After paying RMB5 at the entrance of the canteen, one is given a card which serves as a ticket for one to be entitled to a big bowl of white rice and they serve a few variety of vegetables/dishes in a single bowl. At end of meal, they will pass the traditional hugh hot water container for one to pour into the bowls as after meal soup as well as to clean up the bowls simultaneously. Everyone is very disciplined to follow their rules and eat silently and contentedly, an experience.
Located at the busy walking street of Hefei town, there exists a historical temple 明教寺 MingJiaoShi at Hefei town where it is believed that the famous historical figure, CaoCao, used to inspect his troops there. According to our local friends, the small restaurant (明教寺利生斋天然素食馆; 合肥市淮河路44号)situated just beside the entrance of the temple is the town's only vegetarian restaurant.
The standard of the restaurant is quite good and tasty and quite a number of patrons when we visited for dining so I am puzzled why a town has only 1 vegetarian restaurant that I am almost tempted to do a survey on the investment of vegetarian eatery in Hefei.:P Among the dishes we tried included Japanese style of fresh salad with light sauce. Light and fresh.
The refreshing mushroom lotus soup with the dried rice crackers (Woba) are must try together dishes, dipping the rice crackers into the soup creates an unique taste. It is light with generous portion of shitake mushroom slices and I recall lotus is part of the name of the soup which the green vegetables may be part of the lotus plant. Nice light taste is just what I could recall.The rice crackers were freshly made and not those off-shelve products as I had tried to replicate with the instant brown rice crackers found in Singapore Vegetarian stores but it just don't taste as nice and fresh.
When dipped into the soup, it creates a sizzling sensation and tasted great.
Vegetarian Roast Chicken, I was amazed with the crispiness of the vegetarian exterior skin, better than those I had tried in Singapore.The popular Mock Dongpo meat that really tasted like the real. The fatty oily center pieces replicated by the Yuju jelly tasted real alike.
I didnt know that Wild Yam Huai Shan (淮山) can be used other than in soup until I tried this stir-fried version, very crunchy instead of mushy compared to being used in soup.Another surprise is the stir-fry green pepper becoming a main dish instead of as a complement ingredient. The locally produced smaller green pepper has a slight spicy taste compared to the plainer taste bigger version found in Singapore markets and instead of slices, were cooked as a whole. The tasty dark-sauce (similar to Gongbao black-bean sauce taste) with slight sweetness complimented the spiciness of the vege well. Really miss the dish!
Overall, the dishes are nice and I learnt new way of cooking Wild Yam and Green Peppers. Missing above recommended dishes already :P