Enlightened Cuisine is always an epic, decadent treat. Mountains of well crafted mock meats, get in my face. And the best way to get mountains of mock meat in your face is to go with the set banquet option, which is an experience Jen and I had been eying off for months.
Having recently benefitted from a slight renovation spruce, the space at Enlightened Cuisine is still comfortably ostentatious, and always sports an eclectic crowd comprising anyone from Chinese families, hipsters, hippies to slightly stately older couples clearly on a fancy vegie date night.
There are two banquet price point options you can opt for, and within those options you have three different menu selections to choose from. We went with one of the $35 per head banquet options, where you get eight dishes all up. We started off with the mock shark fin soup, which was highly intriguing in terms of texture and quite tasty, although like most Chinese restaurant soups it came out scorchingly hot and I of course burnt my tongue. Silly rabbit.
The vegetable spring rolls came next and these were pretty standard, but good and crunchy with a nice array in terms of filling.
The kung po prawn was a mix of vegetables and wee little mock prawns that were most intriguing (to me anyway, I don’t think Jen was too keen on them). The kung po sauce was however VERY overpowering and neither of us liked the taste of it terribly much, so I ended up just fleecing it of prawns then left it be.
The sweet & sour pork however was damn good, same deal with mock meats nestling amongst a variety of vegetables, but the texture of the mock pork protein was freakily reminiscent of actual pork (it totally got the stringy way pork pulls apart right HOW CAN SOY DO THIS IT STILL TOTALLY BOGGLES ME). The sweet and sour sauce was also agreeably well done, I think this was my favourite dish of the night all told.
We’d been looking forward to the ma po tofu, as it’s always fab to experience a vegie version. The mock mince was nutty, the tofu tender and the spice level ratcheted up to “oh my that’s getting a bit warmmmmaohmygodHOT!” Being a chilli weenie I didn’t have as much of this as I probably should have given how nice it was.
The stir-fried mixed vegetables certainly helped to cut through all the rich sauces that accompanied the mock meat dishes.
The fried rice, kind of surprisingly, ended up being the dish that was most eagerly hoovered by Jen and I. It mimics your standard suburban Chinese restaurant fried rice even down to the little cubes of mock pork, but I don’t remember any childhood fried rice tasting this good. Highly impressed when a simple dish like this really brings the goods.
We were pretty stuffed by this point and were already feeling a bit guilty that we’d left so much of some of the savoury dishes untouched that dessert was seeming like an extra challenge. We needn’t have worried though, as the small dish of lychee and longans with ice cream turned out to be an excellent, light way to finish off the meal. I actually hadn’t had longans before, and I was interested to discover how similar they are to lychees in taste but are so different in terms of texture; they almost have a tight crunch to them, and are much firmer. I now want to do a series of longan dessert experiments!
The banquet selections at Enlightened Cuisine are certainly value for money given the obscene amount of food that ends up coming your way. Given how chagrined we were at how much we couldn’t fit in with just the two of us, I would think that the ideal banqueting party number would be three or four people. Now to confirm my hypothesis by gathering together a few more mock meat appreciating people and getting stuck in for round two!
113 Queensbridge Street, Southbank
Ph: 9686 9188