James and Thuy Huynh had their work cut out for them when they took over the popular Vietnam Grill on Federal Boulevard. The tiny mom-and-pop restaurant closed at the end of August to give its matriarch a break from the busy kitchen. Since taking over, the Huynhs have renamed the eatery to Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant (or Nha Hang Chay Hoa Sen) and turned it into one of Denver’s only vegan Asian restaurants.

Based on the principles of the Loving Hut, an international chain of vegetarian and vegan restaurants, though not technically a part of it, the Huynhs have launched a flavorful plant-based menu with non-GMO foods, organic produce, and preservative-free sauces, bean curd, and noodles.

A Vietnam native, Thuy spent that past 10 years cooking vegan and vegetarian meals for Buddhist monks and nuns in San Jose, California. There, she refined entrées such as hu tieu xao (pictured), a flavor-packed rice noodle dish with stir-fried tofu, soy protein, and vegetables in a deep, rich brown sauce. While I am not wild about the vegan, soy-based “meats” in some of Lotus’ dishes, the vegetarian pho is outstanding. Another item not to miss: the thick strawberry bobas.

1015 S. Federal Blvd., 303-936-5610