Cindy and I decided to make the most of our lazy long-weekend in Melbourne by hitting up some of the more far-flung vego restaurants in town. Having ticked off Aum Shanti on Saturday, we made plans for an early Sunday dinner at Vegie Mum in Doncaster. Nestled in a pretty unappealing looking strip-mall, Vegie Mum isn't trying very hard to win style points. The basic tables and chairs and sparsely decorated walls gives this place an almost food-court ambience. Still, the menu looked promising - pages and pages of Chinese and Malaysian-style mock-meat dishes, covering the regular chicken and pork dishes but also incorporating a few wackier options like coconut prawns, kung-po squid and furry mushroom hotpot.
It's a pretty overwhelming menu, and it would be wonderful to come in a bigger group and just go for one of the many banquets they offer ($20-$30 per head, for groups of four or more). We ended up just ordering from the specials page, splitting two mains, a serve of rice ($2) and a roti ($4) between us.
First up was the Malaysian-style dried veggie beef rendang ($17).
The combo of mock-beef and big chunks of zucchini worked surprisingly well in this curry. The sauce was sweet, spicy and fragrant but fell a bit short of the standards set by Loving Hut. By the time we got through this, I'd decided the problem was too much sugar - it wasn't bad by any means, but didn't quite hit the heights I was hoping for.
In contrast, the Soy Fish with Nyonya Sauce ($18) was a complete winner.
The sauce was spicy and tangy, with a citrussy flavour shining through alongside a decent chilli kick. The combo of green beans, okra and excellent soy fish slices worked perfectly - this is possibly a challenger for White Lotus' famous tamarind fish.
We were pretty stuffed after getting through those two dishes, so the lack of a dessert menu wasn't too upsetting. Our waitress did drop off these weird little jelly palate cleansers to wind things up, paired with a couple of slices of orange. It was as much as I could squeeze in.
Vegie Mum is an excellent mock-meat option, particularly if you find yourselves in the eastern suburbs for some reason. I'm not sure we'll board the 908 bus again in the near future - we've got a bunch of equally good (or better) options more locally - but I'm glad we checked it out. There's clearly a market for mock-meat in Doncaster though - they were doing a roaring trade at 6pm on a Sunday and have been around for nearly 10 years. Long may they continue.
Surprisingly few bloggers have made the trip out to Doncaster. There are positive reviews from RaWd's Food Diary, OISHINBO and Wandering Vegans, while The Journal of the Whills weren't really excited by the mock meat experience.
27 Village Avenue, Doncaster
entrees $3-12, mains $9.50-25
Accessibility: There are a couple of steps up at the entry, but things are flat and relatively spread out inside. We ordered at the table and paid at a low counter. We didn't check out the toilets.