Search for flavorful vegan burger leads to opening of VeggieWay restaurant

Kenny Chye isn’t thinking too big. He just wants his restaurant to become the vegan version of In-N-Out Burger.

He remembers well his first In-N-Out Burger, in San Diego 25 years ago.

“Their burger is very good,” he said of the cult favorite. “Simple, but the price is good.” And the idea of a vegan In-N-Out took root.

VeggieWay had a soft opening Sunday in a former Dunkin Donuts at 7790 S. Jones Blvd. (at Robindale Road). The centerpiece is the vegan burger that for Chye evokes memories of that first In-N-Out all those years ago.

He said it was two years in the making.

“I’ve been talking, working, tasting, testing with all my customers,” said Chye, who also is the chef/owner of Veggie House at 5115 Spring Mountain Road.

During his research, he tasted a lot of veggie burgers. And despite the vast improvements chefs have made in recent years — The New York Times recently heralded the veggie burger’s “ascent” — Chye wasn’t impressed.

“A lot of times, they taste almost the same,” he said. “I don’t want to buy any pre-made veggie patty, I want to make it myself.”

And so he started experimenting, with more than 20 combinations. His burger patty has 10 ingredients, of which he’ll disclose soy, cabbage, vegan eggs, starch and “a little bit of rice.” The testers loved the final product; Chye had his burger.

Diana Edelman, founder of the www.vegansbaby.com site, an online guide to the vegan lifestyle in Las Vegas, has tasted the burger and was impressed. She said she thinks it would appeal even to meat-eaters.

“Honestly, for people who have thought about giving up meat or trying it, it’s shocking how good it is,” Edelman said. “For people who do eat meat, I don’t think they’re going to notice too much of a difference.”

The burger is $4.69, or $8.89 with fries and a drink. There’s a sort of Double Double, which he calls the Double Vegan Burger. But the burger is not the only thing on the menu at VeggieWay, which also offers vegan popcorn chicken, vegan fish tacos, vegan chicken wrap, vegan beef sandwich, fried zucchini, salads, three kind of fries and vegan milkshakes made with almond milk.

Chye, a native of Malaysia who came to the United States in 1982, has been in the restaurant business for decades. He owned three Asian restaurants in San Diego from 1988 to 2000.

But Chye said it is possible to get tired of San Diego, and he did. Seeking a change, he moved to Las Vegas in 2001 and opened a wholesale company catering to Asian restaurants.

There was one problem: The wholesale business involved the consumption of a lot of meat — tasting meat from suppliers, tasting meat with customers, entertaining and on and on. Before he knew it, Chye’s cholesterol had shot up to 335. He knew he had to do something.

At about the same time in 2012, Chye visited a friend in Los Angeles who was a colon cancer survivor. The friend said he had saved his health by changing his diet. He encouraged Chye to do the same and, knowing he was a good chef, figured he’d find a way.

Chye had noticed that there weren’t a lot of vegan and/or vegetarian restaurants in Las Vegas, and the wheels started turning. He went to some vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles and realized that some of the customers at his Asian restaurants back in San Diego had been vegetarian, and he hadn’t even known it.

“I didn’t realize this group is getting bigger,” he said.

So Chye decided to open a vegetarian restaurant in Las Vegas, and Veggie House was born in 2012. He said he knew that since it was a simple vegetarian restaurant he’d need to spiff it up a bit, so he added a water feature, a gazebo, lots of bamboo.

Initially, he used eggs, and still consumes them himself. But his customers wanted no eggs, cream or milk in any of their dishes. For variety, he continued to create more vegan dishes. And before he knew it, he had a following of vegans (and nonvegans and nonvegetarians, which he estimates are 25 percent of his clientele) from all over the world.

They came for the orange chicken that didn’t contain any chicken. And the spicy Cajun fish that had never seen a body of water. King Pao chicken, spicy crispy beef, roasted pork — all vegan. And straightforward vegetarian dishes, such as the spicy crispy eggplant that he said differs from most in that his version actually is crispy.

“They all sell very well every day.”

He kept cranking the creativity.

“Most people think vegan, vegetarian food is bland,” Chye said, but he worked to dispel that notion. Even his rice is interesting, a blend of brown, red and black rices.

One common refrain from customers was that they wished vegan fast food was available.

“Give me two years, I’ll open a vegan restaurant with a drive-through,” he promised customers, opening the way to VeggieWay.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Edelman of www.vegansbaby.com. “There is nothing like it in the valley. Las Vegas’ plant-based community is really growing and I think it’s a fantastic step in the right direction to make Las Vegas more vegan-friendly.”

If it takes off, Chye foresees a fully vegan commissary equipped to produce frozen foods to be shipped overnight and wholesale products for airlines and casinos.

Convincing more people to go vegan, he said, “would change a lot,” in terms of animal welfare and human health.

“I think it’s good for me to start this concept,” Chye said. “A lot of people like junk food. This is healthy junk food.”

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com. Find more of her stories at www.reviewjournal.com, and follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas art exhibit
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas gallery exhibit
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with blooming jasmine tea
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with jasmine tea
Benny the Ice Skating Dog
Benny is a Las Vegas Labrador who was rescued by former pro skater Cheryl Del Sanyo, and trained to ice skate. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like