Good eats on the cheap: Live long and vegi

By By Jenni Koehler

By Jenni Koehler

For vegetarians oppressed by the salad bar and friends of vegetarians downtrodden by a dispiritingly slim restaurant selection, we offer you culinary salvation.

Long Life Vegi House (on 3300 S., just east of Tuxedo Junction) delivers a smorgasbord of delectable vegetarian and vegan selections-all for less $10.

Housed in a hidden, nondescript building, this organic fountain-of-youth can be a bit of a problem to find. But, once there and seated inside the modestly decorated, dimly lit Asian eatery, those two minutes of mild panic on the road are easily forgotten.

Looking at the menu, restaurant-goers will notice that Long Life offers all the same old favorites as traditional Chinese restaurants-wonton soup, sweet and sour chicken, fried rice and beef and broccoli. Only here, you can rest assured that all of them (except for dishes from the fish/seafood menu) are completely devoid of meat.

Rejoice!

Now, before you jump to the tofu/beancurd conclusion, let’s get something straight about all this faux-meat business: It isn’t tofu. Rather, Long Life’s meat substitute is some other magical protein-rich substance, one that actually mimics the look, taste and texture of the real thing-and sometimes surpasses all three.

In comparison to real meat, Long Life’s variety of faux meat is lighter, more versatile, healthier and (the best part for those wearied vegetarians out there) completely guilt-free. It comes in all shapes, sizes and sauces, and is invariably delicious.

Two particularly tasty dishes, lemon chicken and beef with string beans, perfectly exhibit the aforementioned eclipsing of their animal-derived counterparts.

The sweet crunchiness of the lemon chicken’s lightly fried shell complements the tender fluffiness within, and the beef’s texture is delightfully chewy, but still tender enough to bite through.

It’s nice to not hit any gristle, cartilage or other slightly creepy irregularities. Plus, there’s no need to worry about whether the food has been cooked all the way (or whether it’s even dead).

Long Life also offers some unusual specialties, such as green bean ball soup-a savory and filling noodle concoction laden with scrumptious fried green bean balls, reminiscent of the fried chickpea orbs used in falafel.

Polite, speedy and efficient service is a touchstone of the Long Life experience, as are the enlightening conversations that Long Life’s enchanting atmosphere seems to foster.

Let’s hope Long Life manages to enjoy one-with its local reputation, it’s easy to believe that it might. Regulars love this pleasant, satisfying and affordable alternative, whether they’re vegetarian or not.

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