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Feb 15, 2008 10:39 PM

Vegetarian Dim Sum in Oakland?

Hello, I'm a Chicago hound here, in town for the long weekend with my brother. We want to experience dim sum. We are strict vegetarians, but I have heard there are some places that would cater to this. We are otherwise adventurous and want to experience authentic flavors, and so would prefer a place that is closer to traditional, however possible this is while asking for vegetarian. Any recs would be much appreciated! As for the rest of my weekend food adventures, I think there is plenty of reading material to make my selections already on here, but if there are absolute must-tries I cannot miss outside of dim sum, by all means suggest those too! Thanks!

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  1. welcome to the bay....this isn't dim sum but for authentic flavors, try Golden Lotus in Oakland. It's vietnamese vegetarian it and you'll find the address. It's one of the best asian vegetarian joints in the east bay so far...(granted i haven't been searching too hard) If you must, also try Cha-ya in berkeley. That's japenese vegan. It's not as good as it was 7 years ago but I think it's still worth a try for vistors. Hope this helps.

    6 Replies
    1. re: brip

      I don't know of any vegetarian-friendly dim sum places in Oakland. I think Yank Sing in San Francisco is the most vegetarian-friendly dim sum place in the area. Easy to get to on BART from Oakland.

      Yank Sing Banquet & Catering
      101 Spear St, San Francisco, CA 94105

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Of course, Yank Sing is also the most expensive Chinese restaurant in the United States (excluding faux places like Mr. Chow) so you have to take that into account. If you go in to SF you might as well go to Lucky Creation, 854 Washington in Chinatown, which I believe to be the only pure vegetarian restaurant in Chinatown, and which has a wide variety of mock meat and vegetarian dishes.

        1. re: Chandavkl

          If you stick with vegetarian dishes, or for that matter any of the traditional dim sum standards that they've been making for 50 years, Yank Sing is not particularly expensive. It's specials like Peking duck that can drive up the tab.

          Lucky Creation doesn't do dim sum. Note that the strictly vegetarian menu is confusing because they list soy "meat" as duck, pork, fish, etc.

          1. re: Chandavkl

            While Yank Sing is certainly among the pricier dim sum in the bay area, (but not necessarily the priciest depending, as has been pointed out, on what you order), I certainly doubt if it is anywhere near being the most expensive Chinese restaurant in the US, and to claim it is could be misleading to someone not familiar with their menu.

            For a truly expensive but not faux Chinese restaurant, check out the menu at Gi Fuh Loh, at Harrah's Lake Tahoe:


            For that matter, you could easily spend more per person than at Yank Sing at many places in the bay area, including Jai Yun, Koi Palace, Hong Kong Flower Lounge, or Asia Pearl, just to name a few, if you are talking about a Chinese banquet and ordering dishes other than dim sum. That said, someone who is strictly vegetarian probably won't spend a fortune at any of those places, whether ordering dim sum or not. (and I don't think Jai Yun would be a good choice for a vegetarian since it is a fixed menu).

            I can't think of any dim sum spots in Oakland or Berkeley that cater to vegetarians either, and think Yank Sing is a good suggestion. Golden Lotus does have some very nice dishes though I don't think it is a destination spot.

            1. re: susancinsf

              At most of my other favorite dim sum places, there's a good chance the servers won't speak enough English to tell you whether items are vegetarian or not.

              1. re: susancinsf

                Certainly you can spend a lot more in absolute dollars at any number of Chinese seafood restaurants if you order the expensive and exotic stuff. But how much might Yank Sing charge if they served abalone and shark fin? On an item equivalent basis I don't think there are many places pricier than Yank Sing.

        2. Most of the servers in Oakland Chinatown places speak excellent English -- or they can get you someone who does.
          Golden Lotus is strictly vegan as is Cha-Ya.
          However, many veg options are available at places like Peony and Legendary Palace -- just ask specifically. Make sure you tell them no meat, no fish, etc.

          Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese
          1686 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

          Restaurant Peony
          388 9th St Ste 288, Oakland, CA 94607

          Golden Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant
          1301 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94612

          2 Replies
          1. re: Joel

            Peony or Legendary Palace have good dim sum. If they have English-speaking servers now, either might be good for a vegetarian, but I didn't see much vegetarian dim sum at either.

            Neither Golden Lotus (Vietnamese) nor Cha-Ya (Japanese) serve dim sum.

            Legendary Palace
            708 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94607

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Some of them aren't often on the carts, aside from turnip cakes (and the more dessert-oriented food). The Chinese broccoli at either place is considered a "dinner" item so has to be specially ordered, but is quite tasty. There are also some chive dumplings with water chestnuts -- strong tasting but one of my favorites. Sesame balls with red bean paste inside are also good.

              Not as much variety, certainly, but for two people you don't need all that many dishes.

              Legendary Palace is the best place to get English-speaking servers; at Peony one usually has to flag down one of the waiters and have them flag someone else down. Then again, table menus are available.

          2. If you are strict, you need to watch out for the use of chicken stock in the dim sum items, even those advertised as "vegetarian". You also need to know that there is a high probability that "vegetarian" dishes may be cooked in the same container as those used to cook meat. So unless you go to a strict vegetarian Chinese restaurant that caters to Buddhist vegetarians, it may not be "strict".

            With that said, most dim sum place serve several vegetarian items. You need to get one of those waiters/captain type person (not the cart pushers), and they'll know about items that are vegetarian. Esp. watch out for items that may come with bits of pork or other meat items.