22 NW Fourth Ave, Portland, OR (Chinatown)
During my recent trip to Portland, I had planned one evening to visit the Nova Queen Cafe. Before I left the hotel, I noticed that there were almost no references on the web to this restaurant except for Citysearch.com. I figured this wasn’t a good sign and, sure enough, the restaurant didn’t even exist (and if it did, it was a long time ago). So, I wandered around a bit, looking for another place to have dinner. I saw the gates to Chinatown and figured, “There’s gotta be something in there.” Indeed, the second restaurant I stumbled upon was Vegetarian House.
To start, I ordered some fried veggie shrimp. The breading was nice and while the shrimp were hot, they were kind of crunchy, like they weren’t cooked all the way through or thawed completely before frying. They tasted OK, but I’ve had better. I had some leftover and microwaved them the next day; they actually tasted better then.
For my main course, I ordered lemon glazed chicken. The glaze was so thick, it looked like a giant had sneezed on the chicken, but it actually tasted really good. It was one of those “it tastes better than it looks” moments. The chicken’s texture was a little spongier than other faux chicken I’ve had in restaurants, so I asked if they made it there. They used a prepared chicken, so I guess it’s just different than I’ve had before. I was told by the waitress, though, that they also have a chicken that’s “shaped like a chicken” and that that one has whey in it (though the owner said everything is vegan)… so, just ask before you order. None of the products have egg, so you just need to check on possible dairy.
The following day, a friend and I headed to have lunch at Tao of Tea, but decided against it when we were told we first had to pay $7 each for admission to the garden before getting food. We wound back up at the Vegetarian House where we had the buffet. It was slightly above average, with some tofu, fake beef, fried rice, and other Chinese buffet staples.
So, while the Vegetarian House isn’t the best place I’ve ever eaten, it was perfectly adequate. And two days in a row, it was in the right place at the right time.