First up was the "Peking Not Duck" (I love the tongue-in-cheek titles). This version was made with crispy mock duck, pickled cucumber & carrot with hoi sin sauce and hand-made pancakes.
Mock meat (made with wheat gluten) is a big part of Chinese vegetarian cuisine. Accordingly to wikipedia, mock meat may have been invented by imperial chefs in ancient China in preparing meals for the emperors during a week of vegetarianism observed each year. Chinese temples often serve vegetarian banquets - the mock meat may make the dishes more palatable to non-vegetarians. It definitely makes Mr Curious more accepting!
The "not duck" didn't taste exactly like duck, but it had a dense texture similar to meat, and it was fried on one side to make it "crispier". The marinade was perfect! And a special thumbs-up for the pancakes. They were moist and chewy. I like them better than the ones served at typical Chinese restaurants.
We ordered the Braised Tofu and Vegetables with Sweet Corn Sauce (can't remember the exact name of the dish, sorry) mainly for TLG as he loved this dish the last time we came. Of course he didn't eat much of it this time around! Which was his loss.
Mr Curious ordered the Sichuan Style Eggplants. It wasn't something I would have chosen but I'm glad he did because it was delicious! The eggplants were so tender and juicy inside the batter, and the favour was just right (although it was not spicy at all).
To continue the deep drying theme (who said vegetarian food must be low fat?) we also ordered Lemon Nuggets. I find the texture of the "chicken" fairly close to the real thing. Again it was cooked beautifully, and TLG demolished a fair few.
My choice from the menu was Pan Fried Fresh Mushrooms with Taro Stuffing.
The stuffing was made with taro, sticky rice and peanuts and it was served in a light soy sauce (probably thickened with corn starch). It was another winner. The "bite" of the mushrooms contrasted well with the sticky and slightly sweet stuffing.
I also highly recommend the five-grain rice - made with brown rice, black and red grain rice, black beans, pearl barley, kidney beans, raw buckwheat, soy beans and eyebrow beans. I love the chewy texture - I wonder if I can buy them in the supermarket?
I didn't note down the price of the dishes but the bill came to $86 (with 2 non-alcoholic drinks) which I consider to be very good value.
If you have friends who are meat lovers (I am one for sure) and you want to introduce them to vegetarian food, this is not a bad place to start!
538 Pacific Highway
(02) 9439 6533
P.S. I knew from previous visits that they do not use onion and garlic but I didn't know why. The answer is on their website (full article here).
In "Vegetarian Recipies", five spicy scented vegetables are not used. They are onions, garlic, leek, spring-onions and chives. These pungent vegetables contain five different kinds of enzymes and when eaten, will not only induce offensive reactions physically and mindfully but also spiritually, as they have harmful dissipating effect upon the primeval breath of the five organs. Namely: - the lungs, the heart, the spleen, the kidneys and the liver.Interesting ...