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Veggie post #2: Bentos & Buddhism at Yuan Vegetarian

cryogenic tofu stuffs

When you’re in the mood for Chinese Buddhist temple food, and I know this happens to everyone just all the time (j/k), there isn’t any place much better to go than Yuan Vegetarian at Sherbrooke and St Denis, where one can get a surprisingly peaceful and quick vegetarian lunch with some interesting options like steak, sushi and eel if you feel so inclined.

There’s even a grocery store crammed full of all those delish imposter-flesh goodies, including my favourites, the chicken drumsticks with the little plastic bones inside and the massive pink flaky fake salmon with the black skin.

Yuan does a simple take on what could be a complicated and overthought approach to a bento – a savoury and sticky mock-main dish (steak or fish or what-have-you) arranged with a palette of fresh steamed broccoli, nutty brown rice, a decent little iceberg salad, some oranges (w00T) and a little bit of crispy fried nori condiment.  It really does the trick and is genuinely nourishing, too!  I don’t remember the pricing but I remember the lunch bento is one of the better deals on the menu and it comes with a soup – hot & sour or miso – as well.

hot & sour!

We tried both, and while neither were reinventing the soup-wheel, both were deeply warm and MSG-goodyum and could stand proudly among their more fish-based cousins.  The “steak” that my friend ordered was not incredibly beefy tasting, but it was good and came with a nice thick breaded coating if you like that sort of thing.  The fish had a sweet and sour sauce and I enjoyed it even more, especially next to the fresh vegetables.

This post by Food at First Sight has an even more in depth investigation of Yuan’s food and I recommend checking it out if you’re curious.  I ate here a long time ago and it was just a quick stop so I didn’t get a chance to really explore the wonders of the neo-Chinese menu.

miso suup

I will have to give mega points for the atmosphere, which was remarkably like eating in a water garden, and effect which was helped by being alone in the restaurant on a friday morning, save for one patron who seemed to be a regular.  The space is quite sizeable and I can only imagine the numbers it must accomodate at nights and when the buffet is on!  Yes, there is a lunch buffet option, an All You Can Eat style where you select menu items and the servers bring them round.  I would love to try that with a group!

fishy fish ben-to!

All in all, I was pleased with Yuan.  Nothing seems expertly prepared, it’s all pretty basic stuff, but it’s a nice change from it’s meat-heavy versions and the location/atmosphere is attractive.  I filed it away under “places that will make brown rice FOR me” and walked out just perfectly full and satisfied for under 12$ (if I remember correctly).  Bonus!

Yuan on Urbanspoon

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One comment on “Veggie post #2: Bentos & Buddhism at Yuan Vegetarian

  1. […] There’s a place with a fake duck substance that will thrill your chewing tastebud-place and astonish the mind with it’s oddly gamey succulent powers of … imitation seems like an ugly word, doesn’t it?  What Chu Chai does is provide vegetarian versions of popular animal meats – fish, chicken, beef and duck all get the soy and gluten-based treatment and come out on top, thanks to some expert cheffing on part of the, UH,  chef, but also – and I’ve believed this for a long, loong time – fake meat is good meat, and it’s not “meat” or meek or meat™.  It stands to reason that when every molecule is designed from the ground up that all bits of it going to taste juicy and perfectly seasoned and if slightly chewier than the real stuff, well, I actually like that, and miss it when I haven’t had it in a while.  Taiwanese groceries are awesome. […]

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