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Chef Chat, Part 1: Happy and Mike Tsai of Pepper Tree Veggie Cuisine

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Like so many delicious Texas institutions, Pepper Tree Veggie Cuisine is tucked in a cozy little strip mall. But inside, it's a zenned out vegan refuge.

We caught up with Happy Tsai, the owner of Pepper Tree, over a glass of de-chlorinated, triple-distilled alkaline clustered water. (Trust us, you can taste the difference from the stuff that comes out of your Houston sink.) She gave us the low-down on her artery-freeing veggie joint.

Eating Our Words: How long have you been opened here on Richmond Avenue?

Happy Tsai: Seven years.

EOW: Why did you decide to open a vegan restaurant?

HT: We want to promote and serve more people with healthy food. We'd like everyone to be more green.

EOW: How long have you and your husband [Chef Mike Tsai] lived in Houston?

HT: Fourteen years. We moved here from Taiwan. This basically is Taiwanese vegan food. Some people say that it's Chinese food -- well, yeah, close to it. It's Asian food.

EOW: Are many people in Taiwan vegan?

HT: Not majority, but many.

EOW: And here in Houston?

HT: Here, it's becoming more and more. Compared to 10 years ago, more and more young people are becoming vegan.

EOW: How long have you personally been vegan?

HT: Fifteen years.

EOW: So why did you make the leap over to veganism?

HT: I just don't like meat. After I come to U.S., I become vegan.

EOW: What kind of food do you have?

HT: We provide vegan food that's good for everyone. On the weekends we have vegan sushi with avocado, it's beautiful. We have vegan desserts too: vegan sesame balls, vegan Jell-O. People have choices; people are becoming more health conscious and eating more plant-based food.

Check back tomorrow to meet the man behind the meatlessness, Chef Mike Tsai.

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