Sunny Gardens looks like a typical Chinese joint -- until you see the mock meat

Vegetarian chicken chow fun at Sunny Gardens.
Vegetarian chicken chow fun at Sunny Gardens.
Daniele Lirette

Sunny Gardens, tucked away in a strip mall on East Yale Avenue, looks like a typical neighborhood Chinese restaurant -- until you open up the menu. Because there, tucked between the usual listings for fried rice, egg foo young and lo mein, is a lengthy vegetarian section, offering dishes made with chicken-, shrimp- and beef-flavored mock meat. See also:WaterCourse Foods, Denver's landmark vegetarian restaurant, should chart a more creative course.

Through a translator, chef-owner Sunny Chen said that this emphasis on mock meat stems not from personal reasons - he and his wife are omnivores - but from the fact that "having been a cook for so long, I know there are people out here that want vegetarian."

That's certainly true, judging from the popularity of WaterCourse Foods, which I recently reviewed. But is the food at Sunny Gardens, whether meat or plant-based, what people want? Find out when my review is posted on tomorrow.

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