Reviews: Restaurants, Cafes and other Eateries

Pu Kwong (now with awful food thanks to a change of chef)

Pu Kwong is a dedicated vegetarian (but mostly vegan) Chinese restaurant in Underwood. It’s not far from the local Buddhist temple, so that may explain it’s random location on the side of Logan Rd. The restaurant has been there for years – I first went in 2004 – and is still going strong, so they must be doing something right… and I know what it is… the food is fantastic!

NOTE: The food is no longer fantastic. They changed chef. Now it’s gross. The saddest was the lemon chicken… it used to be so tasty. Now the batter is a new level of dreadful.

Pu Kwong specialises in mock meat meals. Now, I’m not talking Sanitarium style mock meat, but centuries-old Asian style zhāicài Buddhists have traditionally eaten. That stuff is good! They have a faux meats made from gluten, mushroom and soy and they add a really lovely texture and taste to many meals. Their veges are great too. I go with non-vegan friends and so far everyone loves it!

Our favourite entree (appetiser) is Ru Yi rolls, which are, I think, a gluten-based faux meat wrapped in tofu skin and maybe fried..? However they make them, they’re really good. The Shark Fin Soup is really good too – and doesn’t actually include shark fins, which is awesome. I also like the Radish Cakes; they’re kind of squishy and sticky but a nice taste and texture for a change from the mock meats. As far as main meals go, we almost always order the Sizzling Black Pepper Chicken, which really sizzles and is very very hot when you first get it. Be careful you don’t burn your mouth. Then we pick and choose between a second dish. We’ve tried:

  • Duck in Plum Sauce (my favourite dish I think, the best texture ever and a bit of a smoky flavour)
  • Lemon Chicken (this has great crispy ‘skin’)
  • Sweet and Sour Fish (Yankee Elv found the texture too tofu-y but I loved the flavour of the fish, although the sauce was too sweet)
  • Laksa (very good!)
  • A new calamari dish that isn’t even on the menu yet (the calamari part of it is good but there are strips of this gorgeous chewy kind of meat that my friend says is made from tofu… yum! We’ve ordered this repeatedly cos it’s great.)

For dessert we usually go for the Sweet Bean Pancake. It tastes a bit like a roti paratha filled with taro to me. Tasty.

There is the occasional dessert or drink with milk in it, so do be wary of those, but otherwise everything is vegan friendly. I always take ages to choose something because I’m not used to having pages and pages of menu to choose from!

Service is lovely and prompt. Most of the staff have strong Chinese accents so Yankee Elv can’t lipread them, but I get on ok, although twice I got someone hard to understand on the phone when I was calling to book/order takeaway (they do takeaway!). There are a couple of waitstaff that speak English quite clearly though. We are usually the only non-Asian people in the restaurant, but on Chinese New Year recently there was an Indian family and a mixed race family too. Don’t expect to be able to understand the cartoon they always have playing on the tv – it’s in Chinese with Chinese subtitles!

Prices are reasonable. We usually spend about $20-$25pp, including shared entree, a main each, plenty of steamed rice each, a shared dessert and one or two drinks. Be aware that this shop is still in the dark ages when it comes to EFTPOS though. You must take cash as they don’t have an EFTPOS machine! Fortunately there’s a BP with an ATM walking distance up the road if you forget.

I cannot recommend Pu Kwong highly enough – they are my favourite vegetarian restaurant in Brisbane by far!

Address: 2796 Logan Rd, Underwood

Phone: (07) 3219 8984

Gelatissimo

gelatissimo shop front

Gelatissimo is an awesome gelati shop in the city (on Albert St, between the Queen St Mall and King George Square). I’ve been going there for years and when I became vegan, I lamented that I wouldn’t be able to eat there anymore. Someone suggested that I could still eat sorbet, so off I went to give it a go. Imagine my surprise when I got there and realised that this place was a vegan icecream dream!

Not only do they have a bunch of different flavours of dairy and egg free gelati, but they are all clearly labelled. If you want to check it out before you go, you can even look at the nutritional matrix online. There are extra flavours at the store though… for example, there’s a dairy-free chocolate gelato. It tastes like you’re eating dark chocolate icecream. It does NOT taste like soy icecream, which is a nice change.

My one question is whether their waffle cones are vegan… cos while I could eat it out of a cup, I way prefer waffle cones. Aside from the fact that they are essentially edible packaging, thereby reducing waste, they also taste fantastic. It wasn’t until I got to the last bite of my chocolate cone recently that I thought to wonder about its ingredients. Next time I am there I will ask and update this post.

But yeah, if you’re vegan and an icecream/gelati lover… give Gelatissimo a go. 🙂

Magic Wok

Magic Wok

Magic Wok is was (it’s now CLOSED) a Asian vegetarian restaurant located in Sunnnybank, a southern suburb of Brisbane, Australia. Having undergone a few name changes (the establishment was previously known as The Leaderbowl), you may know this restaurant better by sight or reputation. Magic Wok specialises in vegetarian and vegan mock-meat meals. The restaurant is on the cheaper side of the spectrum and on weekends they have a buffet lunch. The restaurant itself is spacious, air conditioned (a plus in sunny Queensland!) and the wait service is good, if not exceptional. Magic Wok also offers takeaway and are open until 9pm, a little later than some other takeaway Asian restaurants in the area.

Sunday Mail food critic Sally Browne said in November 2006, “...The name is Magic Wok – and the magic is that this restaurant can transform vegetarian ingredients into what resemble traditional meat dishes…Magic Wok prides itself on using no MSG, less oil, sugar and salt, and plenty of fresh vegetables…

My omnivorous friends and his very omnivorous family ordered food from Magic Wok recently when their regular haunt closed earlier than anticipated. They were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food, especially the Mongolian ‘beef’. Elvish favourites are the lemon ‘chicken’ and the sweet and sour ‘fish’ (which is the most realistic tasting fake fish I’ve ever had, to the point of being a bit disconcerting – although the texture isn’t quite as realistic which made me feel strangely better!). There are meals that are not based on mock-meat, for the squeamish.

I think while it’s not something I want to eat all the time, it is one of the better vegetarian Asian restaurants in the city, and great for an easy night out. Meat-eaters, why not try it and reduce your carbon footprint for the day?

Address:
Off the carpark near the Asian supermarket at Sunnybank Plaza (the one facing Mains Rd)
358 Mains Road
Sunnybank, QLD, 4109

Phone:
(07) 3219 5775

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2 thoughts on “Reviews: Restaurants, Cafes and other Eateries

  1. Big fat note: Magic Wok is now closed. They have a different (not vegan) restaurant in its place, which is highly disappointing.

    If you’re after vegan Asian food, try Loving Hut in Mt Gravatt. They make some good stuff… maybe not quite as good, but still very tasty. A review of their restaurant is pending…

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