I am a non-apologetic meat lover and immune to proselytising by avid vegetarians. I will probably pay the price for my meat loving ways in the future, but pleasures in the now are worth every bit of pain that may follow. But if you can convince me that the food is good regardless of whether there is meat in the menu or not, I will give it a try. And it is this belief that brought me to Yeok Teck, a Malaysian Chinese vegetarian restaurant in Bhanimandal.
PICS: RUBY TUESDAY
The decor is plain, uninspiring, and dark, not the most conducive dining experience specially in the long winter months. The menu is brightly printed and there are photographs of the dishes to help you make your decisions easier. The most intriguing part of the menu is the variety of 'mock meat' dishes on offer.
Mock meat, also called meat analogue, faux meat, or imitation meat, tries to replicate the appearance, flavour, and texture of meat and is usually made out of soy and/or wheat gluten.
It is said to be the go-to choice for vegetarians, vegans, and those seeking to curtail their meat eating ways. 'Guise meat' is believed to have first been developed by Buddhist monks to encourage new converts to stick with vegetarianism and to help them feel like they weren't missing out.
The folks at Yeok Teck have created an assortment of dishes ranging from chic to fis to pra (spelt exactly like that on the menu in the misguided ploy that incorrect/ abbreviated spellings will convince the eater that it is completely vegetarian and thus kosher).
The oyster sauce chic (Rs 205) has slices of deep fried faux chicken in oyster, but could just as well be black bean sauce or plum sauce or any other sauce. It doesn't taste like the real stuff at all, but kind of like chicken that has been deep fried so long as to remove all its taste and moisture. This was my first experience with mock meat and my fears seem to be well founded.
The cooks do rice well at Yeok Teck and both the Malaysian Nasi Lemak (Rs 130) and Nasi Biryani (Rs 130) were tasty and made for a reasonable and filling work day lunch. The sesame French beans (Rs 100) was delicious, crunchy, and packed with goodness, which just goes to prove my point: stick to the real stuff.
So will I go back to Yeok Teck? Actually yes. I will abstain from all forms of mock anything, but the actual vegetable dishes are nice and reasonable. They have good jasmine tea. And there is no rush so you can sit and have three hour long conversations fueled by cups of tea and the owners won't mind.
On a parting note, as the Bard correctly said:
"O beware of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster
That doth mock the meat it feeds upon."
If you want to be vegetarian, that is your prerogative, stick to vegetables and leave the meat eating to us sinners. And please don't mock the meat because that is truly sacrilegious.
How to get there: In Ekantakuna, walk down to Bhanimandal and Yeok Teck is across the road from the large basketball court.