Greens and Grains

Chef Ricky Wu on having fun with vegetarian cuisine


Describe Veggie Fun.
We’re a new restaurant in downtown Providence serving all vegetarian (and mostly vegan) Pan-Asian cuisine. We’re open for lunch and dinner daily.

How did you decide to open a vegetarian restaurant?
I have a lot of friends and relatives in Providence and many of them are vegan. Before I moved here, when I’d visit Providence and my friends would want to go out, we had a difficult time finding restaurants with a good selection of vegan dishes. I was living in New York at the time, and in New York there are so many vegan and vegetarian restaurant options. I wanted to bring more of that to Rhode Island. I moved to Providence just a few months before opening the restaurant, and I love it here.

What cuisines are represented on the menu?
Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Singaporean, Korean, Thai and Malaysian (and probably American too). Just a few examples are: Japanese Age-Tofu, Chinese Black Pepper Veggie Beef, Vietnamese Summer Rolls, Singapore Rice Noodles, Korean Clear Potato Noodles and Bi-Bim Bap, Thai Bangkok Fried Rice and Pad Thai.

Have you had a good reaction from customers?
We already have a strong customer following from people who are very ex- cited about our vegan offerings. We’ve quickly been meeting so many vegans in the area! One of our favorite customers is Karen, the owner of Rhode Island’s famous vegan ice cream truck “Like No Udder” – she has been kind enough to spread the word to her vegan friends. Customers have been very friendly and happy to have us in town.

You’re Kosher certified – what does that mean?
A local rabbi inspects our restaurant on a regular basis, checking the kitchen and all of our ingredients. I think we’re the only Kosher restaurant in Providence - Wildflour bakery is also Kosher, but no other restaurants.

What are your most popular dishes?
Pad Thai is a popular seller. Another favorite is the Smoked Teriyaki Soy Duck. This is one of our few dishes that is vegetarian but not vegan because the duck “meat” is made with whey protein (we indicate this on the menu). The dish consists of sliced smoked mock duck in teriyaki sauce served over steamed string beans. The sauce flavors the string beans very nicely. Some others are the Black Pepper Veggie Beef (black pepper seitan with broccoli), the Basil Soy Chicken, and the Sweet and Sour Sesame Soy Chicken, which gets its great flavor from fresh pineapple. We also have a lot of appetizers – a popular one is our Scallion Pancake, which is thin and topped with hoisin sauce and mango salsa. It’s our own unique invention.

What kind of imitation meat products do you use?
We use a few different products and all are GMO free. The “beef” is made with seitan, which is wheat protein, and the “chicken” is made from soy protein. We also have a “seafood” dish with imitation shrimp and squid. Our Moo-Shu contains a ham substitute. Even among the “chicken” dishes, we use different proteins. For example, the Sweet Citrus Soy “Chicken” is marinated so it has a different flavor, and the textures are slightly different from dish to dish because of the way the proteins are processed.

You have a great beverage list...
We have a variety of organic hot teas as well as a selection of homemade iced drinks like fresh squeezed lemonade, iced mint tea made only from mint leaves and mango lassi using soy yogurt and soy milk in place of the usual dairy. We also make ginger ale from fresh ginger juice and club soda – raw sugar optional. Our Thai iced tea and coffee can be ordered with the usual condensed milk or as vegan versions with coconut milk or soy milk.

Any advice for customers planning to dine with you?
We’re open for lunch and dinner. After 5pm you can park in our lot across the street. We have really good lunch specials and students always get 10% off with ID. We’re waiting to get our liquor license – when we do, we’ll have a grand opening party - but in the meantime, we’re BYOB.


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment