In a completely unassuming building that appears at first glance to be one of the many surrounding office buildings in a light industrial area of Richardson, sits one of the great finds in Texas that is largely unknown.
I’m probably going to regret writing about this place because a surge in demand will probably spike the price and boost attendance, but at its current $7 all-you-can-eat lunch price, it’s a bargain.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, you know how difficult it can be to find delicious food you can eat at an affordable price.
Fortunately, the Buddhists who attend the Temple in Richardson also experienced this problem. Their solution: open a restaurant in the Temple to serve the Buddhist community. Inside the building, which also houses a Buddhist day school for young children, next to a Buddhist Tea Room which isn’t open at the lunch hour, those who like to eat vegetarian or vegan cuisine, have discovered this is a great lunch place. Still, it’s a well-kept secret, good for those with a large appetite and few dollars.
This buffet has been around a long time. Community members from the many high-tech businesses in the surrounding area, along with the large Asian community living in the area are regular customers.
Located at 1111 International Parkway on the second floor, the buffet is understated. A statute of Buddha watches over you.
With folding tables, picnic tablecloths and a buffet line with admonitions to take only what you will eat, not to waste food and be mindful of not wasting the paper plates and plastic cutlery, you’ll feel like a regular monk when you eat here. Understandably, you are restricted in taking food out.
Bring a healthy dose of adventure with you, as the foods are not labeled, except for the soupy-looking “dessert” and other warning labels indicating a dish may contain egg.
Usually there are two lines of hot food, including rice, noodles, soup, eggroll, fried food and several vegetable and tofu dishes. The salads and desserts are at a separate table, as are the rice cookers with steamed white and brown rice. A limited drink selection of hot tea or water is available. I have seen people bring cans of soda.
You’ll hear a lot of Asian languages spoken here. I recognize, but don’t speak, a few words of Mandarin, but I believe there are usually people speaking Thai, Korean and Japanese as well.
While the atmosphere is on the austere side, there is soothing Asian background music and fake candles (that pass as real) that set the mood. A hushed tone generally prevails, just as if you were eating inside a Temple — which you are, of course.
If you can read the signs around, few of which are in English, there is also a hefty dose of Buddhist wisdom on display. The decoration may not be completely understandable, but you know that the sayings are traditional Chinese-fortune-cookie-type platitudes, nothing that anyone would object to.
Bottom line: If you want to feel like you’ve stepped into another world, one filled with good food, Buddhist wisdom and the peace and quiet of Asian culture, travel no further than Richardson.