Great vegetarian at Chùa Giác Minh, Buddhist temple, East Palo Alto


Sounds like the “boon hway” that @Aisa_Basia mentioned here?

1 Like


Yes that it. Maybe I will see you there.


(Aisa Basia) #23

Yup, looks like the vegan “boon hway” I mentioned earlier this thread. This noodle dish seems to be a stable at our temple. We offer this very often because it’s quite popular.


(Aisa Basia) #24

The Buddhist temple observe a few major Buddhist holidays like Lunar calendar New Year, this varies each year as dictated by the lunar, Buddha’s enlightenment/nirvana day in January, Buddha’s birthday in May, Vietnamese mother’s day in July or August which slip my mind at the moment and perhaps 1-2 more day. I will ask the head nuns for the calendar and post it here on my next visit.

As far as this year 2017, our lunar new year fall on the weekend of Jan 28, 2017. It’s extremely crowded time of the year to visit by most native Vietnamese. If you’re a non-observer or non Vietnamese, try to avoid this occasion but you’ll miss out on some traditional vegan food that is available/made or offer during this time of the year.

For those that don’t mind the crowd, this weekend, we will offer additional snacks for sale to fundraising in the tent in the parking lot, on top of the food stall inside the basement.

There will be a variety of sweets, glutinous snacks, and our ever popular pandan flavor Vietnamese style coconut waffle.

There will also pilgrim bus tour visiting 10 Buddhist temples through out the bay area and Giac Minh temple is the first stop. So there will be lots going on so parking is scared. Try to park at Starbucks and walk over to our temple.


(Aisa Basia) #25

Yup, the above picture is “tau hu ky xa ot” or Tofu skin with chilli lemongrass. This is a dry version so i t’s really tasty with a kick and pair well with steam rice

In addition to this, we also have the stew version which is a little more mild and more liquid with a hint of 5 spices (pha lau’ style) in Vietnamese.

Yes, the salad is our also popular mango salad.


(Aisa Basia) #26

We have been prepping food in preparation for the lunar new year for a couple weeks already.

We will have pandan coconut waffle on sale out in the tent in the parking lot.


(Aisa Basia) #27

Serve The Homeless: I just ordered the banner for the temple and hopefully, you’ll see it put up in the temple this weekend. I’m currently running the temple Serve The Homeless program for the temple which we prep/cook and bring on site vegan food prepared with love by our volunteers to 2 different shelters in Redwood City and San Mateo once a month. If you’re interested in learning more about our program, stop by and say hello and pick up our serving schedule.

Some photos from our recent serving trips



Well I able to get there early this morning and loaded up on the goodies. If you think it is too crowed to go today then go tomorrow they will have most of the same item and it should be less crowded. I was told that it well be more of the same. When I got there this morning there were four or five buses in the lot.



I got there Saturday at around 2pm. There was still a big lunch crowd and people were milling outside the temple. I didn’t see the pandan coconut waffle. There were juice squeezing of sugar canes. I bought a soup with bittermelon wrapped around tofu with daikon. It was a great soup eaten both warm (in the winter) or chilled (in the summer if they have it). The broth was infused with the light sweetness of the daikon and a very mild and pleasing bitterness from the bittermelon. The daikon was very fresh. It was soothing and delicious. The tofu, as usual, was good and fresh.

This was the only item that I got because there was a big crowd surrounding the for-sale food table. Not speaking the language, and didn’t want to be very pushy on New Year’s day, I just pointed to this one item and settled on that.

1 Like

(Aisa Basia) #30

Yes, this past Sunday there were Buddhist temple pilgrimage organized tours. Giac Minh pagoda, our temple is the first temple out of the 10 temples that’s part of the organized tour.


(Aisa Basia) #31

Yeh…the pandan waffles probably ran out by 2 pm on Saturday. I was manning the sugar cane booth with my brother. My baby sister was the cashier/helper with the pandan waffle booth.

We were intending to offer the fresh squeezed sugar cane juice again on Sunday but I couldn’t purchase the fresh sugar cane. The Asian market that carried it closed during lunar new year. If the weather is warm and cooperating, I will most likely purchase the fresh sugar canes and have it on offer again.

As far as the handwritten special noodle soup of the day, I can try to decipher it phonetically for non-Viet speaking visitor :slight_smile:

  1. Vegan “boon hway”
  2. Vegan “boon mank jool” aka sweet and sour bamboo shoot noodle soup
  3. Vegan “boon mank kol” aka sweet and sour dried bamboo shoot noodle soup.

I thank current and prospective visitors in visiting our temple and if you see me around, do try to say hello. I usually wear either the red or jean apron :slight_smile: I typically try my very best to introduce or explain about the food to non Viet so you can be confidence and try our awesome offering.




What do you call that soup with bitter melon and daikon?

Will do now that I know how to look for you. I think you were quite busy handling the crowds seeking cane juices on Saturday!


(Aisa Basia) #33

Ha…thanks God you didn’t take a front shot of me. I’m extremely photo shy. The bitter melon soup is called bitter melon soup aka “kanh koh wah” in Vietnamese. The daikon is filler for the soup as we also cook our own vegetable broth.

Oh…yeh…the lady in the red jacket at the waffle station is also my friend, lol. Ok…I know most of the volunteers at the temple. Now that I’ve returned to working full time, besides major holidays, my usual volunteer day is Sunday, except when it’s Serve The Homeless day, which is on a Saturday.

1 Like


I visited the temple a few weeks ago as part of a small HO down. I forgot to post immediately, so specifics on some the dishes are hazy right now, but all were well prepared and delicious. A strong motivator to go there is that everything tastes to fresh— it’s so much better than what’s been sitting in the fridge forever at restaurants or at Sogu Tofu. The volunteers were friendly and helpful, and I look forward to returning soon!

My favorite dish was described by @sck in the original post as a sauteed/braised tofu dish. I believe the large planks were made up of layers or tofu skin, a Vietnamese counterpart to Chinese “vegetarian goose.” I loved how the aromatic broth was intense, but didn’t hide the flavor of the tofu skin.

1 Like


Late report from me.

I hadn’t eaten that burrito looking tofu thing in your picture for a long time but was quite glad that I got reacquainted with it. Tofu infused with dill. Herbaceous, aromatic and homey.

I also liked the mango salad better this time around. Apparently the key was to dunk a much larger amount of sauce/ fish sauce into the salad, as a volunteer showed the way. I didn’t add enough the first time and so the salad tasted bland. This time the salad was more brightly flavored thanks to the additional sauce.

After the meal, a participant bought a bunch more of the food to take home. Glad the food was enjoyable.

1 Like


Great basil monk fruit okra soup. A little sour, a little sweet, and just a tiny bit of heat. The soup contains puffed tofu, pineapple, tomato, basil, pea sprout, monk fruit and okra. Great eaten cool or cold. Even though the days are still cool, it is very refreshing. The monks and volunteers got skills in making soups.

Fermented cranberries, ginger, and one other fruit. Interesting dessert.

Salad with noodles.

Precision in making the raw sesame balls. Look at that scale on the table.

Also saw fried egg roll with, I was told, banana in it.

A relaxing day at the temple, with the entire Bay Area somewhere else for Mother Day’s brunch.



Told by a volunteer that next week they were celebrating ‘middle of July’ and there will be free food. These folks are so kind and gentle.

I looked up the lunar calendar and I guess they might be referring to Aug 15 of the lunar calendar- mid autumn festival.



The latest refreshing summer soup, with tofu chunks, strips of tofu, mushrooms, veggie-pork skins and a thickened broth.

Imitation beef soup

Tofu dessert with ginger cane sugar. Tasted just right, not too sweet, and totally homemade.

Freshly squeeze cane juice. This was the machine that squeezed the juice:

These were the sugar canes planted on-site. Super-fresh:

They also had some other squash like vegetable planted:

And chiles:


Not sure what these were:



Their sliced ‘pork belly’ was pretty realistic, with both fatty and lean layers. They got the texture of the fatty layers pretty close too. The vegetarians next to our table said that this type of fake meat is not available in other veggie places.

1 Like


Had this sweet banana leaf wrapped dessert with sticky rice and what seemed like mushed red beans. It was fabulous and would make my dessert of the year list just behind Dyafa’s kenafeh.

Mildly sweet. Not really smoky but tasted a tiny bit so with the sugar used. Very quickly finished.

This fried sesame bread was hollow in the center, very well fried and barely oily and plenty fragrant.

‘Chicken’ pieces and noodle of the day.

Next sunday-8/19 is going to be birthday of Buddha’s mom. Told there would be many varieties of food. Should be a big crowd for those who are interested.

1 Like