By Evelyn Barge
I’ve been known to develop strange food obsessions.
Jellied cranberry sauce, at any time of year. Cheetos-brand bacon-cheddar crackers, which are less about cheese and more about a cheddar-flavored paste substance. Cottage cheese and sliced black olives – together.
But I recently had a food re-awakening and started forming some dietary habits that are actually good for me. And guess what? Healthy food is addicting, too.
Now I feel deprived if I don’t start my day with a banana, or if I forget to add avocado to my sandwich at lunch.
My desire for a healthy menu that, most importantly, tastes good brought me to Bean Sprouts Vegetarian Restaurant in Arcadia. It’s one of a limited number of veggie-friendly eateries in the San Gabriel Valley, and a popular one no less.
I’ve had great success with West Covina’s One World Vegetarian Cuisine, from which I frequently order take-out, but it was time to expand my horizons.
The offerings at Bean Sprouts trend toward a variety of Asian dishes, all vegetarian, with lots of noodle and rice plates to choose from.
Sitting down in the dining area, which is immaculate and modern, a menu on the table was placed with the lunch specials facing up. After that, there was almost no reason to turn the page, save for curiosity.
The lunch-hour specials are all $5.99, for a generous helping that comes with soup and a cold appetizer. For $1.99, you can add a side dish; For another 99 cents, a glass of the winter melon tea, for which people would willingly pay three times as much at Coffee Bean.
As my main dish, I ordered the noodles with fermented bean sauce. It was an oversized portion of an average entree, anchored by (thankfully) above-average sauce. I wanted to eat the sauce and bean curd off the top, and leave behind the rather bland-tasting noodles.
The servings of fresh-steamed veggies like cabbage, carrots and celery along with the small side of rainbow rolls – all come included with lunch specials – played a bigger role in filling my contented belly.
In the past, tasteless and dry vegan sushi has scared me off from the genre as a whole, but since the rainbow rolls came as a package deal, it was a good chance to jump back on the horse.
Now I know what I’ll order next time. With carrot, lettuce and peanut powder wrapped in seaweed and rice paper topped with vegan mayonnaise, the rolls were crunchy clusters packed with plenty of flavor. I might have ordered another round, if I wasn’t already stuffed to the brim.
The side dish of pan-fried radish patties – made of shredded radish, rice flour and oatmeal – was also a stellar addition with a really unique, mild flavor. The patties held a similar consistency to scallion pancakes, but with much less sodium and much less guilt.
Bean Sprouts has its storefront on Huntington Drive in an extremely walkable part of downtown Arcadia. Next time, I’ll take advantage of its close proximity to the Arboretum and create a custom picnic bento box to bring along.
Bean Sprouts is located at 103 E. Huntington Drive in Arcadia. For more information, call (626) 254-8708 or visit www.beansproutsrestaurant.com.