2/12/11

Restaurant Review: Su Tao Vegan Café, Malvern, PA

A crowded Saturday night during a special buffet for the Chinese Lantern Festival.

Items from the special buffet, including crunchy tofu salad, dragon dumplings and summer rolls.
The hot buffet: Fried rice, spring rolls, crunchy chicken, lo mein, General Tao's, steamed dumplings, plus more.
Half of the cold salad bar.



The other half of the cold salad bar: vegan egg salad, kale, cucumber salad, cold spicy noodle salad plus more.
Fresh fruits and sushi bar. 
Sweet and sour shrimp from the special buffet.
Crispy fried chicken. One of my favs. I top a green salad with it and use the ginger dressing. Yum!
Su Tao Vegan Cafe in Malvern, PA is located in a very non-assuming late-1960s/early-70s strip mall in a very non-assuming distant suburb of Philadelphia. If it's your first time trying to find it, you may drive right past the buffet, but it's well worth the search.

A friend of our told us about the restaurant about 6 years ago and it has been a family favorite/go-to ever since. Before we knew about Su Tao, we would venture into Philly, sit in traffic on 95, drive around Chinatown for a half-hour to find a parking space, not find one and then have to pay outrageous amounts of money in a parking garage and then wait a long half-hour in the restaurant before our food would arrive. Now, we drive a half-hour to the burbs in no traffic, park in a free spot, and chow down within minutes of sitting down. Hungry people and parents know that buffets rule. Kids have little patience for waiting calmly at tables while their bellies growl.

My husband and I have dined at probably 90% of the vegetarian restaurants in the Northeast, many of them Chinese. Some may have fancy menus, others make you feel healthy and organic, while still others are all about the deep-friedness. Some are just downright gross. Su Tao, is like its setting, very unpretentious. I call it Chinese comfort food. There's a perfect combo of Chinese staples, fresh healthy veggies, deep fried goodness and a few dishes from other ethnicities. No matter how many fancy-schmancy over-priced vegan places I venture to in NYC, they just can't compare to the over-all goodness of Su Tao. Plus, it's cheap! $12.22 for an all you can eat vegan buffet! You can't beat that.

The buffet has something for everyone. I love how I can eat a ton of veggies and still stick to a diet and my husband can eat sushi, kimchi, spicy spinach salad and mock duck. They don't always have it in the buffet, but my favorite dish is "twice cooked chicken." My kids devour the lo-mein, "the treasure island," sweet potatoes, mixed veggies and fresh fruits. They are always super excited to hit the dessert bar (not pictured) for vegan cake and cookies. If they have been super eaters, they can even have a little dish of vegan ice cream. I love finishing a meal with a hot cup of jasmine tea.

Items in the buffet are marked if they are soy and gluten free. Perfect for people with allergies. Tea, soup, drinks, desserts are included with the buffet. You can also purchase bottled drinks and ice cream. It's BYOB, so can bring a bottle of wine (which I don't understand how you can drink and eat Chinese food, but to each his own!).

There are also a wide varieties of dishes that you can ordered from the menu. My favorite is, "In the Forest," a chopped tofu and veggie stir fry with special crunchy topping that you eat wrapped in lettuce leaves.

It's best to get there at peak times, that is when the buffet is freshest and more frequently re-stocked. If you get there at, say, 3 pm, the buffet is pretty bare, so it would be best to order off the menu. It's not really a place for atmosphere, so dreams of having a romantic dinner by candlelight are just not going to happen. It's definitely a place for post-90's-hardcore-vegan-hipster parents with their kids, hippies, professional Chinese association meetings, and awkward veg meet ups. The owners are super sweet and will answer any of your questions. They charge a nominal fee for children based on their age. After you leave, stock up on Indian groceries and Asian veggies at the two small grocery stores in the same shopping mall.

Su Tao Café
81 Lancaster Ave.
Malvern, PA 19355
(610) 651-8886
http://www.sutaocafe.com/
On Yelp

1 comment:

  1. i;'m sold. if we ever make it up to the ne corridor again, i'm hittin' it!

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