Behind the wok you’ll find Chef Ngoc Tran, who runs Blossom Vegetarian, an authentic Vietnamese cuisine restaurant located in downtown Renton providing healthy dishes that nourish the body and soul, minus meat. Although the restaurant says “vegetarian” in the name, the majority of the dishes are true to vegan outside of the egg noodles.
Prior to Ngoc Tran running the kitchen, cofounder, chef, and Buddhist Nun Hue Phan came up with the idea after practicing as a nun in Vietnam. With more than 70 percent of Vietnamese being Buddhist, she knew she had to accommodate this demographic and offer something healthy that fits the religion. A fun fact: Vietnamese Buddhists eat meat-free food on the first and 15th days of the lunar calendar (lenten days), on Chinese New Year Eve, and on Saint and Ancestral Holy days. During these times, most restaurants create recipes originally made to contain meat and substitute soy-based alternatives.
Phan has created an experience at Blossom that focuses on bringing the memories of the beloved meat and seafood dishes they had once enjoyed before becoming vegetarian or vegan. After trying some of the local favorites, we were blown away by the umami-packed flavors from every dish that resembled the taste profile of true meat, almost forgetting we were at a vegetarian restaurant.
MÌ XÀO GIÒN THẬP CẨM — Crispy Egg Noodle Combo
Tofu, Vietnamese ham, carrot, celery, broccoli, pineapple, tomato, mushrooms, snow peas, cauliflowers, bok choy, and zucchini, served over crispy egg noodle. Get ready to turn some heads. The noodles are fried into a giant bird’s-nest-like presentation with vegetables piled on top as the juices soak into the crispy, entangled arrangement. A bit difficult to eat, however, the twisty egg noodles combined with the stir-fried vegetables give this a nice crunch and wholesome bite.
BÚN BÒ HUẾ — Huế Spicy ‘Beef’ Noodle Soup
Sliced “beef,” tofu, “ham,” mushroom, thick rice noodle, served with cabbage, lettuce, bean sprouts, mint, basil, jalapeño, and lime. One of the most popular dishes on the menu, it reimagines the spicy beef noodle broth using various vegetables and a five-hour slow-simmering process with added spices and herbs to bring a silky, umami-filled broth.
BÒ RANG MÈ — Sesame ‘Beef’
“Beef” sautéed in sesame, broccoli, peas, and carrots. After one bite, you’ll second guess whether this is actually meat or soy protein. The texture, color, and flavor of this are visually indistinguishable from its meat-based counterpart. Piled high on a bed of broccoli, the faux beef chews like “beef” and tastes like “beef” in the best way possible.
GỎI CUỐN 3 MÀU — Blossom Fresh Rolls
Assorted mushrooms, tofu, carrots, jicama, lettuce, and basil wrapped in rice paper, served with peanut sauce. These perfectly wrapped spring rolls tasted fresh out of the garden with tree-like lettuce that paired nicely with the creamy peanut butter and house-made “fish sauce,” which is made with lime vinegar.
CÀ TÍM KHO TỘ — Caramelized Eggplants in Clay Pot
Fried tofu, straw mushrooms, eggplants, black pepper, coconut juice. A classic Vietnamese dish cooked in a hot clay pot served with rice. The eggplant was perfectly seasoned and cooked to give it a nice, sponge-like texture that was extremely creamy and flavorful on every bite. The fried tofu and straw mushrooms added dimension and increased texture to give this dish great character.
When You Go
305 Burnet Ave. S.,
11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday through Thursday.
Open until 9:30 p.m. on
Friday and Saturday.