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Vegetarian dim sum?

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  • Dennison Aug 14, 2001 12:27 PM
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Hey all --

I'm a NY chowhound headed out for a week on the beach in Santa Monica (plus a side trip to Vegas). One of the friends I'm staying with is a vegetarian and we had trouble finding a suitable dim sum joint last time I was out your way. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

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  1. I can't think of a Dim Sum in existence ANYWHERE that isn't based on either pork or seafood... (even those fabulous sweet dishes are usually made with lard).

    4 Replies
    1. re: RedondoScum

      When my sons & daughter-in-law were vegetarians we used to eat at Yank Sing in S.F. and they made a meal out of vegetarian dim sum...all kinds of dumplings filled with various veggies.

      1. re: Kit H.

        I only know of and was referring to SoCal -- and I would be curious as to what those S.F. veggie DimSum were wrapped in... so many of the doughs have lard in them.

        1. re: RedondoScum

          There's the Chinese Islamic restaurant at the San Gabriel Plaza - they have fish dumplings there as well as vegetarian (chives, glass noodles, tree ear). Of course, great scallion pancakes too. Most dumpling wraps restaurants use are factory made - I don't see lard in the ingredients.

          1. re: critical

            Although I wouldn't have thought of them as dim sum sources, in the gringo sense, I guess the Islamic places are pretty unlikely to use lard-based dough, or pork-based sausage either....

    2. Most of the actual *dim sum* places I know soak things in lard. But... Shanghai dumplings, to my tongue, don't necessarily. Not technically dim sum, but close.

      Were this strictly a Shanghai dumpling recc, I would say: Meilong Village in San Gabriel. But for vegetarians, Dei Tai Fung (sp?) in Arcadia. Meilong Village wins on the meat fillings, but DTF has some of the neatest and most interesting vegetarian fillings around.

      Not sure about lard in the skins, but it doesn't taste of lard the way standard dim sum tastes of lard.

      And if you don't feel to bad about a little vegetarian alienation, order a crab-pork-soup dumpling for yourself.

      -thi

      3 Replies
      1. re: Thi N.

        Hi Thi -- Thanks for the heads-up on the Din Tai Fung Dumpling House. Sounds like it's definitely worth a try. Last time we wandered around the Monterey Park area without any luck. It kind of surprised me, since here in NYC we have a number of Chinese joints that serve various incarnations of traditional Buddhist temple cuisine, including dim sum. I was hoping to find something similar out in SoCal, but found a whole lot of lard-based dim sum instead (don't get me wrong, I loved it, particularly Harbor Village, but felt bad for the strict vegetarian I was with).

        Thanks for the response!

        1. re: Dennison

          There are about a dozen Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley that do the fake meats. I like Ten-In... Happy Family is also a big name. I'm sure you can find the others by searching this board or Google. Although I've never heard of it, it's certainly possible that at least one of these places does dim sum on weekends.

          Any non-vegetarians in the group will have to be pretty open-minded to go to one of these though. (Since the quality of the dishes varies widely, and often the good ones bear little resemblance to what they're supposed to be... like the veggie meatloaf at Ten-In that's called something like 'steamed fish' :))

          1. re: C. Sprouse

            I had a fried "fish" at Vien Huong in Westminster that might have fooled me if I hadn't known I was in a vegetarian restaurant. House of Vege in Lomita is also pretty good at this one. I also had a Taiwanese style "chicken" eggroll there that was an amazing counterfeit of the texture of meat. The veggie version of cha siu was rather less successful.