A thousand thanks for the existence of the Jyun Kang vegan restaurant. When I first moved here, almost 6 years ago, I searched and hunted for vegan and vegetarian restaurants. Much to my surprise, there weren’t many. While on my weekly town trips to Ukiah, I usually settled for bean and rice burritos at the Mexican joint, or mixed vegetables and rice at the Asian café. Then, I heard about The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, a Buddhist Monastery and University in Talmage, just outside of Ukiah, (map,)which has this small, vegan café on campus. I have to admit that I was a little intimidated about going to the place at first, but once I made the, “pilgrimage,” I’ve never wanted to eat anywhere else.
When you arrive, they ask that you sign in at the administration office first. Although, I know that some people don’t, I feel that it is the respectful thing to do, especially since it is a school with children present. Besides, it gives you a chance to get up close with some of the many peacocks that frequently hang out in the parking lot.
The Jyun Kang vegan restaurant is just down the road and around a corner from the administration office. It’s a small building with a beautiful Asian garden out front. Inside, the dining room is plain and perfunctory, but almost always full of diners. The staff members are ever so polite and the service is usually good…although, the dishes rarely come out in the order that you’d expect them to. (Oh…spring rolls for dessert.) The prices are dirt cheap, so I don’t expect Michelin star wait-staff. You should come prepared with some bills in your pocket, as this restaurant takes cash only. Sorry, no checks, or credit cards are accepted.
They tell you that their food is vegetarian, but I’ve honestly never seen any dairy, or other non-vegan products on their menu, so I feel free to call it vegan. It’s interesting to note that their dishes contain no onions, scallions, garlic, leeks, MSG or eggs. The food is prepared very simply and has a wonderful, homemade quality to it. There’s not a lot of overly rich, canned sauces, or high degree of seasoning. It’s just a collection of tasty dishes, prepared with grace and love. Some of my favorite menu items include: Wor Wonton Soup, (a meal in itself,) Golden Tofu Seaweed Roll with plum sauce, Sautéed Mushroom with Basil, Ginkgo Nuts with Fried Mushroom and Seaweed Roll, Cucumber and Carrot with Thai Style Tom Yam Sauce.
They also have a takeout menu. I’ve gone home with their Vegetable Buns, which were quite yummy. I’m still eyeing their Nutritious Buns and Smoked Bean Curd for the next time I’m doing the all day, town run and don’t want to cook when I get home. The restaurant asks that you please bring your own containers for takeout and leftovers, if possible.
One more thing that I’d like to mention…they have a small bookshelf at the register and they allow you to browse at the books while dining. There’s quite an interesting array of reading materials there, mainly about Buddhist life. I picked up their beautiful cookbook, WOK WISELY, and asked how much it was and they told me it was FREE. I couldn’t possibly have taken it home without making a modest donation. I love the book and use it all the time. Since then, I’ve also picked up a small, interesting autobiography about a travelling priest, again, with another small, monetary contribution made to the CTTB. (Please note that this was not asked for by the staff, but it was my decision alone.)
So…if you are ever driving through Ukiah, take a little side trip to The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and have a meal at the Jyun Kang vegan restaurant. They’re open every day except Tuesday. It’s easy to find. Just take the Talmage exit off the 101 and turn east. The road runs right into the gate of the campus, about 2 or 3 miles down. Upon entering, look for the administration building on the right. Drive slow and watch out for the peacocks, guests and students. Happy eating!