I try to get out of the Seattle city core once in a while, but believe me when I say that I haven't been to Renton (just 15 minutes South by car) in years. My suburb avoidance snobbery ends today: because I have discovered Blossom Vegetarian - a 95% vegan*, totally authentic Vietnamese restaurant in the little towny part of Renton.
Anyone who remembers the handmade vegan faux meats that used to be at Moonlight will be happy to know that Blossom has all of that and more. Voracious reported that Hue Pha, the Buddhist nun who used to be the main chef at Moonlight, is the talent behind Blossoms crazy amazing menu.
This isn't your average hole in the wall and it is about 100 steps above the average Vietnamese joint in terms of ambiance, hygiene, service, and variety of flavors. This is a restaurant where you could take a date, have a birthday party, or impress your non-vegan family.
One of the most unique items on them menu is the Pickled Vegetable Clay Pot - eggplant, mushrooms, with herbs, and pickeled vegetables in a clay pot served with a side of daikon, carrots, cabbage, cucumber, shredded lettuce, basil, rice vermicelli noodles (top photo). After we ordered this dish, the server tried her best to talk us out of it - saying it was only for Asians and it wasn't good, and most people don't like it. This only made KC want to have it more, of course. She turned in our order and the manager came to our table to double check that we really wanted to order this dish. We also ordered the Roasted "Chicken" (above right) and the most amazing Spicy Green Mussels (which were my favorite, below left photo).
Needless to say, KC loved our wacky Pickled Clay Pot - which had a fishy, ginger, fermented flavor. I ate a bunch, but would try something else next time. When our server cleared our plates she admitted that even tho she was from Vietnam, she was never brave enough to ever try the dish because it smelled so bad. It didn't smell great, but it tasted like nothing I've had in my life, which I am really open to these days.
There were also dishes such as Caramelized Fresh Water Prawns, Lemongrass Fried Mackerel, and Combination Congee (tofu, bean curd skins, straw mushrooms, peas, carrots). There are traditional fried rice, noodle, and stir fry dishes and tons of fresh salads - the one I can't wait to try is the Blossom Special Salad (vegan jellyfish, tofu, shrimp, daikon, Vietnamese coriander, carrots, roasted peanuts, cucumber, served with lime vinaigrette and potato crackers).
Here is the thing that will keep me coming back: it really is only a 15 minute drive and the service, decor, and selection is truly something special. I don't know if a place like this exists in all the world, much less anywhere in the US, or the NW. I can see this truly becoming a favorite spot for vegan gatherings, special dinners, and bringing out of town guests.
Oh, and if you liked oysters and such before going vegan, don't forget to order the "mussel" appetizer. I already plan on getting it every time I go.
Metro routes 101 and 106 from Downtown Seattle will take right there!
305 Burnett Ave South
Renton, WA 98057
*Thankfully, any menu item that is NOT vegan is clearly marked on the menu with a little circle, and those items are few and far between.