Meatless Monday: Orange You Glad I Said Tofu?

Tasting orange tofu in Culver City.

Orange chicken is perhaps the most popular Chinese food item in the U.S. Glossy, orange-hued chunks of chicken, sticky as molasses and sweet as any carnival confection, are piled on platters in dining rooms of all shapes and sizes, from one-dollar Chinese restaurants to P.F. Chang’s. It seems everyone loves orange chicken—even vegetarians.

There are plenty of chicken-less options when it comes to this popular plate. Orange chicken prepared with mock chicken can be had at finer Chinese vegetarian eateries. Sometimes though, the mock meat component of the dish can have diners crying “foul” over the faux fowl. (Say that five times.)

5i Indochine Cuisine in Culver City woks up a tasty vegetarian alternative to orange chicken by using tofu. Bite-sized nuggets of fried tofu are glazed with a thick, sweet orange sauce. Taking it above and beyond the norm, Indochine scatters fiery Sichuan peppers throughout the sautee.

The contrast in texture is hard to resist. Each square of tofu is encased in a thin, golden, crispy crust. Bite into it and find a steaming, light, fluffy bean curd center. The size and firmness of the tofu both strike a satisfying chord.

A well-made vegetarian alternative to orange chicken? That’s something even this omnivore can crow about. 5i Indochine Cuisine, 5407 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, (310) 572-6000