When he was the executive chef at Daimo, a well-regarded Cantonese restaurant, chef Che Heng Lee had specialized in cooking seafood. But problems with his weight and cholesterol eventually prompted him to swear off meat — and to adopt “Veggie” as his English nickname. Now, at the vegetarian restaurant that he opened in Hayward, Lee applies the skills he honed during all those years of cooking meat and fish, and applies them to vegetable cookery. You can see his skill in the variety of “mock meat” dishes that range from vegan General Tso’s chicken to a killer sizzling eggplant dish that features vegan fish-steak. But many of the best dishes didn’t have any meat proxy whatsoever, and were instead the kinds of items you might find at a higher-tier Cantonese banquet house. Highlights include the impeccably fried salt-and-pepper pumpkin and the pan-fried bean curd roll.

— Luke Tsai

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