Ci Yan Vegetarian • We signed up for a Drama Box production in Chinatown and decided on this restaurant for its proximity. It was my friend CW’s regular takeout place, when working late in a bank.
I was initially surprised to learn it sold food. The few times I walked by the door front, I assumed it to be a religious artefacts shop.
CW shared that it was family run and started up by Madam Wong. She embarked on this diet in response to her ill health, recovered and wanted to share it with others.
The interior exudes a homely feel. It is filled to the brim with Tibetan Buddhism books and artefacts, interspersed with the organic vegetarian and fruit juice cartons on sale.
The menu board changes daily and between lunch and dinner. The son, Adrian is the Chef for the main dishes. Curry with brown rice seemed to be the preferred flavour for dinner. It looked tempting and was delicious, declared one Caucasian diner, whom I learned later was a resident at the nearby Pearl’s Bank condominium.
It felt like home. CW chatted freely and animatedly with the spritely mom, who in turn shared photos on a recent religious trip, I imagined to be Tibet.
Amidst their carefree laugher and familiar chitchat, I felt momentarily transported to Lhasa, into a cosy traditional home, but for the Cantonese banter that quickly, drew me back.
We ordered the organic curry on unpolished brown rice, with greens on the side and added a bowl of mixed vegetables broth each. For desserts, we shared a bowl of green mung bean / millet (not-so)sweet soup, prepared by Dad. It was nourishing. The brown rice does not weigh heavy but rather energised us.
For vegetarians who wish to look beyond the commercial spaces serving mock meats, come to Ci Yan for a unpretentious experience and down-to-earth food. The dishes will not garner a Michelin star but what you get is a feel-good wholesomeness. Just how Mum would cook it.