Taming the Tiger

Vegetarian delights help kick off Chinese New Year

February 14 isn't just for you, love tiger; it's also the start of the Year of the Tiger.

While dumplings are the most traditional food for celebrating the Chinese New Year, it's also customary to eat a lot of vegetables to cleanse and usher in good karma. Follow suit at these vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley:

Lu's Garden Lu's (pictured) specializes in steaming bowls of Taiwanese congee, the rice porridge that's customary to eat during the two-week New Year celebration. Here it's filled with chunks of sweet potato ($1.25), and you can load up on sides ($3 to $6) at the point-and-pick cafeteria line: Try the garlic-spiked eggplant, oil-soaked radishes tossed with chilies, and spicy diced string beans mixed with black beans. 534 E. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel; 626-280-5883

Green Zone In the same strip mall as Lu's Garden, this modern spot could just as easily be in Venice as the SGV. The menu features organic and sustainable ingredients with a Chinese twist. Think: sliced mushrooms dressed in tangy miso-lime dressing ($7.50); thin-sheathed spring rolls loaded with mushrooms, jicama, cabbage and carrots ($6); and grilled vegetables drizzled with yakitori sauce and sesame seeds ($7). Don't miss the jasmine tea blended with sweet osmanthus flowers. 534 E. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel; 626-288-9300