Given the lack of vegetarian and vegan options around town, we're surprised there hasn't been much buzz around the opening of Vegan House in downtown Phoenix. The restaurant, which opened in March, is located on Adams Street just west of Central Avenue in a space that's seen several restaurants, including 5 R Cha Thai and My Mom's Thai Kitchen, come and go over the past few years.
This kind of high turnover creates mixed feelings. There's the excitement, of course. But the joy gets tangled with a sense of dread that a new go-to spot soon will see its welcome sign replaced with papered-up windows. In any case, Vegan House has made it several months so far and easily could become a mainstay, thanks to enjoyable vegan dishes such as green curry with seafood.
The dish comes with mixed veggies and can be augmented by vegan fish or shrimp for $2 more. We chose a third option for a dollar more and got a mix of both.
The thinly sliced soy- and seaweed-based mock fish featured a texture reminiscent of any mild whitefish. While the potato-based "shrimp" didn't quite provide the addictive umami of the actual crustacean, its look and feel performed well. The nice bounce that comes with biting into a plump shrimp was definitely replicated.
The seafood is a good fix for those who crave ocean flavors, but the curry is strong even without the addition. The restaurant uses local, fresh, and seasonal produce and they know how to cook it. A mix of onions, eggplant, bamboo shoots, and bell peppers all maintained their external firmness while giving way to tender insides.
The sauce is what puts the bow on the entire package. It's a rich, coconut-y sauce full of spice and, in our case, a lot of heat. We ordered the medium, with other level choices being mild or hot. The medium had us reaching for our beverage after every couple of bites. You can get the green curry sauce on noodles, too, in place of rice.
Vegan House's small interior includes about 10 tables, flanked on one side by a wall of booths. The menu includes a few soups, appetizers (including veggie potstickers and sweet potato and taro fried in a coconut batter), sandwiches, and salads. In addition to classics such as pad thai and Buddha's Delight, there are a few red sauce spaghetti dishes, including one with vegan ground beef, mushrooms, bell peppers, and basil. Even desserts are not forgotten. Purple sweet rice with mango, fried banana and coconut ice cream, and pumpkin in coconut cream are all available. The extensive menu also is available for takeout.
20 West Adams Street
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily