Family feel meat-free cuisine

Updated: 2011-03-16 08:07

By Eileen Wen Mooney (China Daily)

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Family feel meat-free cuisine

My Home is a welcome addition to the very limited vegetarian dining scene in Beijing, which is largely marked by dishes made to look like real meat. The growing number of vegetable eaters should be well pleased with the dishes served here.

The nice wooden tables and chairs at My Home are partitioned with latticed paneling and each section given homey names, such as "My Aunt's Place", "My Brother's" or "My Grandpa's", with pencil drawings of family scenes.

We felt like we were sitting down and having a meal at a family gathering, sampling a series of delicious meat-free dishes prepared in several styles by chefs who are trained in Hunan, Cantonese and Sichuan cooking.

The mushroom cubes in the Gongbao chicken are tasty, so is the homey disanxian, or "three earth fresh", which is eggplant, green peppers and potatoes laced in a slightly sweet sauce.

The moyu beancurd, on the other hand, is made from viscous devil's taro (konnyaku), which comes in translucent blocks. These jelly-like cubes were braised in a nice thick-binding soup and spiced with just a few chopped hot chilies.

The five-grain fried rice includes black rice among the other four grains, and was memorable as both the flavor and texture were wonderful.

The cabbage was stir-fried with mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns, a nice alternative to garlic, which is one of the five pungent foods (the others are onions, leeks, chives and scallions) that Buddhists believe create lust.

The spicy cold noodles were tasty but would have been better if they were not so oily. The most disappointing dish was the dry-wok Hunan dried beancurd (bai xianggan).

It's a real pity that the chef used the overpowering profile of caoguo, a spice usually added when making braised lamb or lamb soup to cover the odor of the meat. The caoguo damaged the dish rather than brought out the soybean flavor.

Other criticisms were that the tea and several of the dishes were too expensive and the waitresses seemed too impatient to allow time for diners to study the menu and were anxious to promote the more expensive dishes on the menu.

But what I like about My Home is that the dishes are well prepared and the restaurant does not try to create vegetarian dishes to look like meat or taste like meat, but rather has a genuine intention to make tasty dishes out of meat-free ingredients.


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