Coming back from the holiday, Asian Palate asks Beryl Feng, the owner of Veggie Palace , a private kitchen serving 100% vegetarian food, about business this year.
“Actually my bookings are quite stable throughout the year. When holidays like Buddha’s Birthday or Chinese New Year come up, it just means that I have to take more calls from people and tell them that we’re full,” says Beryl.
Beryl, more commonly called ‘Feng Tai (Mrs. Feng)’, started her restaurant in the late 1990’s when Hong Kong had a boom in private kitchens. Back then, she only had two tables of twelve and just served two shifts, maximum 48 covers per evening. Now, the restaurant has expanded to 15 tables and is open for lunch and dinner. “Making money or promoting vegetarian food was never my main goal,” she explains, “My husband is a Buddhist meditation trainer and he used to have his classes at our home. Some students would come in earlier to hang out with each other for a while before class. I wanted to be a nice hostess and so I offered them some snacks.”
Beryl adds, “My whole family is vegetarian, so of course I served them vegetarian food and surprisingly their feedback was very good. I moved on to making full meals when, one day, a group of students offered to pay me to cook them dinner before the training and I did it for them.” Eventually, people went to the Feng’s for their food more than for the meditation classes. Beryl just got tired of keeping up with such a long waitlist, so she decided to expand it into a full restaurant.
Beryl is convinced eating healthy and enjoying more vegetarian dishes is a strong trend. “Tasty food is all about the sauce and garnish. You can probably substitute the main ingredient in a meat dish with a vegetable and it would still be just as tasty.”
“FIVE-COLOR VEGETABLE POT” – By Beryl Feng
White Fungus, Tree Fungus, Mushroom, Wolfberries, Waxy Corn, Spinach, Pumpkins
Ginger, Salt, Black Sesame Oil
1. Blend the pumpkin until it is finely pureed – like the texture of juice; heat it up then set aside for later use.
2. Boil the fungus for a short time then drain.
3. Cut the mushroom into slices.
4. Boil the waxy corn on the cob till it is fully cooked, and then cut the kernels from the stem.
5. Sauté all ingredients with hot oil in clay pot. Sauté the ginger first, then the mushroom slices, then all the rest of the ingredients after that. Sprinkle with salt.
6. Pour the pumpkin juice inside and cook until it starts to thicken a little.
7. Top the pot with a little of black sesame oil before serving.
Wine Pairing :
Jeannie Cho Lee MW suggests to pair the vegetable pot with this vibrant, very attractive Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend from Bordeaux: Chateau de Fieuzal Blanc