Veggie Lee Chinese restaurant in Hayward

by foodhoe on June 3, 2019

25036 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward  | 510.785.7133 | www.veggielee.com

We first heard of Chef Lee when he was the executive chef at Daimo, a Cantonese restaurant in Richmond which won numerous awards for his ambitious menu and meticulous preparations back in the day.  He left and opened a branch of Daimo in San Leandro, which was our favorite Chinese restaurant and we were very sad when it closed a few years ago.  So I was really glad when I read that he opened up Veggie Lee in Hayward, where he is serving up a fabulous menu of mostly vegan and vegetarian Chinese food, after he embraced a vegetarian lifestyle for health and spiritual reasons.  Chef Lee adheres to the purist Buddhist vegetarian precept of not using onion, garlic, scallions, chives and leeks, “the five pungent spices” which are believed to lead to anger (raw) and passion (cooked).  It is also thought that these odors repel gods and attract hungry ghosts and demons.  We ate several delicious meals there before we even noticed the statement about no garlic and no onion on the menu, everything is so flavorful and fresh tasting you really don’t miss it!

This simple dish is the one that keeps us coming back.  The Moo Shu Vegetables ($10.95) are served with gossamer thin crepes that you pile with the stir fried vegetables infused with a heady smokey flavor from being expertly seared in a hot wok, drizzled with some flavorful hoisin sauce then rolled up into a small burrito, tucked in at the bottom.  The crepes are so delicate and I always put too much filling so the wraps inevitably fall apart.  Delicious, messy and so finger licking good.

You have to try the Salt and Pepper Pumpkin ($8.95) at least once!  I love anything salt and pepper, which is a classic Cantonese preparation of savory deep fried dishes that are intensely flavorful.  It is lightly battered and fried until deliciously crunchy, then liberally seasoned with salt and pepper, then garnished with aromatic basil leaves, minced jalapeño instead of the usual garlic and bits of batter-fried seaweed for swoon-worthy texture.

The Pan-Fried Bean Curd Roll ($11.95) is constructed from thin layers of fresh tofu skin stuffed with mushrooms, rolled up, and then fried until the outside develops a shatteringly crisp crust.

Inside, the fresh layers of tofu are tender and juicy, filled with savory mushrooms and delicious drizzled with sweet and sour sauce.

Another one our favorite dishes are the Green Beans with Ginger  ($12.95).  We love Chef Lee’s vegetable-centric dishes because they highlight the wonderful fresh texture and flavors of the ingredients.

Sauteed Lotus Roots $13.95 a simple preparation of thinly sliced lotus roots, fresh snow peas and velvety back mushrooms tossed in a light savory sauce.

We often order the Sauteed Fried Tofu with Eggplants ($12.95).  The eggplant is tender, the tofu is lightly fried to give it a delectable bite but is tender and custardy inside, bell peppers add their fresh texture and it’s bound together in a light and delicious sauce.

Pumpkin and Tofu with Curry Sauce ($13.95) soft, custardy fried tofu; slices of zucchini; and tender eggplant in a savory curry sauce that is so good poured over rice.

Pan fried crispy egg noodles topped with Tofu and Curry sauce ($12.95) , one of the few non-vegan recipes because of the egg in the noodles.  The noodles are crisp and crunchy at first but soften as they soak up the delicious sauce.

The Chinese Broccoli basil Chow Fun ($11.95) noodles are savory and satisfying, the flavors of the broccoli with basil with the chewy noodles were refreshing and delicious.

Crispy Dry Soy Seaweed Fried Rice ($11.95) is an unusual preparation that is full of interesting textures and flavors, the raisins add an unusual but tasty sweetness to the dish.

Mr. K loves the housemade umami-bomb vegan hot sauce, which they sell at the front counter.  Like all of Chef Lee’s restaurants, the menu at Veggie Lee is long, so we are slowly working our way through it if only we would stop ordering our favorites that are pictured in this post.  I definitely want to try more of the tofu dishes, the claypot dishes and every single one of the chef’s specialty dishes.

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