4 Stones Vegetarian Cuisine

Restaurant: 4 Stones Vegetarian Cuisine
Cuisine: Vegetarian/Taiwanese/Chinese
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)
Service: 2
Ambiance: 2
Overall: 2
Additional comments:

  • Taiwanese vegetarian cuisine
  • Busy/line-ups
  • “Best Chinese Vegetarian”
  • Quick/Casual
  • 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:

Complimentary Appetizer

  • 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 Salad6/6 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.

**Taiwanese Cut Buns 3.5/6

  • $5.99
  • 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!

Gyoza – 2.5/6

  • $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.

2 Item Appetizer Combo – 2.5/6

  • 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.

Sweet & Sour Agar with Cucumber Salad – 1.5/6

  • $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.

Smoked Bean Curd3/6

  • 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.

3 Cups of Treasure – 1.5/6

  • 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.

Steamed Brown Rice – All the set meals come with your choice of white or brown rice.

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.

[geotag]

4 Stones Vegetarian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

16 Comments

  • Lia says:

    I actually thought that it was a steamed bun too! The fact that they packaged your rice like that made me laugh so much.

    I love the sponge meat thing, they serve that at a number of Shanghai type restaurants and they usually have a variety of mushrooms, and bamboo. It’s delicious!

  • Elaine says:

    I went there once and I found everything was just like, bland and watered-down…

  • laura says:

    I don’t mind vegetarian food, but I agree with you and think more people would get into it if it didn’t try to imitate meat. Thanks for your honest opinions!

  • Bow says:

    I don’t like Chinese vegetarian restaurants trying to imitate meat ; Chinese cuisine has many, many recipes that are vegetarian or could be adapted to become vegetarian. The Dai Tung makes an excellent Broccoli w. Garlic sauce, as well as a terrific Beancurd skin hotpot(w. Shitake and enoki mushrooms). Szechuan green beans w. garlic and chiles… unfortunately Chinese veggie restaurants concentrate too much on beancurd. How about fu-gua(bitter melon) in a black bean sauce ? Curried cauliflower w. onion and almonds(a Moorish variation would use raisins and almonds, no curry) ? I created Gai Lan w. Shitake and cashews(the Golden Swan would cook it even if it’s not on the menu. Other restaurants will too.). Bak choy, veggie broth, black fungus and white fungus. The troika of broccoli, bak choy and snowpeas stir fried w. some Shaoxing cooking wine. Kabacha squash steamed w. green onion and ginger …there’s so many possibilities.

  • Linda says:

    hahahahaha i just laughed at the picture of your take out rice because it made me think of two things: the first is griffins restaurant – one time i wanted to pack my salad to go and they put it in plastic wrap for me and handed it to me – still shocks me to this day… the other thing is when i visited my brother in dalian – they don’t have take out boxes there so they put everything in bags like the ones we get from supermarkets – my sister in law packed up some food for her friend and they literally dumped the noodles into one of those bags and then poured the sauce for it into another bag lol i felt so bad for her carrying them like grocery bags on the ride home 🙂

    i think the sponge like meat thing in the comp appy is seitan – it’s like the stuff you eat in zhai for buddhist holidays.. i really like that stuff even though when i think about it, i get grossed out lol

    seeing all these dishes are funny to me because i associate with them almost every other week for work – always looking for ways to replace meat in meat dishes gets interesting from time to time lol 🙂

    the meatballs look like swedish meatballs but anything that is a soy protein isolate almost always tastes gross.. yuck!

  • Mijune says:

    @Lia – lol I know right! Oh and yes I love them at Shanghai restaurants!

    @Elaine – I can see your point!

    @laura – aw and thanks for your comment! Wish they would celebrate the vegetable 🙂

    @bow – i totally agree bow!! SOOO much vegetarian in Chinese food… we don’t need to see the fake meat… although having it there is not always bad… but when it’s in everything.. what’s the point of eating vegetarian?

    @Linda – hmm is it a cultural thing then? ick it was so gross. ohhhh yeah!! I forgot you’re at Sunrise lol!!! hahaha oops! soy protein isolate even sounds… not good 🙁 love your comment… it’s so cute!

  • Michael Kwan says:

    Wow. Your review is in stark contrast to the 90% rating on UrbanSpoon. I’m unlikely to give it a shot either way, but what a contrast!

  • Mijune says:

    @Michael Kwan – Welcome! Yup… but if you read my intro I think it “wins” by having no competition.

  • Ed says:

    Your first mistake was going to a restaurant that says “vegetarian” on the front.

  • Mijune says:

    @Ed – BHAHAHHAAH – btw one of my fav quotes from you… “if animals didn’t want to be eaten they should stop being so delicious”… yes, I read that post 🙂

  • john says:

    “I very rarely spit things out, but I did on my first one because I thought it was a mistake.”

    Haha that was funny! I’ve done that b4 with imitation lobster. Texture and flavour not even close.
    I think knowing what to order in a veggie resto would make the experience better. Went to BO KONG b4 with my wife cuz she said it was good when she went with her aunt. Got there, didn’t know what to order. Lets just say had to go to a drive thru after that! lol

  • Mijune says:

    @john – LOLLLL You’d be the last person I think would be at a vegetarian place.. you and ed! I was pretty much winging the menu and I asked for some recommendations, but just left so uninspired… and ready for a bubble tea… or pulled pork sundae 🙂

  • June says:

    I went to this restaurant and had a different experience may be it because I dont mind oily food but I find if you ordered items with less traditional flare to it there is more room for creativity. The lemon veggie chicken and kimchi hot pot was really nice but expensive though. And it is interesting how many people dislike imitation meat. I personally am not bothered with imitations as long they taste good. I feel for them because all vegetarian restaurant has a big disadvantage when competing with other restaurants in Richmond. And if vegetarianism is even a profitable category I’m sure there would not have been so many vegetarian restaurants closing down. Heck if opening a restaurant was that easy I’m sure 90 percent of all of richmond would be restaurants. Anyways call me biased but any restaurant that could keep it self open in Canada for a decade should be respected. And to That I say good luck too all restaurants even if I may not like all the items in your menu.

  • Mijune says:

    @June – Hi June! We share the same name!! (Well almost :)) Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I’m glad you found some items you enjoyed. I didn’t think everything was bad, just not as good for the price.

    I actually like imitation meat as well, but this brand/type they were using was just not good. There are other types I’ve enjoyed much more and even other Chinese vegetarian restaurants that I’ve liked more. There’s one that unfortunately closed (like you said) at Continental Plaza and there was another one by No.1 Shanghai I liked.

    I think 90% of Richmond is almost restaurants lol… but I see your point. I don’t wish bad luck on any restaurant, but I do hope for improvement if there’s room 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *