THE VINH LOI CHALLENGE

Trust Kevin

LISA SOUP/2012 SOUP

Date of visit: 2/7/12

One awesome thing about Vinh Loi Tofu is that it fosters a sense of community when you eat there and you meet interesting people.  Like tonight, I gave a guy my email address for him to send me an article about drones flying over the US.  At the end of the night, a lady sang Happy Birthday opera-style to another lady whose birthday turned out to be the same as Kevin’s.  This wasn’t just some lady singing, this was legit opera singing.  It was insane.

We said we were going to venture into more of the salad/noodle dishes, but this post perfectly exemplifies the power of THE LOI.  You just cannot escape the deliciousness of their soups.

LISA SOUP
an unorderable, off-menu soup with tomatoes, green onions, onions, vermicelli noodles, chicken, peanuts, cubed tofu and crumbled tofu.

I had been staring at a picture of this soup on Kevin’s facebook page for a long time now. When I went in, he had no idea what I was talking about when I ordered the “Tofu Soup” (as it was labeled on his facebook), but he quickly had me show him the picture he posted. He let me know it was an experimental soup he had made for himself for lunch one day, but that he was going to make it for me anyway!  I LOVED IT.  I love tofu, I love vegetables, and I love soup: a perfect vegan trifecta for me!  I can’t describe the broth because I cannot pinpoint the great flavors.  When I first took a sip it was a familiar taste, but quickly dissolved into something quite unrecognizable.  It had a nice thick, chunky broth and with each bite I had a little bit of crumbled tofu and peanuts.  I made the mistake of adding some bean sprouts that were left over from the 2012 soup.  I typically love adding the bean sprouts, but the texture of them simply did not mesh with this soup.  I should have just left it the way Kevin made it for me.  This is the kind of soup I’d think of having if I had a cold or just needed a scrumptious soup on a rainy day.  The sad thing about this soup is that you can’t order it.  Sorry, but Kevin was awesome enough to name the soup after me!  I hope he will make it again for me in the future!

2012 SOUP
an off-menu soup with yellow noodle, vegan ham, chinese broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, onion, fried onion, red chili, lime.
Frankly, sometimes you can’t even pinpoint what one of these soups exactly tastes like other than that it’s amazing.  And this is a perfect example.  The best I can describe the flavor of the broth is “meaty” or “ham-y,” probably as a result of the copious amounts of vegan ham floating in the bowl.  Yet, in contrast, the chinese broccoli has a unique flavor all to itself that I don’t think I’d ever tasted before.  That, combined with the lettuce and cabbage, made this one of the greenest, leafiest Vinh Loi soups I’ve ever had.  The yellow noodles are a favorite noodle of mine, especially in soups, and the red chili and lime, combined with the spiciness of the broth (how Kevin knows I like it), just made this soup incredible.  You will never be disappointed with one of the “20- -” soups and the 2012 is just another perfect example.  All delicious, all different.  Honestly, the mystery of what you’re getting in a soup only adds to the megalithic awesmosity of Vinh Loi Tofu.

Buffalo Wings

Date of visit: 2/5/12

BUFFALO WINGS
vegan chicken drumsticks with buffalo sauce

This was a special one-day-only item for Super Bowl sunday.  We don’t watch the Super Bowl, but we had to try these special wings!  Also, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice this is our third day in a row eating from Vinh Loi.  Yeah, we’re nuts!  But it’s just so good!  These wings are their vegan chicken drumsticks cooked in a BBQ buffalo sauce.  The texture was some of the best vegan meat I’ve had, but the buffalo dipping sauce was the real highlight.  Ultra spicy, without making your mouth numb, and ultra barbaque-y.  Keep your eyes peeled for these next year.

Seaweed Roll/Beef Ball Pho/Tofu Curry #5

Date of visit: 2/4/12

R2 SEAWEED ROLL
seaweed, brown rice, and grilled vegan ham wrapped in a rice sheet.  served with VL dressing.

This was a super delicious roll.  Since it is a pretty simple roll, the flavor of Kevin’s mouthwatering homemade vegan ham really comes through.  The sauces that come with many dishes are always a bit of a mystery, but they’re always great.  This roll is ultra thick and compacted and feels heavy in your hand.  Very filling.

BEEF BALL PHO
an off-menu varition of their Vegan Pho, pho noodles in a vegetable broth with vegan beef ball slices.  served with thai basil, lime, and bean sprouts.


This is one of Vinh Loi’s versions of Pho.  I loved the pho noodles in this soup.  The faux beef balls were delicious, although not my favorite faux meat.  The onions and green onions added extra flavor which I enjoyed very much.  What I particularly enjoyed was the Thai basil that came as an add in.  Usually, the soups I try come with mint.  All the basil, sprouts, jalapenos, and lime were added but it still almost wasn’t enough for me.  I wish there were more veggies in the dish, even though I know it wouldn’t necessarily be “pho.”  Overall, I enjoyed the dish and was very satisfied.

TOFU CURRY #5
an off-menu variation of their dry noodle/salads, rice vermicelli noodles with curry tofu, mixed greens, pickle radish & carrots, peanut, and curry sauce.


This is the spiciest thing I’ve ever eaten (or attempted to eat) at Vinh Loi Tofu.  A friend of mine recommended this dish.  I ordered it without really knowing what it was, but said, “If that could be made a little spicy, that would be cool.”  Well, that is definitely what I got (it doesn’t normally come so extremely spicy).  Here’s the breakdown on how hot this thing was: the tofu in the dish was Vinh Loi’s lemongrass/chili tofu, which is not so hot on it’s own, but this was covered in chili sauce and peppers.  Then, there was the curry dressing that was partially red with chili sauce.  After pouring this on and mixing all the contents up, I discovered a sub-level of secret chili sauce hiding underneath the noodles.  So yeah.  The cold noodles mixed with salad and the little bit of curry flavor I could taste were awesome, and I love spicy food from Vinh Loi, but about three bites into this, my brain was sweating, my tongue exploded, and my face melted off.  This is the first Vinh Loi dish I haven’t been able to finish.  Even my attempt to eat the leftovers was a failure.  Try, but order spicy at your own risk.  As Kevin always says, “I’ll make you cry.”

Chinese Donut/Udon Curry Chicken Stir Fry/2010 Soup

Date of visit: 2/3/11

CHINESE DONUT
fried dough served with sweet dipping syrup.

We ordered this for dessert, but it came out first.  This, however, DID NOT MATTER AT ALL because it was so amazing.  We tried the ‘savory’ Chinese Donut previously when it came with the Chao Chay.  This is the same donut, but comes with a super sweet dipping syrup.  The first flavor you taste when you dip in the syrup is a hint of ginger, which quickly dissolves into a scrumptious syrup flavor.  Absolutely try this!

B8 UDON STIR-FRIED W/ CURRY CHICKEN
wheat noodles stir-fried with curry, vegan chicken, tofu, and vegetable.

I love curry and the curry chicken udon stir-fry only reinforces that love.  The dish has the perfect balance of a mildly-curried chicken and tofu, sprouts, carrots, and spice.  This was a very filling item, so make sure you have an empty stomach or are going to share with someone.  It’s a pretty standard dish so if you don’t know what to order you cannot go wrong with this one.  Fills and satisfies. 

2010 SOUP
an off-menu soup with wheat noodle and gluten duck in a sesame and peanut broth with cilantro.

Part of Kevin’s amazing, ever expanding and evolving, off-menu “20- -” soup series (the soups range from 2009 to 2016 as far as we know, but there probably some we haven’t even heard of yet).  The ingredients are very simple, but this soup is all about the amazing broth.  Coating the top of the soup are tons of floating sesame seeds and crushed peanuts.  The red in the picture is Kevin’s special chili sauce that made this soup perfect tasting.  Despite vowing to start ordering salads/noodles at our last visit, that could just not happen.  This is a spicy and delicious soup, perfect for a satisfying Friday night.

A friend joined us for dinner and ordered the Bun Mang Vit we tried the last time.  He found it every bit as delicious as we did!

10k Roll/Bun Mang Vit/Mieng Ga

Date of visit: 1/28/12

10K ROLL
an off-menu roll, basically a banh cuon (vegan shrimp & chicken, seasoned mushroom, and fried onions wrap in steamed flat rice sheet) plus lettuce, carrot.

All the rolls at Vinh Loi are awesome, it just depends on what kind of filling you like.  This one is basically a Banh Cuon (described above) wrapped up into a gigantic roll.  The soft roll skin delivers a great texture and the fillings have an earthy and gingery flavor, while the dipping sauce provides a citrusy kick. 

S9  BUN MANG VIT
rice vermicelli noodles in a fried onion broth with gluten duck, seasoned bamboo shoots, tofu and shiitake mushroom.  served with red and green shredded cabbages, bean sprouts, and lime.

This was a delicious soup.  Ordered spicy, it has a strong, rich onion broth, but the onion flavor never becomes overwhelming.  The seasoned bamboo shoots and shiitake mushrooms give an interesting, dense texture.  Vinh Loi’s tofu is an excellent addition to any of their dishes because it is firm, flavorful, fresh, and perfectly fried, aka the BEST tofu we’ve ever had. (Vinh Loi is a tofu factory and makes all their tofu fresh from non-GMO soybeans in-house).  This soup is great if you’re looking for a nice, mild-flavored soup.

S14 MIENG GA
mung bean noodles in a vegetable broth with vegan fried chicken, seasoned bamboo shoots, and shiitake mushroom.  served with red & green shredded cabbages, bean sprouts, mint leaves, and lime.

The lightly fried chicken in this soup is pretty amazing and this will be ordered again! It was ordered spicy, which gave it just the right amount of heat. We like adding all the extra sides that come on a separate plate to give the soup more density. All the cabbage, sprouts, one jalapeno for more heat, and both limes squeezed into it made this dish perfect. Next time it will be ordered with more spice.

Another great visit.  Coming up soon, we’re going to step away from the soups for a little bit and try a few salads and/or noodles.  Thanks for reading!

The Challenge Begins! Chao Chay/House Special Duck Soup

Dated of visit: 1/17/12

S10 CHAO CHAY (Porridge)
rice congee seasoned in a vegetable broth with vegan shrimp, shiitake mushroom and gluten abalone.  served with chinese donuts, bean sprouts, and lime.

The Chao Chay was nice and thick with a rich flavor resembling Egg Drop soup.  The abalone adds a nice soft, gelatinous texture to the already creamy broth.  The Chinese donut was SO DELICIOUS, both on it’s own and dipped in the Chao Chay.  Definitely looking forward to ordering this again!  (The donut is not sweet when it comes with this soup, but comes sweet if ordered for desert.  This soup does not come spicy.)


S13 HOUSE SPECIAL DUCK SOUP

yellow wheat noodle with bean curd seasoned gluten duck in a clear broth.  served with green leaves, bean sprouts, and lime.

This is one of the most interesting soups we’ve ever had.  We got it spicy (per usual, although we never order spicy if Kevin thinks it will overpower the flavor).  The gluten duck is one of our favorite “meats” at Vinh Loi and goes very well in what is a very simple soup.  What is most interesting about this dish is the secret ingredient in the broth, which we don’t want to give away, but which is very pungent.  It was absolutely delicious, but the flavor is so intense and unique a whole bowl was quite a challenge. Of course, this challenge was met.  If you’re looking for a soup with an intense flavor you may have never tasted before, the S13 might be up your alley.

These two dishes provided an excellent start to our journey and have us eagerly awaiting our next visit!

This blog will chronicle our attempt to eat everything one can order on  and off the menu at one of the best places ever, the 100% vegan  Vietnamese restaurant and tofu factory, Vinh Loi Tofu.
18625 Sherman Way, Reseda, CA 91335818-996-9779www.vinhloitofu.com

This blog will chronicle our attempt to eat everything one can order on and off the menu at one of the best places ever, the 100% vegan Vietnamese restaurant and tofu factory, Vinh Loi Tofu.

18625 Sherman Way, Reseda, CA 91335
818-996-9779
www.vinhloitofu.com