Peace, love and soybeans

China Daily, June 13, 2007

Beijing, China -- With dishes such as, "body and mind in peace soup", "repent and the shore is at hand", and "no worry pan", the Purple Bodhi vegetarian restaurant is an ethereal place to eat. English speakers in China would be used to oddly translated menus, but here the intent is to convey a Buddhist aesthetic.

Purple Bodhi, or Ziputi, was not crowded when we visited at noon. It is a beautifully decorated restaurant, with equally beautiful and tasty vegetarian dishes.

It is neatly, and elegantly decorated in a colorful ambience, lightly illuminated, with a sense of mystery. The owner's artistic taste is revealed in prints of lotus and watercolor drawings adorning the walls, and flowers on tables.

Apart from a separate list of new dishes, the menu is in both Chinese and English. Apparently the drafter made an effort to relate the dishes with Buddhism, especially in the Chinese version, making it somewhat difficult to work out the ingredients in the dishes.

Luckily, the English part explains more, though words like vajra, arhat and Bodhisattva still feature. We got the point, through the liberal use of Buddhist terms, that we were to be bestowed with blessing.

We liked everything the manager recommended. The body and mind in peace soup has slices of bamboo shoot, mushroom and vegetarian abalone. It is a decent soup to start a meal.

The 100-treasure Bifengtang is a crispy lightly fried roll of eggplant, with a piece of soy bean protein wrapped inside. Bread crust and seaweed add pleasant variety. There is nothing special about the fish (imitation meat) cooked on iron board with sweet and sour sauce except that it tastes nice. Repent and the shore is at hand is a beautifully presented small plate of three shrimps (imitation meat), served with sweet and sour sauce. Black fungus, green cucumber and lily bulb is a welcomed healthy dish, tasting rather light.

Apart from light-tasting Cantonese style dishes, there are also Sichuan spicy dishes at the restaurant. If you still hanker for a stronger flavor, try rice with tomato soup and potato curry.

The bowls and plates are all of attractive porcelain. Buddhist music plays quietly, with religious CDs and writings distributed free at the gate.

Average spending is 30-100 yuan per person.

Address:To the west of the road, 200 meters south of Shiji Jiayuan, opposite the antique city, Anyuanli, Chaoyang District.
Tel: 010-6494-5266.