The Buddhist Center is located very near 1015 Massachusetts Ave (that's either the right address or very close-- I've forgotten. It's on the south side of the street, and the sign includes lots of Chinese characters). They serve lunch until 4:30 between Sunday and Thursday. No dinner.
They don't push carts around, and it isn't a buffet. You just have a seat and order from a menu, which consists of a sort of 'combo meal' of four different vegetarian dishes which change daily (plus rice and maybe dessert and/or soup-- very reasonably priced) or a short menu of dim sum. The dim sum menu is six items long. My date and I ordered one of each: fried spring rolls, steamed buns, steamed dumplings, sticky rice (not wrapped in leaves), taro (or white turnip) cake, and the solitary dessert item, lotus buns. At least, I think they were called lotus buns. They seemed more custardy than the usual lotus paste. Here's the blow-by-blow:
Fried spring rolls (2): These were a surprise hit. Not very oily, thankfully, and filled with more interesting veggies than the usual soggy cabbage mess. They did include a fairly strong shiitake flavor, although it wasn't overwhelming. Recommended.
Steamed Buns (3): Mild shiitake flavor, otherwise not too different in consistency and flavor from standard steamed buns (except for char shu-- these had no barbecue flavoring). Recommended.
Steamed Dumplings (6): These were a tad disappointing. The filling seemed to be mostly minced scallion. Not bad, but not great. Served with a soy-based dipping sauce.
Taro cake (3): Very nice, but a bit oily. I think they were really close to being as satisfying as the versions that include bits of pork, if necessarily more bland. Served with a soy-based, and rather sweet, dipping sauce. Recommended.
Sticky rice (1): This dish seems to come in many varieties, and this version was heavily seasoned with soy sauce and included a fair amount of shiitake, as well as faux pork. Very tasty, but not spectacular. Recommended with slight reservations, particularly if you're sensitive to salt.
Lotus buns (3): These were quite custardy, and the steamed bread was diasppointingly chewy. Tasty, I thought, but I'm not a big fan of desserty dim sum.
Each dish costs $3.50 per serving, and ordering one of each makes for a very filling meal for two ordinary mortals. Beverages include various Asian teas-- they also have bubble teas-- but I was unpleasantly surprised to find that the barley tea came pre-sweetened. Yuck. Atmosphere is nil, service is slow but courteous. Probably not the place to satisfy a serious dim sum craving, but recommended for decent eats and a unique setting. Vegetarians should be pleased. Oh, and larger quantities of each dish can be purchased to go.
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