Yuan Fu Vegetarian Restaurant

Yuan Fu    Yuan Fu Vegetarian Restaurant in Rockville, Maryland, in the Washington D.C. metro area, is a pure vegan restaurant.  And now, it’s my favorite place to eat on the Rockville Pike.   This was my first time going there, but I wish I could eat there once a week and explore the big menu.  Because Yuan Fu is two hours from my home, and for the purposes of this post, we ordered dishes heavy on the vegan meats.  But  there are plenty of whole foods on the menu, including non-fat steamed dishes with brown rice.  Yuan Fu is a casual place, very Mom-and-Pop, which I like.  The service was good, to the point where the waiter took my cousin’s young Thai coconut back to the kitchen to saw it open for her so she could eat the spoon meat out of it.  As per their menu, “All of the vegan meats and seafood at Yuan Fu Vegetarian are made from vegetable products.  For example, beef and pork are made of gluten;  the chicken is made from soybean protein, the duck is made of layers of tofu skin;  fish is made of soybean protein and seaweed;  shrimp and squid are made of Japanese style white yam.  We serve nut products in our restaurant and do not use any MSG or dairy products in our cooking.  If you have any food allergies, please alert our staff members when ordering.” We started our meal with an appetizer of  deep-fried Crispy Black Mushrooms, which everyone liked.  They were kind of rich and chewy with an undertone flavor of Chinese BBQ.  My cousin Scott ordered the Roast Duck appetizer which was a bit fatty and did indeed taste like Chinese Roast Duck. It was a generous portion, and If we lived nearby, I would have taken the leftovers home to make a vegetable stir-fry with.  Scott also ordered the Pan-Fried Dumplings appetizer and they were good, and thankfully stuffed with shredded greens.  Munam ordered the Hot Sour Soup and said she liked it, but I did not try it myself.  Based on a Yelp recommendation, we got the Sesame Chicken with Broccoli, and it was almost polished off, mostly by the men at our table.  I ordered the Peking Duck and again, we all liked it.  I can’t resist those paper-thin pancakes painted with hoisin sauce, and wrapped around “duck” and shredded scallions.  This is a dish my Mom and Dad used to make when I was a kid, so the Peking Duck at Yuan Fu really brought me back.  It was a bit less fatty than the dish of my childhood, which is fine with me.  The one dish nobody was very fond of was the Crispy Orange Beef–it wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t especially good either.  Oh, if only we’d had room to try the Kung Pao Chicken or Crispy Noodles, the Sizzling Rice Soup or the Eight Treasure Steamed Taro Roots Paste Pudding, darn. If you’re not familiar with the Rockville Pike, it’s got everything you could think of.  Two places I like off the Pike are Meixin Chinese supermarket, and Pangea Vegan Store.  In conclusion, I’ll go back to Yuan Fu Vegetarian when I can, and try different dishes (with more vegetables, ha ha).  I think the owners and staff of Yuan Fu Vegetarian are Super Heroes in their own quiet way.  To work so hard to give the public a humane dining option at a reasonable price is in fact, super heroic.  To have the  flavors and textures of classic Chinese-American restaurant food, without the torture and murder of innocent beings is pretty damn Wonderful.  Thank you, Yuan Fu!    ADORABLE ART ABOVE BY CHRIS MURRAY.

Postscript:  I’ve been back to Yuan Fu since this post, and discovered that my favorite dish there is the Kung Pao Chicken (the one without the mushrooms).  Second favorite is the Sizzling Rice Soup.  I also have to give a nod to the Crispy Pan Fried Noodles with lots of vegetables.

IMG_2177 IMG_2175  The dining room. IMG_2168  Crispy Black Mushrooms appetizer. IMG_2170  Roast Duck appetizer. IMG_2171  Pan Fried Dumplings have greens inside. IMG_2172  Sesame “Chicken” with Broccoli IMG_2174  Peking Duck came with pancakes, hoisin and shredded spring onions, and we ordered two extra pancakes. IMG_2167  My cousin’s fresh coconut water.
20140528_114835  Crispy Pan Fried Noodles on left are very good, with lots of fresh vegetables.  My favorite dish is on the right–Kung Pao Chicken with no mushrooms.
20140528_113940  Sizzling Rice Soup is sort of addictive.

Thanksgiving Turkey Art Project

Here is the only turkey that we’ll be having at our house this year!  Our talented six-year-old nephew Douglas made this for us, and it brings such color and whimsy to the dining room.  The feathers are easily created by tracing around the child’s hand, making this project easy enough for littler ones too.  If you look at the photos below, you can see the three-dimensional features of the turkey, made by cutting out and gluing on the wattle and beak.  I suppose you would start with a circle to create the turkey’s body, and then just go from there.  Easy and charming, this would make a great craft project for the kids in the house and could be supervised by an older child too.  I also like the limited number of supplies one would need,  some markers or crayons, some paper and glue, and perhaps something to protect the tabletop.  And don’t forget to photograph and share online with those who can’t be with you for this Holiday.  Happy Thanksgiving!


Paintings of Ipo by the artist Chris Murray

My friend Chris Murray painted (from photographs) these two amazing portraits of our beloved rescue/adopted dog, Ipo.  FYI, Ipo rhymes with the word depot.  Ipo is a Hawaiian word that means sweetheart or lover, and I named her this because she was found on a street  called Lovers Lane, in Trappe, Maryland.  I saw Ipo at the Talbot Humane Society and was instantly smitten.  This is our second dog, so we did things more “right” this time, in that we watched a lot of episodes of The Dog Whisperer and in doing so, saw some things we could have done better with our previous dog, who passed away about six years ago.  Ipo is a typical mix-breed dog, in that she’s super healthy with well-rounded traits, and makes us laugh every single day.  She gets us out of the house and tells us when it’s time to play.  If you want unlimited love and joy in your house, adopt a pet from a shelter–they need us and we need them!  And by the way, 25% of animals in shelters across America are purebreds if that’s what you think you want.   Chris Murray is an artist living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and she has a definite gift for drawing and painting all kinds of animals.

Mama Mia by Chris Murray

 This charming and whimsical watercolor was done by my friend Chris Murray who is a wonderful artist.  I subscribe to her art blog so i can see her paintings as she posts them.  This one captured my imagination; it just evokes the comforting presence of an older woman in your life who feeds you your favorite foods.  In essence, a traditional image of home.  Thanks to Chris for permission to post this painting here!