Tucked into the second floor of an office building in Richardson is an unlikely offering: a cheap, fresh, vegetarian lunch. The building is home to the International Buddhist Progress Society, a Buddhist temple and school.
Upon entering, head to the second floor. Steps from the elevator is the Dining Hall, which serves a vegetarian lunch buffet for just $6, cash only.
The selection is modest; there are three small bars of food. The day we visited, they served five entrée items, as well as iceberg lettuce salad, spring rolls, fried rice, steamed rice, noodles, a soup and dessert.
Don’t expect detailed descriptions of the food offered each day, in fact, don’t expect any descriptions at all. The only items that are labeled are “soup” and “dessert.”
The food is straightforward. The day of our visit they offered tofu, served in a sweet orange sauce, and freshly steamed baby bok choy. They also had broccoli with purple yams and a chicken-like vegan “meat” substitute, and another dish with vegan “meat,” this one served in a brown gravy with potatoes.
We could tell the tempura fried “meat” was a popular dish because its tray was constantly being emptied. It didn’t stay empty for long, though, as staff were quick to refill food.
Interesting to note, the International Buddhist Progress Society does not use any garlic or onions in its cooking because in Buddhism, they “are considered mind-altering, and in order to reach a state of ultimate peace, those foods are not allowed," according to IBPS' website.
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Everything about the International Buddhist Progress Society Dining Hall is no frills. You eat on paper plates with plastic cutlery. Water and tea, the only beverages available, are served in doll-sized plastic cups. The rows of communal tables are covered in checkered plastic tablecloths.
The Dining Hall was packed by 11:35 a.m., just five minutes after opening, and a steady stream of people continued to arrive as we ate. We overheard other diners saying it was the end of the Chinese New Year festival, which is why the Dining Hall was unusually busy.
Time your visit right, because they are only open 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday through Friday (closed Saturdays). If you visit on Sunday, also check out the Tea Room, not far from the dining hall. Open from 11 a.m. till 4 p.m., it serves teas, vegetarian cuisine and desserts.
International Buddhist Progress Society, 1111 International Parkway, Richardson