It is a typical sushi, sashimi, tempura, teriyaki, and hibachi serving Japanese restaurant with a twist. New management took over six months ago and added Vegan dishes to the menu made with Seitan, Textured Soy Protein (TSP) and Tofu. Brown rice and a choice of soup or salad come with every Vegan dish.
I recently went with a friend to Japan Express for lunch on a quiet Thursday afternoon. A friendly server directed us to a small table at the back of the restaurant.
We ordered Mango Soy Protein w/vegetables ($7) and Eggplant & String beans in Garlic sauce ($6). I chose miso soup and my companion chose the salad.
The miso was disappointing, watery with tasteless tofu and green onions. The salad came in a small bowl filled with hyper-crisp chunks of pale iceberg lettuce, topped with pieces of cucumber, slivered carrots and a citrus-ginger dressing.
The entrees were better.
The mango dish was delicious with carrots, broccoli, zucchini, green peppers, snow peas, and real chunks of mango in a sweet & sour style sauce. The soy protein did such a good job imitating chicken I forgot I was eating vegan.
The eggplant dish had creamy slivers of skinned Asian eggplant interlaced with tender young string beans. The sauce was spicy with hints of English mustard and garlic. It was delicious.
I was so intrigued by the lunchtime vegan food I returned a few days later for dinner with my husband.
For starters we ordered Scallion Pancakes ($3) and Yam & Taro Tempura ($5).
The Pancakes turned out to be just one, cut into four pieces. It was chewy and bland, however the accompanying chili sauce made the dish more interesting. The tempura looked more like chicken nuggets than Japanese style battered deep-fried vegetables. The slices of taro were too thick and crunchy for my liking. The yam was white and chalky in texture. The dipping sauce was a traditional soy-sauce based mix.
For the main course we had the Malaysian Curry Stew, ($10) and Veggie Spareribs ($10). The curry was very mild with huge chunks of overcooked pumpkin, carrots and potatoes as well as chicken style soy protein. Again the soy protein did a good job of imitating chicken.
The Veggie Spareribs arrived drenched with BBQ sauce and surrounded by bright green steamed broccoli, that were al dente. Unfortunately, the Seitan in this dish did not work well as a beef substitute, it was too chewy.
For dessert we ordered Japanese Rice cake ($3.95). It was served frozen and looked like a pale green hockey puck. It was made of green tea flavored rice flour that had a red bean paste center. It was mildly sweet with a chewy consistency and slight floral flavor. It was a nice ending to our meal.
Overall, the Vegan dishes were tasty and affordable. I plan to go back to try their Lychee soy protein dish.
Located: 13873 B10 Wellington Trace, Wellington; (561) 792-8889