ML - Vegas Magazine

2013 - Issue 7 - November

Vegas Magazine - Niche Media - There is a place beyond the crowds, beyond the ropes, where dreams are realized and success is celebrated. You are invited.

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Page 69 of 131

TASTE LEFT: Veggie House excels at vegetables, too—not just faux meat. BOTTOM LEFT: Chye in his restaurant, where he plans to add a vegan sushi bar. continued from page 66 business, supplying hotels and restaurants with fresh, high-quality product —and got more than he bargained for. "When you're selling a lot of meat, you have to eat a lot of meat, right? I'd been eating rich food for so long that my cholesterol was very high," Chye says. "I would sometimes eat 22 ounces of prime rib at a time. Now I don't touch it." Chye needed to make a serious change in his lifestyle to get healthy. He consulted with a vegetarian friend, and when he became a vegetarian himself, the results were so good, he turned into a proselytizer. "I wanted to open a veggie restaurant for my health, but also so I can help other people," he says. "I know there are people who are trying to be healthy but want good —KENNY CHYE taste and good texture, just no meat." Creating exactly that is easier said than done. Knowing that diners would expect more than just steamed or stir-fried vegetables, Chye went to work like a mad scientist, devising food that looks, smells, feels, and tastes like beef, pork, chicken, and fish. "There were a lot of trials," he says. "It took a month and a half to finalize what we use for our roasted pork dish, one of our most popular. And I'm a very picky guy." Veggie House, which opened in the spring of 2012, boasts a menu of more than 100 items. Like any neighborhood Chinese joint, there are affordable lunch specials, soups, and appetizers, as well as instantly recognizable entrées like kung pao beef, stir-fried lo mein noodles, steamed fish with black bean sauce, and of course General Tso's chicken. Sample them all and you won't believe there's no actual beef, fish, or chicken involved. One of the most popular dishes, Chye's spicy crispy beef, is a revelation. Any home cook who has attempted beef and broccoli knows how difficult it is to achieve the perfect texture for this dish; it must be crispy and caramelized on the outside, yet tender and succulent with each bite. The "I opened a veggie restaurant for my health, but also to help others." 68 Veggie House version is perfection, complemented by a rich, slightly sweet sauce with a bit of ground peanut for additional crunch. The chef makes it happen by using different combinations of starches. "I use a lot of soy, but also corn starch and rice flour, and sometimes sticky rice," Chye says. "Using more than one or two ingredients creates a lot of options and you can make it taste right." But there's more to his method than just going meatless. Veggie House uses only soybean oil for a light, fresh taste, and never any MSG. Rather than artificial flavor enhancers, he says, "We make a big pot of soup every day, broth with vegetables like turnips, celery, soybeans, and corn, and every dish we cook we're serving that to you. Fresh is always the best, no shortcuts." Other hugely popular selections include the spicy kung pao beef or chicken; tamarind curry, which is served with veggie seafood; the roast pork, with its mind-bendingly accurate flavor and texture; and the Happy Roll, a Veggie House twist on sushi. For more-exotic flavors, try the curry fish with potato or the pineapple duck. Veggie House's audience continues to grow, and expansion may be coming soon: Chye is exploring locations in Arizona, San Diego, and right here, in Downtown. He also has plans to take over an adjoining space and add a vegan sushi bar to the restaurant's repertoire. "Right now we are the only vegetarian Chinese restaurant in town," Chye says, "but I think this business is going to be big. As long as your food is good, people will love it." 5115 Spring Mountain Road, Ste. 203, 702-431-5802; V TOFU TO YOU Chye is a former meat lover, so naturally his favorite dish is… tofu? "I like to eat tofu, and my tofu comes in very big chunks. Most people really like it." Ask for what the servers describe as "golden nugget" tofu, which Chye makes in-house from soy milk and eggs, steams in a giant tray, refrigerates, cuts into pieces, deep fries, then stir-fries with vegetables, plus veggie shrimp and chicken. Tofu is often too soft, but the golden nuggets are firm on the outside, silken within. VEGASMAGAZINE.COM 066-068_V_SC_Taste_Opener_Nov13.indd 68 10/22/13 11:43 AM

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