LOL! Meatatarian is actually a word as much as vegetarian is a word. See this wikipedia article. It appears that the Inuit people are known meatatarians.
Anyway, this post is not about meat but it is about a vegetarian restaurant. I love my meat and I need meat everyday. If I don’t have meat for a day, it feels like I had not eaten. That is the main reason why I had not written much about Vegetarian restaurants.
When Buddha Boy and Buddha Girl invited us to join them in a vegetarian dinner, we immediately agreed. We enjoy going out and learning about cuisines that we are not familiar with.
The Spicy Vegetarian Restaurant we went to is located on No 3 Road and Browngate Road in Richmond. This is on the same strip mall as Jubilant, one of our family’s favourite restaurants.
Parking in this strip mall is difficult not only because it is small but this small strip mall had a few very popular restaurants. It is quite impossible to find parking during peak dining hours. So sometimes it is best to park across the street where there is a paid parking lot.
But you get a better chance parking if you go to Spicy Vegetarian. You see, some of the lots are reserved for certain restaurants and Spicy Vegetarian has a few lots that is not always taken. When we got there, there was a cone marker on the lot. We got someone to remove it by saying we are dining in Spicy Vegetarian.
The Spicy vegetarian Restaurant is of average size. There are about 10 tables of various size from 2 to 10 people per table. It is also clean and well maintained. Not many Chinese restaurants are this neat but I always expects that vegetarian restaurants are above other Chinese restaurants.
We met both Buddha Boy and Buddha Girl for the very first time that night. They are relatively new bloggers on Food for Buddha. I only found out lately that Buddha Boy had been following chowtimes for a long time and had posted many comments under another handle. Both Buddha Girl and Buddha Boy are knowledgeable about food, particularly Chinese food. They came from families with a background in the business. So it is great to hang around them because they are such an information trove.
Buddha Girl made reservations for four people that night. However when we went in none of the tables that had the “Reserved” sign were for us. Instead we were asked to get seated on one of the free tables. As I understand it, the tables marked “Reserved” were specially for their VIP customers from the temple or something like that.
We left all the ordering to the experts. What I was very interested in is trying vegetarian food that is made to look like meat. LOL! Yeah, I am just amazed at how vegetarian cuisine had progress to such a state that they can create food like that.
Anyway, their top dishes is on the top left menu above. So it you are not sure what to order, you might want to consider those dishes.
Here is a couple of tidbits of information we learned:
Vegetarian restaurants are always the busiest on the 1st and 15th day of the Chinese lunar calendar. It is because those two days are designated as vegetarian days for some Buddhists.
In Taiwan, for Buddhists who follows the religion strictly, vegetarian dishes cannot have garlic, chives, green onion and cilantro. This is because they believe these vegetables … arouse one senses and are considered sinful to consume. This is news to me. I am wondering what exactly Buddha Girl meant when she used the word “arouse”.
The one I like best is the Bean Curd Skin, Veggie Chicken in Black Bean Sauce ($11). The bean curd skin is deep fried to a crisp which is a nice change compared to the soggy ones we usually have.
The veggie chicken was very good. It did not look like chicken and neither the texture like chicken, not even like deep fried chicken. But the taste of it is something else. I like it along with the crispiness on the outer layer. I thought it tastes *something* like chicken.
We had a small Veggie Seafood Tung Yum Kung Soup ($7.50). At one point I was wondering if ordering a small one would be enough for the four of us. Yeah, it was big enough. Good thing we did not order the bigger one.
This is basically the hot and sour Thai Tom Yum soup with tofu and some meat look-alike vegetarian ingredients: vegetarian shrimp and vegetarian fish cake.
At a glance, the veggie shrimp actually looks like shrimp but on closer inspection it is not. :-) Actually this one does not have the shrimp taste and texture. It is slippery and tasted bland.
The veggie fish cake, on the other hand, tasted exactly like the real fish cake … or is this real fish cake?
I am confused with so many versions on vegetarian diets. Some does not allow meat but allow fish. Some do not even allow the consumption of things like eggs and milk. Some even avoid some types of plants. OK, don’t even try to explain to me because I know it will confuse me even more. :-)
The Veggie BBQ Pork is $9. This is char siu … BBQ pork. Oh yeah!
To me this is the litmus test of the skill of the chef.
This one resembles real meat of all the dishes we had. It looks close enough except that they have so much sauce on it. I mean, BBQ Pork normally are sliced and the sauce is served on the side. Other than that, the texture is like real meat. In the picture on the right, you could see that it even has a fibrous texture like real char siu.
The Taro Meat Stew Pot was not an item on the menu. Actually I am not a fan of taro but this dish turned out to be better than I expected. The taro was creamy and nicely done but it was not what that amazes me. It is the …
… MEAT! I should say the “meat” in closed inverted commas.
Take a look at that. The “meat” even has fatty layers just like the ones you find in pork belly.
It even looked like it inside. Hehehe … the meat is “medium rare”. Can you see the “medium rare” meat part that is pinkish?
The Eggplant with Tofu in Szechuan Sauce ($11) was a very predictable dish. There is no make-believe meat here. This dish smells like Toa Pan Jiang (bean sauce) and the tofu has a unique texture unlike other places.
We ended up the night with some free sweet potato soup which tasted gingery.
The prices were reasonable given what we had. This is for four of us.
One thing I did not understand is why the name SPICY Vegetarian Restaurant. We did not order any spicy dishes nor was there many dishes that were spicy in nature.
We had a great time chatting about food, what else. One of the things I still cannot get out of my mind is dai bau (giant meat buns). I remember I used to buy the largest dai bau that is like 9 inches across from Taman Connaught, KL. It is so big that you handle it with two hands. The big buns normally are about 4-5″ across (like this) but the giant ones are much bigger (LIKE THIS!). That is why this version of dai bau is named after the HK actress called Yip Chi-Mei … hence the name Yip Chi-Mei Bau. Does anyone know where I could get a giant meat bun in Vancouver? It is my mission to find the biggest and the meanest.
Oh anyway, check out the blog post of this restaurant on Food for Buddha here.