Bo De Tinh Tam Chay
15352 Beach Blvd
Westminster, CA 92683
Bo De Tinh Tam Chay is hands down one of the best vegetarian restaurants I have ever been to. It’s also the only restaurant I know of that is regularly frequented by Buddhist monks.
To me, there are a number of elements which make BDTTC something special (and worth the drive to Westminster!), but chief among them has to be their accessibility to non-vegetarian folk. As someone who isn’t vegetarian, but who is dating a vegetarian, I know how difficult it can be to acclimate yourself to that cuisine. Tofu, seitan, and tempeh can be incredibly bland if they are not cooked correctly, and particularly when the chefs are trying to imitate actual meat, it can be easy to find yourself disappointed. Of course, most of the time, my experiences with vegetarian food have been totally enjoyable, but after the few times that I’ve tried fake meats, I’ve just as often found myself wishing that I were munching on the real thing.
The trick is, at BDTTC, I don’t think that they are trying to imitate real meat – their “beef” or “pork” certainly looks like its more fattening counterpart, but the taste has its own unique, savory quality. And ultimately, I think this approach was more successful. It allowed me to enjoy vegetarian food on its own terms, rather than feel like I was somehow just settling for a bland imitation. This came through a number of exciting dishes, which featured various vegetables, fake meats, and other ingredients which I haven’t had the pleasure to taste anywhere else.
Spring Rolls – Pretty standard spring rolls, served with a sweet-and-sour sauce. The innovation here was the size – small burritos might be a more appropriate term.
Vegetable Pho – This is one of BDTTC’s specialties. One my fellow diners made the approving comment that the soup was so densely filled with veggies that it was like eating out of a pond.
Mi Xao Don – Crunchy fried egg noodle “pancake” topped with stir-fried vegetables and imitation pork and chicken. When it was brought out, I was kind of hesitant because it kind of looked like a bird’s nest or funnel cake with veggies on top. However, all my fears were dispelled after the first bite. Absolutely delicious.
Taro Shake – A subtle and refreshing dessert that isn’t too sweet.
Mango Sorbet – They actually serve it in a mango rind! It was so cool.
Final Bill: $33 (multiple courses for 3 people!)
Final Verdict: BDTTC is an incredibly unique and affordable dining experience for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. The ambiance is also great – besides the monks, you’re surrounded by tiny fountains, bamboo shoots, and black laquer everything.