Editors' pick

Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant

Japanese, Vegetarian/Vegan
$$$$ ($14 and under)

Editorial Review

2005 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, October 16, 2005

As cheerful as its name suggests, this trim vegetarian oasis is proof that diners can eat healthfully and happily even if they're card-carrying carnivores. Fashioned from white mushrooms and soy protein, morsels of fried "chicken" taste much like fowl -- McNuggets with a conscience. And what looks just like sweet-and-sour pork, "Sweet and Sour Sensation," is actually crisp green bell peppers, pineapple, carrots and more swabbed with a lively red glaze of tomato, vinegar and pineapple juice. Wonton soup is a sumptuous treasure for only $3.50: In its robust mushroom stock float threads of spinach and a trio of delicate dumplings. Not everything on the epic bill of fare tastes as poetic as it sounds. "Peace and Harmony" combines big pieces of eggplant and a sun-dried tomato and mushroom sauce under a gooey cover of rice cheese (made with rice, oil and milk protein). And pumpkin tofu pie reminded one of my pals of "a wet protein bar." But the flavors are generally on target; curry fried rice, abundant with colorful chopped vegetables, is both kicky and fragrant. As busy as it gets, the place feels serene. Sunflowers crop up everywhere: in pictures on the white stucco walls, in garlands hanging above the cashier's post, on the curtain separating the foyer from the dining room. And instead of bringing you the latest singing sensation, the background music sounds like a day at the spa.