What It Is: A fairly stylish and contemporary new vegetarian restaurant already drawing in the crowds.
The back story is this. Founder Vivian Wang opened a vegetarian dumpling restaurant a couple of years ago that did well, and now she is branching out with a wider menu. Helping her is a chef who has been a vegetarian for the past dozen years. He has spent a lot of time in Yunnan, hence some of the Dai-influenced dishes (the ones wrapped in banana leaves and grilled), and has also spent a lot of time visiting temples to learn about their cooking.
The space itself, in the outdoor mall where Garlic Barbecue, Our Bakery and many other popular venues are, is calming in its wood and cream-colored interior. I had to look hard for a sharp corner on anything. While the background to this place is Buddhist, it’s quite subtle and it doesn’t come across like a temple restaurant or an old-school faux-meat joint.
First Impressions: Liked it, with a couple reservations. The menu is a little too broad for my taste – it ranges from Italian-style pastas to Chinese mock duck soup (made with hedgehog mushrooms) to smoothies to crispy durian balls and fried "chicken" served with ketchup.
And prices, while not really expensive, still seem a little high for the size of some of the portions. But rent in this mall is expensive, especially on the first floor, so I’ll cut them a little slack.
The standouts at my lunch were the mock duck soup ("Duck Soup with Ginger in Taiwan Style") and the "Dai Flavor Bean Chop", which is covered in herbs, wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled, and tastes a lot better than the name "bean chop" implies.
The avocado, pineapple and apple juice was outstanding. Taiwanese Burdock Rice also nice.
Overall, the cooking is not as focused or creative as the other big vegetarian opening this summer, but Vegegood is doing its own thing. It’s more of an update on places like Wu Guan Tang, where the Buddhist vibe is very present, bringing that style of cooking into 2020. File it alongside Wu Jie, if that means anything to you.