Zen Buddha, HA8 7AU
- 020 8905 3033
- 236 Station Road, HA8 7AU
- Mon-Fri: noon-2:30pm, 6pm-10:30pm; Sat-Sun: noon-3pm, 6pm-10:30pm
Totally-vegan Chinese restaurant a minute or so's walk from Edgware Station. They offer dim sum, an all-you-can-eat buffet, and takeaway and delivery. Note that they're not licensed; not sure whether you can BYOB.
It was previously known as Mr Man photo, but joined the Loving Hut chain at some point between 2008 and 2011. The menu stayed fairly similar, though the vegan dim sum section was considerably expanded. It left the Loving Hut chain again by late 2017, and was renamed to Zen Buddha, though again the menu (and staff) didn't change.
Kake and Katie visited on a Monday evening in October 2011. There were a surprising number of people in for an early weeknight at the far end of the Northern Line, though this was partly due to one large party. There was no problem finding us a table though.
Our intention had been to give the dim sum menu a good try-out, though we were somewhat thwarted in this as many of the things we ordered turned out not to be available. We did however eventually manage to assemble six dishes, which was plenty for the two of us.
Steamed BBQ soya protein buns (素叉燒包/cha siu bao; £3.80 for three) photo were perhaps the best of the bunch; the steamed bun was perfectly competent, and the filling decently flavoured and textured. Steamed vegetarian har gow (蒸素蝦餃; £3.50 for four) photo had a similarly-competent filling, but were let down by the wrappers; they were made in a press rather than being hand-pleated, and then they were overcooked so the wrappers fell apart.
Steamed vegetarian siu mai (干蒸素燒賣; £3.50 for four) photo also had wrapper issues, though in this case not due to overcooking; the skins simply didn't stick to the filling, so fell off when lifted. The filling was good, though, possibly based on crumbled tofu, but in any case well-flavoured and of an appropriate texture. Steamed soya beef balls with coriander (香茜素丸子; £3.50 for four) photo had an interesting flavour but an overly-mushy texture; they were correctly served with a vinegar-based dip, but the vinegar was overly harsh and probably not actually a Chinese vinegar (which would have been more mellow).
Steamed glutinous rice in lotus leaves (珍賣糯米素雞; £4 for two) was confusingly devoid of mushrooms — the traditional version of this includes chicken, Chinese sausage, and mushrooms, and while leaving out the chicken and sausage is appropriate for a vegan version, it seemed strange to also omit the mushrooms. Instead, the filling included taro, chestnuts, and sweetcorn kernels.
Finally, Kake's pot of green tea was very disappointing; made with a teabag and almost entirely flavourless. Katie's jasmine tea was at least made with loose leaves, so we ended up sharing this.
(We'd also made a previous visit to this place when it was still called Mr Man, on a Thursday evening in September 2008. There were a few other customers in on this occasion, but plenty of free tables. Spinach soup (£2.80) was pretty tasty; neither gloopy nor slimy, and with a good fresh spinach flavour. The salt-and-pepper tofu (£3.80) photo wasn't bad, with a nice creamy interior, though it might have been a little better had the pieces been a bit bigger. Moving on to dim sum, the steamed vegetable dumplings and the spicy vegetable dumplings (both £3 for three pieces) were somewhat overcooked; the translucent wrappers tore very easily. Deep-fried yam paste croquettes (£3 for three croquettes) weren't bad. Deep-fried beancurd rolls (£3) were the best thing we tried, well up to the standard of those Kake has had in more traditional dim sum places.)
Kake's verdict: I wouldn't order dim sum here again, though I could possibly be persuaded to come back and try the buffet. It's perhaps worth noting that many of the things wrong with our food weren't actually due to its being vegan, but more suggestive of inexperience at making/cooking dim sum, for example the overcooking and lazy assembly of the har gow.
Accessibility: One step to get in; it's all on one level thereafter, though the corridor to the toilets might be a little narrow for a wheelchair.
- Cookwitch Creations review
- Fat Gay Vegan review
- Fat Gay Vegan article on the change of name to Zen Buddha
- To Happy Vegans review
- Happy Cow comments
- Veggie Heaven comments
- Veggie Places comments
- Photos of the takeaway menu as of September 2008: page 1, page 2