Friday, January 3, 2014

Restaurant Review: Bodhi Tree Vegan Cafe in Huntington Beach, CA

Written by Sarah E. Jahier

For one reason or another, I had never been to Bodhi Tree Vegan Cafe in Huntington Beach, though it is on the busy Main Street and I must have walked by it a dozen times! It is tucked into a row of storefronts slightly up from the hustle and bustle of the Main Street and offers a welcome respite from the crowds and traffic. Mister Spooky and I went on a Sunday around lunch, and we were the only ones there.

We were greeted by a friendly hostess and seated. I was surprised how large it was on the inside with lots of tables, plus outside seating as well. This would be a perfect place for large groups and/or meet ups! The ambiance was warm and inviting, even peaceful (despite the Christmas music still playing). Maybe it was just that we had the whole place to ourselves or that our hostess/server was so welcoming, but I felt totally relaxed there.

 Spring rolls at Bodhi Tree

Crispy wontons at Bodhi Tree

We took our time perusing the menu since everything looked to good and we were tempted to order the entire menu! We finally decided on some appetizers - crispy wontons and spring rolls. The spring rolls were full of veggies and so vibrant and beautiful! They were served with a really delicious peanut sauce that enhanced all the fresh flavors. The crispy wontons were little nuggets of deep-fried deliciousness! We got a full order, which proved to be A LOT, so I suggest getting a half-size (unless you have a big group) since these are better fresh (the leftovers we took home were a bit soggy the next day). The sweet and sour dipping sauce was decent, but not as flavorful as the peanut sauce served with the spring rolls. 

 Spicy chili basil "off the wok" dish with rice and chow mein 

"Beef" pho at Bodhi Tree

For entrees, we ordered the "beef" pho and spicy chili basil on the "off the wok" menu. The spicy chili basil dish came with a small cup of the soup of the day (that day was pumpkin). The pumpkin soup was basically strewed chunks of pumpkin served in its own broth. Mister Spooky wasn't a fan, but I liked the subtle pumpkin flavors. The spicy chili basil dish was also served with a side of rice and chow mein noodles, but both could have been more flavorful. The spicy chili dish itself was tasty, it just could have been a bit spicier. The "beef" pho was HUGE! It was served with a side of bean sprouts, jalapenos, and hoisin sauce so you could make it how you want it (I basically dumped everything into it). I thought the flavors were really great and the dish itself was filling. I had to take most of it home since I was so stuffed (yay leftovers!). The faux "beef" they used was really excellent and I think it was probably the same kind they used in the spicy chili basil wok dish. Yum yum!

Sweet tamale stuffed with coconut, pineapple and walnuts

When we were there they had these amazing sweet tamales they offered us...I think it is just a holiday thing as they are not on the menu, but OMFG were they ever amazing!! They are tamales stuffed with coconut, pineapple and walnuts that tasted like heaven! I really loved the sweet flavor and the texture of the tamale with the fruits and nuts stuffed inside. They also make a spicy tamale I was dying to try, but unfortunately they didn't have any ready yet that day. However, they do take special orders for tamales so I just might have to order some!

All in all, Bodhi Tree is a wonderful vegan spot with lots to offer...I really want to go back and try their Thai iced tea, their volcano pots, more of their soup/noodle dishes and basically everything else on their menu! Everything on their menu is vegan and though their name used to be "Bodhi Tree Vegetarian Cafe", they are now calling themselves "Bodhi Tree Vegan Cafe". 

I also heard the sad news that Happy Family in Costa Mesa closed their doors, so Bodhi Tree makes a perfect replacement!

For more info on Bodhi Tree, please visit their website or their Facebook page!

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