My parents came to visit earlier this month and my new age mother turned vegetarian not long ago after months of meditation retreats in monasteries in India, Nepal, Bali and a list of other amazing places. It’s not difficult to find vegetarian restaurants in Beijing given the vast options from mock meat menus with beautiful presentations to purely vegan dishes.
We checked out Samadhi, awarded restaurant of the year 2010 by Timeout Beijing. We were pleased with the choice, but not blown away. The set menus were limiting with fancy poetic names, making the process of placing orders challenging and sometimes confusing. It didn’t help that we were served by a very good sales person whose primary goal seemed like it was to upsell all the expensive things on the menu. We ordered two sets (RMB368 each) and the rest a la carte upon recommendations by said waitress brilliant at upselling.
As greedy people who plan what to have for lunch and dinner at breakfast—a trait that runs deeply in our family, we put our faith on the table. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but ended up intensely disliking the fake sea cucumber that came in a hallow bamboo casing stuffed with sea salt and baked in the oven.
It also seems that this “yam”, 山药 is a really popular dish because I keep having them in Chinese restaurants and all my Chinese friends tell me it’s good for health. It doesn’t really taste like anything, but it has a sticky consistency of the Okra, or what we call the lady’s finger back home. I’m not sure if I like this yam dish and the blueberry drizzled over confused me.
Apart from the not so pleasant surprises, we had very creative mushroom and tofu dishes that were some of the tastiest vegetarian dishes I’ve had in Beijing and a range of other simple things in small portions. Still, I’m unsure if the restaurant is worthy of its coveted title. I’ve probably been spoilt growing up with the fantastic vegetarian options back home. I’d recommend going a la carte instead of the set menus. Order what you fancy, mix and match and discover the different textures and flavours that work for you.
2/F, Shifanghaoting Bldg, Xinyuannanlu,
Beijing Sanlitun, on the corner of XinDonglu and Xinyuan nanlu