FOOD FIGHT: Paradise Vegetarian Noodle House embraces fresh flavours

Paradise Vegetarian removes the meat from typical Vietnamese fare.

Paradise Vegetarian Noodle House in Burnaby lives up to its name — behold, vegans, here is your Vietnamese food paradise.

The extensive 100 per cent vegan, no MSG menu won’t break your bank any more than a typical Vietnamese restaurant in Vancouver; this is what gives grand bragging rights to this small restaurant shoved in a corner of a hidden community shopping centre. A place like this is worth the trek (being on a street somewhat disregarded by public transit) because it’s unique both in concept and product to any other fully vegan restaurant in Metro Vancouver.

This business has been run by passionate vegan manager Kim Nguyen for over 12 years. She is visibly dedicated to promoting the vegan lifestyle taught by the Supreme Master Ching Hai, the spiritual teacher of the Quan Yin Method, a spiritual teaching. Nguyen is without a doubt proving with the success of her business that the vegan movement is relevant, and that fresh, delicious vegan foods are accessible and possible.

The ambiance of the restaurant is peaceful and positive in a way that serves the vegan community. The ceiling, walls, floor, chairs and tables are all wood-based, and although it is quite small — seating up to 28 people on tables of four — the place is often packed during lunch and dinner peak hours. Every time I drop by, I find myself surprised at how many vegans are in my community. During the more quiet hours, strangers lean over their tables to talk to one another or to offer a friendly suggestion of their favorite dishes to an obvious newcomer.

The business is kept running by two to three staff members in a home-style kitchen, one of whom — including the wonderful and hardworking manager Kim Nguyen — will always give you short and sweet service, but happily explain who Supreme Master Ching Hai is when people ask about the portraits of her on the walls.

When I say their food is inexpensive, I mean it. There is not a single dish on the menu over $10, appies range from $4–8, and dessert is under $4. All the meats on the menu are imitation meats in dishes like sweet
and sour chicken, but there are quite a few veggie-based dishes like the sesame eggplant tofu or stir fried vegetable chow mein, for those who are not a fan of imitation meats.

I could weep over their spicy noodle soup — partially from the spice, but mostly from how amazing it is. The soup comes with various steamed veggies, tofu, and vegan ham on top, and is very flavorful while maintaining the clean cut taste of fresh ingredients with no MSG.

All the vegan desserts are beyond incredible, especially for the price, but my favorite would have to be the vegan cheesecake. It’s cashew-based, with the same dense texture of classic cheesecake. I don’t know how it
was possible, but I did not miss the cheese.

Paradise Vegetarian Noodle House offers up masterful home-style Vietnamese recipes and gracefully encourages the vegan lifestyle. One of my favourite quotes gracing the posters on the wall: “Be vegan, make peace.”

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