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scene

Scene in South Bend: Pinellia Vegan Asian

| Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Cristina Interiano | The Observer

On the northeast side of South Bend — inching towards Mishawaka but still a ten minute drive from Notre Dame’s campus — rests an Asian takeout restaurant offering selections ranging from Korean to Japanese and Chinese cuisine. Restaurants of this nature are relatively common in Midwestern cities, but Pinellia Vegan Asian comes with an added kick to motivate those outside the regular takeout crowd. Pinellia specializes in vegan food, making it the first restaurant of its kind in the South Bend area.

Pinellia, whose name comes from the scientific term for a genus of all natural greens, is located in the Hickory Crossings plaza on Edison Road. The restaurant’s atmosphere and outward appearance are modest and unassuming. A simple block letter sign in the front and signs in the windows advertise the restaurant’s offerings like “no meat” and “vegan Asian.”  The inside of Pinellia is a quintessential takeout restaurant with three booths and multiple tables for dine-in patrons.

In September of last year, after moving from Kentucky to South Bend, owners Hang Jin Lin and Ping Li (a husband and wife team) quietly opened Pinellia to offer an alternative to unhealthy, greasy Asian food.

“We are lucky we opened it here, because before we did not know Indiana did not have restaurants like this,“ Li said. “I just moved here and opened the restaurant, and one day a customer came in and told me that there weren’t many places for people who liked vegetables or people who were vegan to eat.”

Pinellia offers an expansive menu. Dishes range from a relatively simple sautéed tofu and vegetable pairing to a rendition of sweet barbecue ribs with seitan (a popular meat substitute) for a delicious meal.

Many of Pinellia’s offerings are worth a taste test. Their spring rolls in particular are light, airy and full of flavor, rivaling some of the rolls I’ve sampled at other, high-caliber restaurants. The restaurant’s take on stuffed wontons, featuring soy cheese and spinach filling, are a must-taste starter that can double as a healthy dessert, especially with the mango salsa accompaniment.

“People who like spicy food often go for the General Tso’s Soy Protein, the Orang Seitan and the Malaysian Curry Stew. If you like sweet things you’ll like the Vegan BBQ Ribs,” Li said.

The restaurant also offers gluten-free options by request. I visited once with a gluten-free friend. When she mentioned her dietary restriction, Li presented  her with an array of choices and offered to change many dishes to suit her needs.

There are reasonably priced vegan and gluten-free options available including rich salads, delicious hearty udon noodle bowls, rice bowls and spiced tofu — any Asian cuisine you could possibly dream of. The extensive menu is also available through online ordering and delivery.

According to Li, Pinellia will offer free delivery anywhere within 15 minutes of the restaurant. In addition to the comfort and ease, Li and Lin can provide a cup of hot tea or various other beverage options to go along with your meal. Preparation time for most dishes is, at most, ten minutes.

Pinellia is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.

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