Veganism Blooms in Northern California’s Tri-Valley Area at Blossom
Blossom offers an affordable vegan option in the land of restaurant chains and fast food in between high-end dinning
So, how hard is it to find a good vegetarian or better yet a good vegan restaurant in Dublin, California? Apparently, the pickings have been very slim for a very hungry non-meat eating crowd until recently.
What’s up with that? Isn’t this California? Well yes, but it’s not Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco or Santa Cruz. The usual suspect cities for crunchy granola grass eating herbivores (I can say this I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area). This is the Tri-Valley area, which includes Danville, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, and San Ramon. The region is 33 miles from San Francisco and 18 miles from Oakland, but it might as well be a whole other world called: the rest of America.
Needless to say, it was a barren landscape for vegetarians and vegans, except for High Tech Burrito, until a year ago when Blossom Vegan Restaurant (4000 Pimlico Dr., Ste. 112; 925-399-5232; ; BlossomVegans.com) in Pleasanton, California lit up the culinary scene in Dublin and Pleasanton.
The Vietnamese inspired vegan restaurant has received rave reviews from its fans on social media review websites like Yelp and Trip Advisor as well as among a few local media outlets. I found this out later, after I ventured out to Blossom. However, it didn’t quite live up to this urbanite’s standards.
You think it would. It’s the sister restaurant to Golden Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant in Oakland’s Chinatown, reported Around Dublin.
On a New Year health kick and with my meat lovin’ Super G on a quick weekend getaway with her friends, I was left on my own at her friend’s house to fend for my meals. Desiring to change up my routine when I say behind to work, I decided to be a bit adventurous. With the power of my new iPhone that brought me into the 21st century when I unwrapped it at Christmas, I searched for vegetarian restaurants in the area.
Ha, ha, I forgot where I was, but hey, Blossom popped right up on my phone. Not just a vegetarian restaurant, but a vegan restaurant. I was shocked! I searched for other selections and found the aforementioned Mexican spot. I wasn’t in the mood for a burrito and I could just see my food tracker going berserk with the cheese. I wasn’t ready to blow my calorie count for the day, so I decided to hunt down Blossom.
Blossom satiated my hunger. I started off with the Spring Rolls Non-Fried and chose the Saute Basil Mushroom with a side of Organic Brown Rice for my main entrée.
The server also suggested popular appetizers and entrees, such as the Spring Rolls (which I ordered), Mushu-Mushu, Spicy Sweet and Sour Soup, Vegetable Deluxe, Spicy Noodle Soup, and the Stir Fry Vegetable Chow Mein to name a few options on the extensive, but not overwhelming menu. The chef also doesn’t use MSG in any of the dishes.
I could see why the spring rolls are popular. They were flavorful. All of the ingredients of the cilantro, jicama, mint leaves, and the seasoned tofu pillowed by the lettuce wrapped tightly in the thin rice paper wrap created a delightful fresh taste in my mouth. However, I could do without the peanut sauce. I was disappointed. It was watery, too sweet to the point that I questioned if the peanuts on top of the sauce were the only real peanuts in the sauce. It didn’t pack an equal amount of flavor to accompany the spring rolls. I was expecting a thicker sauce that had a little bang or kick to it, so it was a letdown. I ended up not dipping the rest of my spring rolls in the sauce and eating them dry and thinking about if I should go next door to the Thai restaurant to get some peanut sauce (but I wasn’t sure if their peanut sauce would be good their either) or where else I could get a good peanut sauce without going to San Francisco.
The Saute Basil Mushroom in the chef’s “special basil sauce” was a home run. It wasn’t what I imagined the dish would be. In my mind I saw a stuffed meaty Portobello Mushroom garnished with the sauce. I should have known better knowing that the restaurant is Vietnamese inspired. I was served a dish with plump Baby Portobello Mushrooms sautéed in a delicious flavorful savory sauce. The mushrooms were well complemented lying on a bed of nutty Organic Brown Rice, which I ordered as a side, on my plate.
I sat trying to get every sauce soaked grain of the brown rice onto my chop sticks and into my mouth without appearing as if I was famished or a greedy slave to my taste buds.
I didn’t try any of the beverages or desert. I wasn’t even offered to check out the desert menu before being handed my check and the boxes to put my leftovers in.
This isn’t the place for diners seeking a little bit of a zip or a bit of heat in their food. While there are spicy dishes dinners reviews have been consistent that even the heat in the spice was somewhat mild. I enjoyed my dishes, peanut sauce aside, and I agreed the food is definitely for a less adventurous pallet. In spite of Blossom’s “exoticness” in the deep suburbs of San Francisco, it appears that people in the area are hungry for diversity in their culinary options in Southeast Asia and well-being wise, but not ready to take the full authentic plunge or the chef hasn’t heard the faithful diners.
A Healthy Road Stop
The restaurant is rather unassuming from the outside, but inside its apparent that the owners have put a considerable amount of thought into the décor throughout the restaurant including the bathroom. It’s clean and minimalistic with tasteful tropical mural at the front of the restaurant. The seating is comfortable and the tables and booths are a decent distance from each other allowing for privacy in the intimate setting. Additional seating is available outside when weather permits.
It’s a welcoming atmosphere for a casual gathering of friends or a low-key night out with your partner or family, but mostly Blossom’s close proximity to the freeway makes it a perfect healthy road stop.
The lunch time crowd had departed by the time I arrived. There was only a family at one of the tables and staff had just gathered to sit down to eat at a table near the kitchen, which could be seen just over the counter. However, the staff was attentive checking in on me and apologizing for my appetizer coming after the main course was served. I’m not sure how the service would be during the lunch or dinner time crowd, but online reviews suggest the restaurant needs to up its game.
Blossom is perfectly situation for road tripping herbivores heading east through Northern California. I found it right located off of I-580 in a strip mall on the edge of Dublin and Pleasanton border where Trader Joe’s is the biggest attraction and a small oasis of ethnic restaurants that include Indian and Thai offerings.
THE DIRTY DISH
Blossom Vegan Restaurant, 4000 Pimlico Dr., Ste. 112, Pleasanton, CA 94588. P: 925-399-5232. E: . W: www.blossomvegans.com
TYPE OF RESTAURANT: Vietnamese, vegan
RATING: 3 = Aqua
(0 inedible – 5 simply scrumptious)
AMBIANCE: It’s clean and minimalistic with tasteful tropical mural, creating a casual island atmosphere.
SCENE: Just like the tropics, casual is the theme for individuals to families.
SERVICE: The servers were attentive and apologetic when my dishes weren’t served in the proper order. The food came out of the kitchen quickly and everything was fresh.
NOISE LEVEL: The restaurant was quiet, but that’s because I was the only other guest aside from a family.
RECOMMENDED DISHES: The Spring Rolls and the Saute Basil Mushroom.
SIP: The restaurant offers a variety of drinks that are enticing.
CHECK, PLEASE: $$ = $10 – $20
(price of average dinner/lunch/breakfast/brunch bill for an individual dinner)
THE EAT: I like that it is an option that is different from chain and high-end restaurants and less healthy options, especially for travelers. Blossom is perfectly located and easily accessible right off the highway.
WORTH THE NIGHT OUT?: Had a good time, but I’ve eaten better
HOURS: Monday – Friday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Tuesday: Closed
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