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Fine dining in LA for vegetarians and vegans

January 25, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
It can be tough for vegans and vegetarians to find high-end restaurants. But not anymore- dining is changing in Los Angeles for the better with upscale veggie meals.

"We've been doing it well and we're actually doing it better every day," said Manfred Lassahn, senior executive chef at Hyatt Regency Century Plaza.

At Breeze at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, Lassahn is talking about his vegan creations, which apparently are quite popular.

"We are actually in vegan blogging known as the fine dining vegan restaurant on the Westside," said Lassahn.

Guest requests inspired the chef to invent somewhat normal dishes made completely without animal products, like faux-chicken pot pie or wild mushroom risotto with cashew cream and the Gardein chicken.

Gardein is a commercial meatless protein made with soy and wheat with a similar taste and texture of the real deal.

Other favorites: a red beet quinoa stack with raisins, toasted almonds and golden beet chips; butternut squash bruschetta; there's even vegan tofu-free tiramisu.

At Windows Lounge at the Four Seasons Los Angeles Beverly Hills, Assistant Food and Beverage Director Matteo Gentile provides the vegan choices on their StrEAT menu.

"Especially in Los Angeles, people are very attentive and conservative, if I can say, in terms of calories," said Gentile.

Yes, there's sliders and wings but for health- and calorie-conscious clients, there's roasted corn, mushroom and soy cheese quesadillas with fiery sauce; eggplant curry with shredded coconut and papadum scoops; jicama avocado tostadas with tomatillo sauce; and a vegetarian street dish from Singapore called carrot cake.

When you think of carrot cake, you think of a cream cheese frosting dessert. But this creative concoction has nothing to do with confection.

"And believe it or not there's no carrots in it," said Gentile.

Eggs and daikon topped with herbs like cilantro and chives makes carrot cake one of the most popular dishes.

Along with calories, the Four Seasons is attentive to cost, with these dishes in the $8 to $12 range: tasty options in an opulent setting won't weigh you or your wallet down.

See photos of the creative menu items at Breeze and Windows Lounge.