Bodhi occupies a corner of Cook and Phillip Park under St Mary’s Cathedral, and it’s been there since 1988. When the restaurant opened, no one, except maybe a handful of Taoists, thought it would last a month. It was one of Sydney’s few vegan restaurants, serving Southern Chinese food but without garlic, onion, shallots and chives. The eatery is Taoist, a tradition of Chinese origin that advocates veganism and prioritises living in harmony with the Tao, a substance of the entire universe.
The menu includes grilled pumpkin curry with crisp kale; faux-meat sliders; and chickpea-battered cauliflower with roasted peanuts, pickled apple and a tomato and carrot sauce. These sit alongside signature dishes of sweet-and-sour chicken and the vegan faux Peking duck pancakes – two dishes Bodhi served when it opened.
For lunch there are dumplings, a Vietnamese rice-paper wrap, and a bunch of noodle dishes. For dinner there is what Bodhi describes as “Oriental tapas”: dishes such as grilled miso eggplant with radish, pistachio, sunflower seeds, micro herbs and avocado; noki and shiitake mushrooms served with Chinese braised tofu, broccolini and a sauteed spinach puree; and salt, pepper, coriander, tempura konjaku “prawns”. There are also “sliders”, such as the tempeh with Indonesian sticky soy glaze, wasabi red cabbage and apple slaw.
The space is light, bright and in a garden, with outdoor seating and a roof of greenery above diners.