Simon’s Wok Vegetarian Kitchen is a popular Riverdale hole-in-the-wall that does veggies really, really well. With over 100 items on their menu, Simon can whip-up just about anything you’d find on a typical Chinese food menu. He’s got a knack for texture, using an array of vegetarian ingredients in such a way that you often forget you’re not eating meat.
A perfect example of this is the Assorted Wheat Gluten appetizer. And while they should really come-up with a better name for this dish on the menu, don’t be fooled. This is a must order. Texture abounds with these plant-based renditions of Chinese BBQ meats. Sweet & Sour or BBQ “pork,” Peking “duck,” Hainanese “Chicken.” All the bases covered here for BBQ enthusiasts; an assault on the taste buds and a great start to the meal. Thanks to my buddy Trish for insisting we try this, as I have typically glossed over said menu item.
Garlic Pea Shoots are my absolute favourite sidedish at any Chinese restaurant. Simon’s don’t disappoint. Cheap and cheerful, grab a huge plate for only six bucks, if only to accentuate your faux BBQ bites.
The show-stopper for me is their Three Mushroom Curry. I really enjoy the sweetness of Chinese curries, and order them at pretty much any Chinese restaurant I frequent. This rendition is meaty in texture thanks to the mushroom medley. The ‘Shrooms take on the flavour of the curry beautifully, and the rest of the veggies are nice and crunchy. This plate is a winner.
Shanghai Fried Noodles are my go-to starch accompaniment. They’re packed with mock shrimp that look and taste like the real deal. Mildly spiced, the bean sprouts add a nice crunch. These noodles definitely work with the gravy from the aforementioned mushroom curry. My mouth is literally watering as I jot this down. A delicious trip down memory lane.
Simon and his family have a great little thing going in Chinatown East. They’re elevating tofu, gluten and veggies to next-level status, all while keeping the price very reasonable. I strongly recommend working this place into your #meatlessmonday routine, or dropping by the next time you have a hankering for Chinese takeaway. You don’t & won’t know what you’re missing. Cash only.