By Eden Ramsay
I’m the kind of person that loves a good buffet. I like being able to try many different things and pick my portions. A buffet allows people to fill their plate to the brim and go back for more once their plate is empty.
Unfortunately, this means that customers often get charged a lot to pay for the amount of food they could potentially eat. Many buffet lovers do not eat enough to get a good value from the often high prices of all-you-can-eat deals. For these types of people, there is Affinity Vegetarian Garden Restaurant’s lunch buffet.
Affinity Vegetarian Garden is an understated downtown gem at 208 Edmonton Street. Since 2001, it has been serving up its Taiwanese-Chinese cuisine with an all-vegetarian (if not vegan) menu. The atmosphere is inviting, casual, and relaxing. Upon walking in, you are greeted by statues of the traditional maneki-neko, or “beckoning cat” waving you to come in with their upturned paws. The staff are always just as friendly and provide speedy service for patrons.
For light eaters, one of the great things about Affinity’s buffet is they charge by weight. This means that you can have a very substantial lunch and be able to try many things at a very reasonable price. When getting the lunch for takeout I am able to fill up my Styrofoam container and pay around $8 to $10 and try a little bit of everything. I’d say I eat an average amount so this is a pretty good deal. They charge by weight to prevent the wasting of food, which is always a good thing.
The quality of the food in the buffet is also very good. They offer up the standard fried rice, shanghai noodles, as well as many dishes you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. There are usually a couple of battered, deep-friend options. When I went this week I tried the deep fried yam which was delicious, with a crispy, delicately spiced batter.
I also really enjoy their chili eggplant. The eggplant is stir-fried and juicy and spiced with basil. It is not too spicy, but just spicy enough to add a little kick to the melt-in-your-mouth eggplant.
Their delicately steamed broccoli and cauliflower is also very good. The asparagus is delicious as well and comes sliced, in a light tasting soy-based sauce spiked with sesame seeds.
There are two sushi rolls available — one being avocado. The other one contains carrot, asparagus, a vegetarian protein, and carob seed. This one has a nice contrast of textures and flavours. They are both generously sized, and very fresh tasting.
Actually, all of the dishes in this buffet are very fresh. Even though there are several deep fried options, none of them are greasy tasting. In fact, everything in the buffet tastes pretty healthy, especially since there is an abundance and wide variety of freshly cooked vegetables in most of the dishes.
You can also add some flavour to your dishes with their very spicy chili sauce, sweet & sour sauce, and delicious wasabi sauce.
Unlike many places that offer Oriental cuisine, Affinity does not use MSG in their food, they cook all of their food with purified water, and their green tea is imported specially from Taiwan.
Affinity’s lunch buffet is available Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you go on a Monday you can even get an additional 10% off on all food for their Vegetarian Monday special.
Check Affinity Vegetarian Garden Restaurant out to experience some great tasting food at an excellent value. I definitely encourage you to try a little bit of everything from their no-fuss, fresh, and simply tantalizing Taiwanese-Chinese vegetarian buffet.
— — —
Eden Ramsay is a Creative Communications student at Red River College. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from the University of Manitoba and majored in graphic design. She loves culture, design in its many forms, and exploring the world around her. Follow her on Twitter: @EdenRamsay.