I recently lunched at Van’s Restaurant on Broadway with a couple of friends. The people watching was almost more interesting than the food! Van’s has become a popular lunch spot for folks who live and work in the Alamo Heights area, and also for many who work in the near downtown area.
Van’s offers a variety of Asian cuisines. The menu offers separate panels listing Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese dishes. Each had a vegetarian section, which is nice. The Japanese items seem to be mostly sushi. The Chinese dishes seem to be the most popular, judging from the plates I saw go by. I was disappointed that the Vietnamese menu, and the three other panels, had only brief titles and no descriptions. While the staff answered our questions, it is awkward to have to ask for a description of menu item after menu item; perhaps a fuller, more descriptive menu would help. I ended up focusing on the Chinese menu mainly because I knew what the dishes were, and I think others probably do the same. I like Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese food, and while I am pretty knowledgeable about Japanese and Thai cuisine, I couldn’t really navigate the menu comfortably, and I would have liked a chance here to expand my knowledge of Vietnamese foods by perusing thoughtful explanations of the offerings.
In the end, I ordered the Buddha’s Delight, a vegetarian dish. The lunch special came with a choice of soup and rice. I opted for the egg drop soup, which was really good.
The soup was very good, with bits of egg and corn kernels in a nicely-seasoned broth. This soup had a definite flavor, which is a contrast to the many bland bowls of egg drop soup that get served in some local restaurants — and was a good start to the meal.
The Buddha’s Delight plate plate came with rice — I chose fried instead of steamed — and an excellent spring roll which was light and crispy.
The vegetables in the entree were very fresh and lightly cooked. Broccoli, pea pods, peppers, carrots, mushrooms and more all were sauteed in a light sauce and served piping hot. I really enjoyed getting a vegetable dish where the veggies were not mushy or overcooked. The fried rice was good, but nothing memorable. The plate in all mad for a generous lunch-time serving.