Can Vietnamese cuisine be as seductive without the meat?

Given that Vietnamese cuisine’s deep, multi-layered flavours are traditionally built upon the cornerstones of beef, pork, and fish sauce, you might think vegetarian and vegan iterations would fall short on taste. That’s definitely not the case at Chau Veggie Express, where Maria Hyunh and her mother, Chau, have created a slate of locally sourced, plant-based soups and noodle bowls paying delicious homage to their culinary heritage. They’ve even crafted a vegan lemon version of nuoc mam (fish sauce) that won’t leave your palate wanting. The well-organized menu clearly highlights vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and allium-free options for diners on restricted diets, and dishes have playful monikers reflecting Maria’s adventures in Southeast Asia. Bai Sao Beach Chips are hand-cut taro slices that pique the palate—especially with the accompanying dip of organic tofu spiced with garlic and paprika. Diving for Pearls soup features a delicately light lychee and date broth, while the Rickety Rickshaw bowl is a noodle-tastic feast that includes crispy kale spring rolls. Save room for Andrew Han’s swoon-worthy desserts—you’ll be powerless to resist the allure of his caramelized-banana cheesecake with coconut sauce and a gluten-free walnut crust. As part of our October food issue, former Supernatural star Osric Chan picked Chau Veggie express as his favourite Vancouver eatery; check out these pictures of our visit with Osric here. Chau Veggie Express, 5052 Victoria Dr., 604-568-9508,