The secret to happiness is to be well-fed and in good company.
Published October 1st 2012
Sometimes, vegetarian means really tasty (fake) roast duck
This cosy restaurant, located a short walk from the Box Hill Town Hall, has quietly built its reputation as one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Melbourne. Vegie Hut serves Taiwanese cuisine (think sweet-salty sauces and steaming, jasmine rice), although there are also some spicier offerings on the menu, including a tasty Nasi Goreng. Here, you can sample delights such as Crispy Skin Duck (a personal favourite) and Honey Soy Chicken. For something more exotic-sounding, there's always the Sea Cucumber and Abalone Hot Pot.
I have to admit that on my first visit I was initially taken aback by the menu, arranged as it was under sub-headings such as "Fish", "Lamb" and "Chicken". (I suppose I was expecting menu markers such as "Spinach" and "Carrot"). In hindsight, however, this was entirely appropriate – at Vegie Hut, the mock-meats are definitely the star of the show. They are made from ingredients such as yam, soy, gluten or mushroom and come in a surprising array of textures.
The "mock-fish" was soft and flavourful with the texture of firm tofu, wrapped in a melty seaweed that felt uncannily like actual fish skin. We ordered ours in 'special sauce' (a sweet-salty soy-mushroom affair) and it came served with some bright, crispy vegetables. Delicious!
We also ordered 'mock duck'. This particularly dish was yam-based, with creamy yam sandwiched between thin layers of golden-brown beancurd and deep-fried. The texture and presentation reminded me a little of fried peking duck.
We also gave the Kung Pow Chicken a try, as it was one of the spicier offerings. It tasted, well, it tasted like Kung Pow Chicken - sweet and nutty with a slight bite of chilli. The chicken was soft and a little stringy.