Recently, we tried Mandala, a vegetarian restaurant located amongst the towering teak trees at 110 Suong Nguyet Anh in District 1. We are always interested in trying vegetarian spots in town and were excited to try the Tibetan cuisine promised in an article by the all-knowing The Word Saigon.
While the menu was populated mainly by standard Vietnamese vegetarian fare with a few dishes from left-field, the decor was resoundingly Tibetan; complete with prayer wheels, tapestries on the walls, and an entire bookshelf dedicated to Tibetan literature and Buddhist pamphlets.
I checked out the modern, business-lunch-meets-monastery ambiance while we waited for our meals.
First to come out was a tofu curry served with soft french bread. A strange pairing and the curry proved to be quite insipid, but the delicate squares of tofu were good.
Soon after, Chinese broccoli, sauteed eggplant with peanuts, and an unusually massive bowl of white rice arrived. The veggies were served Chinese style - drenched in sauce and were cooked to perfection.
We enjoyed our meal, but left with a devoutly ambivalent feeling. Good place for an air-conditioned business lunch or when entertaining the elderly, but it kind of felt like we were cheating on our beloved com chay joints. Recommended, but with a lukewarm push.