The Ever Green Vegetarian Restaurant (長春素食) offers hotel-quality dining that’s relatively inexpensive and guilt-free — that is, unless you overeat. The restaurant, located near the intersection of Xinsheng North Road (新生北路) and Changchun Road (長春路), has an excellent all-you-can-eat buffet with dinner priced at NT$560 per person.
It’s a good deal, considering the well-prepared food and the surroundings. The enormous dining room, which seats more than 400 people, falls between a hotel conference room and traditional wedding banquet hall in terms of decor. Diners sit on soft plush chairs, perfect for enjoying the buffet at a leisurely pace and then leaning back when you’re stuffed.
The restaurant calls its spread a “European-style buffet,” which refers to the presentation and open kitchen where chefs prepare made-to-order stir-fry dishes, noodle soups and hot pot.
Most of the food consists of vegetarian versions of standard Chinese and Japanese dishes, along with a fresh salad bar of organic vegetables. Like many Buddhist vegetarian restaurants, Ever Green doesn’t cook with onion or garlic, but there are plenty of flavors to be found.
One memorable dish on a recent visit was a Sichuan-style mushroom stir-fry, which had a nice smoky flavor from the hollowed-out red chili peppers. The buffet also offers a few comfort food indulgences — there was an unusual but deliciously rich deep-fried taro ball stuffed with a dollop of curry sauce (have more than one at your peril), and fried battered mushrooms meant to emulate the night market staple yansuji (鹽酥雞), or fried chicken with basil.
Ever Green embraces the idea that being a vegetarian doesn’t mean you can’t pretend to enjoy consuming meat. Diners will also find a chilled “sashimi” bar stocked with fake salmon, tuna and yellowtail made out of konjac (蒟蒻), a plant-based gelatin. The look and texture came surprisingly close: The fake salmon was even dyed with white fat lines and tasted pretty good, especially with a dab of wasabi. But it won’t have sashimi lovers giving up the real thing anytime soon.
With the exception of the curried fried rice, which was cold and bland, it was hard to find anything unlikable. All of the vegetables, whether stir-fried or from the salad bar, tasted fresh and crisp.
Finish off the meal with a slice of marble cheesecake or Black Forest cake — just several among a dizzying array of desserts — and choose from a selection of herbal teas and juices.
As far as buffets go, Ever Green is worth visiting with a large appetite and time to spare.
Address: 38, Xinsheng N Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市新生北路二段38號)
Telephone: (02) 2511-5656
Open: 11:45am to 9pm
Average meal: NT$500 per person for lunch, NT$330 from 2:30pm to 4:30pm and NT$560 for dinner
On the Net: www.egvr.com.tw
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