Restaurant: 4 Stones Vegetarian Cuisine
Last visited: April 1, 2011
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 150-160 – 7771 Westminster Highway
Price Range: $10 or less, $10-20
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 2 (based on what I tried)
- Taiwanese vegetarian cuisine
- “Best Chinese Vegetarian”
- Cheap eats/budget friendly
- Family friendly
- Frozen vegetarian products to go
- Extensive menu
- Decent variety
- Vegan options
- Accepts Visa/MC/Interac
- Tues-Sun: 11am-10pm
- Closed Monday
**Recommendations: I wouldn’t really recommend anything, but the Taiwanese Cut Buns, which were pretty good.
Hmmm… when “complimentary fruit platter” is listed as one of the top 5 popular menu items on Urbanspoon that can’t be a good sign (see here). But it has high ratings and it has won “Best Chinese Vegetarian Cuisine” in 2010. The place fills up quickly and the parking is horrendous, however I really think it does well due to lack of competition and selection for vegetarian cuisine in Richmond.
4 Stones Vegetarian Cuisine specializes in Taiwanese vegetarian food in a very casual atmosphere. They also offer a selection of frozen items to go and I question their made upon order abilities when I saw a mini buffet set up behind the counter. My food also came out super fast and all at once and I was seated at the tiniest table with 6 dishes, so the whole situation was all quite frustrating for me. There was decent service up until the food arrived and then there was nothing until it was time for the bill, but I can’t say I’m too surprised. It’s not a place you won’t to stay long anyways though because the line up was long and it was surprisingly busy.
Okay so I’m not a vegetarian and contrary to what some may believe I’m also not a hardcore carnivore. I appreciate vegetarian cuisine, but I do find there’s a lack of love for it in Vancouver. I don’t have Chinese vegetarian food very often, but most of the ingredients try to resemble fake meat rather than celebrate the honest vegetable. Speaking of honesty, I can’t tell lies. I really was not a fan of the things I ordered. The prices looked very reasonable, but when the dishes came out, it was very simple and just seemed incredibly overpriced for what it was.
On the other hand everything was quite filling with lots of starches and I found it pretty greasy as well, so the whole “healthy” aspect of vegetarian dining was really lost at my experience here. In a nutshell I would rather go to a non-Vegetarian restaurant and order their vegetarian dishes. The only thing that makes this place stand out is that it’s Taiwanese vegetarian which is uncommon. I like Taiwanese food too, and I’ll try and give this place the benefit of the doubt that I ordered the wrong things; however two dishes I ordered came recommended… so, I guess I’ll just concluded that I think there’s better Taiwanese vegetarian food than this, but due to slim pickings, this could be the only answer. My favourite Chinese vegetarian in Richmond used to be Purity Vegetarian, but too bad it closed.
On the table:
- This was unexpected and much appreciated! It’s pretty generous for being free.
- I guess that’s a sample of their “complimentary fruit platter” in the centre…
- Fruit Salad – 6/6 No, I’m totally kidding. So it was an orange, cantaloupe and apple sprinkled with sunflower seeds… and I guess that makes it deserving of making “top 5 most popular dishes”… ? Who knows… maybe this was the sample the the “complimentary fruit platter“… which has maybe more sunflower seeds… ?
- There was also a very basic sautee of mustard greens which were tender, but a bit under seasoned.
- The other side was 3 cubes of sponge like “meat”, which kind of tasted like firm, chewy, coarse tofu pockets.
- It’s made with soy protein and they just absorb so much liquid so every bite is super juicy.
- It was sweet, savoury, saucy like honey garlic sauce (without the garlic) and I actually really liked them, but after a few they do get filling.
- It’s a very traditional Taiwanese “burger” made vegetarian. This was recommended.
- These were actually pretty good and it would be enough for a light lunch and they’re deceivingly filling.
- They had the texture of meat and it even looked like meat, but it didn’t taste like it.
- The buns are super soft and fluffy and actually one of the softest I’ve tried.
- It was a slice of soy sauce marinated firm tofu and then I think a battered and deep fried glutenous patty that resembled deep fried soggy tempura “chicken”. I wasn’t really a fan of that part, but I did like the tofu. When eaten together you don’t really notice the weird tempura “chicken”.
- The sauce was a peanut butter sauce and there were actual peanut sprinkled on top to give it an additionally nutty crunch.
- The flavour and texture was quite good and it was a great balance of bread to stuffing.
- It was creamy peanut sauce with savoury firm tofu and then an odd spongy “chicken” with crunchy tang of Chinese radish which carried a bit of heat. Pretty good!
- $4.49 (5 pieces)
- These are made in house and I think they sell them frozen too. This was also recommended.
- Presentation doesn’t seem to matter here and they were very oily, but at least very crispy and I liked that part.
- It was a pretty good imitation of a pork gyoza and the stuffing was made of what seemed like shredded pieces of some type of vegetarian “pork meat” mixed with chives.
- It was crunchy, but it was almost like a purred vegetables, but it did have some chew still.
- They were actually very smoky in flavour and I almost thought they used liquid smoke in the mix, as it was strong.
- It came with a very tangy ponzu like dipping sauce and without that they didn’t have much flavour except for the smokiness.
- Not a gyoza, but other good vegetarian dumplings include: Steamed Green Vegetable & Egg Dumplings from Dinesty Chinese Restaurant instead. There are also the excellent Steamed Mushroom Dumplings from The Jade Seafood Restaurant, and also not as accessible, but very memorable are the Tomato & Egg Dumplings from Wang Fu in Hong Kong.
- Smoked Bean Curd and Sweet & Sour Agar with Cucumber Salad $8.99
- It’s a standard combo and there’s no changing of menu items.
- It’s a pretty big portion and relatively good deal, but it was really boring and it was pretty much a cold salad.
- $3.99 if ordered separately.
- The agar looked like shredded plastic wrap, and I don’t know if it was a mental thing, but it tasted like wet Saran wrap as well.
- I would rather enjoy agar when it’s used in molecular gastronomy, but not in this method. I found them distracting with the cucumber and they were pretty much flavourless and relied on the salad dressing from the cucumber.
- The cucumber was tangy with a gingery background and it tasted just like Japanese sunomono or sweet pickled ginger in flavour.
- I actually enjoy these, so I like it, but there was nothing different than any other Chinese place that would have these on the menu. No creativity.
- I actually enjoy the ones from Cantonese restaurants stuffed with the sweet Shiitake mushrooms better than this and that’s still vegetarian too – see here.
- These are served chilled and they were good, but it was the most basic thing they did to prepare them.
- It’s just layers of dried bean curd skins and it had a very mild smokiness. The smokiness was more intense in the gyoza than in these.
- They don’t taste like traditional tofu so non-tofu lovers tend to still like this.
- I give that it was juicy, and each layer was packed with sauce which was pretty delicious. I actually almost thought it was braised before it was smoked.
- The sauce was a very light and savoury broth like sauce and it was served on top of shredded iceberg lettuce, so it was very much like a salad.
- Veggie meat (soy protein), ginger, basil, peanut, satay sauce $8.99
- The redeeming factor was the sauce and basil. I would rather have a giant bowl of sauteed basil leaves and this satay sauce with no “veggie meat”.
- The sauce was tasty and it wasn’t as rich or heavy as a Malaysian or Thai peanut satay sauce. It was almost like a gravy, but not as creamy or thick as chicken satay stick sauce either.
- It was very aromatic, sweet, savoury and nutty with sesame sauce and perhaps some peanut butter. It came with plenty of basil leaves which surprised me, but the flavour was nicely infused in the sauce. Eating the basil leaves was my favourite part.
- The veggie meat looked like meat balls and they were not good… at all.
- I very rarely spit things out, but I did on my first one because I thought it was a mistake.
- I forgot what I ordered and I thought they were deep fried mushrooms because I recalled thinking about ordering those. Anyways these were very odd with a unsettling texture.
- With my eyes closed I thought I was eating deep fried, chewy, stale, drumstick chicken skin batter.
- It was firm and rubbery and really weird and I almost thought I was eating chewy parts of meat rolled in a ball with a soggy thick deep fried tempura batter, but I don’t even think it’s deep fried. I pass.
Chinese Herbal Soup – All the set meals come with your choice of Chinese herbal soup or the soup of the day which was vegetarian soup… which is a very general name for a vegetarian restaurant. Anyways, the also vegetarian Chinese herbal soup was good and it was lightly sweetened with dried Chinese red dates and it had the hint of bitterness in the aftertaste which came from the ginseng. There was also a slight licorice and star anise flavour in the background and a piece of bean curd and a plump dried Chinese red date. The sweetness and bitterness was well balanced and I liked it.
This is how they pack your rice to go. Ew. Spare an extra box please. I thought they were bringing me a complimentary dessert bun… this was just weird. The restaurant used to be a dessert pastry and bake shop called “Harvest Moon” so it looks like it’s the same owners… and seems like they found their niche in vegetarian cuisine… but c’mon invest in new packaging.