Curiously I sifted through the store signboards. Reading some English, I decided that my lunch would be in Ba Fang Yun Ji, a dumpling bar on Linsen North Road in Taipei. I invested some more time finalising on what looked the least non-vegetarian to me. The staff behind the counter patiently waited for me to make a decision. Finally, I bought myself a portion of vegetarian pan fried dumplings.
That was my first day in Taiwan.
By my fourth day, I was somewhat used to having elaborate conversations before finding a less non-vegetarian option. I have been a very selective non-vegetarian (only chicken and fresh water fish) for a large part of my life and travelling through northern Taiwan had put it to test.
But it wasn’t until my last meal in the country, when I realised that even as a complete vegetarian, it was possible to survive in this Asian country.
Set in a green mountain surrounding, Shi-Yang Culture Restaurant is an organic fine dining restaurant. On the rain-soaked evening, I made my way to my table in the Japanese-style restaurant. I was inquisitive to know what my complete vegetarian 8-course meal comprised.
First, we began with a warm vegetable soup. Next we proceeded to the homemade tofu with mash apple, peanut and sweet corn drink on the side. As I cut the tofu, the freshness made it collapse on my plate. The taste of peanut as opposed to the sweet corn drink was a welcoming contrast.
Among the main dishes, the two that stayed with me was the carrot roe with black date vinegar and orange soy, and the fried sticky rice with sweet potato and chickpeas, with which came guava and passion fruit juice on the side. As I bit into the crispy layers to meet the wholesome rice, the latter amazed me with its delicious bursts of tastes. This complemented well with the sweet, fresh juice on the side.
Another one of the main dishes, the truffle mushroom rice was very light in taste. The rice was lightly seasoned with broad beans, though mushroom’s taste dominated the dish.
A platter replicating the non-vegetarian sushi was made with vegetarian ingredients. Placed on a bed of crushed ice, it was an edible mix of vegetables like baby corn garnished with broad beans seeds and barley, with mushroom topped with seaweed and mixed beans wrapped with cucumber roll-ups. Comprising other vegetables like carrot, cauliflower, brinjal and a couple of local leaves, this platter truly exemplified their vegetarian expertise.
As I completed my meal with immense satisfaction, preceding the traditional tea was the customary fruit bowl.
Sated with vegetarian delicacies, I walked away from Shi-Yang. As the rain became gentler, I realised that it was only a matter of time till vegetarians fell in love with Taiwan.
#7, Lane 350, Section 3, Xiwan Road, Xizhi District, New Taipei City, Taiwan. +886226462266
Do you have any recommendations for vegetarian food in the country?
Note: I was invited by Taiwan Tourism Bureau on this trip.