Sunday, March 12, 2006

Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery - City - Chinese, Vegetarian

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'.

17 comments:

Another Outspoken Female said...

Greeat Review. Two vegetarian restaurants now - Miisy Higgins would be proud of us (http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/a-meaty-argument/2006/03/11/1141701737149.html).

I've been meaning to go to lunch here for years. Do they do other vego dishes that aren't mock meat?

Chai said...

I've heard Missy being described as Delta in hemp. Never given either a real listening though from what I've heard to far, Missy sounds like Sarah Blasko and vice versa. *ducks for cover*

I'm pretty sure they have vege dishes that are non-mock meat. But truth be told, I wasnt exactly looking out for them.

Susanne said...

Wow, I have to try this place!

I'm getting hungry and it's only 11:30.

sheriff of nothing said...

I love this place - it is so peaceful and great to chill out at lunch. The Kumquat is a MUST.

I order something different food wise each time and try to avoid the mock meat (eww). They have a lot of vego only meals including noodles, bento box options and killer spring rolls.

Dxxxx said...

Not a fan of fake meat.... but looking forward to trying something out when i hit Melbourne town

Chai said...

It's like felafels. If I told you that felafels are like fake meat, would you stop liking them?
Quoting a wise Australian thinker, "If you never, never go...."

sheriff of nothing said...

Don't know if I agree with the felafel thing Chai - fake meat is very much like meat, felafel is very much NOT

MelbourneGirl said...

nice review chai.

about the fake meat thing i would never think falafel is a fake meat. or tofu in it's regular form. i too tend to avoid the fake meat. why put in fake meat when there are other things that are not in fake form? isn't fake meat inclusion a nod to flesh consumption? why do restaurants do this do you think? and what is fake meat anyway?

i'm talking from a fairly ignorant standpoint here.

soul mama is a vegetarian restaurant i've been to alot. dxxxx and i had a date there. i always enjoy it. and i don't remember fake meat there.

Chai said...

Regd fake meat and felafels, I didnt mean it tasted like felafels. I meant that it's all in the mind. If you accept that it's just one form of soya, then it doesnt matter what it looks like.
Why do this? I really dont know. Maybe it's cos you can. I'll try and find out and will update if I do succeed.

philip said...

I dunno Chai, as an omnivore who has accompanied you to this particular venue, I gotta say I find the food rather disturbing. I'm not queasy about eating meat - I like to eat "all creatures great and small" but I like my vegetables to look like vegetables. Bean curd, I guess, doesn't really have any form of its own, but I've grown comfortable with blocks of tofu and tempeh.

It seems to me that if you have a desire to eat vegetables shaped like meat, perhaps you are conflicted about being a vegetarian. Imagine what we'd say of a carnivore who liked to disguise their meat as vegetables :-)

That said, I had to admire the craftmanship involved. It was a tad bland, I thought, but look at the craftmanship! Mind the paddle-pop sticks, though.

Chai said...

Philip drinks to excess. *nods head and winks*

Banttha Fodder said...

Excess? I'll drink to that!

Dxxxx said...

MG there was a fake meat dish there when we had our date, I had it as one of my options, but i just couldn't cop it. I don't want to eat something that is pretending to be meat, with its look/texture etc.... It just grosses me out when i feel like I actually might be eating meat and can't tell the difference.
There are so many other yummy things for us vegos to be eating, why do it?
Agreed with the comments about being 'a nod to flesh consumption' and possible 'confliction' about being vego.
Anyway, this place sounds nice and i think i will check it out in about, oh, 3 days or so !!!

xox

Chai said...

Hi there Dxxxx, I hope you will let us know of your impressions of the place. In fact, it would be so cool (for me) if you would be our first guest star reviewer (of the same place). But no pressure. Regards, Chai.

Dxxxx said...

I'll do my best Chai. I'm only down for 3 days and as yet have no official plans, so I will no doubt be either run off my feet running around like a chook or lazing about leisurely, but i will def try & get there if I can.

Please turn on the sunshine now Melbs, ta.
(48 hours & counting)

Husky Nutmeg said...

Chai

I like the review. First I was with Phillip on the 'masquarading vegetables' until the maternal thing in me kicked in and I started to wonder... can I deceive my children with this food... is it good for you???

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