If you watched Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World recently, you would remember the scene where Scott comes up against the ex who is vegan and just generally all round superior because he lived a “better” lifestyle. That’s what I thought eating at this place called Green Gourmet would make me, like greener and better.

GG is this vegen friendly (seriously, no animal products whatsoever. even members of the allium family are rejected so no onion, garlic, leek, chives…) restaurant near my house, like a 5min walk. They also have a branch in Newtown, vegan central. We walk in and find this crowd of hippie-ish corporate types in the middle of their dinners. I mean, they wear their work clothes but I suspect that sweater’s made outta hemp and that leather is pleather. Or not, who cares. There’s also some Indians and 3 of us, these weird Asian dudes who probably look like they belong in a steakhouse or a ramen joint. Point is, the place obviously attracts a particular type of clientele and we probably weren’t it.

I flip through the menu and stuff calls out to me like immediately. The first dish I stump for is a Lingzhi mushroom hotpot. I’m expecting mushrooms braised in a hotpot with a faux oyster sauce and green veg. The second dish is something called Lo Han Tsai or Buddhist’s Veg. It’s another hotpot with mixed vegetables and a simple sauce of veg stock thickened with corn starch. The third one was something we just wanted to try, Shredded Veg with Burdock Root. The last one was Tofu Pillows with Cashew Nuts. I purposely opted not to get the dishes made with gluten or soy protein style faux dishes, like faux roast duck or whatever. I always just straight up prefer regular vegetables anyway. The faux stuff you just setup for comparison and I feel a lot of the time people don’t take into account that they’re cooking soy protein or gluten instead of meat. I also don’t get why you’d want to flavour it like meat, it sort of defeated the purpose for me.

So we dishes arrive and we keep talking about how we feel holier and better and cleaner just sitting there, what with that cheesy music in the background. You know, the kinda stuff you might hear in a Chinese bookshop in Asia selling Buddhist stuffs or Popular bookshop or like the cheesefest music stores with those sounds of the water albums with the pastel shade covers and inoffensive lotus flowers or whatever. Not that those places suck, just that they play that kinda elevator muzak rubbish that’s been Asianized to the point where you feel you might implode from the implied niceness.

The mushroom pot is as I’d expected, it’s also really good. The mushrooms have just a lick of getting sauteed and the faux oyster sauce is light and tasty. I also really like the use of coriander stems in this dish to give interest. Because they don’t use garlic, onions etc, they lose some flavour and it’s really about using a good clean stock, simple soy sauce and something different. In this case, my palate just focused on the coriander, which transformed my understanding of a classic dish.

The Lo Han Tsai is pretty good but kinda just random veg in a pot. I mean, they don’t go together particularly well or whatever but it’s sorta like a one pot dish anyway. At this point, I recognise the cleanliness of the stock and the lightness of the cooking. All the veg is still nice and crunchy, crisp even. The shredded veg with burdock root in particular highlights this. The bean sprouts taste clean, with a good bite. I don’t really get the burdock too much but I liked the dish overall as being this sorta julienne veg saute dish. Nice textures to everything. It also had some faux ham which tasted like blanched spam.

The tofu pillows were nice too. It came with sweet sour sauce and cashew nuts. I thought that was ok but the pillows were nice. Chewy and spongey-ish on the inside, they weren’t straight up silken tofu or whatever, it’s the kind of tofu skin with starch inside that you don’t see too often anyway. Stuff that would be nice in a hotpot/soup. Here, it takes the place of pork but I would have preferred if they made a dish for it by itself instead.

We wanted to get up and leave but the manager offered us some orange slices which we accepted. Kinda full, I actually really wanted  to sample their tofu ice cream and lotus seed crepes and whatever but knew that I’d return. Eating at GG didn’t make me a better person nor did it imbue me with any blessings or superpowers but I can totally get with why you’d want to reduce/exclude the use of allium stuffs in cooking. They are intense and increase the heat and most people overuse it. I appreciate the lightness in the cooking and how most everything was heated just so. This sort of mentality ties in with what I like as well, stuff that really subtle, light and delicate. I’d rather let these quiet things establish themselves rather than resorting to big bang ingredients which are just totally obvious.

The meal left me full and satisfied. To the point where I was just so. It’s not like when I pig out and smash through 2 steaks or rip out an entire duck which is like every now and then, satiated to the point of bloat and incontinence. This time I was at the point of realising even if I had more food there, I wouldn’t hit that bloat point. The contrast between eating veg and meat was right there for me to see and as nice as I coulda felt, I still ain’t gonna turn vego mang. I mean, I think the odd bit of savagery in gastronomy is important in accepting humanity as the animals that they are, bloodthirsty and lustful.

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