This time around I honored the tradition of sticking to a vegetarian diet for Chinese New Years Day and searched Clement St. for Buddhist monks stew (lo han jai). Linked below is some additional background on this special dish. Many of the places were closed in observance of the Chinese holiday, whereas Bamboo Garden that is normally closed on Tuesday was open. Specializing in Chinese vegetarian cuisine, it seemed like a natural for this dish.
I was surprised at the price, $7.50, but when unwrapped at home, this turned out to be a fairly luxurious version with a good amount of the expensive ingredients such as bamboo pith, black moss seaweed (fat choy), white gingko nuts, snow fungus, and black mushrooms. It also had grass mushrooms, canned button mushrooms, white gingko nuts, wood ears, bamboo shoots, baby corn, fresh arrowroot, fresh water chestnuts, fried gluten, carrots, and snow peas in a light broth on a bed of broccoli florets. What I missed (from my moms version) were fun see noodles, fried tofu puffs, bean curd sheets, and dried lily buds. Also, Im in the camp that likes some fermented bean cake (fu yee) for an extra flavor kick, although this can be controversial.
I also bought some of the gluten puffs in creamy curry sauce, $3.90/lb from the take-out counter, which were very tasty with some steamed white rice.
Over the next few weeks, Id like to enjoy lo han jai a few more times and would appreciate other recommendations. I would make it myself, and have in the past, but by the time you assemble all the necessary ingredients, it makes enough for 20 people!
And, maybe Limster can explain why he has a love-hate relationship with this restaurant. (vbg)
Bamboo Garden Vegetarian Restaurant
832 Clement St.