When was the last time you went to eat lunch at a Buddhist temple? I went Monday, accompanied by Hooman and Malcolm, to the dining hall of the Buddha’s Light International Association. It is located in Richardson at 1111 International Parkway. From the outside you think you are at a normal 3 story office building. The only indication is the sign on the building that says “International Buddhist Progress Society”. Walk in the front door by the playground (there is a preschool for children inside) go up the elevator to the 2nd floor and you will find the dining hall.
They serve a buffet of all vegetarian dishes for only $6 per person. Additional donations are accepted in a large wooden donation box. In years past they had a big screen TV on with a Buddhist priest teaching. The last couple of times I’ve gone the TV has been off.
The food is always very good. There is a large pot holding white rice and two buffet tables holding a great variety of your favorite veggie recipes including: broccoli, tofu brown sauce (for the noodles), noodles, fried rice, spring roll (cabbage), a tasty seaweed, tofu dish, thin noodles (Hooman called them nano-noodles) – these are my personal favorite, fried balls (carrot, cabbage & potato) hot & sour soup, some veggie that I thought was sweet potato, but Malcolm said it is a type of gourd with green skin and grapes for dessert. There is also a nice black spicy sauce that is my kind of sauce (nice flavor and good kick). The menu does change often. Hooman, Malcolm what else did I miss?
The temple has been at this location since 1992 and has been serving food since 1994. They decided to serve food to provide a convenient place for their church goers to eat and experience good vegetarian food and for others to experience a meal where no animals had been killed. I received all this information from a lady who also served as a translator from one of the leaders there in the temple. She told us that a vegetarian meal is more peaceful (since no animals were killed). Another thing I learned while talking to her is that they do not serve garlic or onions either. Both can alter your mood and since in Buddhism you are trying to reach a state of peace you would not eat mood altering foods (garlic & onion) or meat (you have participated in killing a living creature). Interesting thoughts, maybe I need to start another blog related to philosophical and religious discussions (why do other animals eat animals… why do humans have many carnivorous biological features… is it wrong to kill mosquitoes who carry west Nile virus…why do we do evil things… who can help us and how), but that is for another day.
The hole in the wall factor is challenging for the Buddhist temple. As mentioned before the building looks like an office building and you would never know there is a restaurant there unless someone told you (that’s pretty ‘hole in the wall’ ish). The décor is next to nothing; a few Chinese character posters and then one wall with several posters and sayings. For example: “Relax and indulge yourself with vegetarian food and determine to be a noble person.” However, there is a lot of room and it is in a large 3 story building. So, taking all things into consideration, I will give it a 3 ‘holes in the wall’ rating.
The story rating is also challenging. It is not an official mom and pop restaurant. However, eating in a Buddhist temple is quite a story in and of itself. I will give it a 3 page rating (save the 4 & 5 page story rating for more interesting personal stories) since it is only one of the two Buddhist temples of the Buddha’s Light International variety in the country that serves food.
So, next time someone says lunch, tell them ‘have I got a place for you’ and take them to the Buddhist temple dining hall, my kind of place.