J B's review of The Vegetable Garden from Wednesday, July 06, 2011 - 48316"/>

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by J B

Review: The Vegetable Garden is right across the street from the Metro (White Flint). It's a smallish place, and it's usually close to full during peak hours (lunch and dinner). The menu entirely vegetarian and an enormous array of versions of typical Chinese dishes, as well as some creative and healthy options I haven't seen elsewhere. The clientele are notably diverse; it's a popular lunch spot for businesspeople but you'll see families, people on dates, large groups of friends; it's the sort of place you can bring anyone. The prices are a little higher than most Chinese places, but certainly not exorbitant, and the portions are usually huge. I rarely leave without leftovers. Their lunch specials-soup, spring roll, and entrée-are a great deal and they have a lot of options (a lot of places vegetarian options are less at lunch than at dinner). They have a great lentil soup (Do they have lentil soup in China? I don't care.). Probably my favorite dish is the emerald bean curd, basically a Hunan style (black bean sauce with a few hot peppers) with tofu and seitan; light on sauce but still absolutely delicious. They bring out some kind of sesame-flavored bread with vegetables baked in, and they offer brown rice at no extra charge. There are still appealing options I haven't tried after having come here for a couple of years. Compared to the Vegetable Garden down the road, I'd say that of the two vegetarian Chinese places in the area, Yuan Fu is more Chinese (in terms of menu options and atmosphere) and Vegetable Garden is more health food oriented (with their macrobiotic options and some of their more creative vegetable entrees). Both are good, but if you told me I could only have one, I'd probably take Yuan Fu, by a hair. Fortunately, we don't have to make that choice. Notably, the Vegetable Garden does a benefit for Compassion over Killing the first Thursday of each month I think. It's usually packed the entire day; I came in not knowing at 3 in the afternoon and got the last table. Makes you feel good about eating there.

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