Fri, May 07, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Restaurant: The Peace 和平素食

Address: 3F, 177 Heping E Road, Sec 1, Taipei 臺北市和平東路一段177號3樓
Telephone: (02) 2393 4044
Open: 11am to 9pm. Serving stops at 8:45pm

Average meal: NT$368 per person
Details: No menu available -- it's a buffet. Credit cards accepted

By David Momphard  /  STAFF REPORTER

Meat-free in a no-frills environment.

PHOTO: DAVID MOMPHARD, TAIPEI TIMES

You might think The Peace is named after the road it sits on, but after talking with its owner, Weng Hsian-yan (翁憲彥), you understand that he has a broader idea of what Peace is about.

"Buddha said we shouldn't kill animals; not just animals, but little things," Wang said, squishing his fingers together to show just how little. "Not even fish." It's an egalitarian attitude that's reflected in the vegetarian buffet he opened last year on Heping East Road, where you can experience guilt-free gluttony on the widest variety of meat-free fare to be found in Taipei.

The interesting thing about vegetarian cuisine is that it wants very badly to be like meat. What look like little sausage links are actually vegetables that were first put through a kind of de-vegetablization, then made to think they were once pigs. Vegetarians accept this humiliation of plants because they know it won't alienate their meat-eating friends and because they enjoy hearing them say how it almost tastes like sausage. Meat-eaters, for their part, sit wondering how the fake sashimi manages to smell like fish and why it would want to.

That said, the fake sashimi and the fake sausages are good, as is a host of other items among the soups and salad choices and dozens of main-plate items. As with any buffet, it's best when fresh, around 5:30pm, Wang says, or noon for the lunch crowd. There's also an ice-cream bar (Buddha didn't say you can't milk cows) and delicious fried bread sticks to dip in almond tea.

The potentially antagonizing thing about The Peace is that it's a no-nonsense eatery of the type found in every city in Taiwan; big round tables of 10 placed in a cavernous dining hall. The difference here is there are many tables available for parties of two or four and none of the tables have lazy Susans -- it's a buffet, after all. It's also appointed better than most caverns: both the tables and chairs are dressed nicer than most of the people sitting at them. But the bare white-and-beige motif wants for something and leaves you wondering why didn't they hang something on their walls. The lack of conversation pieces leaves only the food for fodder, and so ensues that discussion about the little sausages.

Wang has the vegetarian crowd by the bib, but the price is good enough -- and the food suffices -- to draw in a wider audience. "NT$368 per person is a fair price. Not much," Wang said, squishing his fingers together again. "And nothing has to die."

Not even fish.

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