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Noodle Tuesday: vegan pho at Nickie Cafe


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Vegetable and tofu noodle soup

Full of fresh vegetables and herbs, light yet flavorful, more Vietnamese restaurants should be havens for vegans and vegetarians.

Except they're not. In a cuisine where fish sauce is a staple like shoyu, Vietnamese vegetarian options around town can be bland and watery.

Enter Nickie Cafe, a tiny five-table eatery just off Kapahulu. Here, a quarter of the menu is vegetarian-friendly and still bright and savory. A vegetable and tofu noodle soup ($9) comes loaded with broccoli, carrots, cabbage and potato over pho noodles, with bits of crispy fried shallots on top. Like beef pho, the bowl is accompanied by a tray of condiments (the chili sauce is a winner) and plate of sawtooth coriander, Thai basil, bean sprouts and lemon wedges. Throw it all in.


"Duck" and bamboo soup

Nickie also offers a vegetarian version of bun mang vit chay ($10), duck and bamboo soup, the meat replaced with "mock duck," which gives a pretty good imitation of the real thing, though its sponginess gives it away. But dried bamboo, shredded ong choy stems and a ginger-lime-chile sauce definitely make this vermicelli rice noodle soup slurp-worthy.

Nickie Cafe, 3297 Campbell Ave., 734-6180

 

 

 

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