Last night we went to a vegetarian restaurant called Pure Lotus that was over the top in a Buddhist kind of way. If Buddhists could be over the top. The menu had items like "Rumors of Dragons Steam Buns," "Eight Renunciations of the Affluent Pancake-Wrapped Peking Roast Vegetarian," (a fake Peking duck, and very yummy), "Longevity Rolls," "Bamboo Stick Threads the Heart," (we had that too, but it was just grilled veggies on a stick), "Love You No Doubt Chrysanthemum Eggplant," "Self-Contained Stewed Dofu," (tofu), "Meeting of Souls Seven Mushroom Soup Cup," (I had that, kind of boring), "Terracotta Warriors Unearthed Dumplings," and "Golden Bridge Realization One Heart Heading Toward the Dao Noodles."
Clearly they were aiming at tourists, but it was still fun to read the menu. We were greeted by a monk, possibly, who pulled back a heavy blanket to let us enter the restaurant, where we were greeted by about six people. They poured some kind of scent in our hands, and led us to our table. The place was a kind of odd mixture of draped cloths, dozens of candelabra with real candles, a wall playing a constant loop of what looked like Forties-era cartoons from China (or someplace Asian), a giant bamboo model in the center of the room of what I assume was some kind of Chinese house. At our place were huge lotus leaves with a giant shell on top of them.
We ate and ate. Besides the delicious Renunciations, we especially enjoyed a "Silk Road" dish which turned out to be a yummy peanutty curry with lots of veggies and tofu floating in it.
When we left, we were each handed a giant lotus bulb, which now sit somewhat forlornly on our dining room table in a glass waiting to bloom.
Speaking of "Eight Renunciations of the Affluent," we’re starting to look at apartments. With the rapidly rising costs of apartments, we may end up with something smaller than we expected, which may impact our ability to house more than a guest or two at a time. But stand by for that. One thing I’m insisting on is a kitchen with an oven. I don’t think that’s being unreasonable, but most apartments designed for Chinese people don’t have them.