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Asia Garden Vegetarian Banquet (long)

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Asia Garden Vegetarian Banquet (long)

StriperGuy | Feb 20, 2003 10:06 AM

Well irony of ironies, there was a cancellation for the veggie banquet at the last minute. Limster offered the spot to C. Simon who was already booked, and I was next on the wait list.

I was also second to last to arrive which means it is my duty to describe our multi-course repast:

It was basically BYOB and boy did we. Stagger brought numerous Belgian ales: Corsendonk Wheat, Chimay Triple, etc. I brought another Belgian and Zeb brought a nice growler of IPA from Cambridge Brewing company (I think). There was also a very nice Gewurtztraminer but I forgot who brought it.

I hate to spill my beans early in the post, but the cold appetizer dish was by general agreement the best of the whole dinner. As I describe the meal, please keep in mind that this was all vegetarian and If I say "fish" it is in fact "mock fish".

The appetizer tray consisted of a jellyfish salad (made from some type of noodle I believe) that had a nice assortment of daikon and carrot hunks in it. I could eat a lunch just of this salad. The tray also contained fried taro nuggets with mushrooms inside, fried "shrimp". "Fish steaks" wrapped in seaweed to simulate the skin of a fish, that really looked and tasted like fish. They were excellent. Another fish that was smokey and made from pressed tofu skins. Tofu skins are a favorite of mine I love the firm almost leathery texture, and flavor of tofu skins. I think I am even skipping one or two apps.

By this point we had already worked our way through at least 3 of the big Belgian bottles of beer.

After the apps we were served a light veggie/brothy soup. It had bamboo pith which has a delightful spongy texture, but other then that not particularly notable, but it did benefit by the addition of some chili paste.

Then the big dishes started to come fast and furious:

- A huge "fish" made out of taro and shaped like a fish and deep fried. This was a real winner Would have made any striper fisherman proud. This was served with a sweet and sour sauce and a mushroom sauce. It was very nice. Crunchy on the outside and fluffy and satisfying inside.

- Winter melon covered with (I believe Irish Moss or Carrageen) sea weed and very big chunky dried mushrooms. This was the most challenging looking thing we were served. It did look a bit like the creature from the black lagoon huge hunks of winter melon draped in gooey black seaweed. In fact is was rather mild and comforting.

- Broccoli with curried wheat gluten. I liked the texture and taste of the wheat gluten and it had an interesting subtle curry, but again a bit on the mild side.

- Deep fried basket of taro full of fresh vegetables: this was pretty straightforward, the basket was excellent and sinful. The veggies were crisp and fresh and included just about everything.

- Chinese broccoli and dried mushrooms in "oyster sauce" was excellent comfort food.

- A decent very short grain (or perhaps broken) fried rice was served.

- I am sure I am forgetting something.

By this point we were all having an excellent time. Where did all those bottles of Belgian Ale go?

Finally there was a dessert of sweet warm coconut milk with tapioca and bits of sweet potato in it. Very comforting. I would eat this dessert anytime on a cold day.

We sat around the table contemplating the monstrous amount of food we had eaten. The whole thing was $19/per including tip (but not including the beer).

I would say the general consensus is that the meal was good, but a bit on the mild side. Could have used some more pizzazz.

The appetizers and the whole "fish" were really memorable. I would certainly go again, particularly if my vegan relatives were in from out of town.

And the company was excellent!

I certainly hope that other hounds who were in attendance will elaborate and flesh out (veggie pun) my post.

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