Suma Veggie Cafe

I remember when we first thought about moving from Mesquite to Richardson. When was that? Seven years ago? I had found this little worn-lookng neighborhood while walking the Owens and Duck Creek trails down from the YMCA at Collins and Plano roads while Nick was in a swimming club there. It wasn’t long before we were looking at specific houses. I didn’t know much of anything about this area – so I drove and walked around the place a bit.

One question I had was if it was possible/easy to walk/ride a bike from the nearest DART station at Arapaho and Central to the neighborhood. By odometer, it was what? Two point six miles? That’s a bit long for a walk, but an easy bike ride. In measuring the route, I found a little restaurant that looked intriguing along the way. A big sign proclaimed Suma Veggie Cafe. It was nestled into a little cheap strip along Arapaho road. Next door was a Subway, then a nail salon, a few mysterious doors, and then the other end held a big, brassy Texas Bar-B-Que.


The Veggie Cafe on Arapaho in Richardson

Veggie Cafe on one end… Bar-B-Que on the other. Well, this strip had the bases covered. I figured I could walk or ride my bike home from the DART station and stop off and get something to eat halfway, take a break. Some days the Bar-B-Que would be in order, or sometimes I could get a sandwich….

But it was the Veggie Cafe that caught my eye. From the sunsetting street it seemed a bright expansive friendly place. I made a note to eat there as soon as I could.

It took seven years.

Today I puttered around the house and once my chores were at a good stopping point (they are never finished) I decided to go get something to eat at the Veggie Cafe. I have no idea why I decided to go there today, except that I’m tired of the same old stuff and am trying my best to think of something, anything new or a tiny bit different.

I checked a website and found they have a Vegan Buffet from eleven to three on Saturdays – that’s the ticket.

The place is smaller that I thought it was when viewed from the street. It is exactly half the size – the back wall is mirrored. Its décor is pretty much standard for family owned Asian restaurants in strip centers that are getting a bit long in the tooth.

One unique feature is a prime table near the front that has been given over to newspapers, a steel water-bottle, books, ledgers, cups of pens and scissors, notebooks, mail in several languages and the other usual flotsam and jetsam that a small business generates. I guess a place this small doesn’t sport an office for the paperwork – it’s odd to see it all piled up front. From reading reviews it appears there is often a grumpy owner at this spot – but he didn’t show today.

There is a huge portrait of the supreme master on the wall behind the register and a big gold smiling Buddha beside.

The buffet was fairly small, which I see as a good thing. A huge buffet, groaning under the weight of a hundred steam tables may look good, but you know that stuff has been out there a long time. I like a small selection of dishes, brought out fresh and continuously.

Veggie Cafe

The humble interior. The buffet says All Vegan (click to enlarge)

I can’t really say the place was really good but… I really enjoyed it.

What did I eat? I have no idea. There was something with tofu, something with those little corns, some cabbage in some sort of a curry sauce, a stir fry with something very tasty and completely unidentifiable, oh, and some tempura vegetables – broccoli and something else.

Would you like it? I don’t know. Probably not. The other customers were very eclectic – a young skinny pierced couple, she had bright purple hair – when I arrived they were talking to another illustrated woman who was expounding upon the evil of foie gras. There were some families, a few small groups of various cultural background, and a strange quiet frumpy older man by himself with an odd look on his face (I guess that made two of us).

I thought of the difference between an odd neighborhood place like this and a focus grouped cookie cutter chain casual dining chain. The biggest difference is in the customers – though it’s hard to put your finger on the disparity. Like the restaurant itself, the customers were all a little quiet, a little ragged, more familiar than fashionable.

I want to go back. I won’t wait seven years.