Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Restaurant Review - Zen Gardens Vegetarian Restaurant

We were in Cambridge on the weekend for my brother-in-law's birthday, being late for his birthday dinner, we decided to take advantage of this opportunity to try a restaurant we had seen several times but never gone to, the vegetarian restaurant Zen Gardens, located near the old City Hall on Water Street. The decor as we entered, and in the main room is designed to be soothing and calming, Japanese architecture. The tables were arranged prettily, each set of chopsticks lined up perfectly next to the menus. We perused the menu, seeing lots of choices, some with vegetables and tofu and rice (what I would call normal vegetarian dishes), and some with the "fake" soy protein version of chicken. There were also a fair number of interesting teas, some health-oriented, some green teas, some served cold. We decided each to take a lunch combination meal, I chose the Kung Po Soy-Chicken, while my beautiful Bride chose Enoki Mushroom balls. We each selected a Health-Tea, mine was something called Gynostemma Pentaphyllum (also known as jiaogulan or the Herb of Immortality); hers was Red Zizyphus-Longan tea (also more commonly known as Red Date). We found the service to be a little slow, at least in taking our orders, but, once they were taken, the food came quickly. First, that came as part of the Combination Lunch, was Wonton Soup, which, along with wonton filled with mushrooms and vegetables, has carrots, mushrooms and bok choy in a vegetable broth, very simple and delicious. Our teas were served next, the Gynostemma had an intriguing smell and a good taste, the Longan tea was quite sweet but good. The rest of our Combination Lunches arrived in Bento box format, there were several side dishes along with the main meal - 2 soy chicken nuggets with plum sauce (which I found to have an odd texture); a lettuce salad with grapes, cucumber and carrots, and a fruity, tangy dressing; and steamed rice made from wild rice, brown rice and red rice. My Kung Po chicken was very delicious, the "chicken" had the mouthfeel if not the flavour of chicken, there was also pillow tofu, celery and green peppers and bamboo chunks, and a very spicy sauce that was very good. The Enoki Mushroom balls were deep-fried, very interesting in flavour and texture, pretty good. My beautiful Bride also ordered a dish to go, to eat later, one that she was contemplating selecting earlier, Fried Bean-Curd and Veggies, a house specialty, which has beancurd with a seaweed crust, but ended up not tasting so good. We were served 2 complimentary desserts, one was an orange mousse cake, mine was a chocolate-coffee mousse cake, both tasted pretty good. After the meal, we perused the many teas available for sale, I selected a tea that smells wonderfully of peach, called Osmanthus Fragrance Dancong. Overall, we enjoyed our visit to Zen Gardens, and would go again, perhaps to the one on Augusta Avenue in Toronto, it's a little closer.

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