You don’t have to be a vegan to enjoy this joint

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On the corner of National Boulevard and Mentone Avenue there’s a friendly place with delicious food – whether you’re a predacious carnivore or the sort of herbivore who doesn’t eat anything that casts a shadow. Welcome to The Vegan Joint.

                  I was delightfully surprised by the array of choices on the menu. Breakfast is served all day. Whether you’re in the mood for tropical pancakes, hash browns or a breakfast burrito, The Vegan Joint has you covered. They also serve burgers, fries and other American staples.

                  But I was feeling an inspiration toward spicy Asian food this week. I began with the fresh spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce and steamed dumplings. I recommend both, but if pressed, would opt for the spring rolls because of the tasty peanut sauce.

                  The soup and salad is even better. I suggest the shiitake mushroom soup. It features large chunks of shiitakes, bamboo shoots, tofu and vegetables in a coconut milk broth flavored with exotic seasonings. The Oriental tossed salad was equally enticing, containing Romaine lettuce, Napa cabbage, shredded beets, grilled shiitake mushroom, bean noodles, bean sprouts, carrots and cucumbers, among other zesty tidbits. Warning: The salad is served with a peanut dressing that is highly addictive.

                  I next enjoyed the yellow curry and, additionally, pad Thai noodles. The dish – composed of potatoes, onions, carrots and peas – comes topped with a meatless chicken that was stunningly every bit as savory as genuine yard bird. The yellow curry has a mild heat and is intensely flavorful.  The pad Thai noodles were served side-by-side with chopped peanuts, shredded carrots and bean sprouts. Needless to say, it was delicious.

                  The restaurant also offers a variety of desserts –cookies, cakes, cheesecakes and more. I didn’t have room for the lemon cake, so I had it boxed, and am fantasizing of it even as I write this.

                  What amazes me is that everything I ate was vegan. As someone with ethical problems about factory-farmed meat, but who enjoys a hearty meal out, The Vegan Joint provides a viable alternative. And for my friends with food allergies and special dietary requirements, The Vegan Joint is the perfect restaurant. As if that weren’t enough, their prices are incredibly reasonable.

                  The Vegan Joint is conveniently located at 10438 National Blvd. There are a few parking meters in front, but the likeliest bet is nearby residential street parking. They’re open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. (10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays), and offer catering, free delivery and online ordering.