Witnessing the lineups for green onion cakes at any Edmonton festival will give you an appreciation for how much we love them.
But there’s something out there that ups the ante – a plate of cilantro cakes at Veggie Garden Restaurant. Located on the fringes of Chinatown, across the street from Edmonton Transit’s maintenance shop, this Vietnamese/Chinese spot is definitely not located in what you would call prime real estate. When I walk in, my server warns me that the establishment is 100 per cent meat free. She almost seems surprised that I sit down rather than walk out.
Only a couple of minutes after ordering, the cakes come. They are doughnut-shaped, and the golden dough is flecked with the green of the herb. And they come with a bright orange sweet dipping sauce with a strong hint of mango.
Take one bite, and all you want is more. Honestly, I could put away two more orders of the cilantro cakes, but I already ordered an entre.
And that entre is the barbecued “beef,” served on a bed of vermicelli with crushed peanuts, crunchy peppers and shredded carrots. Somehow, the tofu beef is infused with a heavy barbecue smoke. Other than the absence of the fatty bits, the Veggie Garden’s fake beef is enough of a meal to satisfy any meat eater.