Since 2002, Bronx-based Buddhist monk Thich Thien Chi has been a spiritual guide to Vietnamese Buddhists from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. He's also turned his temple into one of the city's most interesting dining halls, working for hours every weekend to serve free vegetarian meals along with his Sunday service.
Thien Chi's use of vegetarian cooking to reduce the number of meat-based meals his followers eat is a novel way to put Buddhist principles into practice. In conversation, however, the monk downplays the significance of the food itself. As this year's Lunar New Year's celebration at the temple showed, a hot meal is but one of many sources of sustenance for a community facing the future.
Visit Chieu Kien Buddhist Center at 2011 Clinton Ave in the Bronx.