The menu at Padmanadi Vegetarian Restaurant is deceiving with all the seemingly meaty options. Chicken, beef, pork — you name it, it’s got it. Though, technically, it doesn’t. Padmanadi serves Indonesian dishes that imitate their carnivore counterparts so well, you’d be forgiven if you mistook the salty faux chicken strips for a regular poultry dish.
But once the dishes start arriving, you realize they’re not your typical “everything-tastes-like-chicken” meals. Soy protein is deep fried and served with a sweet chili sauce that’s perfectly balanced with the salty soy in the “chicken” strips. Another great poultry lookalike is the ginger “chicken,” which sees soy blended in a punch of lemony sauce seasoned with snow peas, lily flower and black mushrooms.
But probably the most impressive imitation comes in the form of a crustacean — or, in this case, seaweed and soy protein fashioned into crescent shapes and deep fried. The sweet and sour “shrimp” might fool you on first inspection, until a bite reveals a surprisingly smooth, mushy and soft texture, unlike typical shrimp, along with a sweet taste that contrasts the hit of sour in the tomato sauce.
We’ve got more than enough protein on our plates, so our final dish is the spicy eggplant. A fiery sauce seeps into the spongy eggplant, providing a taste unlike any other dish. But it’s no surprise. While some vegetarian restaurants serve the same fruits and vegetables in myriad similar ways, at Padmanadi each dish stands on its own. (10740 101 St., 780-428-8899, padmanadi.com)