Evergreen Vegetarian House

Stephanie Yuen

Let me tell you about this take-out joint inside Empire Centre off No.3 Road in Richmond. My buddy Jacky runs a photo studio there, so I visit this place more frequently than any other heavily-promoted malls in the same stretch.  Empire Centre probably has one of the smallest food fair inRichmond but most of the food stalls are gems.  I’ve tried the HK style breakfast, the BBQ duck, the Claypot rice there and enjoyed all of them thoroughly.

Amongst these food outlets stands this tiny vegetarian take-out joint, a very ordinary looking stall that I do not pay much attention to, probably because I have no desire to buy take-out vegetarian food, until  recently.

The other day, while I was having a tea break there (Hot YinYang Tea with a toasted spreaded with butter and condensed milk) , the constant flow of customer leaving the store with bagfuls of take-out food caught my eye. The next thing I know, I was standing there talking to Ivy Fang, the chef and the wife of the husband and wife team behind Evergreen Vegetarian House, a name notorious to Asian vegetarians and vegans, restaurateurs and chefs who get their vegetarian food supplies, and neighbours who become regular customers, for Evergreen’s home-style, healthy and honest food products.   

The first thing I find out was that Evergreen Vegetarian House has already been in business for some 25 years.  They used to locate on Main Street(near E.23) which was demolished and replaced by townhomes three years ago, when they moved to where they are now inRichmond. The place is so much smaller that Ivy does a lot of cooking at home. The take-out menu does not offer a long list of items, but those on it are the most sought after classic vegetarian goodies. 

On the counter was a tray of Jongzi (sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves) stuffed with mung beans and mushrooms, some still hot and soft to the touch.  I saw a few wrapped plates of cooked something placed around the kitchen corner so I asked what they were. “Customer orders,” Ivy explained, “These are braised Kaofu with cloud ear, mushrooms and bamboos.  We only make them when the orders come in. Many customers call to order first, they know we have a small kitchen.” meaning that not everything is on sale on a regular basis!  “But we make the kaofu, from scratch. They are in the cooler case there, anyone can buy them.” The voice belonged to Mr. Fang who was standing behind Ivy and working on some paper work.  He said in a very firm tone.  “We have the best! Ivy is so particular, so stringent, she would not compromise for anything less.” He gave me examples of how Ivy insisted on using only the best flour, vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce (fromJapan). “She tried and tried different products until she found the best one. Anything that comes out not looking good, she throws out!” Mr. Fang continues. No wonder Evergreen Vegetarian House supplies to a lot to Chinese vegetarian restaurants, and many Mandarin restaurants who orders  mushroom rolls and Kaofu. Ordern even come from the East and down South.

Soon enough, there is a block of kaofu in front of me.  If I don’t tell you, you probably think that these are mini wheat loafs – golden brown, fluffy, and with a shape that look like beautifully risen bread! 

So I take a couple jongze and a kaofu loaf home and make a vegetarian dish, and cook a dish with mushroom, carrots and bak-choy with it for dinner.  For someone like me who only consumes the required shares of vegetables, legumes and fruits, the kaofu is indeed a pleasant surprise.  It has a mild nutty flavour with an al dente texture and surprisingly moist and enticing.  Even my meat-indulging family – my husband and 2 sons, love it.  I cut the two jongze into 1-inch logs, pan-fry till the outside is crisp and viola, the logs are gone in 3 minutes!  Got to buy more next time.

 Evergreen Vegetarian House:

Empire Centre Food Court,

4540 No. 3Road, Richmond



The irresistible Wines of Chile

Tony Chung

Upon departing an event or a dinner party where Chilean wines are served, my appreciation of the wines’ amazing value and unique characters tends to go up a notch, every time!

More of my wine loving friends or shall I say, more wine loving folks in general, when it comes to Chilean wine, share a common mood these days, the mellow mood so provided by the flavors and diversity brought forward through Chilean wines. A country with different regions of varied terrines and climates blessed with elements for wine production, yet their wines are so affordable and consumer-friendly that both our palates and wallets are well looked after.

Besides their Spanish neighbours, influence from French and Italian wine makers, years of quality evolution, along with advanced vineyard management and winemaking techniques, all factoring into making Chilean wines premium in quality and super in value.

My recent “Wines of Chile” tasting experience gives me an update that impresses me even further.

Cabernet Sauvignon is undoubtedly reliable. Depending on where planted, the range of taste can be broad. In Concha y Toro’s Marques Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, I taste cherry – riped, round and smooth, tannin is obvious with long after taste. I am especially impressed by San Pedro’s Cabo De Hornos 2006 fromMaipoValley (96% Cab and 4% Petite Verdot) for itsBordeaux like elegance and bouquet and velvety texture.  Smooth and deep with lots of cassis and black current, hints of cocoa or toffee, plenty of oak, well balanced and enduring finish. Some quoted similarity as theMedoc style. Imagine the pairing with roasted prime rib, barbecued duck!

Carmenere used to be one of the key varieties in making greatBordeaux wines.Chile is one of the best producers for this signature grape. Carmenere’s low acidity provides more fruit such as berry and plum flavours with soft tannin. It pairs perfectly with barbecues, roasted pork and tomato based pasta. Amongst the tasted, I like Carmen’s Gran Reserva for its fuller body and good balance.

Pinot Noir is beginning to catch some attentions. Grown mostly in cooler regions, I am surprised by Cono Sur’s Vision Pinot Noir for its silky texture, fruitiness and soft tannin, very easy to drink! Try pairing with smoked salmon, ham and sausage. It can also go well with Asian and Chinese meat dishes with sweet soy, oyster sauce or hoi-sin seasonings.

Chardonnay has become Chile’s hallmark white grape and gained its recognition like its brother reds in Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere.

Amayna’s Chardonnay 2009 catches my attention with its richness and complexity. It has light, refreshing lemon lime aroma and smooth mixture of vanilla and green apple. This chardonnay is so inviting I take sips after sips –  one of the best Chilean Chardonnay I have tasted so far!

Sauvignon Blanc in Chile seems to be picking up some impressive paces. Not used to be a big fan myself, I am this time amazed by Caliterra’s Reserva 2010 for its refreshing green plum and watermelon flavors, a great summer patio wine for sure! Also standing out as a valued brand is Carmen’s Reserva, a delightful wine full of citrus freshness, touch of grapefruit and cucumber, a clean and crispy delivery.   

Viognier reminds me of floral scents, apricot, peaches and citrus peels. Albeit may not be a wide spread varietal due to cooler climate favoured but Cono Sur’s Viognier 2010 is very appealing with its jasmine and green apple aroma, very crisp and refreshing. I would surely enjoy it as an aperitif or sip alone on the patio. This wine is a good match with green salad, chicken in a creamy sauce or prawns, crabs and scallops.