Nac Mac Vegan: adventures in rabbit food

05/05/2009

Those vegan Chinese buffets

Filed under: Eating out — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 10:09

One good thing about London is the vegan Chinese/Thai buffets that are everywhere, it seems. There’s a chain of them, plus a couple of independent ones, and it means that reliably vegan food is never very far away.

Most of them are called either Tai or Veg, and the chain is run by some kind of Buddhist cult. If they’re recruiting, they don’t exactly make any great efforts – you might, if you look, spot the plain A4 notices giving details of meditation sessions and cookery classes, but that’s as evangelical as they get.

The food is not the most fantastic in the world – there’s an over-reliance on fried items, and they definitely like their MSG – but it’s only £5.50 for as much as you can eat in the daytime (I think it goes as high as £6.50 in the evening), and it’s all vegan. No worries about what you can eat, nor about cross-contamination.

The food is Chinese Buddhist, but not monastic grade – onions and garlic are used, and it relies heavily on fake meats made from various combinations of soya, wheat gluten and konnyaku. The fake prawns can be unnerving at times. There are vegan interpretations of sesame toast, prawn crackers, spring rolls (probably the standard Tsingtao brand, beloved of caterers everywhere) and potstickers. There are curries, and a range of stir-fried stuff in other sauces, plus various rice and noodles, though they seem to have stopped providing plain boiled rice. Some of them do vegan duck pancakes.

It is possible to eat healthily – there’s a salad section with plenty of stuff that isn’t fried, including fruit, and a cold, spicy tofu dish.

As with any buffet, is probably best to go at a time when it’s busy enough that the food is fresh, but not so busy that you can’t get anywhere near the counter! There are too many of them to list here, but most of them are mentioned at the Vegan London eating out guide.

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3 Comments »

  1. They are a very handy fall-back option, yes! Three caveats …

    The staff in the few of these that I’ve visited have never been able guarantee to me that the prawn crackers were vegan.

    There have been complaints about their hygiene and labour standards, but I’m not sure if these has been substantiated:

    http://www.getreading.co.uk/entertainment/s/2033761_a_show_not_to_get_your_teeth_into

    “… Matt Allwright[‘s] … new series exploring the seedier side of the food industry … Rogue Restaurants … Matt and co-presenter Anita Rani begun their search in Soho, exposing its numerous Thai buffets and other restaurants.

    “First off, there’s the staff. Many of them are illegal immigrants employed by corrupt restaurant owners who don’t train them, give them no instruction and pay them less than half the minimum wage.

    “After tucking into a meal, the duo’s shown secret tapes of what they’ve been eating: some of the food is two or three days old, and some is smelt before serving just to make sure it has not gone off. Just to make them feel worse, a food hygiene expert is on hand to tell everyone just how bad the food is.”

    Comment by purpletigron — 05/05/2009 @ 11:53

  2. I seem to recall having seen the packaging for the crackers in one of those places, and it’s one of the “prawn-flavour” varieties which are utterly synthetic, and probably not at all healthy.

    Exploitation is rife in the food industry, but there doesn’t seem to be any political will to do anything about it. The illegal immigrants are doubly stuffed, because a complaint to the authorities will get them sent back to wherever it was that they’re trying to escape.

    Comment by Feòrag — 05/05/2009 @ 14:41

  3. […] There have been allegations of the exploitation of illegal immigrants in some businesses (see the first comment to this entry), but this shit is rife in catering […]

    Pingback by Public Service Announcement: Goodness Direct « Nac Mac Vegan: adventures in rabbit food — 04/12/2010 @ 13:29


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