Many thanks to Jerome who pointed the way to the buffet lunch at Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights during my trip out to SoCal last week. I had been looking fruitlessly for pure vegetarian dimsum, but the food at Hsi Lai turned out to be just the thing. They offer a cafeteria-style buffet lunch daily for $5 a person. The food is classic Chinese Buddhist vegetarian, served with humility and care. While none of it is haute cuisine, all of it is deeply imbued with a sense of the deeper meaning of food, satisfying physical as well as spiritual hunger. And it was all pretty damn tasty too.
Went with two friends -- only one of our group was a vegetarian. All of us were quite pleased with the meal, particularly with a delicious sweet and sour mock-pork dish and a very flavorful squash stirfry. This may be one of the best ways to introduce omnivores to the potential of veggie cooking, while also learning something about Ch'an Buddhism while strolling around the beautiful temple grounds. There is also a cafe in the temple that serves excellent watermelon juice as well as a tasty taro drink that delighted one of my friends -- "tastes like cake", she said.
This NY chowhound was absolutely thrilled with the Hsi Lai experience and I highly recommend it to all.