At the International Buddhist Progress Society’s kitschy café, your server will likely wear prayer robes; after all, the space itself is decked in fresh flowers and filled with the scent of incense wafting from the adjoining meditation room and library.
Serving simple but tasty vegetarian fare, the IBPS brings monastery food into modern times with typical spring rolls and dumplings or won ton soup ($3.50 each) and fresh or frozen mock meats and dumplings available to go. But the best deal is the lunch special ($5.95), served all day, consisting of a mound of rice (brown, if you’re lucky), four side dishes, and a bowl of soup. The sides and soup are random, depending on what’s available, but they usually include two tofu or yuba dishes, greens, and sautéed root vegetables. You can order the same thing and get a different (but always appealing) meal every time. After a few visits, the servers noticed I never finished my Japanese eggplant, so they started replacing it without my asking.
Work though the large selection of teas. Try the kumquat hot or cold ($1.99; $5/pot), or the jasmine, mango, or taro bubble varieties ($2.50), the only non-vegan items offered. And if you like osmanthus tea, this is the only place in Cambridge I’ve been able to find it.
The International Buddhist Progress Society, located at 950 Mass Ave, in Cambridge, is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 11 am to 5 pm. Call 617.547.6670.