Most people visiting Hsi Lai Temple seek spiritual rather than culinary restoration. This is born out by the contents of Hsi Lai's vegetarian lunch buffet. Traditionally "stimulating" spices like onion, garlic and chive are forbidden--for eaters anticipating the Asian sour-spicy-hot-sweet panoply on tap in the valley below the monastery, this will not excite. But treat your meal, like your visit to this largest Buddhist temple in the United States, as an opportunity for contemplation and you will be sated. Some dishes are so neutrally flavored they may as well be invisible; others are more flirtatious. Fresh seitan, pillowy, minimally kneaded and stewed with ribbons of wood ear mushroom, weeps hot oil and soy, and is best heaped atop a mound of broken rice and spiked with Hsi Lai's sambal-like chili paste. Quarters of young bamboo shoot, textural semi-crunch wisely un-tampered with, are paired with nutty-sweet edamame. I didn't understand the gai lan (Chinese broccoli), reduced to a vinegary, rubble-like, and muddled with scraps of wide rice noodle. The anemic fresh salad and fruit bar is clearly an attempt to placate non-Asian visitors. It's best to consider your meal at Hsi Lai Temple one moment of a longer, more nourishing meditation. The monks behind the stove will thank you for taking as much as you can consume, and not a spoonful more.