October 6, 2019
8291 Westminster Hwy, Richmond, BC V6X 1A7
MON – THU 11am – 10pm
FRI – SUN 10am – 11pm
About Dharma Garden
Dharma Garden was established in 2018, after being changed from a non-vegetarian restaurant to a vegetarian one. It was due to the unexpected passing of the owner, Brandon Chau right at the grand opening time, the restaurant was on the edge of being closed and sold. However, in order to honor Brandon Chau, Dharma Garden reopened with the objective of donating 50% of the profit to the charity. The restaurant follows the idea of bringing a healthy lifestyle with vegetarian dishes, not only for beliefs or your health but also improve the concerns of people about the environment, the extinction of animals and so on.
Dharma has been receiving both negative and positive reviews. Most diners gave good comments on the food quality and flavor. However, they did not focus on promotion program on social media so that they could not attract more customers and made it unprevailing to vegan people.
Theme, Atmosphere and Décor
It was a chilly Sunday evening when we arrived at the restaurant. The big sign of its was easy to be seen from distance and was not hard to find. Our first impression of the place was its cozy atmosphere. The restaurant follows the casual dining style with obvious eco-friendly theme since it only serves Vietnamese vegetarian food. With the warm light enough to brighten up the whole place, sound of chill music matches the feeling, you can no longer aware of the cold outside and be actually wallow in the music or just the meal and the continuous conversation with your friends.
The restaurant is decorated with paintings of flowers and mostly pots of plants inspired people with the idea of staying healthy and being friendly with the environment. On the day we spent, there were not many guests due to the cold weather.
Though these pictures you can see that the restaurant did keep its place really clean. The smell of the food was not too strong to annoy others, it just slightly got people to the flavor of delicious food they about to be served. No trash or food on the floor, table or anywhere in the restaurant, even those pots of plant they placed, there was no leaves left out. If it was necessary to grade this place’s cleanliness, we would say it deserves to have 8 out of 10. Those last minus points was because of the checking counter since it had too many plants as well as the way big pots of plant displaced right behind the door make it less spacious.
Regarding service, the staff were accommodating and gave us good recommendations which would be useful for people having minimum knowledge about vegan dishes. They were friendly and thorough, but the service was quite slow. It might be because of few servers and common slow pace of a vegan restaurant. Also, we had to have some noodle soups heated up properly.
Food and Beverage: taste, value, quality and presentation
Dharma Garden Richmond, a Vietnamese vegetarian cuisine restaurant with a menu that is predominantly meatless and nearly gluten-free has become one of the favorite restaurants for vegans. It is an invitation to unique cuisine made with wholesome vegan ingredients, offering an accessible starting point for those making the noble transition to a plant-based diet. There is such a good feeling as soon as you walk in the door and dine in thanks to relaxing atmosphere and diverse menu with appealing food images.
We are big fans of all soups! I believe that soup is a universal remedy and should be eaten every day. Talking about noodle soup, Pho is one of indispensable dishes of Vietnamese people, which is primarily served at breakfast time. It is a savory Vietnamese noodle soup, usually beef-based which has a unique and distinctive flavor from a blend of curious spices including cinnamon, star anise, onion, ginger and lemongrass… The recipe broth in this restaurant is made of mainly vegetables instead of beef bones, which will satisfy your taste for a delicious, intensive flavor of a truly vegan Pho. Thick and fine rice noodles in a deliciously spiced broth and topped with plant-based items such as stir-fried tofu, sweet sliced onion, fresh herbs, mushrooms and sprouts created a harmony. A bowl of soup is so good that you hardly think this vegan pho is made 100% from vegetables.
Besides, their menu offers different noodle soups like Bun Bo Hue, Bun Rieu, which brought us special flavor of Vietnamese noodles in a unique and different style.
Another dish we chose to relish is vegetarian curry. The plate of curry that was brought out still retained the same basic principles in processing as using curry powder, which had the bright yellow feature of common curry. The presentation really made every visitor have a craving for the taste. In addition to the color, the broth in the restaurant is also thicker with a sweet, greasy and aromatic coconut milk but not as spicy as the original and potatoes and carrots were served soft. Also, the dish decorated with fresh green cilantro and celery cuts was offering the eater eye-catching look.
Here we did enjoy broken rice served with grilled vegan pork chop, shredded vegan pork skin, vegan pork pies, pickled carrot & radish, and sliced fresh cucumbers and tomatoes. The taste is so genuine that it could be hard to differentiate from real meat broken rice.
We memorized a perfect combination between frugality of vegan food and a hot teapot with the sweet scent of jasmine in this cozy and peaceful space.
Or diners can choose to enjoy brown rice tea whose aroma and smell in such a Zen atmosphere shows how much love nature generously offers us magic beads. Brown rice tea with ginger jam gives us a special warmth in this cold weather.
On the other hand, in order to diversify tastes of guests, the restaurant also offers a wide range of shake which is made of healthy tropical fruits like mango, durian and jackfruit etc… Or a signature shake with a mixture of fresh fruits and vegetables including apple, pineapple, spinach and avocado.
Meat-free is one of the biggest trends in recent years and still continuously increasing in order to meet the demands of a rising vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian population. The unstoppable rise is a social and cultural phenomenon that makes a positive impact on a marked reduction not only on health issues but also on meat production and consumption. Dharma Garden Vietnamese Vegetarian Cuisine restaurant is established based on this concept, which provides mock-meat dishes. The dishes were designed to have identical appearance and the same flavour with the traditional Vietnamese cuisine. It helps people who are becoming vegetarians accommodate their new eating habits easier without making dramatic changes. For this reason, the restaurant is always searching for natural and healthy ingredients and developing new recipes.
However, mock meat is still a controversial topic among the vegan and vegetarian community. It is questionable that some vegans still want to eat mock meat or food with a similar look to the original one. The dish is usually made from soybeans but still provides enough amount of protein that a person needs. Plant – based food is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which plays an important role in promoting health and preventing disease. It might be only recent widespread or completely new for some countries. However, it has been well known in Vietnam, a country influenced by Buddhism. It is said that it was originally started in China and reached its highest in Tang Dynasty (618-907). “The imitation meat dishes are particularly associated with Buddhist monasteries,“ Fuchsia Dunlop, a Chinese food expert, said. A piece of evidence for this is that the restaurant had frequently received a large order of over 450 dishes from Thrangu Vajra Vidya Buddhist Association.
Dharma Garden Vietnamese Vegetarian Cuisine restaurant realized the importance of sustainability and tried to improve sustainable practices for the restaurant like using compostable napkins and packaging boxes. Besides, veggie food or plant-based food is a simple way to reduce biodiversity loss with the reduction of meat production and consumption. Along with protecting the environment, eating veggie food can also help us reduce and prevent the exploitation of animals. However, there are some drawbacks that the restaurant should change it into eco-friendly alternatives such as using paper or steel straws instead of plastic. Moreover, the water used for washing and rinsing is also an unresolved issue for the restaurant as a considerable number of plates and cutlery that they use daily.
Yelp.ca. (2018) Dharma Garden. Retrieved from https://www.yelp.ca/biz/dharma-garden-richmond-2
Ruby Lott-Lavigna. (2018) This Pop-Up Proves That Chinese Takeaways Don’t Need Meat to Be Delicious. Retrieved from https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/pawd9n/this-pop-up-proves-that-chinese-takeaways-dont-need-meat-to-be-delicious
Dharmagarden.ca. (2019) About Us. Retrieved from
Sources of some photos:
Facebook.com. (2019) Dharma Garden: Brandon Donation. Retrieved from http://www.facebook.com/brandondonation/
Instagram.com. (2019) Dharma Garden. Retrieved from