The beautiful International Buddhist Society temple and garden is on Steveston Highway in Richmond between Numbers 3 and 4 Roads. It is open to the public to a certain extent but we did not ask about going into the temple and there are other cordoned-off areas. We tried to be respectful and quiet as there were people carrying on their worship and meditation. We noticed that in at least one area, there was a sign asking that no one take videos or photos. Many Buddhists are lacto -vegetarian as one of their 5 ethical teachings forbids the taking of human or animal lives. Of all the religions on earth, few follow this guideline and I always find that surprising. The principle of Ahisma should be universal.
Taste of Zen - International Buddhist Society Vegetarian Restaurant - Vegan Options
Looking carefully and after getting some directions, we managed to find Taste of Zen, the small publically open restaurant behind the temple. On this particular day (or maybe it is always available) they offered a French Lunch Combo which included some dairy products, but we were there for Chinese food! We still had to run our choices past our server to ensure that they were vegan but I'm fairly certain that most things are. Chinese food does not usually have a lot of dairy ingredients, but sometimes eggs. Buddhists do not generally eat eggs according to what I've read.
We started with a simple soup which was recommended to us as very good for the stomach! It was a simple broth with some vegetables including corn, carrot, and water chestnut. Simple but tasty.
Next up were some crispy Spring Rolls. With lots of shitake mushrooms, cabbage and carrot, they were again, simple but tasty.
The Mapo Tofu was very good. It could have been spicier and we usually enjoy the Szechuan pepper numbing effect but I have read that some Buddhists avoid spicy food. Even if that is what is going on here that is OK as it was still enjoyable with lots of shitake mushrooms and tofu. Served with rice, of course.
The Buddha's Delight was our favourite dish. A mildly saucy dish on noodles, some of which were crispy around the edges. There was a very nice combination of tofu skin, some sort of seitan (?) mushrooms and vegetables. This I could eat every day.
The staff seem to be mostly volunteers but were enthusiastic and friendly. They had to search around to find someone with enough English to interpret our vegan talk. The room is a little plain (tile drop ceiling) but with some nice Buddhist artwork and was comfortable enough. The food was a bit on the expensive side ($25 for each of the main dishes) but we don't mind as we assume that the proceeds are going to the temple.
We enjoyed a nice stroll around after lunch to take in the gardens and some representations of the 8-fold path and the first turning of the Dharma Wheel. It was a very nice experience.
Food 4 out of 5
Vegan Options 4 1/2 out of 5
Comfort 3 1/2 out of 5
Service 5 out of 5
Value 3 1/2 out of 5
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