Chen Vegetarian House, 709 Penn Ave. West Reading, PA 19611- Phone: 610-374-2288 or www.chenvegehouse.com

Chen Vegetarian House is an all vegetarian Asian restaurant with a full menu of vegetarian dishes to choose from…just what the health-minded people of Berks County have been waiting for!  Tonight was our first visit there and I was impressed.  We will be going back!  Although this is a small establishment, probably more geared to take-out than dining-in, our experience was entirely enjoyable.

We entered the newly remodeled restaurant (next to Haute Chocolat) and were promptly seated at one of the two tables by the window.  Several other tables were available near the take-out counter.  Our server answered all our questions and explained the menu (Yes, EVERYTHING on the menu is vegetarian — even the chicken, the beef, the pork, and the seafood).  They do not use MSG in any of their food.  We talked and drank green tea until our dinners arrived.  The spring rolls were piping hot and very fresh (not frozen and reheated).  My Pad Thai was delicious, seasoned perfectly with not too much “chicken” and lots of crunchy bean sprouts.  My husband ordered General Tso’s “Chicken” (his favorite) and we were both impressed by the quantity and presentation.  Our meals were delicious and the service was efficient and courteous.

Chen Vegetarian House also features something other Asian restaurants don’t offer — fresh vegetable and fruit juices (3.99) and fruit smoothies (4.29).  Hallelujah!

The menu states that lunches including white or brown rice, hot & sour soup or spring roll, and entrée are only $5.99.  To save time you can pre-order online and pick up at the counter. Business hours are Mon. – Thurs.: 11 am – 10 pm, Fri. and Sat.: 11 am – 10:30 pm, and Sun.: 12 pm – 9:30 pm.  Visa, Mastercard, and Discover are accepted.  Now until 1/31/2014 is their Grand Opening and you get 10% off a minimum $20 order!

If you want a healthy and delicious meal for not a lot of money, then I would highly recommend Chen Vegetarian House.

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China King Chinese Restaurant: 840 North Park Rd. Wyomissing, PA 19610 (Park Plaza)

China King is a small casual restaurant located in a little strip mall off N. Park Road.  It is a great place to get delicious Chinese food fast. They offer several vegetarian dishes, including our favorite, General Tso’s “Chicken.” Food can be prepared with no MSG (you won’t miss it), brown rice is available on request, and any dish followed by (D) can be made as a low calorie, low cholesterol dish with absolutely no oil, salt or sugar — who says eating out will ruin your diet!

I consider China King to be an excellent value.  The first time we ate in their tiny diningroom we ordered an entrée for each of us — big mistake!  Two of us could barely finish one entrée, the servings were THAT BIG!  Now we order one entrée and share it.  That is plenty and with spring rolls and tea we leave completely satisfied with no boxes of leftovers to carry.  Our total bill is usually around $12.00 for two people, a price that is hard to beat anywhere.

China King offers take out and delivery service ($10.00 minimum for delivery) if you’d rather eat at home or the office.  Everyday they have a lunch buffet for only $5.45/ person which includes free water or soda, but I am sorry to say that there are no vegetarian entrees on the lunch buffet.  (Maybe if enough people request it, they will change that!) Visa, MasterCard, and Diners Club cards are accepted, BYOB. Friendly, fast service, generous portions, low prices = highly recommend!

PHONE: 610-373-5851, 610-373-8805

FAX: 610-373-8803

Aladdin Mediterranean Restaurant, 401 Penn Ave. West Reading, PA 19611. Phone 610-685-6677

Aladdin is a wonderful Mideastern restaurant that offers a variety of delectable foods for the health conscious.  They have an extensive vegetarian menu to eat in or take out, and always use the finest fresh ingredients.  It is one of our favorite restaurants in Berks County — we have never been disappointed by the food or the service.  The atmosphere is very ethnic — almost like eating in a desert nomad’s tent or a Mideastern marketplace, complete with music. To add to the fun, Friday night usually features a live bellydancer.

Last night I ordered the Aladdin Makaleh which consisted of grilled cauliflower, zucchini, and eggplant along with falafel topped with shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, and tahini sauce.  It was delicious (and huge)! My husband had the Falafel Salad, which is a very generous serving of falafel, hummus, tabouleh, and tahini sauce.  At only $7.50 it is a bargain.  I have ordered the Falafel Salad in the past and can tell you that their tabouleh is the best!  Don’t let the word “salad” make you think this dish will leave you feeling hungry; it is definitely large enough for a satisfying entrée.  We had fountain drinks (free refills), and did not order dessert because it was a friend’s birthday,  and we had brought our own cake.  Aladdin supplied plates and silverware with a smile.  If you are looking for excellent vegetarian food in Berks County, then you won’t be disappointed with Aladdin.  If you don’t see exactly what you want on the menu, you can make your own combination platter or ask them to alter any item to suit your preference, and they will oblige.

Aladdin is truly a gem — a wonderful compliment to the Main Street revitalization program in West Reading.  Their prices are reasonable and parking is convenient.  Oh, they do serve meat dishes and have a Kids Menu, too 🙂

For more information online:  DineIndie.com/Aladdin

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Taste of Crepes, 617 Penn Ave., West Reading, PA 19611. Phone: (610) 685-2001

Wow!  Another vegetarian friendly restaurant in West Reading — how lucky are we!

Last Saturday, during “Art on the Avenue,” we stopped to have lunch at Taste of Crepes, a tiny new restaurant on the main street of West Reading. At this restaurant they offer savory(entree) and sweet (dessert) crepes. My husband and I both ordered the grilled veggie crepes and a side of mashed sweet potatoes topped with chopped walnuts and caramel sauce, which was the lunchtime special. I have eaten crepes all over the world, and I have to say that these crepes, which were made with buckwheat flour instead of white flour, were not only the healthiest,  but also the tastiest I have ever had. As a bonus you get to watch the friendly chef prepare your crepes before your very eyes — an art form in itself. The veggies inside were grilled to perfection and the whole crepe was drizzled with a tangy white horseradish sauce garnished with dollops of pureed red pepper, cranberry sauce, and a single fresh basil leaf. The presentation was lovely despite being served on paper plates (the proprietor assured us that china dishes had been ordered and would be arriving any day).  The side of sweet potatoes was more than generous (three large scoops) and so yummy it could have been dessert. At only $1.00, this side dish was too good to pass up, and we’re so glad we didn’t!

I would highly recommend this casual friendly establishment for a quick lunch or a healthy informal dinner out. Our entire bill, including green tea for both of us, came to just under $20.00.

Taste of Crepes is open Sunday-Monday: 11 – 5, Tuesday-Wednesday: 11 – 6, Thursday 11 – 7, and Friday-Saturday: 11 – 9.

Restaurant review: Good Eatz Green Cafe

Good Eatz Green Cafe, 701 Penn Ave., West Reading, PA 19611.  610-670-4885.  Open Monday – Saturday 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.  http://www.GoodEatz.org.

Good Eatz is a new restaurant on the main strip in the quaint shopping district of West Reading.  Advertised as a green cafe, you can expect to find quality organic ingredients in an ecologically responsible environment.  Their baked goods are not only organic, but gluten-free. Many vegetarian, and even vegan, options are available, and the friendly and helpful staff is more than willing to make alterations to suit your dietary requirements. This is a blessing for those who avoid eating out because of complicated dietary restrictions or preferences.  The decor is modern and relaxed without being too trendy. I found the menu to be reasonably priced for the quality and variety of menu selections.

Last night I visited with a few friends, all of us ordering vegetarian dishes. My sauteed vegetable wrap was a delightful surprise for someone who has gnawed through many dry tasteless wraps at restaurants before. This wrap at Good Eatz was by far the BEST vegetable wrap I have ever had. It included a generous amount of broccoli rabe, butternut squash, onions, cubanel pepper, grilled asparagus, and hummus in a big gluten-free wrap. Included was a generous side serving of quinoa pasta vegetable salad garnished with an organic orange slice and a whole dried date. Delicious.

Other dishes ordered at our table included the Harvest Salad, a compilation of roasted butternut squash, grilled asparagus, dried cranberries, spiced walnuts, and cherry tomato served on a bed of mixed greens with a cranberry white balsamic vinaigarette.  The pasta primavera included a whole grain gluten-free pasta with a variety of organic vegetables tossed with an aoli sauce served with grilled whole grain gluten-free bread.

The entire presentation of each entree was lovely besides being delicious and ample enough to satisfy the most ravenous appetite. After considering ordering bottled water with our meals we were encouraged by the waitress to try their filtered tap water to drink.  Another surprise — this tap water tasted better than the spring water we have delivered to our home! (More restaurants should consider the quality of water they serve. Bad water even changes the taste of  food).

I would recommend this restaurant to anyone who is concerned about their food choices and the environment.  If you want to enjoy an evening out or just a quick lunch knowing that you are eating for the health of your body and the planet, then Good Eatz is the perfect destination. My meal came to under $10.00 with tax. What a deal! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.