Vegetable
 
 

Photo credit: Joshua Lurie

A cozy haven for organic, plant-based comfort food

By Kelly Bone

A year-and-a-half after opening, Studio City’s Vegetable has earned itself a reputation as the hot spot for all things delicious and plant-based on Ventura Boulevard. Not one to rest on his laurels, however, chef Jerry Yu—a Los Angeles native who grew up in the kitchen of his parents’ restaurant—has branched out, now offering a more robust menu with many new seasonal additions. And at the top of this must-try list is an innovative yet approachable selection of vegetable-centric sandwiches.

These recent additions nevertheless fit as comfortably into Yu’s always evolving menu as the reclaimed woods and chalkboard walls fit into the rustic chic space. Having spent most of the past decade running some of the better-known plant-based restaurants around town, the vegetarian of over 20 years finally decided it was time to open his own kitchen, and with a clear vision: All organic, “guilt-free” American comfort foods and crafted vegetables that are meant to stand on their own. Throughout, the largely vegan menu uses eggs and dairy sparingly, while nut-based cheeses can also be found among the colorful array of sharing dishes that celebrate the farm-to-table produce of California. A menu key makes it easy to discern what is vegetarian, vegan, raw, and gluten-free.

Of his new foray, Yu explains, “I was reluctant to add sandwiches to the menu for a long time because I wanted them to be unique and not just something you could get everywhere else.” Steering clear of any ideas that involve “fake meats” or soy-based proteins, he delivers a baker’s half-dozen of options, conceptualized from the ground up with vegetables as the star of each.

Speaking of baking, another secret weapon in Yu’s arsenal is the host of house-made breads that form the foundation of these sandwiches—yet another element that sets them apart. Vegetable’s pastry chef worked hard honing each recipe through multiple iterations until they met the demands of chef Yu’s vision.

The results were worth the effort. Vegetable’s unique new sandwiches include the BBQ sweet potato sandwich, with pickled sweet onion and a red cabbage and heritage carrot slaw all joining in on a soft and buttery potato roll. The BBQ sauce is also made in-house in small batches— Bulleit Bourbon and serranos forming the core of its zesty personality. A light and crispy focaccia delivers the smoked pear and goat cheese sandwich, which is also available in a vegan incarnation, with “goat cheese” made of cashews.

Yu hasn’t abandoned the classics that established Vegetable as a go-to for adventurous vegans and omnivores alike. His ever-popular savory corn cakes (pictured below) offer a complex layering of smoky chickpea and sweet onion stew beneath a knot of kale and two seared corn cakes. Drizzled with balsamic reduction and smoked sriracha aïoli, then finished with the sweet punch of mango salsa, this substantial dish is a must for those who want to taste the depth of Yu’s talent. Another favorite is the vegan and gluten-free take on mac and cheese, composed of quinoa pasta drenched in a spicy cashew cheese sauce, then topped with baby heirloom tomatoes and garlic walnut crumbles. Chef Yu’s approach makes the ubiquitous dish feel brand new—a feat somehow neither surprising nor unusual at this home for organic, plant-based goodness.


Photo credit: Kelly Bone

hours

Sun–Thu 11 AM–9 PM; Fri–Sat 11 AM–10 PM

price range

$7 (cheesy fingerling potato) to $21 (fungi sticky rice)
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