Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ren Ci Vegetarian

I want to write about this vegetarian place - not so much of their food but the whole concept of it. Ren Ci Global Village is found in Sungei Petani (SP). It is one of 3 vegetarian outlets managed by Ren Ci Holdings Sdn. Bhd. (仁慈之家) - a NGO in northern Peninsular promoting peace and (apparently) vegetarianism. Their other two outlets are in Alor Star and Butterworth.

Their SP branch is located on Jalan Mutiara 1 in Taman Mutiara Indah. On first look it is like any other restaurant. But its concept is refreshingly different.

The place provides simple vegetarian food. There is no service in this place. You serve yourself. The food is available in a food counter. You scoop your own rice and serve yourself to the various vegetable dishes. You take as much as you can eat. But the golden rule is that there should be no wastage.

The food is simple, yet delicious. The dishes are all unpretentious. There are no pseudo meat and no wannabees - all simple vegetables cooked in various manners. There are not much choices, but whatever they have look very fresh and appetizing. I enjoyed the simple yet delicious cooking.

They also have a beverage counter where you can help yourself to water, tea and coffee.

They even have dessert. On the day we were there, it was pumpkin bubur cha-cha.

After your meal, you are expected to wash your own cutlery. They have a long wash basin complete with washing liquid.

And you have to wipe clean your plates, cups, etc, and return them to the proper places. You are also expected to wipe your table before you leave.

All these expectations are really not unreasonable, considering that you do not need to pay for your food. Yes, indeed you can eat for free in this makan place. You need not pay a single sen. However if you want to, you can make a donation. There is a collection box, and it is entirely up to you whether or not or how much  you want to give. I saw people walking off after their meal without paying. I also saw people inserting red notes into the box.

Is this place a soup kitchen of sort? That was my initial impression. But as we stayed there longer, I realized it was not. The people who patronized here certainly did not look like they needed to go to a soup kitchen for a meal. Some came in nice cars. Some dropped in more money into the donation box than the value of their meal. I believe most came there just for the simple vegetarian food.

Ren Ci Global is a very nice and amiable place. It is very clean and obviously very well kept and maintained. Apparently the workers there are all volunteers and they are cordial and friendly. And as far as I could see, the patrons co-operate very well too. They do not waste food, and they clean up after their meals in a orderly manner to keep the place neat and tidy. The whole concept is so very refreshing. Why can't meat eaters do the same? I can't wait for Ren Ci to come to KL or PJ.

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