|Wenshu Temple Vegetarian Restaurant
|9am – 6pm|
|15 Wushu Temple, Wenshu Temple St.|
|028 8693 2018|
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Susan Johnson (more chengdu)|
The art of Chinese vegetarian food has roots in Buddhist respect for living things. The cooking focuses on making vegetables, tofu, and wheat gluten mimic the texture and flavour of meat. The best examples of the genre present astoundingly realistic ‘meat’ dishes that also appeal in taste and appearance. The less successful faux-meat dishes have odd textures and colours, or highly unpleasant chemical flavours.
Wenshu Temple’s vegetarian restaurant is the city’s oldest, and usually turns up on lists of restaurants that best represent Chengdu. We visited recently to find the dining room spruced up a bit since our last visit and a new menu which includes English and pictures.
To start we had iceberg lettuce in a very intense sesame sauce, a refreshing take on this common cold dish. The vegetarian dou ban yu is a mashed potato ‘fish’ with a crispy tofu skin covered in a sauce made from spicy fermented bean paste (dou ban jiang). It is a really delicious version of this classic Sichuan dish. Their vegetarian Beijing sauce shredded pork (jiang rou si), more salty than sweet, was as good as any carnal version though the texture of the ‘meat’ was just a bit off. A dish of steamed mushrooms came looking beautiful but tasted a bit bland, and the non-meat chicken and meatballs weren’t very appealing. Their drink list includes fresh blended fruit juices and soy milk.
An English speaking server came over shortly after we sat down, which is worth major points, but though many staff were on duty we often had to wave someone over whenever we needed something. Though the service is a little scatty this place has some of the best vegetarian food we’ve enjoyed in Chengdu recently. The menu also does a good job of representing Sichuan, which sets it apart from vegetarian chains. A meal for two with drinks will run between fifty to one hundred yuan. Each person also needs to pay five yuan temple entrance.