If one or many of you haven't heard of Zen Oasis in Berrima, I'm not surprised. This little establishment has kept themselves under the wraps and people who know about it, don't let the secret out because it is too good to share.
Zen Oasis have a huge oasis within the calmness of Berrima, 130kms south of Sydney, and they operate a vegetarian buffet style yum cha restaurant on weekends that is hugely popular. It took me a month to get into this restaurant as they take a limited number of people for a single sitting over the weekend (Saturday and Sunday alone). Only when the demand is very high, they open a second sitting as well. So my party of 4 waited almost a month to get in, however, the wait was absolutely worth it. Needless to say, bookings are essential to get in.
Berrima is an easy 1 hour 20 min drive south of Sydney. Moss Vale and Bowral are towns close by and there is plenty to do across all these towns. If you didn't already know, Bowral is the hometown for cricket legend Don Bradman and there is a lovely museum there about his life where you can also purchase cricket memorabilia. Bowral is also famous for Gumnut patisserie and the long queue outside will let out the secret.
We were lucky to visit Bowral and Berrima in spring and got to see the Tulip Garden at Bowral and be part of the Spring Festival in Zen Oasis. Follow this review, if you want more information on a day trip to Bowral.
On this particular spring day, I got the second sitting at Zen Oasis from 2 PM - 3:40 PM. A large group of hungry diners waited patiently for their doors to open and get seated. There are a couple of distinct seating areas lined up with small and large tables and the food is served in a buffet style.
All food is vegetarian and any vegan dishes are clearly marked, so vegan friends don't fret. The entree section was very popular with a number of crispy fried foods to select from as well as some clear soup. By the time I got my chance to get to the front of the queue, I noticed a couple of items were quickly finishing, but in a matter of seconds, it was filled up by their staff ensuring that no empty trays remain.
There were plenty of food options to choose from including fried and steamed rice, a wonderful tofu red curry, freshly made sushi and 2 types of dumplings being steamed by the chefs right behind the serving counter. The selection also included Vietnamese rice paper rolls, stir fry veggies, sweet and sour nuggets, vegetarian prawn wraps.
There is a great deal of choice for the mains and an equally good selection of desserts as well. Served in small bite-size portions, one might be able to find a place to taste a few of the sweet treats.
A word of caution, that this can turn into a day of gluttony, however, I don't encourage it for the gluttony but for the novelty of the food, the place, meat-free eating and the atmosphere. After lunch, one can enjoy the rest of the afternoon in their beautiful gardens and lake and soak in the great surroundings.