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Dec 13, 2006 04:30 PM

Vegetarian Dim Sum in Los Angeles?

We're visiting LA for the holidays and my husband is a vegetarian who loves dim sum............has anyone come across any veggie dim sum places? There was one in Santa Monica some years ago and I don't think it's still there, but unsure.
Thanks, all!

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  1. Hello, artfxca! I think you can find many vegetarian items at any of our large dim sum restaurants. Surely one of my favorites is Capital Seafood at Atlantic and Garvey in Monterey Park. It is in a back corner of an outdoor mall with 99 Ranch Market.

    If you select carefully, I know you can enjoy an entire vegetarian meal; they have many tofu and vegetable items.

    5 Replies
    1. re: liu

      Do be careful, though, because pork and seafood, or chicken stock, do manage to work their way into many, many otherwise vegetarian dumplings.

      1. re: Das Ubergeek

        Unless you have the language skills --and even then lots of patience and persistence -- it might just be safer to assume that there is some chicken stock or pork in most dim sum.

        My FIL speaks Mandarin and when we go with him to dim sum, he always tries to get the cart ladies to tell us which things have meat in them and which are just seafood or just veggie - and inevitably we get at least one or two things that have small pieces of meat or a distinctive chicken-y broth flavor. If the vegetarian is stickler for things being veggie, dim sum seems iffy.

        BTW - we have the worst communication at Ocean Star and Empress Harbor and medium success at Mission 261.

        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          Not only do you have to assume there is chicken stock or pork in the fillings, but a lot of the dumpling skins use lard or meat-based shortening.

          1. re: Jwsel

            "but a lot of the dumpling skins use lard or meat-based shortening"


            That's clearly not true.

            Dumpling skins are water and flour. That's it.

            1. re: Jwsel

              Sometimes, they may use beaten eggs to seal the dumpling skins. But I would guess they would probably use water instead--cheaper and easier to clean up.

        2. Not dim sum per se, but they have many great vegetarian dishes at Happy Family in Monterey Park. Good faux meats and vegetable dishes

          1 Reply
          1. re: Ernie

            ah yes. happy family is a delicious vegetarian restaurant!

          2. Lots of vegetarian type dishes at dim sum places, but no vegetarian dim sum restaurants per se.

            1. I've gone to Empress Pavillion (in the Bamboo Plaza between Broadway and Hill, and Bernard, in Chinatown) for dim sum with vegetarians, and either they really liked it or were just being polite. I also have a "fair weathered" vegatarian friend (not very strict about it), and Empress for dim sum is one of her very favorite restaurants.

              With the same caveat that these may have been prepared with chicken stock, lard, etc., here are a few vegetarian things off the top of my head that you can get there:

              -Gai lon (chinese broccoli), a very safe bet
              -Fried Egg rolls (I think they just have cabbage but I'm not sure)
              -Sesame red bean balls (the size of golf balls, on the "fried stuff" cart with the eggrolls)
              -Jellyfish (same cart as the roast duck and chicken)

              Lots of things with shrimp:
              -Har gow
              -Shrimp with chive
              -Shrimp rice noodle

              I know there are many other dishes but those come to mind. You can also order anything off the menu.

              1 Reply
              1. re: chowmominLA

                Gai lan is a good bet, but the sauce served with it contains oysters. Fried egg rolls almost always have pork in them. Most of the desserts are safe bets, but jellyfish isn't vegetarian, it's seafood!

              2. I believe that ipsedixit is correct in saying that there aren't any true vegetarian dimsum style restaurants in L.A. There used to be one in San Francisco Chinatown ("Kowloon"?), but that won't be of much use to you here.

                You didn't say what part of town you'll be in, but if Santa Monica is convenient for you, then you'll probably want to disregard this recommendation, which is Bean Sprouts Vegetarian Restaurant at 103 E. Huntington Drive all the way out in Arcadia (Arcadia is east of Pasadena along the 210 freeway). We found the food attractive and flavorful and the service excellent, and their dumplings in spicy sauce were as good as any we've had around the San Gabriel Valley. You won't need to speak Chinese to manage there and you will be totally assured that there isn't any chicken stock in the soup or pork in the spring rolls.

                See also this post: