Susan Johnson (more chengdu)|
As we walked into Vegan's 2-story foyer with a koi pond at the bottom, the Southeast Asian décor and background music, which sounded like the Eastern counterpart of a Gregorian chant, made us feel like we were entering a temple rather than a restaurant. Although it was noon on a weekday, the other customers had no air of business lunch formality, but seemed to be catching up with friends. We were accommodated at a table on the second floor, giving us a bird’s eye view of the first.
The menu is well-illustrated and has helpful descriptions of the flavours and ingredients in each dish, if you can read Chinese that is. Otherwise it’s just pictures. The server brought a little plate of 'stomach-opening' snacks gratis, including a very good marinated dry tofu, boiled peanuts, and rather salty pao cai. We asked for the gong bao shan yao, which came with generous chunks of shan yao (mountain yam) as well as cashews and asparagus. It was a little sweeter than the average local gong bao ji ding but it all worked surprisingly well together. The potato fish came on a dish that was not quite as pretty as on the menu, but tasted fine. For a sweet, the server recommended balls of sticky rice stuffed with vegan cream and small chunks of kiwi that tasted really fantastic. A small bowl of some kind of herbal tang yuan in corn soup with taro filling proved to be a polarizing dish – I would never order it again, but my friend liked it. The servers are noticeably unhurried, though quite polite and helpful enough once they are flagged down.
“Use your money and possessions wisely, do not overspend or use them excessively,” reads a saying on the table. Our bill was well north of 50RMB/person, but considering the quality of the food and the beautiful environment at Vegan, we felt that we did not overstep the wise use of our resources by dining there.