Nov 20, 2010

suma veggie cafe (MoFo 12)

Mongolian TVP

I will start by saying that this one is for Veg Spinz, who recommended Chinese Take-Out. While I wholeheartedly wanted to do as she suggested - little Chinese take-out boxes and almond cookies - time caught up with me and the props fell through the cracks. I thank her for the idea and apologize for my lack of follow through. So, do me a favor and go see her site. It is worth it - she is one creative woman!

Where to go for veg Chinese food, you may wonder, since they are in about every city I've lived in (excluding maybe this one, but I haven't look well enough, yet). The one I shall highlight is our favorite in the country, and I think we've been to at least 20 vegetarian Chinese places: Veggie Heaven in Austin, Enjoy in San Fran, Loving Hut (does this qualify) in Orlando, Lucky Creation in San Fran, Shangri-La in San Fran, veg places in D.C. area whose names I can't recall, Veggie Garden in Dallas, etc.

By far our favorite is Suma in Richardson, TX, near Dallas. People who eat here, even die-hard omnivores, love the food. Unfortunately, the criticism by far is toward the owners. They are an old couple. The husband is a little tough, but our family never had any problems with them. In fact, we totally love them! The hubby reminds me of my mom who got very irate if you came in and sat at a dirty table - or didn't tip appropriately. I remember a time when she gave back a tip someone left. It was a quarter and my mom told the woman that she probably needed it more since she couldn't seem to give appropriately.  

This is a great point. As vegetarians and vegans, we need to tip well. Not only do we represent a group of people who need to be seen in a good light, but vegetarian food costs less so if we tip according to the 15% rule, our servers are left with a worse tip and a bad taste in their mouths about veg folks. 

If you can't afford to tip, you can't afford to eat out. 

Which is a great segue for my Make at Home meal from a Chinese restaurant.

Lo Mein. Not much to say about this. Noodles. Vegetables. Mouth watering flavor.

General Tso's Chicken is an invention of Americans, whether they were Chinese-Americans or not, it simply does not exist in China. Nonetheless, it is one of the most popular dishes on Chinese menus. They are deep fried chicken pieces with a spicy sauce. At Suma the sauce is very garlicky, too, which we instantly fell in love with. 

Mongolian Beef is also deep-fried, but it can be stir fried. It is thin pieces of beef coated with cornstarch and is stir fried with green onions. This also has a sauce, but it isn't as thick as the Tso's one. I made a How-To Breakdown for this dish.

I made the Tso's with Tender Seitan and the Mongolian Beef with Dixie Diner's Club TVP, but they are interchangeable.

Both meat-style dishes turned out excellent. It was great to have a little piece of Suma to consume today.

Cost Breakdown:

lo mein:
noodles: $3
vegetables: $4
tamari, sauce ingredients: $1.50
Total to make 8 servings:

seitan, cashew, milk, oil: $4
garlic: $1
sauce, ginger, chillies: $2
Total to make 6 servings:

TVP: $4
cornstarch: $1
sauce: $2
green onions: $2
Total to make 4 servings:

Lo Mein

General Tso's Seitan


  1. I grew up in restaurants. I totally agree with you on tipping well. 20 per cent rule of thumb. If you can't tip don't go. Food looks amamzing!yay for your mom!

  2. Wow, these all look to be another hit in the long list of great eats that you have so kindly shared.

    I live in an area where the Chinese food is as Americanized as it can get (People think that Panda Express is the bomb...)
    As for vegan options, forget about it. Two restaurants will not even sub tofu for the main dishes, and one can have just so much of Buddha's Delight...

    Okay, rant over. :)
    Really looking forward to trying these 3 dishes.

  3. Thanks, GiGi. I have many more stories about my mom and serving. It's not that she didn't like doing it (she did!) but she didn't suffer fools.

    in2insight, it isn't a rant...I can't believe those joints are that inflexible! Their food probably sucks, too, so you're better off without it imho. They'd probably lie about fish sauce or oyster sauce, too. I hope you enjoy these - they are very good and better than just plain tofu. If you want to use tofu, though, just treat it the way the recipes describe. Make sure to wrap your tofu or use a press before utilizing them.

  4. I definitely agree about tipping. My mom was a waitress when she was younger so she always instilled that value in us. I feel like being a good tipper is a point of pride!


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