This Meat-Eating Goth Is Making Incredible Vegan Comfort Food

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This Meat-Eating Goth Is Making Incredible Vegan Comfort Food

Chef Doomie created his vegan restaurant for all of the omnivores who tag along with vegans when eating out. It’s nothing but greasy, glorious, no-frills comfort food.

The "fried chicken" at Doomie's Home Cookin' is about as no-frills as they come. He has no shame about the fact that it is made with a gussied up piece of Gardein's chick'n delicately shaped into a drumstick or chicken thigh. However, Chef Doomie then impales it with a wooden stick, smears it with a creamy vegan "shmaltz" that he makes in-house, wraps it with bean curd skin, batters it, and then dredges it in a highly seasoned, pepper-speckled flour.

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He drops two pieces into the fryer and the skin gently puffs up as it slowly turns golden brown.

"Fried chicken is great because there is skin and fat, so when you make a vegan version of the dish, it is less about spices and more about replicating all of those layers," Doomie tells me.

All photos by Javier Cabral

Chef Doomie

He adds, "I don't want a vegan burrito wrapped with a whole-wheat tortilla and filled with brown rice. I also don't want a veggie burger on a seven-grain bun. I want my vegan burrito to taste as good as the taqueria down the street and my vegan burger to taste as good as the greasy fast-food burgers you grew up on."

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Vegan fried chicken

Doomie's Home Cookin' is about to celebrate its ninth year of being in business. In the age of Cafe Gratitudes and Veggie Grills, it may very well be the most underrated vegan restaurant in Los Angeles. This is probably because Doomie is the antithesis of a stereotypical vegan chef. For starters, he makes it no secret that his personal diet couldn't be any further from a plant-based one. Nor does he aspire to one day be vegan or vegetarian. There are no seasonal vegetables in his restaurant unless you count pickles and onions. The only reason he opened a vegan restaurant was because he was tired of eating awful vegan food when tagging along with his vegan wife, friends, family, and co-workers.

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Peanut butter bacon cheeseburger

"When you grow up in the goth and punk scenes, you date a lot of vegans and vegetarians and often get stuck having to eat out with them, so I created a vegan place where the vegan food was also suitable for the meat-eating people who came along with them." And when the opportunity presented itself in the form of his friend's goth nightclub in Chinatown eight years ago, he created this whimsical place.

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Doomie's vegan fried chicken

His menu features things like carne asada fries, jalapeño poppers, mac and cheese, and a pulled pork sandwich. (He even has an off-menu vegan version of a Big Mac.) While his vegan interpretation of comfort food may seem unglamorous, his eye for detail and making vegan food savory, rich, and satisfying makes up for its lack of pretense. Thus, the tedious techniques he employs to make vegan shmaltz-injected fried chicken, DIY vegan American cheese sauce, vegan sour cream, and vegan bacon strips that he marinates in a seasoned oil so that they taste as good "shitty buffet bacon."

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Carne asada fries

What makes Doomie even more special is the fact that he is completely self-taught in the art of vegan food, if you don't count the few classes he crashed at Le Cordon Bleu when a mentor of his told him to just show up. "This is a CIA guy whom I befriended and eventually played industrial shows with, so he gave me a student uniform and I would just cruise in and pretend to be a student. I learned a lot of things this way."

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Every once in awhile, Doomie catches flak for not being vegan or is accused of profiting off vegan food. But he is considered and ally by vegan celebrities and organizations that depend on him to cater pro-vegan events. (Waka Flocka Flame is a regular customer.) He estimates that he has more non-vegan customers than vegan customers. On a Thursday evening, his small strip mall restaurant in Hollywood is nearly full of skinny, pale, young couples wearing band T-shirts and feasting on baskets of fries and burgers.

With a restaurant in Hollywood and another one in Toronto, Doomie is ready for the next step in his cooking career: fine dining. "Plant-based dining is catching on," he says. "Vegan food has changed a lot in the last decade, now you can just buy vegan cheese as easily as regular cheese, so I gotta keep moving, doing different things, and keep my edge in this industry."

Doomie recently acquired the space next door and hopes to open a separate concept where he will collaborate with other chefs to offer more sophisticated takes on plant-based food: pasta, small plates, and more vegetable-centric dishes. But you can bet that Skinny Puppy and Robin Guthrie will still be blasting through the restaurant's speakers.