We headed over to Elsternwick on Monday evening to dine at Ren Dao, an Asian vegetarian restaurant. The extensive menu offers a wide range of entrees, soups, curries, stir-frys, noodles, and rice based dishes. The majority of the meals are vegan and it's also possible to remove egg from some of the rice and noodle dishes. The mock meat used in the meals is based on gluten, soy or mushrooms and there are plenty of gluten free meals available. It can be overwhelming being presented with so many choices when you aren't used to having many so I left it to the man to chose the entrees while the young man and struggled to decide on a main.
The man surprised me by selecting an entree outside of his standard order of spring rolls. The 5 Spice Loh-Bak Rolls ($7.50) contained a subtly spiced taro mince filling wrapped in crispy bean curd skin. These tasty parcels got us off to a good start.
Curry puffs are always hard for us to resist and these large ones ($7.50) happened to be a fantastic choice this time. The mixed vegetable filling was blended with a perfect amount of curry spices and the sweet sticky dipping sauce was a nice condiment.
Penang Curry ($19.50) was a mild-medium spiced coconut based curry containing mock chicken chunks, tofu and potato cubes. It wasn't quite as spicy as we were led to believe yet it was still thoroughly enjoyable.
The King Do Pork Chop Hot Plate ($21.90) was a tangy sizzling hot plate piled high with a large assortment of vegetables and soy-based mock meat slices hiding underneath. This was the most realistic mock meat I have ever eaten but I actually found the flavour and texture a little disturbing as it was too close to my omnivorous recollections. The man and young man adored this and declared it their pick of the night.
Penang Rendang ($18.50) was too intriguing for me to pass up as we all love rendang and I was interested to try this version made with a variety of mushrooms. In addition to the coconut based curry sauce, it was full of grated coconut which made the coconut flavours too intense for my liking. It probably wasn't the wisest menu choice given we had already selected another coconut based curry.
The staff at Ren Dao were incredibly attentive throughout the evening and extremely helpful with making menu suggestions when the young man and I were stalling. The serving sizes were very generous, we could have easily done without one of the mains and this would have been sufficient food for the three of us. The staff offered to package up the leftovers which we happily enjoyed for lunch the next day. I'm keen to head back to Ren Dao as there are many more dishes I would like to try.
Where's the beef are the only other veg*n bloggers that have written about Ren Dao to date. Ren Dao was also mentioned by Brianna in her Southside staples article in the Planet VeGMeL zine.
Ren Dao Vegetarian Asian Cuisine
275 Glenhuntly Road, Elsternwick
Lunch Monday to Friday
Dinner Monday to Saturday
BYO Beer and Wine