with the diced, umami-flavored filling and the tangy sauce.

After a start like that, the entrée was a disappointment. I ordered the Braised “Duck” with Egg Noodle Soup ($8.95). The brick of mock duck had the texture of plastic and didn’t taste much better. The moment I bit down I realized that when it comes to vegetarian food, it’s best for me to stick with tofu. I like tofu, and I really don’t like the chewy, tasteless mess that is most mock meat. So, lesson learned.

The other half of this dish (the only half I picked at, because the “duck” was downright inedible) was a noodle soup with baby bok choy and shiitake mushrooms in what was advertised as a “savory broth.” I found the broth to be bland, with a hint of anise.

We had more luck with David’s dish, the Lemon Grass “Chicken” ($9.95). The lemon grass, garlic, and chili flakes were detectable and well balanced so that it wasn’t too bright or too spicy and with the grilled onions it packed plenty of flavor punch. And these “meatless strips” of soy protein were more tender and toothsome. Next time I’m ordering this entrée or one of the many other options with tofu instead of overly processed soy.

We didn’t need dessert, because I’d ordered the Thai Iced Tea ($3.75), which turned out to be huge and plenty sweet, filled with boba (chewy tapioca balls).

The poor choice of mock meat aside, between the lettuce wraps and that lemon “chicken,” the flavors came together to form a great reminder that you don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy the fare at a vegetarian restaurant.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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