Tzu Jan Vegetarian House in San José’s western suburb of Escazú specializes in meat-free Asian cuisine. The Chinese phrase “tzu jan” holds a special importance in Taoist teachings and expresses something that is spontaneous and unique, while advocating a position of mercy. With its practice of cooking up animal-friendly culinary creations that are “good for your body and your soul,” the restaurant very much lives up to its name.
The menu is long, varied and relatively inexpensive, giving guests plenty to choose from. There will be some tough decisions to make, but take solace in the fact that with whatever you order, you can’t go wrong. Try the Shue Pia Fan, a protein-heavy plate that comes with white rice, a soy burger, mixed veggies, soy fiber, tofu and smoked cheese, along with a freshly made fresco natural (₡3,500/$7). The Tico Times highly recommends the Cha Mi Fun, which is a mix of rice noodles, Chinese cabbage, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and soy fiber (₡3,250/$6.50). Some, though not all, dishes are vegan-friendly; be sure to ask before you order.
Every plate is big enough to satiate and then some. Get a doggy bag for leftovers in order to save room for dessert. Interesting chocolate-and-green-tea-flavored waffles come accompanied with either fresh fruit or ice cream (₡2,000/$4), and the chocolate cake and mocha mousse (₡2,200/$4.40) are both mind-blowingly good.
The decor is on the simple, bare side, and outdoor tables overlook the parking lot of a commercial center, but the good food makes a visit worthwhile, if not absolutely necessary.
Tzu Jan Vegetarian House
Location: Plaza Golden, Escazú, 50 m north of ampm, next to Laboratorio Paez.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Contact: 2289-4695, www.tzujan.com.