Another suggestion when I embarked on my vegetarian mission was to visit “the place full of Buddhas”. After a few curious questions, I discovered it was a Buddhist art gallery and also a restaurant that serves vegetarian lunch.
I didn’t think I could visit, as I work in St Kilda, but conveniently I had some training in the CBD and it was about five minutes away! Not to mention a friend had recently tried it and had been raving to me about it. All the signs indicated that I had to go.
My friend got there first and ordered some kumquat tea ($7 for a pot). The friend who had tried the place also recommended this tea. I loved it as it was sweet, but not overly so, and hot enough to soothe the soul. It was also accompanied with some common Chinese biscuits to nibble on.
The menu indicated that they have different specials each day of the week for $12. I was impressed at how much they offer for a place that only serves lunch and also doubles up as an art gallery.
Although the table settings were very basic and hard, the atmosphere and building made up for that. The cabinets were full of Buddhist items, tea sets and miscellaneous antiques. The ceiling was high and provided a slight echo due to the art gallery and my friend told me there was even a meditating room.
After my food envy of the laksa at my dinner event, and my friend’s recommendation for this place, I ordered the Malaysian Curry Laksa with Hokkien noodles ($12). It was packed to the brim and included tofu, ‘lamb’ and heaps of vegies.
The broth was excellent, not really that spicy but still enough flavour to satisfy my cravings. It was difficult to finish it, and I always prefer that to still being hungry! The price was also reasonable compared to more expensive vegie places I’ve visited this month.
My friend ordered the Malaysian vegetarian lamb curry with coconut rice (daily special – $12). The curry was okay but similarly not too spicy. What we liked the most about the dish was the spring roll in the bottom right corner.
The outside looked like crispy rice or rice noodles and the filling inside was tasty for no meat. I believe it was probably the deep fried spring roll so would gladly order a plate of appetisers next time ($8).
Overall, a great experience at somewhere so unique with bonus great food. Unfortunately, I was only on a quick break from training, so didn’t have time to explore the actual gallery. Next time!
Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery is located at 141 Queen St and is open daily during weekdays for lunch 12-2.30pm and also for tea between 10am-3.30pm.