Name : Fo Guang Yuan (FGY) Art Gallery
Address : 141 Queen Street, Melbourne 3000, Australia
Ph: 61-3-9642 2388 Fax: 61-3-9642 3288
I worked in the building directly across the road from this place for over 6 months and never realised they were there. Would you believe 7 months? What about <insert own line here>? Anyway, it's all very low profile. No obvious signs at all outside the entrance to indicate there is an eatery there. Not sure why this is so. It's always pretty busy everytime I go there though.
In addition to their regular menu, they have 4 daily specials. These change from day to day. For example, the beef rendang, which is my favourite, is one of these specials, so you can only get it on the day it is featured. And the day it is featured? It varies. It was on Thursday last week. Not sure when it'll pop up again. It's possible they're promoting that pokies mentality that is so prevalent these days.
Generally, the food is served in some bento style box, where in the various compartments, I got a sweet potato cake (very tasty), some vegetables (bean shoots, cabbage), some diced fruit (apple and orange bits) and steamed rice in a separate wooden bowl. The rendang had a bit of bite to it (ie. spicy but not overly so) and would you believe you could see and feel the fibre of the beef. Incredible.
My companion had the chicken drumsticks. He was really impressed. Ice-cream paddles were used in place of where the bone would normally be. I've had most of the specials they offer and they're all really tasty too. I dont like calamari, but the fake stuff is really good. And the cod is not fishy at all. It's just great!
I've never really ordered from their regular menu as I usually order one of the daily specials instead. However, I am led to believe that their laksa is pretty good as well.
They have a large selection of tea (more than 10?). You must try the Kumquat tea. It is quite unusual but is very soothing and calming to the nerves. My companion described it as 'like warm cordial' which was ambiguous enough, having never tried warm cordial myself. But he said he'd order it again though. So he must have liked it.
Ambience? It's a very grand building/room. Reminds me a little of that library in Indiana Jones number 3. The place also offers Buddhist meditation so there is that peacefulness and calmness that one associates with this. Though I could sense some impatience in the queue when paying cos they were a little slow in that department. There are lots of exhibits (trinkets and the like) that line the display cabinets along the walls as well as odd statue of Buddha which adorns the entrance (from my creaky memory).
Prices? Of the 4 daily specials, 3 of them costs $8.50 each and the 'special' special is $8.801. From memory, the main menu dishes are around these sort of numbers. The tea was $5.50. Alcohol? Pfftt... They had some sort of cake for dessert but visually, it looked quite poor. I didnt try any. I understand food like this is very labour intensive, hence the prices are really good, plus if you see the premises, the rent must be astronomical.
Photos? D'oh.... forgot. Sorry. I'll add this retrospectively, if I remember, said the goldfish.
I've brought a few avowed carnivores here before and they all thought the food was good and all were very sceptical about it not being real meat ie. they didnt miss the meat component at all.
If everyone ate like this, there would be no need for any abbatoirs in the world. Can you imagine that?
Anyway, this place comes very highly recommended, even after discounting the novelty factor.
Note that the meat is not real meat, for the unenlightened.
1The number 8 in Chinese is supposed to be lucky. Phonetically, it sounds like the word 'prosper'.