When I visited East Wind Restaurant in Old Town Fairfax last week, an office Christmas party was taking place feet away from my table. But I would argue that the best time to visit the restaurant is not in the throes of a celebration, but in its afterglow.
You see, East Wind is a pretty ordinary Vietnamese restaurant except for its wide range of vegetarian and vegan dishes. When looking for a meaty Vietnamese meal, there are other places I would choose to visit first. But right now, with the presents unwrapped, I’m trying to eat a little leaner. At least sometimes. And on those occasions, East Wind is an obvious answer.
The menu has its own vegetarian section with dishes including noodles, curry, and a veggie stir fry for the (gasp!) tofu haters. Not everything meatless is presented there, though. Many dishes are available with tofu as the protein, including vegetarian pho.
Since I arrived at lunchtime, I was able to choose from among the lunch specials. For $7.95, diners can select pho, fried rice, vermicelli, a banh mi, or a veggie sauté, all without meat. I chose the lemongrass tofu and for an extra $5, added tofu garden rolls and a drink.
The garden rolls were stuffed with plain tofu, which lacked the panache of other versions I’ve tried that include seasoned pork or shrimp made from soy, but a dip in the hoisin-based sauce on the side helped. Lack of flavor was not an issue once my entrée arrived. The chunky cubes of tofu were crusted in lemongrass, which lent aromatic spice to a soy-based sauce that drenched the mound of rice at the side of the plate. Tender broccoli and crunchy snow peas joined sweet onions for a dish that left me satisfied.
And that is the goal of Meatless Monday. I had a meal that made me smile, without the fat and calories I crave. Imagine that.
10414 Main St., Fairfax
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