Banquet lunch at Gong de Lin

I’m a bit behind the times with this whole Scoopon thing.  I signed up recently because I think it gave me some extra bonus entries in to a competition.  Anyway, one of the Scoopon deals arriving in my inbox was a 100% vegan banquet at Gong de Lin.  $39 for two people so I signed up quick smart because it was a $54 saving.  My buddy T and I rocked up today all hungry like and got a booth by the window (we had to make a booking).

We started by ordering a ‘freshly squeezed juice’ first, though we were a little suss about the ‘freshly squeezed’ origins:

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First up, according to the Scoopon coupon description were the vegetarian spring rolls.  These were fairly standard spring roll fare but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because spring rolls are usually always yum:

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The steamed vegetable dumplings came out at the same time.  I thought these were quite nice and would happily order them again:

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Course 3 on the Scoopon menu description was baby corn soup… but ours never materialised.  I didn’t realise this when we were there, it’s only now reading the menu for this blog post that I realise we didn’t get it!

Next up: bean sprouts in Sichuan style sauce.  These were okay, with some thin noodles in there.  It was more of a refreshing accompaniment and I’d be happy if I could make this at home.  Nice and simple but tasty:

gongdelinbanquet

At the same time we also received a bowl of rice each and the sweet and sour ‘pork’.  Ahhh!  This tasted exactly like the non-vegan version you find in standard suburban Chinese restaurants.  You know, where lemon chicken is on the same menu.  I haven’t had sweet and sour pork (vegan or otherwise) in many, many years and this was a nice bit of nostalgia.  I believe this could fool a meat eater:

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Because I was a bit of a doofus I tipped all my rice in to my bowl and plopped the sweet and sour pork on top, right before the waitress brought out the chicken with hot and spicy sauce.  The mock meat here wouldn’t fool a chicken-eater, but the dish was really tasty.  Suits me fine as I’m not in to mock meat as a meat substitute, I eat it because it’s food I like. Nothing to do with meat. I had to salvage half of my rice for the hot spicy chicken dish:

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Finally we got glutinous rice balls in a sweet sauce.  The ‘sauce’ was more like warm water that was sweetened.  I really liked the black filling which tasted like bean paste and sesame.  A word of warning: take a pocket mirror.  Maybe even a toothbrush, because the filling got all over our teeth, in our teeth and we had to sit there cleaning out black bits.  Seriously, take a mirror and you’ll see what I mean:

gongdelinbanquet

I asked T what she would like to say for the blog and she said BRING A MIRROR.

Gong de Lin is located at  level 3, 264 Swanston Street, right near Lonsdale Street.  Walk in to Noodle Kingdom then take the elevator immediately to your left.  I previously visited Gong de Lin and I was happy with my meal there, though the second time I walked out as I waited for nearly twenty minutes to order and I was the only customer.  Trust me folks, I was making the ready-to-order face. You know, the slightly insincere half smile with raised eyebrows?  Anyway. When I’m hungry, you can’t mess with me.

I’m a bit bummed now that we missed the baby corn soup, there was no mention of it whatsoever so I’m slightly miffed. Regardless, I liked it all enough to order another two person coupon and I’ll take my sister.  This time I’ll take the coupon menu with me and make sure I get everything! T and I were so full we walked it off, down to the recently opened Broad Bean Organic Grocers in Southbank to take a look.  They have a good variety of products and vegan treats:

broad bean organic grocer

broad bean organic grocer

broad bean organic grocer

We took a peek at Testing Grounds, a public open art space opened in October 2013 that was formerly a vacant lot.  That’s the Victorian Arts Centre in the background:

testing grounds

It was quite warm out in the sun so we finished our city outing with a nice big cold juice at a juice bar in Melbourne Central.  I forgot to take a photo of the juices, but here are some scenes of a typical Melbourne day in the city.

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I thought about asking this person if they could do a Weeping Angel pose.  Then I thought they probably get asked this all the time and find it REALLY annoying:

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Don’t blink!

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra vs Lord of the Fries. Tough call…

Today I took my almost-five-year old daughter, DeeW, to the Sing! Classic Kids session.  Such awesome stuff.  DeeW learned the names of some instruments.  I learned that when you go to an event for children, you will almost always smell fart the whole way through.

On the way to the auditorium, we passed the National Gallery of Victoria:

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My friends from out of town always say things like ooooh, you’re so lucky to live in Melbourne.  You have the WATER WALL gallery.  And I just shake my head all mysterious like, give a coy little smile and say my friends, it’s not just a water wall:

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it’s really…

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a TELEPORTER.

So after we rematerialised all our bits, we headed off to the MSO session which was really quite cool.  Alas, they did not play “YMCA” so don’t be fooled by the conductor:

msogill

After the session, I asked DeeW what we should eat for lunch.  Mango icecream was the answer.  I haven’t really had much of a chance to explore quick vegan options for when I have my children in tow so I went to my old faithful, the Lord of the Fries stand at Flinders Street Station.  Yay vegan options!

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DeeW wasn’t keen on the golden satay sauce and I found it a bit too sweet:

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We ate our fries on the cool shady steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Here’s the view from there:

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We stopped in at Habib Wholefoods to buy DeeW an icecream.  I saw a big piece of vegan chocolate cake and decided to try it, even though I’m not a massive fan.  It was a eyes-are-bigger-than-the-stomach greedy moment.  I had a bit and took the rest home:

veganchoccake

When I’m out with the kids, I prefer buying food from places where we can get through the meal quickly.  Lord of the Fries is super conveniently placed.  Next time I’m on my own, I might go and try Enlightened Cuisine.  I really do love my hot chips (fries) as much as I love the rare occassions I get to hear an orchestra live.

See you again soon  🙂