Merit is one of many vegetarian/vegan Chinese or Vietnamese restaurants in the South Bay. Merit is totally vegan (which is good for a vegan like me), and I had heard good things about the place, but I was deeply disappointed by the food here (and I've been to probably 60 or more all-veg Chinese and Vietnamese joints, so I have a good base of comparison).
First, the ambiance is nice in here: it's a strip-mall joint, but clean, spacious and comfortable with well-kept booth seating.
We started off with an order of potstickers ($6) which were just your average potsticker, albeit with a somewhat more cream-cheesy filling. In general, when it comes to dumpling-type things filled with vegetables, I think the Nepalese and Tibetans have won the prize for the tastiest option with their momos.
Anyway, we continued with a "vietnamese crepe" ($8.50) and a "sauteed garlic beef" ($10.50). The crepe was terrible, in my opinion. It had a strange, unappealing sour-ish taste and was made only barely palatable by adding some mint leaves with each bite, as well as some of the lemongrass-soy dipping sauce that came with the potstickers (the crepe comes with its own special dipping sauce, but it had no flavor). The dish is also hard to eat, as it comes on two plates: one is the crepe, and another is just a dish with a huge mound of lettuce and mint. Mixing the two plates is not particularly easy.
The garlic beef tasted a little bit better, with the strong caveat that biting into the beef pieces was an unpleasant experience because of the amount of oil used to cook the dish. Indeed, this was quite possibly the most oily dish I've ever eaten. Each piece of the "beef" (which seemed like a low-grade TVP chunk) oozed oil and, with each bite, the oil would actually squirt out into your mouth. This was revolting.
I was pleased to see brown rice on the menu and displeased (as I always am with Bay Area Asian restaurants) that it costs extra. Even white rice costs extra. I'm from the Midwest, where rice is served for free, the way it should be.
Merit redeemed itself somewhat with dessert. We had a slice of almond-pumpkin cheesecake ($5) which was delectable: subtle pumpkin flavor, not too sweet, and a wonderful contrast of semi-firm cheesecake with crunchy almond slices.
In conclusion, I'd return to Merit for dessert, but that's about it.