Wanted to write about this gem of a place a bit sooner, but didn't have the time to give it due respect until now. Thanks to RWCFoodie and Yimster (see link), my sis and I paid a visit last Sunday to Jyun Kang Restaurant located on the tranquil grounds of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in the unassuming town of Ukiah (couple hrs. north of the Bay Area). From the 101, exit Talmage and head east til you reach the soaring gates. Stop in at the Visitors Center or head directly to the restaurant by making a left at the prayer hall.
This off-the-beaten-path place is worth a destination status IMHO. To be clear, it is a very humble restaurant housed in a small Chinese Buddhist community (w/ its own school, prayer hall, etc.) and is not meant for gawkers or camera-happy tourists. The Chinese vegetarian restaurant is open to the public everyday but Tues. (see below for hours).
We were driving from Humboldt Co. back to Santa Cruz and landed at Jyun Kang around 1pm just as our stomachs were agrowl. Place was relatively small w/ about 7 round tables of 6 and a couple of 4-seaters. While the grounds outside were hushed in Sun. prayer and rest, the restaurant was bustling. No vacant tables, so in the communal spirit, we were seated at the same table as a party of 3. Patrons appeared to be a diverse mix of Ukiah locals and meditation practitioners.
Wasn't able to access CH from my parents' house due to browser problems (argh!), and only remembered that hounds reco'd dumplings and wheat buns to go. Menu is focused on fresh, seasonal veggies and creative dishes using tofu, soybean, and per RWC's report, wheat gluten. Given the quality of their ingredients, I wondered if they cultivated most of their stuff on the grounds.
We ordered: tofu in black bean sauce; a dish called "Snow Lily"; an order of dumplings; and both brown and white rice. We really had no idea what the snow lily dish consisted of, but it looked appetizing in the menu photo. Found it comical that the staff kept speaking to me in Chinese (even though I'm Vietnamese), and when I queried in English, I didn't get clear responses so decided to just go w/ the flow.
We had a clear view of most of the dishes leaving the kitchen, and my heavens, bamboo shoots were plump and deep yellow, broccoli crowns glistened green, and chow mein noodles looked hand-made. Our food came out quickly. Tofu squares had pleasantly chewy exterior but soft interior and were lightly enrobed in a brown gravy speckled w/ pungent black beans and the largest chartreuse-colored soybeans I have ever seen. Delicious.
Snow lily dish was the star though. Round pieces of what I'm guessing was a "tofu ball" akin to a fish ball were scored on one side and looked like a blossoming scallop, if that makes any visual sense. These were joined by a mix of shiitake mushrooms, whole red chiles, and long wilted strands of Thai basil. The sauce was most unique--enriched w/ flecks of gluten (or ground nuts?) and a full-bodied infusion of aromatic ginger. Two tofu dishes w/ totally dif. flavors and textures.
The dumplings were large and cloud-like, stuffed w/ a flavorful mixture of napa cabbage, mushrooms, and ginger. The sesame oil merged the ingredients well and liberated me from any need for a dipping sauce. Total w/ tax and tip was ~$23.
Portions were so generous that we had some of everything left to go. Didn't get frozen dumplings or wheat buns since my mom overloaded me w/ her own goodies to take home. Hubby, a skeptical carnivore, ate the leftovers for lunch at work the next day and was so obviously affected by the food that he gushed about it when I saw him later that evening. Now that is pretty miraculous!
Hounds, this place is worth seeking out, and I can't wait to return. Next time I want to try the chow mein and bamboo shoots. Thanks again for the rec!
Jyun Kang Restaurant
4951 Bodhi Way
Ukiah, CA 95482
Hours: M-Th 11-3; Fri-Sun 11-6; closed Tues.