Those were the days, as today vegetarian food is no longer shunned with the wide varieties available, as a result of the revolution of creativity injected into making vegetarian food more appealing to everyone. In fact, one does not need to be a vegetarian (or a vegan) to enjoy vegetarian food, because today, it has become one of the interesting cuisines around and is so enticing that it has definitely drawn its own fan base with its growing popularity.
The fame of vegetarian food has led to the emergence of many vegetarian food outlets, stalls and restaurants everywhere, and there is just a long list to name in the island of Penang alone, which is simply a vegetarian haven with the number of restaurants and stalls they have here.
It is not surprising that the island is famed for the 9-day vegetarian festive period which takes place in the Lunar 9th month annually, in observance of the Nine Emperor Gods' Festival.
Consummation of Life Vegetarian Restaurant, located in Farlim, on the ground level of the local neighborhood flats, is one of the hidden gems of a vegetarian restaurant probably only known to the local Penangites residing in the area.
It is not surprising though, with the many vegetarian restaurants available, this would, to many, add to the list of the vegetarian restaurants on the island.
However, for the vegetarian cuisine enthusiasts, this adds to another choice on the list for one to explore as one goes restaurant hopping.
A family run business, the place serves made-to-order home-cooked style meals from their humble kitchen and their menu boasts of the many interesting types of dishes which could leave one spoilt for choices.
One would not be bored with the varieties here; as even the simplest of dishes is given a unique twist with their own twist in the sauce or the use of ingredients in the cooking style.
They serve home cooked herbal drinks too, which to me, are better options compared to the canned drinks. Herbal drinks are traditional remedies to expel heat and toxins from the body and are favored as one of the common mild methods to ensure a healthy body system practiced until today.
Sugarcane drink (MYR1.60)
Now, the reason we would need a good cooling cup of herbal drink is due to the following hot and spicy Tomyam Ramen soup
Generous amounts of the ingredients; lemongrass, chili paste, lime and kaffir lime leaves are the main players behind the rich and aromatic flavor of the tom yam soup. It can be quite addictive and is enough to make one sweat with the piping hot soup (both in temperature and taste).
The bouncy texture of the hand-pulled noodles; or ramen is just another of its attraction complemented with the lavish varieties of ingredients of large cubes of tomatoes, bean curd sheets, cabbages, mock fish balls, and mock prawns, they are just part of the equation to make this one great bowl of vegetarian tom yam soup.
Vegetarian Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs (MYR12)
Made of wheat gluten and mushroom stems then wrapped around the sugarcane sticks, served with sweet and sour tomato sauce on banana leaf and topped with cubes of cucumbers, tomatoes and bell peppers, this is made to almost resemble the real mccoy.
Deep fried fish served with special sauce (MYR12) is again, wheat gluten paste topped seaweed and made to shape like a fish.
The sauce was indeed an appetizing start; spicy with a tinge of sourish sweet taste which reminded me of the typical Nyonya sauce with a aromatic scent.
Most of the dishes here are prepared with careful attention to the details, and it is amazing that vegetarian dishes are these days evolved to resemble the actual meat and seafood that it is hard to tell sometimes, that they are meant for vegans.
While there are those who are against these mock meats which are termed as sinful and has sparked controversy among the vegetarians that these are swaying away from the notion of observing pure vegetarian diets, these are still favored by many; non-vegetarians and even long term vegetarians themselves.
It is not purely based on the desire to sin; and perhaps in a positive way, the introduction of such mock imitations are meant to encourage more to enjoy vegetarian food and helping those who are converting to vegetarian with a smooth transition process.
For long term vegetarians or purely religious vegetarians, that would probably be another story.
After all, vegetarian food can be fun and colorful too, with a little creativity in it once in a while to produce a fresh concept to appeal to all ages and groups, right?
*Just my two cents of thought*