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Vegetarians Know How to Eat Too!

(Looks like just a regular meal of dim sum but it's all vegetarian!)

    Greetings from L.A.! I will be back in the States for about 3 weeks before heading back to Hong Kong again for Chinese New Year so have no fear tons of food posts to come from both sides of the world! Today's post is on vegetarianism and the awesomeness which it entails. There was a recent episode of Top Chef where celebrity guest judge Natalie Portman surprised the compettiors last minute at a steak house by telling them she was a vegetarian. She was complaining how as a vegetarian, it was difficult to find places that served good food. Yeah, um okay. It's obvious that she didn't put much time or effort to look for food if she can make a statement like that... or maybe she just needs to read my blog. 
    Buddhist cuisine and culture is followed by many East Asians. Some Buddhist eat nothing but vegetarian food all the time, and others eat strictly vegetarian on certain days of the month as well as major Buddhist holidays in adherence to the 5 basic Buddhist precepts. My family does the latter. We are vegetarian on the 1st and 15th of every month in the lunar calendar. My mom's friends are always surprised that someone as young as me wouldn't mind going a full day without any juicy meat. What they and Natalie Portman don't know is that there are so many delicious vegetarian choices out there! In fact you can't even tell you aren't eating meat because it tastes so real and so delicious! There are so many delicious places in HK. Our favorite is the place in Wan Chai, which my sister and I call "The Crazy Lady Yummy Vegetarian Place." We actually don't know the real name of it because we really refer to it as such since there is this awesome, overly stylish, crazy, hyper woman who is the chef of that restaurant. She makes the BEST vege fish ball curry! I'll be sure to visit that place and blog when I do!

    Today's vege restarurant is called 心齋 ( Sum Jai) in Hong Kong. It had a cutesy decor. Even though it was Chinese style vegetarian food, you had the option to sit in regular tables or to sit Japanese style on the floor. Cool!

    This is our order of cha siu and various other "meats" and our order order of pineapple bun with coconut filling inside.
    Next we had an order of "Pork" Chang Fen (猪肠粉) that had a special pink skin and then Hong Yao Chao Shou which is a Chinese spicy wonton basically (Box 1). In Box 2 we had salt and peppered flavored tofu. Yum!

    Next was a vege dim sum (Box 1), a steamed vege dumpling (Box 2), and egg tarts (Box 3). 

    We ended our meal with a panfried "pork patty" (Box 1),  cold Osmanthus jello (Box 2), hot steamed Hawthorne Jello (Box 3). The same Hawthorne that was used in my previous dessert post with this Hawthorne Soup

    Now let's take it across the world to San Gabriel, California to Gourmet Vegetarian Restaurant. They have amazing lunch specials where they give you the same portion size as dinner but charge you half off! Lunch runs til 2:30 PM and even includes weekends. Plus you get to choose between yummy 5 grain brown rice or porridge with bread. 

Box 1 is Minced "Pigeon" that is eaten in a lettuce leaf and Box 2 is Sliced "Cuttlefish" with vegetables.

    Here is their super delicious sushi hand roll! Soo good. It's my favorite. I think it's supposed to be a fake salmon skin roll because when you order this they make sure to tell you to eat it right away or else the beets and seaweed will get soft. There's no rice inside basically just lettuce, shredded beets, and a little mayo sauce. Sounds like a weird combo but it's so good! On the left is a picture of their awesome 5 grain brown rice. It's really good. You can choose if you want your meal to come with brown rice or porridge with bread. Also worth nothing, their tea is soooo good! This place could have easily given you some crappy, cheap tea but they went all out with delicious Taiwanese Jasmine Tea! The boss is a very devout Buddhist who only wants to best ingredients in her restaurant. 

    Box 1 is Gourmet's delicious spicy tofu bowl! It's amazing! The tofu is soft and the skin is just all goodness! Box 2 is a vege version of the typical Chinese dish of Stir-fried pork kidney. It is just as delicious or even more delicious than the real thing!

    There are many  other vegetarian options in the San Gabriel Valley. This place in definitely one of my top 2. Also there is very good Vietnamese vegetarian good available as well. Most of these places really make dishes that taste as if you were eating meat! Depending on  how strict the vegetarian restaurant is, they food they serve may be more plain and bland since some Mahayana Buddhist purposely avoid eating certain strong smelling plants like garlic, shallots, onions, etc. They refer to them as the 5 spices 五辛 because of their negative as they tend to excite senses, which is bad I guess if you are a super hardcore Buddhist. I really think the best vegetarian place so far that I've experienced is "The Crazy Lady Yummy Vegetarian Place", which I will definitely blog about in the future. 

Happy Yummy & Meat-less Eatings!

Don't Forget To Eat At The Small Places

So Fresh And So (Kinda) Clean!