(Source: www.channelnewsasia.com)

Even non-vegetarians are drawn to meat-free menus that use fresh ingredients and seasonal offerings. Channel NewsAsia’s Victoria Jen takes us to three of her favourite places in Taiwan’s capital.

TAIPEI: Who would have thought that Taiwan boasts some of the best vegetarian restaurants in the world? And the choices available are pretty awesome too, ranging from western cuisine to Asian delights. Best of all, fresh ingredients are readily available, and many chefs draw inspiration from the seasonal offerings, attracting even non-vegetarians with their meat-free menus.

I sussed out a few vegetarian establishments in the city and these are three of my favourite discoveries.

YU SHAN GE

Yu Shan Ge is a high-end Chinese vegetarian restaurant that is very popular with local celebrities, too. (Photo: Victoria Jen)

Located at Beiping East Road, Yu Shan Ge is a high-end Chinese vegetarian restaurant that serves mainly set menus. Generally, a nine-course menu costs about NT$1,098 (US$37) per person and the most expensive set can go up to NT$4,898 (US$163) per person.

While the fresh ingredients used is definitely a big draw for its regular customers, the restaurant’s meticulous service also sets it apart from other establishments. When I lasted visited the place, the service staff was polite and impeccable. Plus the minimalist zen decor made the whole dining experience even more unforgettable.

Mushroom soup with high-fibre vegetables and root vegetables. (Photo: Victoria Jen)

The mushroom soup is definitely one of my favourite items on the menu because it tastes just like starch-coated pork soup but without the meat. However, if you are allergic to MSG, you might want to skip this.

t Yu Shan Ge, not only is the food delicious, the presentations are just as exquisite. The Hericium mushroom looks just like steak, and it tastes just like filet mignon, especially when served with black pepper sauce. Yummy.

No 14, Beiping East Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100. Tel: 886-2-2394-5155

MIA CUCINA

Using only the freshest ingredients, Mia Cucina is an Italian restaurant that serves simple but tasty food. (Photo: Victoria Jen)

This Italian vegetarian restaurant serves simple but tasty fare, and the options are extensive. The piece de resistance? The Funghi Flatbread with Parmesan. Served with charred green onions, Gouda cheese, parmesan, together with assorted mushrooms and balsamic vinegar, it is to die for.

Another all-time favourite on the menu is the 3 Cheese Roasted Tomato – cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, tomatoes and basil, what’s not to like? Other items not to be missed include the roasted bell pepper with mushrooms salad, and the Eggs Benedict with mushrooms.

Roasted bell pepper with mushroom salad. (Photo: Victoria Jen)

Eggs Benedict with mushrooms. (Photo: Mia Cucina)

The portions at Mia Cucina are rather large so it’s a good idea to share your main course with a friend. While the prices are a little on the high side, it’s worth stopping by this gem for its exquisite menu and generous portions.

No. 601, Ruiguang Road, Neihu District, Taipei City, Taiwan 11492. Tel: 886-2-2659-3918

FRUITFUL FOOD BUFFET

Fruitful Food Buffet is an all-you-can-eat vegetarian restaurant located at Chung Hsiao East Road. (Photo: Victoria Jen)

This all-you-can-eat vegetarian restaurant is located at the busy shopping district of Chung Hsiao East Road. The food stations here are divided into seven main categories: Salad bar, fresh fruits, Hong Kong, Japanese, Chinese, and Western cuisines, as well as a well-stocked dessert bar.

Teppanyaki Hericium mushroom fillet braised with black pepper sauce. (Photo: Victoria Jen)

While the salad bar alone is enough to fill my stomach (there is a wide selection of salad greens available), I always save some space for the Teppanyaki Hericium mushroom fillet braised with black pepper sauce. The best part? It’s always made fresh by the chef.

The dazzling display of cakes and pastries at the dessert station. (Photo: Victoria Jen)

Customised raspberry yogurt with dried fruit and mochi toppings. (Photo: Victoria Jen)

And what’s a meal without desserts? At Fruitful Food Buffet, the options are endless. From cakes to mousse to puddings made from chocolate, cheese, berries and green tea, you are spoilt for choice. My favorite? Yogurt ice cream with your own customised toppings.

Besides the wide selection of delicious food, the interior is spacious and clean, and it makes your dining experience all the more enjoyable.

The restaurant charges NT$538 per person for lunch and NT$638 per person for dinner.

8F, No. 200, Section 4, Chung Hsiao East Road. Tel: 886-2-2771-8832

More Info: www.channelnewsasia.com

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