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Vegetarian dining at Central Taiwan temples--Yu Chi Feng Shen Tai Guguan Grand Temple, Hui Chung Water Drop Teahouse, Cloud Villa, Wang You Zhai Vegetarian Restaurant at Fo Fa Mountain Temple

By Niang Chen and Uvia Chang
Translated by Angel Pu

Yu Chi Feng Shen Tai Guguan Grand Temple



Yu Chi Feng Shen Tai Guguan Grand Temple

450, DongGuan Rd, Sec 1, Heping District; (04) 2594-3555
Hours: 6-8 am, 11:30 am-2 pm, 5-7 pm
Donate at will. Parking lot available.

Along DongGuan Road between Dongshi and Guguan, there is a grand temple surrounded by the mountains and river. This large and magnificent structure is dedicated to the worship of the dieties Xuan Xuan Shang Ren Da Tian Zun, Mu Gong Lao Zu Da Tian Zun and Yao Chi Lao Mu Da Tian Zun. In addition to devout worshipers, many other patrons are hikers or visitors on their way to Guguan who take the opportunity to stop by. The vegetarian buffet restaurant has a capacity of almost 200 and offers seasonal vegetables like eggplant, balsam pears, water spinach, "long xu cai" (chayote seedlings), Chinese cabbage and tomatoes, as well as two kinds of soup. Most of visiting worshipers come with their own dining utensils. Groups are welcomed with advance reservations. After they finish eating, diners can place whatever donation they wish in a donation box.

A: The temple's main buildings are Wu Ji Da Bao Hall, the right-side Ling Xiao Da Bao Hall, and the left-side Zi Wei Da Bao Hall, all situated in a stately fashion at the foot of Dongmao Mountain.
B: A corner in the temple restaurant.

B: Breakfasts, lunches and dinners are provided daily, and only use basil, ginger, and celery for flavoring. These simple vegetarian dishes are filling and healthy.

Yu Chi Feng Shen Tai Guguan Grand Temple Yu Chi Feng Shen Tai Guguan Grand Temple


Hui Chung Water Drop Teahouse

Hui Chung Water Drop Teahouse

65, HuiZhong Rd, Sec 3, Nantun District
(04) 2252-0375
Hours: 11 am-2:30 pm,
5-8:30 pm
(closed Mondays)
No service charge.
Credit cards not accepted.

Master Hsing Yun, founder of Taiwan's Fo Guang Shan (Buddha's Light Mountain) monastic order, has devoted himself to promoting Buddhism. The Water Drop Teahouse, which has opened branches all around Taiwan, is run under the Fo Guang Shan system. Its name is a reference to the saying, "When you accept help from others, even it's just a water drop-like favor, you have to repay it with spring-like gratitude." One of the purposes of Buddhism is to interact with people, which is why Water Drop Teahouse is located in cities so people can understand more about Buddhism. Its business objective is to provide fairly-priced meals and a pleasant dining experience as a way of practicing Buddhist principles.

A: Hui Chung Water Drop Teahouse is spacious and bright, making a dining time here a relaxing, easy experience.

B: Thai Sour and Spicy Noodle in Soup (NT$100) and Rice with Stewed Pumpkin (NT$100)-all ingredients in these dishes are healthy vegetables. The soup has a spiciness from chilis, a sourness from lemons, and crushed peanuts for more flavoring. To make the pumpkin dish, roasted pumpkins are mixed with stock, creating a rich, smooth stew. This combination of rice, pumpkin and other vegetables tastes brilliant.

C: Gratin Curry Rice (NT$150), Vegetarian Tomato Spaghetti (NT$100), Purple Rice Cake (NT$50), King Trumpet Mushrooms (NT$50), and Peanut Tofu (NT$50) are four other menu choices. The Purple Rice Cake is chewy, the King Trumpet Mushrooms are juicy and plump, and the signature dish Peanut Tofu has a smooth, delicious texture. The only place one will find such exquisite cuisine for such reasonable prices is Water Drop Teahouse.

Hui Chung Water Drop Teahouse Hui Chung Water Drop Teahouse


Cloud Villa

Cloud Villa

12, YongFeng Rd, Guangcheng Village, Puli Township, Nantou County
(049) 2930930
Hours: 11 am-2 pm, 5-8 pm
No service charge.
Credit cards accepted.
Parking lot available.

Cloud Villa is a hotel associated with the nationally-famous Chung Tai Chan Monastery, and the two places are located right next to each other. The hotel's business vision is to be environmentally-friendly and it is the only Taiwan hotel to exclusively offer vegetarian cuisine. Its great location has also helped Cloud Villa get easy access to Puli's fresh, abundant vegetables. Plus, its tranquility and serene-feeling surroundings, with a bell sounding in every day and night, allow hotel guests and other visitors to immerse themselves in a zen-like atmosphere.

A: In addition to its guest rooms, Chinese and Western restaurants and the Boat House Cafe, Cloud Villa has a boutique shop which sells Buddhist products, Chinese-style clothing and Chung Tai Chan Monastery souvenirs.

B: Thai Citronella Hot Pot (NT$270), Wild Yam with Flax Seed (NT$130/one serving) and other foods served at the Chinese restaurant are based on Sichuan-style cuisine, mixed with elements of Taiwan aboriginal, Hakka, Minnan and Thai cooking. This great vegetarian dining variety is a pleasing surprise for most diners here.

C: Chopped Mushrooms, Bamboo Shoots, Okra with Red Fermented Rice Sauce on Romaine Lettuce (NT$260), Betal Flowers with Sesame Oil (NT$236), Stinky Tofu with Spicy Sichuan Kung Pao Sauce (NT$250), Eggplant with Pesto (NT$320), and Golden Aiyu Jelly and Banana Pastry (NT$250) are more menu options. The sweet, tender betel flower has a unique flavor that tickles your throat with a hint of spiciness, and also goes well with sesame oil vinegar. The springroll-like Golden Aiyu Jelly and Banana Pastry is soft and fragrant, while the aiyu jelly doesn't melt when heated--all evidence of a good chef at work.

Cloud Villa Cloud Villa


Wang You Zhai Vegetarian Restaurant at Fo Fa Mountain Temple

Wang You Zhai Vegetarian Restaurant at Fo Fa Mountain Temple

22, DaHu Lane, Dakeng Village, Beitung District
(04) 2239-2559
Hours: 10 am-5 pm
No service charge.
Credit cards not accepted.
Parking lot available.

Fo Fa Mountain Temple, located in the Dakeng Scenic Area, was established by Master Sheng Lun and is a lively religious center, full of zen spirit. Humorous-looking stone statues are placed everywhere, bringing smiles and good cheer to visitors. Sheng Lun inherited a philosophy of eating what you plant and grow yourself from Tang dynasty zen master Bai Zhang. Besides this temple, he has also set up several organic eco-education farms around Taiwan, dedicated to promoting healthy, green organic foods and planting seasonal, pesticide-free vegetables. The master also frequently chants for the farms and aims to leave the best possible environment for the next generation.

A: The tea grown by the temple has received CAS, TOAF and JAS quality certifications and is sweet to the mouth and soothing to your mind.

B: Colorful Vegetarian Noodles (NT$100) are made with purple yams, king trumpet mushrooms, carrots, corn and bok choy vegetables. Wang You Zhai provides various delicious noodles and handmade side dishes priced between NT$50 and NT$160. On weekends, they also offer a Healthy Hot Pot (NT$250-300).

C: Dumplings with Spicy Sauce (NT$120), made by nuns at the temple, are soft and juicy and go best with sweet-and-sour vinegar sauce. The golden Chinese Toon Cakes (NT$50) are best when eaten hot, and are crispy and delicious.

Wang You Zhai Vegetarian Restaurant at Fo Fa Mountain Temple Wang You Zhai Vegetarian Restaurant at Fo Fa Mountain Temple


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