I’ve never really been much of a fan of mock meat products – after all, if you’re not usually vegetarian by choice, why would you choose to have a mock product, when you could have the real thing? The only time I really have it is in cases where I’m complying with other people’s beliefs, for instance having a vegetarian meal in a Buddhist temple. I was ready to put my preferences to the test though, with a visit to Green Gourmet in St Leonards with some colleagues.
We start off with some drinks. I never turn down the chance to try fresh soy milk made by other people, and I found this version really lovely – not too sweet, but sweet enough to still be a treat. My colleague Sarojini asked for a drink recommendation from the owner who suggested the green lime twist as one of their house specialties. It was reportedly fruity and refreshing – a fantastic choice for a summer day.
We started with some san choy bao – presented in beautifully shaped lettuce cups. The flavours of the mix were wonderfully balanced, and the textures were great as well, with a mix of crunchiness in the chestnuts, softness in the capsicum, and bursts of flavours in the baby corn.
The faux-meat satay skewers came out looking convincingly meat-like. The texture was remarkably convincingly like chicken, and with the sauce slathered over the skewers, it made for a remarkably tasty chicken satay skewer. It was fantastic – one of the top picks of the meal. Unfortunately, straight after we received the skewers, we got four uninspiring dishes in a row.
A very small dish of stir fried seasonal vegetables, somewhat overpriced at $13.80 given that you could get similar at another Chinese restaurant for quite a few dollars less. Steamed vegetable buns that were no different to vegetable buns that you might buy from the freezer section of any Chinese supermarket. Siu mai that were distinctively lacking in taste and flavour. Stir fried noodles devoid of even a good mixture of vegetables, let alone a complex sauce to give it interest.
Luckily Green Gourmet redeemed itself with our choice of dessert – sticky rice with coconut in pandan leaf. We loved their use of coconut two ways (toasted and cream), and even those of us who professed that we wanted “only a bite” of the dessert were soon fighting to have the last bite.
Overall, I rate Green Gourmet a 6.5 out of 10. Most surprising was the fact that their best dishes were when they used mock meat products, and that their plain vegetarian dishes were less than adequate. You would think that a vegetarian restaurant would be able to deliver better dishes using only vegetables. I won’t be back to Green Gourmet any time soon, unless it’s for their sticky rice dessert!