Mock meat is something that used to squick me out a bit. I had never tasted it or even seen it before, but in my opinion, meat was meat and there was no WAY any susbstitute would be as good.
Well, I've become a little more open-minded since then, and when Stephen and I were invited to lunch with one of our vegetarian friends, we thought we'd try a vegetarian restaurant. While looking one up, I had a gander at the website of Green Gourmet in Newtown, and was instantly intrigued.
On top of not selling meat or animal-based products, Green Gourmet also doesn't serve dishes with onion or garlic, stating that "In "Vegetarian Recipies", five spicy scented vegetables are not used. They are onions, garlic, leek, spring-onions and chives. These pungent vegetables contain five different kinds of enzymes and when eaten, will not only induce offensive reactions physically and mindfully but also spiritually, as they have harmful dissipating effect upon the primeval breath of the five organs. Namely: - the lungs, the heart, the spleen, the kidneys and the liver."
Young Coconut & Fresh Mint Drink - $4.50
With this in mind, I thought I'd start with a cleansing, refreshing coconut drink. The drink was very mild, with not much coconut flavour at all, and the mint was also not as strong as I expected, but there was a hint; It was tasty and easy to drink.
We were very excited to try these wraps, because we love duck with hoi sin, and we wanted to see what a vegan version would be like. We were pretty much astounded: the beijing style pancake, pickled cucumber and carrot, and hoi sin sauce were all pretty much the same accoutrements as the meaty version, but the "duck" was something else. Made of soy protein, it didn't really look or smell like duck, but when the whole thing was assembled and I took a bite, it was almost like the real thing. The crunch of the "skin" was there, the flavours of the sweet hoi sin and tart pickled vegetables contributed to the taste, and the pancake was light and paper thin (of course, if you've ever had a duck wrap, I don't think soy protein could measure up).
The spring rolls were a good size, and the pastry was more substantial than I'm used to. I found out later it was made of wheat. It was filled with crunchy carrot and bamboo shoot, cabbage, mushroom and celery, and served with a house-made sweet and sour sauce.
Stephen absolutely loves BBQ pork buns, so we decided to give this a go. The bun was made with wheat flour and filled with wheat protein that was marinated in hoi sin sauce and water chestnuts. The taste was quite accurate, and the buns even looked the same:
Our friend Cassie chose this dish. The taro fritters, a substitute for pork, were fried til crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, and were served with pineapple, tomato, capsicum and carrot. The whole lot was coated in their housemade sweet and sour sauce.
Made from kelp and yam extract, the "calimari" was AMAZING. While the strips didn't curl up like real squid does, they had the same slight bite that calimari does, and the outer coating was beautifully crisp and seasoned with salt and pepper.
Eating at Green Gourmet was a hell of an experience, and it's a place I would definitely take a vegan or vegetarian friend. They take vegan cuisine seriously, and it shows in the care and presentation of their dishes. Go and sample their a la carte menu, try the yum cha on weekends, or go in for a quick lunch where you pay by weight of your dish.
115 - 117 King St
Phone: 02 9519 5330