Wrapped Up In Books

A Buddha belly (the Toronto food I really miss)
November 21, 2008, 12:38 am
Filed under: A, potpourri | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Buddha’s Vegetarian Restaurant at 666 Dundas Street West. (Don’t let the name fool you – it’s actually 100% vegan as per strict Buddhist standards.)


The place looks like a fluorescently lit mess, and it’s the last place you’d go for decent dining atmosphere. But if you’re in the money for the best and cheapest (not ‘the best cheapest’ – I’m keeping the concepts separate here) vegan meal you’ve ever had, dig into this joint.

I was introduced to it in the spring of 2005, but it was closed when I went and I didn’t actually step foot into Buddha until summer of 2007 when I went for a (surprise, surprise) Buddhist holiday with the supervisor of my work. Since then, it was a mainstay in my diet. I couldn’t buy the ingredients and make the stuff myself, the fact I could not make the stuff myself aside, for the same price. I’m not sure how they even make a profit there – the portions are ridonkulously large and the cost is a mere couple of dollars.


I know from ordering it too many times that my favourite (#35), the Singapore curry vermicelli, can make for 4 generous sized portions yet the dish itself is only $5.50. You can’t tell me that’s not a good deal. They have the best spring rolls at $1.50 each – and two are enough to be a meal.

Buddha are famous for their ‘imitation duck’ which is really just strips of gluten marinated in God knows what then fried, and the result is actually surprisingly delicious. Unfortunately, this is the one menu item that does not lend well to being microwaved for postponed eats. It turns into a soggy, mushy mess that has an unsavory texture.

I would die to have their hot and sour soup right now. It’s the kind that’ll burn your mouth and aggravate your lips to no end, but you don’t care because you’ve got a tube of Blistex in your pocket that’ll help soothe the sting later. It’ll definitely clear your sinuses out, so it’s ideal for when you’ve got a cold (or any generic winter malaise).

My only complaints about Buddha remaining are: their serious overuse (or just use, period) of likely-still-unrecyclable styrofoam containers for takeaway orders (sidenote: polystyrene will forever pop Radiohead into my mind), and this dish, shown below. It’s easily the worst one on the menu and, natch, the only one depicted on the internets. (The bigger mushrooms have a texture I can’t handle [something between slimy and chewy] and the sauce is more just like wok run-off. Pass on it.)


I really miss this place. I miss the charming old Chinese lady who always popped a couple extra tamarind sauces into my order for the spring rolls (I’m a sauce glutton), the fact I was always given chopsticks without the assumption I might not know how to use them, the weird hyper-sanitary feeling of the place, and the little shrine with mangoes and incense in it on the floor.

Buddha’s Vegetarian: rundown in real life but not in my heart.

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