I’ve only had vegan food once or twice since there aren’t many in my hometown East Side San Jose/Milpitas, so when I discovered that Green Café Vegan Cuisine had opened up in McCarthy Ranch in Milpitas, I called up my friends immediately to schedule a lunch date.

Milpitas is a tiny suburb between San Jose and Fremont. It’s definitely no Berkeley or San Francisco when it comes to vegan cuisine. The vegan chain restaurant Loving Hut is the only other vegan choice in Milpitas, so I’m certainly glad Green Café opened up here.

Green Café is located next to Banana Leaf in the McCarthy Ranch plaza, a popular spot for residents like me because of its many restaurants. The restaurant was fairly easy to find, and at 2 PM I had no trouble with parking.

Happy Drumsticks

As I enjoyed the soup—which was flavorful and light—I scanned the decent sized menu. The menu provided the name of each dish in both English and Vietnamese. The menu includes agood selection of appetizers, salad, soups, noodle dishes, and sandwiches. They offer many popular Vietnamese dishes like Phở and Bún Huê.

As we waited for our items I finally had a chance to really take a look at the restaurant. It was small, clean and cozy restaurant that had an at-home vibe. Natural sunlight streamed in from the large windows and two doors that were propped open. The place was very quiet—probably because it was already late in the afternoon, or perhaps because this restaurant opened up just last November.

Golden Rolls

We didn’t have to wait long for the appetizers to arrive, and when they did—boy it was difficult to resist for a few minutes as I shot a photo of each. They were DELICIOUS. I’ve always beenwary of vegetarian or vegan meat (the time I accidentally got a veggie burger at my school’sdining hall was definitely not a pleasant meal), so I was hesitant about getting the HappyDrumsticks. It’s fried soy protein served with a spicy sauce. The inside was moist and theoutside was perfectly fried and crispy. The texture was a lot like chicken, though it wasn’t as chewy as meat. They alternated the regular drumstick bone with a piece of yummy sugarcane that you can munch on. Our other appetizer, the Golden Rolls, was very good as well. They’re crispy fried rolls filled with vegetables, tofu, carrot, taro, and bean thread. It was full of flavor and the sauce gave it a little spicy, sweet kick.

Spicy Fried Rice

Our orders came out as we were eating the last of our appetizers. You can tell they care about presentation—each item was lovely, colorful, and looked delicious.

I thoroughly enjoyed the spicy fried rice, which was fried rice with tofu, soy protein, carrots,green beans, basil, and Thai spices. The slight spiciness lingered after each bite and it was neither too dry nor moist. It was just perfect—and I’ve tried a lot of fried rice! I definitely recommend that dish. The Humble Curry was good as well. The potatoes and tofu in the curry were cooked nicely. Overall, though, my friends and I agreed we still prefer Indian curry over Vietnamese style.

Hot & Spicy Noodles

My vegan friend, Niv, had the Special Vegetable Noodle. Although she enjoyed the dish overall,she found that other vegan restaurants, like Di Lac in San Jose, had more flavorful noodles. My other friend only liked—not loved— her order of the Hot and Spicy Noodles. She agreed with Niv that she’s had better noodles elsewhere. The noodle items they had just weren’t really anything special—they said—although they reassured me that they were still both good and cooked well.

We wanted to order vegan Caramel Flan as dessert, but unfortunately they were out! I will have to get it next time.

Overall if you are in the South Bay, I recommend Green Café for casual, affordable vegan dining. I particularly recommend getting and sharing one of the many entrees with an order of fried rice, rather than ordering individual meals like the noodle soup dishes. I’m no vegan or vegetarian (though I am cutting down on my consumption of meat!) but I definitely put Green Café on my list of frequent dining spots because of its affordable price, friendly service, and overall good food.

-Michelle Thai