Have you heard about Dryuary? It’s where people pledge to go alcohol free – or stay dry – for the month of January. I’m sure that January was selected because it’s after the holidays when so many people tend to overindulge, but personally I think February would be a better choice because, you know, it’s shorter.
Now some people are pushing Veganuary, which means to follow a vegan diet for the first month of the year. Is there a meatless equivalent to dry? Vegged, maybe?
Anyway, if you’re among the carnivorous community attempting to eat a more plant-based diet, whether for a month or just a day, you might want to check out V.L.C. Vegan Eatery, a small restaurant on the east side of Orlando that recently celebrated its first anniversary.
V.L.C., which stands for Vegan Loving Care, is located in Waterford Towers, where, I feel compelled to point out, there are not any actual towers. The chef and owner is Jim Wu, who the website says has been cooking for 40 years, 15 as a plant-based specialist.
The menu has a lot of intriguing sounding items that at first sound as though they’re loaded with animal products. But instead of beef there’s be-ef, instead of tuna it’s tu-na, and instead of chicken there’s chick’n. It’s sort of like sushi restaurants that list krab as an ingredient, but at least krab is fashioned out of seafood.
But these meat-sounding items are actually made without causing harm, unless you believe the 60 Minutes episode from several years ago where scientists asserted that plants scream when pain is inflicted. In that case, dietetically, you’re screwed.
I must say I’ve always found it a bit odd that vegan restaurants felt the need to try to mimic meats in their dishes. I do sometimes like the textures that these products, which are usually processed from plant or whey protein, can add to a dish. But wouldn’t it be more vegany to give them names not associated with a barnyard?
That said, I liked most of the food I sampled from VLC, some of it very much.
One of the best things was the appetizer of tempura Brussels sprouts, which featured the little cabbagelike nuggets in a light jacket of batter and deep fried without the inclusion of any chickkin or kow. The sprouts were firm and the batter ethereal with no greasiness. My only niggle is that although the portion was ample, too little of the dipping sauce, a spicy mayo (sorry, may-o) was provided, and it was seriously delicious.
I also liked the entree of potato curry, which had hefty hunks of taters, cabbage and carrots in a mildly spiced gravy. There were also bits of be-ef to give it that different texture I mentioned, and it was all especially good served with the nutty brown rice that came with it.
I ordered one of the three-item combos, which, at $12, is a terrific deal (all of the food is bargain priced). From the list of available options, I selected chick’n fried rice, tomato rotini pasta, and eggplant katsu.
The katsu had two slices of eggplant with a crispy breading, served with a sweet and thick katsu sauce. The rotini was fairly bland, but the fried rice was nicely loaded with peas, carrots, onions and chewy bits of edamame beans.
There is no online ordering system, but the young man who took my order over the phone was so pleasant that I wouldn’t use it if they offered one. There is no on-premises dining at this time and all orders must be paid for over the phone, which I prefer anyway. When I arrived at the Towers, I called the restaurant’s number and my order was brought out post haste. And, it was all still hot when I opened it in downtown Orlando.
Whether you go “all in” and adopt a vegan diet permanently or just want introduce more plant-based foods into your diet, V.L.C. is the place for you. And if you’re also working your way through Dryuary, there’s an added bonus: it does not serve alcohol.