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Going to Little Pepper -- but DH can't eat pork!

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  • cjk5 May 16, 2008 11:12 AM

Hi all,
I don't know much about Chinese food, but I am going to China (Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai) for vacation in a few weeks and am doing some culinary research to get into the groove before I go. I was scrolling through the boards, and based on your recommendations, am dying to try Little Pepper. So tonight we're planning on going and getting the whole fish with bean curd, the lamb with spices, dried green beans, mapo tofu, and whatever else strikes our fancy (we can eat a lot -- and the spicier the better!). The problem is that my husband can't eat pork for religious reasons, and I understand the mapo tofu has pork in it. My question is, do you think they will make it for us without pork? If so, do you have any suggestions as to how I can ask them since we don't speak Chinese? Also, can you recommend any other pork-free dishes that are not to be missed?

I really appreciate any feedback you can give me. TIA!

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  1. see if they have "flower dofu" which isn't the same, but really amazing...great sauce. would be an appetizer, and I think they have it. otherwise you should be able to communicate with them regarding the meat. they can probably do it with beef which is not Non-traditional. if you can't get the point across, see if a friendly Chinese-speaking customer will help out. have fun, just returned from Flushing myself.

    1. Little Pepper can be pretty english challenged
      - Mapo Tofu - with regards to this dish, you are correct that it has ground pork in it, they should be able to easily accomodate this, but I guess the question is can you communicate that. I think the easiest way would be to memorize a chinese phrase, when you order the mapo tofu (which is the actual name of the dish in chinese) just tell them "mei you zhu rou" (phonetically i guess itd be "may yo ju ro"), literally translates to "without pork meat". You could obviously give them a more complicated explanation, but i think this simple phrase will suffice
      - Other dishes: there are so many dishes you could order and searching the boards (search for "little pepper" or "xiao la jiao") you can get alot. Here are a couple other quick recs (besides what you already mentioned):
      - Cold cucumber appetizer (its usually called "xiang kou huang gua" in chinese), its very refreshing
      - Dan dan noodles (dan dan mian) - noodles in a soy and hot oil sauce with pieces of ground beef and some vegetables...its really good
      - Water cooked beef or fish (shui zhu niu rou / shui zhu yu): I really like both of these dishes

      4 Replies
      1. re: Lau

        I haven't eaten at Little Pepper but used to order mabo tofu at other Sichuan places without the meat because my ex didn't eat mammals. Sometimes the restaurants would put ground chicken instead. It's easily done, but as Lau said, the most difficult thing is the language barrier.

        1. re: Lau

          I've not been been to Little Pepper but traditionally Dan Dan Mian is made with ground pork, not ground beef.

          I think a more clear Mandarin phrase to indicate one does not want pork would be to say "Bu Neng Chi Zhu Rou" which means "I am not able to eat pork."

          Mei You is also used in past tense and that could cause some confusion.

          1. re: scoopG

            yeah ure right, but i was trying to keep the phrase as simple as possible

            u might be right on dan dan mian, but i coulve sworn it was beef

            1. re: Lau

              How's this for cjk5 to try? Here's the written Chinese so she could hopefully print it out:

              我們不可能吃豬肉

              pinyin: Women Bu Keneng Chi Zhu Rou

              "We cannot eat pork" or "We are not able to eat pork."

        2. Awesome! Thanks for your posts! I have memorized the phrase "may yo ju ro!"

          1. I agree with Lau, it's a language thing but not totally uncommon. They will do it for you.

            I have a non-pork-eating friend who is addicted to Xiao Lajiao. He's been to Little Pepper many times and they have definitely accommodated him. It doesn't hurt that he's a languages grad student, and spent a year in China, eating Sichuan food!

            Anyway, he loves the cold bean jelly (liangfen), cumin-rubbed lamb cooked in foil, mapo tofu (which he gets without meat, I assume), water-boiled fish (shui zhu yu), and "fish-flavored" eggplant (yuxiang qiezi), if you need more non-pork dishes.

            1 Reply
            1. re: kathryn

              oh yeah, agree on the cumin lamb, im a huge fan of that dish at any good sichuan place

            2. a bit too late but...I always go to Little Pepper with vegetarians and they have no problems. There actually is a Tofu dish which is essentially Mapo Tofu without pork. I forget the name though.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Widmark

                I have no idea what Little Pepper calls it, but the mapo doufu without meat is often called "Family Doufu."

              2. Mapo dofu usually has ground beef, actually.

                4 Replies
                1. re: JFores

                  Are you talking about Little Pepper specifically? Because most recipes I've seen calls for pork.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    Most of the time when I've had it it has been with ground beef. I might be wrong, but I was pretty sure.

                    1. re: JFores

                      fuchsia dunlop, in her authoritative tome, calls for beef. but when i make it, i use pork. using pork just might be an americanism? or it is a matter of personal taste? beef is used in several sichuan dishes in her book in recipes "we" normally associate with pork: dan dan mian is another example

                      1. re: sambamaster

                        Dunlop's regular Dan Dan Mian recipe in "Land Of Plenty" calls for ground pork. Her version of Xie Lao Ban's Dan Dan Mian calls for ground beef. The Ma Po Dou Fu recipe in her book calls for ground beef, which she calls unusual, even for Sichuan cuisine.

                2. I adore their cold Sichuan noodles. (#7 on the Lunch special list on the paper take-out menu; you can have it for dinner) To avoid language issues I just grab a paper menu when I enter and circle what I want to eat. Those two ladies are the sweetest people!

                  1. I haven't read through most of this post but just want to suggest that when you go to Little Pepper -- which I love -- you should take a look at the nearby Golden Mall and the Xi'an restaurant there. Since you're going to Xi'an, this will help your culinary research. Also, most of the dishes they serve were invented by Muslims and have no pork. The owner is not Muslim so he does have pork dishes, but coming from Xi'an he will be very understanding of a no-pork request (and he speaks English quite well).

                    www.chowhound.com/topics/497820
                    sorry if my post is too late to help you