Good Karma Vegan House

Peninsula and South Bay, California

Reviews

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rating star

I have mixed feelings about this place. On the one hand it's sort of hip and grungy and one of the only places to get vegan food in downtown San Jose. It's kind of cozy, too, especially in the back, where you can sit at the bar, get a drink, chat with the attractive staff, and eat a slice of chocolate pie. Then again, the food isn't great, the wait times are long, and it's so small that you can't guarantee getting a nice spot at the bar, which is the only nice part of the joint.

We shared a couple of their three-dish combo plates ($8.50 each, and comes with brown rice). The food sits up front in the cooler case, and you pick what one or two or three dishes you want; they then slap it onto a plate and presumably heat it up in a microwave or maybe on the stove in the back.

I was unimpressed by most of the food. The pra ram tofu fell flat and lacked spice. The teriyaki chicken and the basil tofu both were swimming in overly-thick sauces that had no flavor; also, they chop their tofu in large cubes and don't really fry them, so the end result is that the tofu has little flavor (they're too big to absorb any of the sauce). These dishes also just look generally unappealing: they're brown, gooey and look tired and grim.

The tofu scramble was atrocious. Absolutely the worst tofu scramble I've ever had; it wasn't even palatable, in my opinion, even with the addition of chipotle sauce and black beans, which added some level of moisture and flavor. For one thing, the scramble was dry and mealy; secondly, the spices just didn't come together.

The two dishes that were decent were the Chinese chicken salad (though this dish is cold) and the Dal (Indian lentil curry). Both of these were competently made. I suspect the chickpea curry would have been good, too, if I'd gotten it (but I normally don't order Indian dishes at non-Indian restaurants---something I'm beginning to understand is an illogical hangup on my part, as you don't have to be Indian to make good Indian food, and many Indian restaurants are just terrible by default).

The stuffed peppers ($3) were also great: bell peppers stuffed with spiced black beans, rice and some other stuff. These were a separate charge, though. They did taste great and I would order them again.

Lastly, the chocolate tofu pie ($4) and the homemade ice cream sandwich ($4) were both excellent. The tofu pie was nicely made, with a crumbly chocolate crust; that said, this is a dish I've had in other places. The ice cream sandwich was really remarkable, as the "bread" portion consisted of maple-walnut cookies which were just fabulous.

Beware long wait times. A group of four came in ahead of me and it took at least 15 minutes for the lone server to take all their orders (when it's just one person ladling three different curries onto a plate, things can get slow and messy and confusing, if there are multiple customers).

In conclusion, I might come back here for a beer or a stuffed pepper and an ice cream sandwich. You can skip most of their other dishes, however, especially the tofu ones. Good Karma has some winners, but also lots of room for improvement.


rating star

I was visiting friends in San Jose. They didn't know where we could get vegan food, but found this place on an online restaurant guide. So, blindly, we went. Out of four people, I was the only veg*n, though one of them was an ex-lacto/ovo. Everyone was super-impressed, and the San Jose natives returned many times on their own.

The proprietor was very friendly, and we all sampled each other's food and found it to be packed with flavor and nicely prepared. For dessert she gave me a free mung-bean cake, and I shared it with everyone on the way home; it was a big hit.

The lemon-chicken sandwich I had here really made an impression on me! I still think about it sometimes, and if I'm ever back in San Jose I'll definitely be back for more. Everything was so delicious.


rating star

In the beginning of my veganism in San Jose i went to this shop about 4 times a week. If you have not tried there Italian tofu i highly suggest it along with the tofu meatball. I also enjoyed the mung bean pies. She will warm it for you if you like. It gives it a warm honey like taste. I have found recently that good karma uses white table sugar in their food, I don't eat refined sugar anymore. So if you are like me then she will at times either steam tofu for you or fry some for you. Also the steamed veggies are great as well as the mash potatoes. The rest of the food has sugar as i found do most of the vegan Chinese places Ive ever been to. I really love this place it has a warm spot in my heart. I highly recommend it to everyone. When i was really poor she would on occasion let me eat for free that day allowing me to pay her back when i had the money.


rating star

Stopped by Good Karma for a quick dinner before the San Jose Sharks game. Decent little place. Food was good but not spectacular. I had the brown rice plate with the curry, Mongolian turkey and BBQ drumstick sides. All three sides were good.

Meal was very inexpensive! The two of us ate out fill for $10!! Heck you can't do that at many other places. Would definitely visit again if looking for a quick, inexpensive, vegan meal.


rating star

I stopped by Good Karma yesterday. The food was pretty good, though not amazing. They have the food pre-prepared, so you pick out what you want, and they microwave it for you. But for re-heated food, I was impressed. And I got two veggie drumsticks, some veggie fried chicken, and a huge plate of rice with veggies for only $4.00!

The place is very small, so I ended up sharing a table with someone I didn't know. That's fine with me; we ended up having a nice conversation.

If you're on a budget and looking for fast vegan food, I'd definitely recommend this place.

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