Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November 16, 2008: A vegan tour of Box Hill

The decadence I anticipated was a Box Hill yum cha meet-up with the vegan potluck crew. Lisa had intended that most of us bike our way there from the inner north, thereby earning this feast. I withdrew early on the basis of my inadequate bike and even less adequate fitness; a few others developed late-hitting ailments (really! I don't think they were wussing out...) and ultimately Lisa and Michael were the only two hardcore enough to take it on. (You can read Lisa's account of their journey on her blog.)

A bike ride is not the only way to develop an appetite for yum cha. Toby, for example, skipped breakfast, and talking food all the way to Box Hill in Kristy's car seemed to have all three of us salivating. Actually, my hunger to visit the Vegie Hut has been growing for over two years; the restaurant's name and address were written by a vegetarian colleague in the farewell card given to me by my former lab in Brisbane. Once there, overwhelmed by the entirely vegetarian menu, I was happy to cede ordering duties to Toby and Kristy.

We started with congee. I've never eaten this savoury rice porridge before and was surprised how much I liked it. I think it's free of charge when you order two or more items from the yum cha menu. Each other dish below cost $4.20, and my descriptions are little more than guesses - pipe up in the comments if you know better than I do what I was eating!

Though they were deep-fried and delightfully crunchy, I didn't really take to these faux-seafood balls - the texture was a bit rubbery.

These were more to my liking - mixed vegetable cakes, with a crisp-fried crust and a thick, salty sauce.

More crisp, deep-fried vege treats!

Spinach dumplings.

The steamed 'ribs' in black bean sauce were a table-wide favourite.

BBQ mock-pork buns - also a winner.

I think this is steamed siew-mai - delicious, but difficult to maneouvre with chopsticks for a clumsy kid like me!

I didn't really take to these - they tasted chemical-y to me.

These super-processed nuggets, on the other hand? Awesome. I ate more than my fair share.

The four season buns each have a different sweet filling - I scored a black sesame one, while Michael chose taro.

With that, we were full. 'Twas a fine feast for about $15 each. But the edible adventures weren't over yet; Kristy next led us to the most functionally named Vegie Bakery.

This bakery features the kind of breads and pastries I'm accustomed to seeing through a Breadtop window, though these were all vegetarian! There were plenty of faux-meat specimens, but on Kristy's recommendation I chose this little green tea cake ($2.20).

It's not the kind of dessert I usually crave or indulge in, but I was won over by the flaky outer layers and sweet fudgy centre when I later ate it for afternoon tea.

Our final stop was the Golden Age Health & Vegetarian Food Mart for some take-home groceries. Here everyone perused the freezer for faux meats - I wasn't immune, but I also picked up a pack of Toby's favourite ramen and some powdered egg replacer (those salad dressing cupcakes were a timely reminder to try an egg alternative).

Laden down with frozen goods, we all headed home to our respective fridges. What a treat; to discover a new suburb and its food with a crew of like-minded eaters!

Vegie Hut
Address: 984 Whitehorse Road, Box Hill
Ph: 9898 2287
Website: www.vegiehut.com.au

Vegie Bakery
Address: 566 Station Street, Box Hill
Ph: 9898 8666

Golden Age Health & Vegetarian Food Mart
Address: 18b Rutland Road, Box Hill
Ph: 9898 2048


  1. Asian food is often the hardest to find good vegetarian options, this place is now at the top of my list to check out - thank you!

  2. I'm not in Melbourne again until March, and I might possibly be melting with the amount of jealousy I am currently experiencing.

  3. oh, by the way, is the green bao kaya? because kaya bao are THE BEST.

  4. Your pictures are great Cindy! I need to get some tips off you. And stop using my phone as a camera. I'm lame!

    I agree with your verdict on the first balls we had - I think they were called something like 'gold and silver balls' (or maybe I just made that up). Something about them was weird, I didn't really enjoy them at all. I forgot about the vegie cake things, they were really yum. Also, the spinach buns were too healthy, I giggled when no one wanted to order a second round of them, even as we were baying for more pork buns.

    More food-related touring soon, please!

  5. Box Hill rocks!!!

    Have you guys been to Natural and Healthy in Doncaster? It used to be called Million Buddha. I used to have vegie yum cha there all the time back when I didn't eat pork. Yum.

    xox Sarah

  6. Yum! It all looks good (apart from the faux seafoody items!) and sounds cheapcheap too!

  7. put delicious yum cha in me, somebody!!! good grief, what a feast.
    re: strawberry imitation. i think when you are NOT ALLOWED to have something, you want it more, even if it is disgusting. this is different from veganism as i am "allowed" to eat meat and eggs (no dairy!) etc but CHOOSE not to, so i do not lust or want for it, or ever sneak treats into myself. Imitation flavourings in general are pretty revolting and at the same time, amazing. I mean, really, they found chemicals that fool you into thinking what your tasting could be food. AMAZING. mock meat is similar too, i mean, that stuff should even exist, right? but it does. and heaps of it has existed for a really long time, how clever are human beings!??1?!?1

    1. You need to looks at the origins to see why it was created in the first place before you pass judgement. It was not intended originally for vegans or vegetarians, but those who couldn't eat meat on religious days.

  8. Wow, and here I am living 15 minutes away from Box Hill and I've never been to any of these places before. Sounds like I definately need to set a day aside for some foodie exploring!

  9. You're welcome, Jesska - don't leave it as long as we have. :-)

    Vegan About Town, it'll all still be there for your enjoyment in March. :-) Not sure if the green dumpling was kaya bao (I didn't eat it) but having just googled it, I'd like to try one!

    Thanks, Lisa! I'd be happy to show you my couple of favourite camera settings when we next meet. There was definitely something on the menu called gold & silver balls so you're probably right!

    Nope, Sarah, we haven't ventured that far out much at all. I'm filing away the name Natural and Healthy for a future feast - thank you!

    It was lots of fun, Mandee. :-)

    Makes sense, Léna - the lure of the forbidden! And there is no end of junky foods that lure me in.

    For sure, Hayley - I'm sure you won't be disappointed!

  10. curses for being sick and not being able to join you, it all looks so good, and yum cha is the best

  11. Hi Philippa! I'm sure I'll be agitating for another such meet-up early next year. :-)

  12. omg i luv black sesame bao

    that's steamed rice noodles, not steamed siu mai, you can get all sort of fillings or just plain

    hi btw (:

  13. Hi Tytty - thanks for chipping in. :-)

  14. Re: the "siew mai", its cheung fun (translate to rice intestines - supposed to look like - not taste like - pig intestine). Looks like it had the fried dough stick in the middle (you tiao