Mi Lah Vegetarian Restaurant

Philadelphia Metro, Pennsylvania


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rating star

We came to Mi Lah for brunch and had a passable meal. I like that they start you off with some free fruit; that said, the oranges were sour, the apples looked old, and the grapes were seeded.

We asked for tea and all they had was green, which was fine, but they cost $3 a cup (albeit with free refills). That's expensive for low-grade green tea.

For our mains we had the tofu benedict ($13) and the Indonesian breakfast with caramelized tofu and a seitan fried cake thing ($14). The tofu benedict was okay, but fairly bland, particularly the kale and tomato on the side (why were they not seasoned and incorporated into the dish better?). The hollandaise sauce tasted weirdly lemon-y and I scraped most of it off. That said, I like their tofu, which is firm and really smooth, and went well with the wholewheat English muffins.

The Indonesian breakfast was more flavorful, but wasn't great on a whole. I liked the sweet potato-curry-seitan dollop they gave, but it was too small a portion. The caramelized tofu was tasty, but be warned that this is both oily and sugary (you might feel queezy afterward). The fried cake things were bland.

In general, the portion sizes were small considering the high price of the dishes. As such, Mi Lah is not a great value. While I applaud them for taking some risks with their menu, I don't think they quite succeed; they'd be better off lowering their prices and making more integrated dishes (everything here is served in tiny batches on a gigantic plate).

The service was efficient, if not overly warm. I'll come back to Mi Lah for lunch or dinner, but I'd skip the brunch.

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I arrived at Mi Lah Vegetarian a little before 1 p.m. just as their lunch rush was about to stop. I waited at the front of the restaurant to be seated for about five minutes before picking up a menu to look over their lunch specials. The first floor is small with tables and three seats at the bar looking into the kitchen. There is also upstairs seating where the bathrooms are located. Mi Lah is BYOB and everything on the menu is vegan. Finally, one of the servers came over and sat me at a dirty table that hadn’t been cleaned off yet from the patron before me. I was excited to eat here because their lunch special was $10 for soup, appetizer and entrée. I had a choice between 2 soups, 4 appetizers, and 5 entrées. It took another ten minutes for the server to come back and take my order and I was quickly losing the amount of time that I had before going back to work. I knew I was going to have to eat quickly. My soup and appetizer came out quickly and was served on the same plate. It looked delicious, which was good because I was starving.

Apple Wood Smoked Butternut Squash and Coconut Soup

With only two soup choices it was easy for me to choose the Apple Wood Smoked Butternut Squash and Coconut Soup. I love Butternut Squash soups and this one delivered. The soup was creamy with the light butternut squash taste and smooth texture.

Indonesian Roll with Carrots, Seitan, and Celery Served with Basil Avocado Sauce

Indonesian roll was crunchy shell and the stuffing had lots of flavor. This was my favorite part of lunch. The basil avocado sauce was great too. When I was done the dipping bowl was clean.

Mofongo Veggie Bacon and Chorizo with Tequila and Tomato Sauce

Traditional Mofongo is a Puerto Rican dish made by boiling and then mashing green plantains, and then mixing them with vegetables and bacon. The Chorizo was over cooked and hard on the outside and soft in the middle and way too spicy for my taste. This Mofongo was bland and not very appetizing even though the Tequila and Tomato Sauce was good. The veggie bacon was mixed into a patty with other unidentifiable vegetables. I would not recommend this dish.

I will go back to Mi Lah to try other dishes because I am sure they are more like the soup and appetizer than the entrée.

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We were visiting Philly just for the weekend and after reading so much about this place online, decided to go there for a Sunday brunch. It was just two of us and we got the table right away but they said we will have to wait for the menu because they were out of them? After we placed our order, we got our good after 50 minutes. I was 7 months pregnant and had to eat something. The menu said, each table would get a complementary fruit plate. Upon questioning, server said “we are literally running out of everything”. The place is open till 4:00 for brunch and at 1:00 they ran out of everything. We weren’t that impressed with the food. We travel all over the world and try vegetarian restaurants. This was just OK. Just when we were leaving I glanced over other tables and people who seemed to have just arrived had fruit plates on their tables??? The service was horrible. I would never go to this place ever again.

A jewel. A restaurant of easy intuitive use of vegetables as dishes in their own right - sans the ugly meat-masquerade. Comforting and changing combinations per the season. Delicate with bold dashes of spice.

The menu is direct and intentionally simple, but more than one item will sit in your mind for next time. Flatbread of grilled butternut squash, red peppers and pumpkin seeds. Edamame pate with tomato & zucchini on a light pita. Firm roasted bbq eggplant. Spicy labi labi (a mid-east tomato/chick pea stew that rivals all vegetarian chilis, homemade or not). Seared polenta in coconut lime sauce.

With a light crisp wine or a pot of one of the house teas, the Mulla abides.

UPDATE: The sudden departure of exec. chef that received the credit for the menu leaves many questions about Mi Lah. Mi Lah pours water into a vase with no bottom, in the opinion of the Mulla.

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rating star

I'd really like to be able to give this place a higher rating, but it just doesn't live up to the expectations it sets. Mi Lah wants to be an upscale veg restaurant like Horizons, Candle 79, or Counter. Unfortunately, they aren't quite pulling it off (yet?). I do think there's potential here, and I will go back in the future and see if it's improved.

I went here for the prix fixe vegan brunch with my wife and parents. When you sit down they give you a plate of pastries and fruit, and take your drink order right away, which is nice. The pastries included scones and two kinds of mini-muffins.

The scones (poppy seed, I think) were fantastic, dry and rich the way they should be. There were two types of mini-muffins. One was some sort of apple spice with a crumble topping, and it was very good. The other, a blueberry muffin was pretty terrible. It was completely flavorless, and way too dense.

For the brunch itself, three of us ordered the seitan and waffles, and my mother ordered the tofu hollandaise, substituting tempeh bacon for home fries.

The seitan itself was very good, and I liked the batter. It also came with bits of batter-fried onion and parsley. However, some of the seitan chunks were much too large, and I didn't like the overall batter to seitan ratio.

Bizarrely, this dish came with no dipping sauce for the giant mountain of seitan. We asked for ketchup, and they also offered sriracha, but this sort of dish should come with a dipping sauce (or two).

The next mistake was how they served the dish. It all comes on one big plate with the seitan piled high on the waffle. It looks cool, but I ended up waiting til I finished the seitan to start on the waffle. That means the waffle sat there under the pile of (hot, fried) seitan for several minutes. Waffles are best eaten hot and fresh, when they're still crispy. By the time I got to it, it was a little past its prime. I think the waffle would be better if I could've eaten it first.

Yet another oddity was that the waffle was served without margarine, and a rather piddly amount of maple syrup. They did provide more syrup without charge when asked, but c'mon, no margarine? That's wack.

My mother's tofu hollandaise could have been much better. The sauce was really, really vinegary, and while it wasn't bad, it was just wrong. Hollandaise sauce should not taste like that. The tempeh bacon was decent, but would've benefitted from being pan fried in more oil so it could be a bit crispier.

Finally, the service was not up to fancy restaurant standards. No one offered to refill my father's coffee, nor did they provide additional hot water for tea. We had to ask for more water towards the end of the meal, even though there were plenty of servers for the number of diners.

Overall, my impression is that Mi Lah isn't quite there yet. I think there's good potential here, and I'd be interested in trying their non-brunch food. It's still a fairly new place. Hopefully they can work out the rough edges.

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