Restaurant of the Week: Bright Star Thai Vegan

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Bright Star Thai Vegan Cuisine, 9819 Foothill Blvd. (at Ramona), Rancho Cucamonga

A vegan restaurant in the Inland Valley? Unlikely as it seems, there is one, in an aging strip mall east of Archibald Avenue that also boasts a Korean market. Bright Star opened a few weeks ago and on a recent lunchtime was doing decent business.

Since few Thai dishes use eggs or dairy products, this is essentially a vegetarian place, but they do use soy milk rather than condensed milk in Thai iced tea, which is less sweet than what you’re used to. Bright Star has soups, salads, curries, noodle and rice dishes, and some non-Asian sandwiches.

Our table had two of the lunch specials, garlic soy chicken with mixed vegetables and sweet chili soy fish ($6.95 each), which come with miso soup, salad, steamed brown rice and two dumplings. The faux chicken was indeed chicken-like, the faux fish less so but acceptable. This isn’t precisely my sort of thing, but it wasn’t bad, and you can’t help but feel more virtuous after a vegan meal, which counts for something.

I was impressed that a niche restaurant that would seem better suited to Santa Monica appears to have found a place here, and a multi-ethnic clientele: Over the course of a lunch hour, diners included a half-dozen blacks, a few Asians, one Latino and a white couple besides yours truly. Not cutting into meat must cut across all sorts of boundaries.

(This area has just two other vegetarian restaurants, according to HappyCow’s restaurant guide: Veggie Era, 903 W Foothill Blvd. in Upland, and Veggie and Tea House, 641 Arrow Highway in San Dimas.)

* Update, February 2014: Bright Star is still around, which is even more impressive given that its strip center is largely vacant. I got the garlic soy chicken again for photo purposes. It’s gone up a mere 4 cents in price in six years, to $6.99, although you only get one dumpling now, not two. Still tasty, and the restaurant was doing a good lunch trade.

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  • Mary

    David,
    I wanted to know what happened to good artery clogging restaurant El Mexicano in Ontario? I also wanted to know if The Iron Skillet has closed?

    [Iron Skillet? I'll have to check. El Mexicano, as you must have noticed, is now the Shrimp Kitchen. I'm looking forward to trying it. -- DA]

  • http://www.myspace.com/chrisfrenzy chris

    I waited so long for this place to open, and it finally did, and I couldn’t be happier with it! I just went there today too!

    Vegan Power

  • Kelly

    I’m a vegan and I have eaten at Bright Star Vegan Thai twice. I love their food and I’m thrilled to have them in the area. Their tom kha soup and pineapple curry are excellent. I can’t wait to try more things on the menu!

  • Lauren

    I am a lone vegan in a large family of militant carnivores. Bright Star Thai Vegan is satisfying for everyone. I marvel at an enormous menu from which I can pick absolutely anything I want, and family marvels at the idea that the food is so good.

    This restaurant is different also in that it has a nice atmosphere. Vegan restaurants usually have very nice staff, but the decor is often sorely lacking. This place gives you a nice dining experience along with excellent food.

    They have take-out as well which is fast and never less than the dine-in quality.

  • Jon

    why would you need to note what races ate there at the same time you did? seems completely irrelevant, unless you need to warn the whites of what might be in store. other than that, i deciding to give it a try.

    [My lunch companion, who's Asian, thought the mix of ethnicities was interesting and so did I. Vegan obviously isn't just for yuppie white folks. -- DA]