Is this vegetarian? – Smiles, nods head yes.
Is there meat in this? – Smiles, nods head yes.
Bangs head on table.
When you think about what kind of food they eat in China, what comes to mind? You said it. Dog. What’s the best way of ensuring you don’t accidentally eat dog in China? By eating at a vegan restaurant, of course! Vegans and non-vegans alike should take this into consideration. That being said, I found myself planning my trip to Beijing with apprehension. Would I be able to eat anything there? I shouldn’t have been so worried. After all, China is home to one of the oldest vegan communities in the world. It is even the birthplace of seitan. Thanks, Buddhism! Rest assured, there are quite a few options, and some very delicious ones at that, for us plant-munching folk. I was able to visit 7 places during my stay in Beijing, here are my top 3 (in no particular order)!
1.) BAIHE LILY VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT
This was the first restaurant I visited in Beijing. After getting lost and walking around with my suitcase for 2 hours, this restaurant’s peaceful atmosphere was just what I needed to unwind. Needless to say, I was starving by the time I got there, having also missed breakfast at my hotel that morning. I may have been ready to devour anything happily, delicious or not, but the food here far exceeded my expectations. The seitan, in particular, was really tasty. Most of the staff do not appear to know any English, however, so best be prepared not to have any of your questions answered. You order by looking at pictures of the dishes on a tablet, which seems to be very popular in China. That took a little getting used to, but if you’re lucky, there will be a boy there who speaks some English that can help you. If not, well, I’m sure if you press enough buttons you will eventually get something. Not long after I arrived, a table full of monks came in to get lunch. You know how the saying goes, ‘eat with the monks and you can’t go wrong’…ok, maybe I just made that up. Regardless, if you eat here, you definitely can’t go wrong. One of the said monks tried to give me a token on the way out, but being from NY where orange-robed “monks” run rampant, I didn’t take the bait.
Baihe Lily Vegetarian Restaurant, 23 Caoyuan Hutong, Beijing, China
2.) THE VEGGIE TABLE
Walking into this cafe was like walking into a coffeeshop in the East Village (NYC). From the comfy couches and abundant greenery to the acoustic rock music wafting gently through the air, this was the type of place you could come to read a book, sip a coffee and just chill. Well, except for the screechy American at the other table complaining about her food, which was probably not salty enough for ‘Merican standards. First off, the waitstaff here were super nice AND they spoke English. The food was plentiful and tasty – especially the Dal curry and the chili. No frills, no chills, just a warm vibe and some good, simple grub. Sometimes in life, and in travel, that’s just what you need.
The Veggie Table, 19 Wudaoying Hutong, Dong Cheng District, Beijing, China
3.) SUNAO PURE VEGAN TEA
This lovely restaurant was a bit on the fancy side and made me wish I didn’t look like something the cat dragged in, but I wouldn’t have made it to the restaurant at all if I had stopped to change at the hotel before dinner. Luckily, I made it to the restaurant before it closed and found myself enjoying my last meal in Beijing in a chic, private booth in this serenity-oozing restaurant. The waitstaff showed us how to operate the tablet menus and let me tell you, there were a lot of options. It was a bit overwhelming, and having gotten there just an hour before closing time, I was pressed to make quick decisions. A few hasty decisions and ten minutes later, the food arrived. I was not disappointed. The food was utterly delicious and very artfully presented. I don’t think you can go wrong, no matter what you get. I would recommend getting there well in advance of the closing time, however, as they started turning off the music and lights while we were still eating.
Sunao Pure Vegan Tea, Nanxincang Business Building 1F, Dongsishitao, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
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