It’s been a little while since my last blog post hasn’t it? I’ve been out of action with a series of crazy symptoms. Seriously, I’ve had it all these last two weeks – dizzy spells, a cold, lost my voice, awful coughs, sinus headaches… But the good news is that I’m recovering now so here’s a recent eat —
To drive an hour and a half for good food may seem absurd to some, but this is not uncommon for my mother and her friends. My mother has forever talked about this little vegetarian restaurant, in the middle of nowhere near Goulburn… But somehow, it was only last week that I finally ate here! It was the location of my dear friends, William and Nhu’s engagement party afterall.
It was the perfect condition for a roadtrip too – warm blue skies and minimal traffic (seeing as we were driving down the highway on a Sunday afternoon).
The entrance to Zen Oasis is a long gravel road lined with crisp scented pine trees. The restaurant itself, is a large wooden lodge surrounded by gorgeous landscaped gardens and rolling green hills. To complete the scene, there’s even a picturesque lake.
The restaurant is only open on weekends and it only operates between 11:30am and 1:30pm! There’s a second seating from 2pm but that’s just for private group bookings (which is what we had at this engagement party).
The buffet is priced at just $31 per adult and $16 per child and as you’re about to see, it is excellent value for money. There are even heaps of vegan and gluten-free options. And to you meat-eaters out there, everything is so delectable here, you won’t be left unsatisfied.
Here’s what was on offer:
Herbal tonic soup with shiitake mushrooms, carrot and various types of gluten – this was comfort food for the soul.
The corn fritters were sort of like a bubble & squeak, sweet and tasty. The king oyster mushroom fritters had a fusion thing going on with a garnish of oregano flakes but nonetheless, I loved them. I also couldn’t go past the fried rice either which featured corn, carrot, coriander, mushrooms and diced mock meats.
What I was most impressed with was the stir-fried mock sea cucumber. They really nailed the chewy but crisp texture. Paired with vibrant vegetables including celery, snap peas, carrot and bamboo shoots and aromatics of Vietnamese basil and chilli, it was so full on flavour, it had some of us questioning whether it was even vegetarian!
The texture of the mock char siew (Chinese-style BBQ pork) had flaky strands just like real pork and the salty and sweet marinade truly transforms this mock meat into something scrumptious.
There’s also deep-fried lo bak, various types of sushi and dim sims, satay skewers made of gluten mock meat and a vegetable lo-han which is a combination of vegetables in a thick white sauce. You’ll be interested to hear that some of the sushi rolls feature a mock version of spam. LOL!
I guess it’s no surprise that the deep fried foods bain-marie was the most popular. The crispy seaweed crackers were sweet and crunchy and wildly addictive. I also loved curry puffs, spring rolls and wu gok. Especially the wu gok – the outside was flaky and crisp and the inside was filled with mashed taro (yum!), and some savoury combination which replaced the minced pork flawlessly.
Desserts include fresh fruits, mochi, yoghurts, cheesecake, tarts, puddings and more. I was pretty content with my slice of coconut and pandan cake.
The food cleared up at precisely 4pm which left just enough time for speeches and photos before sunset.
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What a beautiful (and tasty) way to end the weekend!