Among Buddhist lay-followers, the first and the 15th day of each month according to the lunar calendar is when we are supposed to observe a vegetarian diet. This practice is rooted in Chinese tradition and Buddhist belief, as in Chinese culture, these are important days that mark the new and the full moon. In modern times, these beliefs are not always followed – but the fam and I try to eat vegetarian food whenever we can on these days, as well as on special occasions such as Chinese New Year and Wesak (Buddha’s birthday).
Puchong is home to quite a number of good vegetarian restaurants, such as Pure Heart, I Mushroom Culture, and VLite Cafe. We recently went to check out a relatively new place, called Soul Kitchen, in Bandar Puchong Jaya. This is their fourth outlet, as they also have shops in KL and Cheras, Selangor.
I don’t quite get the style they are going with – there’s a chandelier in the middle of the resto, but the tables and chairs look simple and the wall decor is minimal. But it’s cosy and clean, and that’s the most important thing.
Most vegetarian restaurants in Puchong serve Chinese cuisine, but Soul Kitchen also carries Western dishes the likes of pizzas and pastas, alongside the usual rice and noodle fare. It takes a good amount of creativity and skill to make vegetarian dishes on par with their meat-version counterparts – and I’m happy to say that Soul Kitchen delivers with aplomb. Prices are very reasonable too.
Moo’s order of Stir Fried Sang Meen (one of their signature dishes) came in a generous portion, loaded with cabbage, carrots and a side of tempe (fermented soybeans). We could immediately tell it was full of wok hei from the smell of the dish when it came to the table. (Wok hei literally means ‘breath of the wok’, a term used in Chinese cooking to describe food cooked over a big flame and high heat, which gives it an intense, smoky flavour). Really enjoyed this one! The noodles were al dente, the dish was well flavoured, and of course, what really set it apart was the wok hei. It’s one of the things that differentiates Chinese cuisine from Western cooking. They don’t call it the cuisine of flames for nothing!
I had a late breakfast, so I opted for a non-carb plate of fried mushrooms. Most places will just serve up battered fried mushrooms with either mayonnaise or tomato sauce, but Soul Kitchen’s version comes topped with loads of vegetarian floss. The mushrooms were perfectly fried, with a crispy exterior and moist insides, and the floss tasted remarkably like chicken floss.
Pops had the Nasi Lemak. You can choose from three options for the accompanying main dish, namely curry, rendang or petai (stinkbean). It was also served with a fried egg, keropok, peanuts, sambal and a crunchy snack that looked remarkably like anchovies. It’s amazing how creative chefs can be when it comes to making vegetarian food that is as close as possible to meat or seafood, both in taste and appearance.
Last but not least was the Brah’s pan mee. The noodles had a good texture, and Moo enjoyed the soup as she said it tasted ‘natural’ and didn’t seem to have MSG.
So that’s one more vegetarian food place to add onto the list! Even if you’re not Buddhist, this is good news for those living in the area who practice veganism or vegetarianism for a healthy lifestyle.
SOUL KITCHEN (PUCHONG JAYA)
15, Jalan Kenari 18b, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47100 Puchong, Selangor
Opening hours: 10.30AM -9.30PM (Daily)
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