- Quality: ★★★★ – Very Good
- Type: All Vegetarian (Vegan-friendly); Taiwanese/Chinese Buffet, all-you-can-eat
- Location: Zhongshan District, Taipei, Taiwan
- Price: $$$ – A Little Expensive (for Taipei – about 400-550 NTW for the buffet)
- Language Barrier: English labels but little English spoken (usually an English-speaking staff member around though)
- Website: HappyCow Page, Restaurant Website
About, Location, Access, & Contact:
Evergreen Vegetarian Restaurant (長春素食餐廳 in Chinese) is a slightly upscale, Buddhist vegetarian buffet located north of the Taipei Main Station area. Unfortunately, it isn’t located particularly close to any train stations. It’s about halfway between Zhongshan MRT Station (red line) and Nanjing East Road MRT Station (brown line). It’s about a 15 walk from either station. However, the 吉林國小 bus stop is fairly close by, and can be reached on bus line 606. (Other buses may stop here too, but I’m not sure).
- English Address: 38, Section 2, Xinsheng North Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei
- Chinese Address: 台北市中山區新生北路二段38號
- Phone Number: 02-2511-5656
When I asked a vegetarian friend what restaurant I should check out while in Taiwan, she told me that Evergreen was so good she still dreamt about it and that I absolutely HAD to go. With a recommendation like that I had to make the time to go, so one night another friend an I made the trek out to it. It’s annoyingly far from at MRT stations (you’re going to end up walking 15-2o minutes no matter what station you get off at), which might have deterred me. But I was determined to see what all the fuss was about!
I was surprised by how upscale it was – it’s a Taiwanese vegetarian buffet, but unlike others I went to it’s definitely not intended to be a quick in-out eatery. You pay flat fee for lunch or dinner (anywhere between TWD 400 and TWD 600), and it’s all-you-can eat . There’s two huge dining rooms with big and small white-tablecloth-draped tables, and although it’s busy the atmosphere is still much more refined – this is a place to eat and talk and really enjoy dinner as a communal activity.
They have a HUGE variety of food at the buffet – Steamed buns, battered & fried vegetables, fried rice, noodles, stir-fired vegetables, soups and stews, sushi, and more. You can even get made-to-order fried dishes from cooks in the back, although I was nervous about trying to convey what I wanted, so I didn’t get anything from them. There was a drink bar with coffee, tea, and other drinks. Desserts included an array of cakes (mostly non-vegan, unfortunately), fresh fruit, and a stand where you could prepare your own Taiwanese shaved ice.
Many Taiwanese buffets have a similar cornucopia of options, but one of the real benefits of Evergreen was not having to play a guessing game about was and wasn’t vegan. I went to several other buffets, but because of their low cost, limited staff and crowd of customers, I basically had to just use my best judgement to guess what did or didn’t contain milk. Evergreen took away all the anxiety – the friend I went with asked the staff what items contained egg or milk, and staff noted that all the items with eggs or milk have little signs next them that mark them as ova-vegetarian or lacto-vegetarian. The person I approached didn’t speak English Anything unmarked, they said, didn’t contain milk or eggs. I don’t think honey would be an issue in most dishes, but if you’re concerned and can speak Mandarin it’s worth asking. I also read online that there’s usually an English speaking staff member around, so even without a Chinese-speaking friend, you should be able to get your questions answered. Unfortunately the milk-and-egg signs are in only Chinese, so brush up on your vegan vocab before you go!
I saw a review on Happy Cow saying that only 1/3 of the options were vegan, which surprised me. When I went, it was at least 3/4 vegan (probably more), and most of the non-vegan dishes were the desserts. Maybe the options vary by day, or perhaps they’ve upped their game since that review was made.
I ended up not eating as much as I wish I had – I should have come hungry and just eaten everything in sight, but I got caught up in talking and didn’t focus on the food as much as I should have, unfortunately. I didn’t really get my money’s worth, I only got one plate! I got the fried rice, a coconut steam bun, a rice ball, some battered veggies, a slice of the “sashimi”, some noodle stir-fry and water chestnuts. The sashimi was really interesting – obviously it didn’t taste like fish, but the texture and coloring was really similar. I have no idea what they made it out of! It wasn’t really delicious (it didn’t taste like much), but it was fun to try, so I recommend it! Everything else was really good, but my favorites was the steam bun, which had a rich coconut flavor. I wasn’t expecting it at all, and it was so yummy!
For dessert, I made my own Taiwanese Shaved Ice. I’d been nervous about ordering it from other places – I know it sometimes contains condensed milk, so I was afraid of ordering it at a regular restaurant or stall, although I saw it all over. Here you could make your own, by taking a scoop of shaved ice and piling on sweet beans, different flavored jellies (without fear of gelatin!), sweet jam and more. I added some fruit too, which isn’t traditional, but I really wanted to try some! It was incredible, and I was so happy to have a chance to try it worry-free!
Overall, what little service I needed was excellent, the restaurant itself was clean and spacious, and the food was really delightful. If you’re vegan and you only have a chance to stop by one Taiwanese buffet, I recommend this one, because you won’t have to play an uncomfortable guessing game about whether or not your food is vegan. Don’t miss it! I only wish I’d tried more while I was there – hopefully next time I’m in Taiwan I’ll have a chance to stop by!