Veggie Guy: Suma Veggie Cafe

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"Puff balls." That's what one of my non-veg friends calls the Orange "Chicken" at Suma Veggie Cafe.

No--the guy's not the brightest bulb on the block, but others unfamiliar with vegan meat substitutes might also find it difficult to describe the glazed balls of who-knows-what...although, I now have a funny feeling the owners don't want you to know.

Suma Veggie Cafe is a Chinese restaurant in Richardson that is not new to local veg-heads--it's been around for over a decade and, up until Spiral Diner opened up shop here in Dallas, it was where local vegans would congregate.

Back in my early days as a vegan, I was known to hit the spot every weekend. It was dirt cheap, and I was on a tight budget. I would stuff my face at the all-you-can-eat buffet and blow the rest of my allowance at the beer barn.

Well, my beer barn days are over, but let's be honest--we're all looking to save some cash in this economy. So I headed north to revisit my old haunt. I began my reunion feast with a fried eggroll and a serving of vegetable fried rice. Veggie eggrolls come filled with cabbage, carrots, onions, and ginger. The egg-free fried rice is made with a light soy sauce, peas, carrots, and onions.

The "All Vegan" buffet also includes a large selection of faux meat creations. Soy "Beef" and Cabbage is doused in a savory brown garlic sauce and does a fine job mimicking the taste and texture of real beef. Orange "Chicken" is a dish of fried soy-based nuggets glazed with a sweet orange sauce--the obvious crowd favorite, as it was the first to disappear from the buffet. Other items on the line include seaweed salad, rice noodles with vegetables, green onion pancake, soy "pork" with diced summer squash and zucchini, miso soup, and curried vegetables. Lunch was only $6.80, tax included, and just as good as I remembered.

On my way out, I grabbed a "half-chicken" from the freezer case. Interesting looking thing--kinda like a vegan version of chicken surimi. Sucks, though, that I couldn't eat it. The soy "chicken" contained whey protein, a milk derivative vegans generally avoid. So it made me wonder if those "puff balls" were formed out of the same non-vegan soy substance. Too bad I couldn't get a straight answer from the owner when I pressed him for information.

Well, here's to hoping my "All Vegan" lunch at Suma Veggie Cafe really was all vegan.

Suma Veggie Cafe
800 E. Arapaho Rd., Richardson

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