Going Veggie at Plumeria Encinitas

I have to admit that we were a bit apprehensive about going to a totally vegetarian restaurant. We’re omnivorous and all, but meat, seafood, cheese, and decadent desserts are more our style. But we have accepted this challenge (to eat up and down Hwy 101), so we can’t break the rules and skip the vegetarian restaurants. Next up on our quest is Plumeria, a Thai vegetarian restaurant. What a pleasant surprise!

Encinitas is the second home for Plumeria, originally in the University Heights district of San Diego. They source all ingredients from local farms, so they’re confident their dishes are organic, non GMO, and their tofu gluten-free. You won’t find any animal products — with the exception of optional egg — and no MSG.

Yum, amiright?

We decide our visit to Plumeria will be at lunch time. (We have a wine tasting later in the day and want something light in our tummies before we sip.) It’s a sunny Friday midday, so we go for outside dining on the sidewalk patio under their fun purple sunshades. (Fun, but they gave the food a kind of odd color cast.) Our waitress is super friendly and happy to take the time to explain the menu since it is out first time visiting.

The menu is divided into “Sautéed Dishes” (such as Spicy Basil, Ginger, Eggplant, Cashew Nut, Garlic Pepper, Rama, Tangerine “Chicken”), Curry (Red, Green, Yellow, Panang, Pumpkin), or Rice and Noodle (Old School Pad Thai, Pad See Iw, Spicy Noodle, Ka Pow, House Fried Rice, Spicy Basil Fried Rice, Vegan Curry Rice).

First, let’s dish about drinks and appetizers. Andy orders a Thai iced tea with Boba, and I go for an unsweetened blood orange iced tea. I’ve never had Boba, so I try some from Andy’s tea. They’re chewy little tapioca balls, fun (but a bit tricky) to suck up the pipeline-of-a-straw in Andy’s tea. My blood orange iced tea is perfect! I’m not a sweet tea drinker, but if it is your thing, go for the sweetened option.

The appetizer platter is a great place to start for us newbies, with a smattering of everything. What a display! Flower cups filled with rice, tofu, peas, and carrots in a crunchy little cup that tastes like a fortune cookie! Plumeria serves with a summer salad of cucumber, red onion, cilantro, and crushed peanuts in an Asian-style dressing.

Plumeria’s appetizer platter is a tour-de-force!

Next up: satay “chicken” skewers. These are made with tofu, and yup… they taste just like chicken! Surprisingly yummy! Rounding out the platter are summer rolls and crispy tofu. The crispy tofu wows us! The plate also includes tasty dipping sauces: traditional peanut sauce and a tangy vinaigrette with veggies. But there’s a little confusion among the uninitiated (us) about which sauce goes with which dish. No matter, they’re all tasty! Our favorite is the peanut sauce.

Panang. Or Phanaeng. But if you spelled it that way, you’d know that.

For entrees, my first choice is the Tangerine “Chicken.” I love anything citrus. But sadly, they were out of that dish. So I asked our server to recommend a dish for me. She selects Panang Curry with steamed rice. I am totally out of my comfort zone, but OK.

My dish is served in a big, warm bowl and has a velvety red color, like cream of tomato soup. Panang (also spelled Phanaeng) is a red Thai curry that is thick with a salty sweet, zesty lime flavor. I love it! It’s loaded with vegetables and balanced with steamed rice.

Sautéed Spicy Basil Dish

Andy orders the Sautéed Spicy Basil dish with steamed rice and tofu. His plate lands loaded with tender stir fried zuccini, carrots, onions, and bell peppers bathed in a spicy garlic chili sauce, and sprinkled with Thai basil. For those sensitive to spiciness, it has a bit of a kick. The smell is full and delicious without being overpowering. The veggies are perfectly firm, not mushy but not raw, and full of flavor! The tofu is perfectly done, lightly crisped on the outside and reflecting the flavor of the sauce. The rice and veggies together were plenty to satisfy my hungry guy!

The presentation of our dishes is equally impressive! At Plumeria, you eat with your eyes first! Nothing is overlooked. The vegetables are bright, fresh, and artistically cut. The velvety red texture of my curry and the steamed rice served in the shape of a heart makes the dish even more fun and pleasing to the eye.

Our overall experience is wonderful! I am glad I was brave enough to try the curry. Even as I am writing this I am craving that curry and looking forward to coming back often to try everything on the menu. I am especially curious about the jackfruit.

After lunch we have a sense of well-being and energy. We don’t feel over-stuffed. Perhaps we even have a smidgeon of a feeling of superiority for our healthy lunch choice as we saunter down the sidewalk back to our car.

1 comment

  1. Darcy you have given me the inspiration and the desire to try a vegetarian restaurant. This restaurant does an amazing job of presentation. I love how the rice on Andy’s dish is shaped like a heart.