Veg out in the ’burbs
Vegan Plate1821 Douglas Blvd.
Roseville, CA 95661
In recent years, Sacramento restaurants have upped their vegan game—with some, including Pushkin’s, knocking it out of the park. But there has also been growth in the number of exclusively vegan restaurants in town, and it’s always a relief to avoid the awkwardness of asking “regular” restaurants about broths, fats and fryers.
That sense of relief has expanded to the suburbs. In the corner of a Roseville strip mall, Vegan Plate has an incredibly diverse menu. Pancit? Check. Drunken Noodles? All good. Buffalo cauliflower tacos? You’re covered. Accompanying Vegan Plate’s variety are its relatively low prices, giving my dining companions plenty to choose from.
First, Vegan Plate knows how to work a fryer. Its Soy Chicken Joy ($6.95), its mock-meat take on chicken drumsticks, were probably the highlight of both of my meals, with a perfectly textured outer coating, fried crisp without reaching overdone. It was dense and flavorful without suffering the stringiness of many chicken substitutes. The Crispy Dumplings ($5.50) had the usual mock-meat/onion/cabbage combo, but the outer sear was, as advertised, crispy. Perfectly crispy. The vegan Fish and Chips ($9.95) was stellar, too. The fish substitute was, like everything else we’d tried, perfectly breaded and fried.
The chips though—how long ya got? These chips are worth talking about in depth. The fries were cut the length and width of steak fries, but were sliced impossibly thin with pockets of air that somehow made fries into something dang lovely. My friend and I were so delighted that we spent a few distracted, unsuccessful minutes trying to find the name for the style of fry, but, as Julia Child told us during our frantic, distracted YouTubing, “Potatoes are a strange animal.”
Vegan Plate offers the same array of pan-Asian, gluten and soy-based noodle and rich dishes that nearly all the area’s vegan restaurants do, and they do a serviceable job. The Pancit ($9.50) had a nice, garlicky sauce, but the fried tofu offered as protein didn’t seem to have a flavor of its own. The Hong Kong Noodles were crispy, but essentially a base for a hodgepodge of vegetables and unmarinated tofu in an underwhelming broth that was improved slightly by adding Sriracha.
We’d overheard that Vegan Plate’s “Neat Balls” ($6.95) were one of its top sellers, so we ordered an appetizer serving of six faux meatballs. We … were not impressed. Our half dozen were dry, unseasoned orbs of mystery grain in plain marinara, and also contained something my lunch mate declared “weird and chewy,” likely a mushroom meant to provide a savory element.
My experience with Vegan Plate involved such high-highs and low-lows that I could imagine two different diners leaving with completely opposite opinions of the place. Should you give Vegan Plate a whirl, walk the line directly to that deep fryer and you won’t be disappointed.