From the exterior of the shop, it looked like any other Asian restaurant with its glowing bright red and green neon lights practically shouting the name of the restaurant into your face.
We were the first ones there that night and were quickly ushered to a table that sat three of us comfortably. They had a pink and apple green interior with some Chinese decorations.
A quick glance over to their handwritten lunch special menu hung on the wall and the Mandarin accent of the lady who ushered us in suggested that the owners or at least the management were Malaysian.
After deciding on chrysanthemum tea for the table, we scrutinised their menu and put in our orders. For entree, we ordered Vegetarian Pumpkin Rolls ($5.00).
We really liked this! In addition to the lovely pumpkin filling, it also had some sweet corn in it, which gave it some texture and added to its sweetness. The skin was crispy, as it was served piping hot.
I am a sucker for real eel and have never come across imitation eel (yes, I realise that they are all made of bean curd but hey, was still intrigued). So, when I saw Veggie Eel with Black Bean Sauce ($16.00) on the list of chef's suggestions, I asked if we could give it a try.
It tasted a little odd. We still finished the whole plate but I did not think it tasted anything like eel. Hm... not quite sure how to describe the taste, really.
The Spicy Eggplant and Minced Pork Hot Pot ($16.00) was a bit of a disappointment. The eggplant strips were too soft and the sauce was not as spicy as we would have liked it.
The dish of the day and one that we recommend is the Bean Curd with Salted Mustard Vegetable ($16.00). The salted mustard vegetable was cooked to perfection and was a good contrast to the soft texture of the white bean curd. The plate left the table empty.
After clearing the table, they served complementary dessert. We did not ask what cookies those were but they were yummy.
Serving daily yum cha, they claim that all their meat dishes are substituted by imitation meat made of 100% natural ingredients such as soy bean. The food arrived quickly, the service was friendly, the place clean and was bustling with activity as nearly all their tables were taken up as dinner progressed (when we left, only 3 of their 12 or 13 tables were empty). They also provide takeaway and catering services.
I think I will be back. :)
Tian Ci Vegetarian Restaurant
1006 Victoria Road, West Ryde, NSW 2114, Australia
Te: +61 2 9874 9197
Sunday to Thursday 11:00am to 3:00pm, 5:00pm to 9:00pm
Friday & Saturday 11:00am to 3:00pm, 5:00pm to 10:00pm
Closed on Tuesday