If you ask me what quintessential Taiwanese food I can not live without, my answer would be Lu Wei (滷味). For those of you who don’t know what Lu Wei is, it is a Chinese cooking technique where different kinds of ingredients is braise slowly in a brine that is made with soup stock, soy sauce, and some aromatic spices. Food prepared this way soaks in all the flavour, resulting in a warm, savoury and aromatic meal.
The flavour is a little sweet, not too salty and aromatic, made with cloves, star anise, cinnamon and other spices. Lu Wei food stalls are all over the place in Taiwan. You usually take a basket, fill it with your favourite ingredients and the chef will cook for you it in a pot filled with the special sauce. It is then transferred to a bowl for you to eat on the spot or a plastic bag for you to take home and consume.
Vegan Lu Wei is vey rare. Most of the traditional Lu Wei stalls you see on the streets or in night markets are not vegan but once in a while you do stumble across a vegan one. Maybe one day I will do a review on traditional vegan Lu Wei from my favourite stall, but today I’m here to talk about Vege Creek.
Vege Creek is a hip and trendy Lu Wei restaurant that serves the traditional Lu Wei meal in a brand new fashion. It is a fresh and inspiring take on a Taiwanese staple.
Vege Creek offers an interactive dining experience, where customers create their own meal from a variety of fresh greens, tofu, mock meat and noodles which they pick out from the food station. My favourite part of the shop is this creative leafy garden, where you pick your vegetables from. The vegetables are pre-washed by the staff and nicely arranged on the display wall. The type of vegetables varies depending on the season. Visually, the green wall is very stunning and I think it stimulates the appetite.
After picking your fresh greens, you proceed to the chilled food station where you are offered a varied selection of uncooked frozen goods, soy products, mock meat and other vegetables. Each serving in this section is individually wrapped in plastic (which I’m pretty sure they reuse). I usually get a combination of frozen tofu, conjac noodles, pumpkin, baby corn, beans and cabbage. Sometimes I get more or less depending on how hungry I feel. I really enjoy the fact that I have full autonomy to ‘shop’ for the items that goes in my meal. Not only do I get to customise the ingredients I want but also the amount of the food I want on a particular day.
The chilled food station also offers Vege Creek’s special sweetened black tea. The black tea compliments Lu Wei quite well. I would often grab one if it is available. The black tea often gets sold out really quickly, so grab it while stocks lasts! I personally find the drink very refreshing and goes well with the bowl of noodles I’m about to chow down.
To complete your bowl, you now get to pick your noodles from the noodles station. Each block of wood is colour coded to represent a type of noodle. Typically Vege Creek offers five different types of noodles, the ramen noodles, non-fried noodles, glass or green bean noodles, thin noodles and instant noodles but the Song Gao branch offers six, rice vermicelli noodles. I often get the ramen noodles as I like noodles that are chewy. The non-fried noodles are good too, they absorb all the flavour of the soup.
When you have finally made it through all the food stations, you proceed to the cashier and the staff will calculate how much your feed costs you and queue for basket for cooking. Prices in Vege Creek is fairly affordable, vegetables and mushroom costs NT$35, noodles and frozen food costs NT$ 2o. My meal usually costs between NT$170 – NT$250.
The end result looks like this. Doesn’t it look delicious? The noodles and vegetables are cooked in the brine just long enough so they tenderize and soak up some of the flavour. Few strips of dried seaweed are then added on top, as the finishing touches to this delicious bowl of noodles.
You then carefully carry the bowl of noodles from the cooking station to the communal table for consumption. The communal table accommodates around 10 pax, which is not a lot especially when lunch time hits. While turnover rate is pretty high, I almost always try to avoid eating my meals during lunch breaks. But, if you happen to be there during peak hours and there are no available seats in the communal table, Vege Creek Song Gao branch offers a standing booth where you can enjoy your meal. Take outs are also available.
Vege Creek currently has three branches and the one I have visited today is the newest branch at Breeze Song Gao. Vege Creek was established on 2012 by two young guys who saved money on working holidays in Australia, and returned to Taiwan to set up Vege Creek. Vege Creek recently celebrated their third anniversary, marking a steady grow of their business and raise of veganism in Taiwan. Go vegan
How To Get There?
ADDRESS: 2, Lane 126 Yanji Street, Daan District, Taipei City 台北市大安區延吉街129巷2號
PHONE: (886) 2778 1967
OPENING HOURS: Monday – Sunday 2:00 am – 2:00 pm ; 5:00 pm- 9:00 pm
ADDRESS: B1, 245, Section 1 Dunhua South Road, Daan District, Taipei City 台北市大安區敦化南路一段245號B1
PHONE: (886) 2 277 55911 #611
OPENING HOURS: Monday – Sunday 11:00 am – 9:30 pm