Forget mock meat. With the delectable offerings at Beyond Veggie, Tan Bee Hong is tempted to ditch meat forever
THERE is no lack of vegetarian restaurants in the Klang Valley, so I am curious what the buzz is about at Beyond Veggie by Secret Recipe. The brand new outlet at Tropicana City Mall is packed with customers of all ages and races.
“Yes, even the young eat here,” says a happy Low Tuck Yuh, a partner in the restaurant.
The 45-year-old former contractor became a vegetarian at age 19. He laughs as he recalls that when he started dating, his girlfriend complained that when they went out, “this cannot eat, that cannot eat”.
Low’s food philosophy is simple. “I tell the chefs it’s not just a business. They have to cook as if the food is for their own loved ones,” he says. “We must make sure the customer feels happy and satisfied.”
Asked about this new direction for Secret Recipe, CEO Datuk Steven Sim is contemplative for a minute. “People are very health conscious now. We offer a meatless dining concept unlike that in Chinese vegetarian restaurants where you get a lot of mock meat. We’re more about going back to natural, healthy basics,” he says, “with tofu, soya bean and vegetables and without the use of preservatives, MSG or artificial colouring.”
If you crave vegetarian goose, char xiu and mutton curry, don’t come here. But if you want a refreshing meatless experience, this will blow your tastebuds.
Rainbow organic veggie roll (RM7.90), fruit with a yummy rojak sauce and plenty of chopped nuts (RM9.90) as well as generous mushroom piled on toasted bruschetta (RM9.90) make great appetisers.
The veggie roll is a colourful combination of carrots, cucumber, cabbage, purple cabbage and lettuce in rice paper rolls, a la Vietnamese style, and topped with crispy pumpkin floss. A drizzle of cream (optional) gives it a subtle fragrance.
PASTA & PIZZA
My vegetarian friends usually have to settle for pizza margharita in a pizzeria but at Beyond Veggie, they can have their pick of napoli bianco, mushroom mix, Hawaiian and a delightful pesto and mushroom. Vegans needn’t worry about the cheese. Low says the restaurant uses only vegetarian-certified cheese from Australia. Pizza comes in eight or 10 inch sizes at RM16.90 and RM25.90 respectively.
Prefer pasta? I’m in love with sesame spaghetti (RM16.90), with button mushroom. Sesame lends a nutty scent to the light creamy sauce while there is a choice of toppings including bean curd roll, veggie tempura or shitake strips.
MORE RICE PLEASE
For sharing, pick from the Village Kitchen section of the menu. Tofu is a big deal, with a choice of egg or eggless versions. Fragrant mahogany sauce tofu (RM16.90) is thick slices of tofu topped with diced ginger, chilli, mushroom and crispy nuggets.
I love the meaty texture of stir fry lion’s mane mushroom in spicy Portuguese sauce (RM18.90), with winged beans and long beans. The tease of spices on the palate is tantalising. Ask for added chilli if you like it hot. “We use kampung chilli padi, which adds a lovely scent,” says Low.
Jade rolls (RM16.90) are beancurd skin rolled with carrot and lotus root, wrapped with seaweed in a sweet, clinging sauce.
Oyster mushroom in exotic mango sauce (RM18.90) is most appetising. The fruity sauce and strips of young mango give the crisp bits of deep fried mushrooms a piquant zest.
Asian delight (RM13.90) lists individual dishes of noodles and rice. Kway teow with bitter gourd, mushrooms and other vegetables in black bean paste sauce is yummy, especially if you like bitter gourd. On the other hand, Thai style fried kway teow is dismissible.
What really perks my senses is the red yeast fried rice. The rice is fried with a fragrant red yeast paste and chopped vegetables, including lion’s mane mushroom. Most individual dishes are served with sides of acar and a skewer of lion’s mane mushroom satay.
There is also a daily special. When I am there, it’s assam laksa. I never think much of vegetarian assam laksa but Low seems to have got the recipe so fine-tuned I can’t believe there’s no fish in it. There isn’t, of course.
GIVE ME CAKE
All through dinner, my eyes keep wandering to the drinks counter where colourful cakes sit in a chiller. After all, Secret Recipe is known for its cakes. “All cakes in Beyond Veggie are eggless,” says Low. There are fresh cream cakes and cheese cakes. My favourite has to be pistachio cream cake (RM7.50 a slice), a light confection bursting with the flavour of fresh nuts. Chocolate mocha has a slight bitterness that settles on the tongue and for a richer treat, macadamia cheese with its hi-fibre cereal biscuit base is an indulgence.
LG37, Grd floor, Tropicana City Mall, Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-7722 1680
Daily: 10am to 10pm
Tropicana City Mall is along Sprint Highway, just after Section 17
Healthy meatless meals
Red yeast fried rice, sesame spaghetti and stir fry lion’s mane mushroom in spicy Portuguese sauce
Starters and salads: RM6.90 to RM11.90
Solo mains: RM13.90 to RM15.90
Village Kitchen menu: RM12.90 to RM25.90
Shopping mall facilities