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Any good vegan/vegetarian restaurants in Scarborough?

I noticed some reviews on Lotus Pond on another thread but I wasn't sure from the context if it was still open? Any other places?

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  1. Lotus is still open and doing very well. It is one of my favourite dim sum restaurants in the city and is located at McNicoll, just south of Steeles. I'm going to create a post about it, so please look for that posting. A few must-try dishes for dim sum include the Deep-fried Curry Patties, their Gluten (best in the city), Crystal Buns (dumplings with veggies inside), Baby Pak Choy Dumplings, Deep-fried seaweed rolls, vegetarian shark fin soup, mango dessert (tong suiy), Pan-fried turnip cake and their lotus-wrapped sticky rice.

    I have included some photos below:
    Curry Patties: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
    Sticky Rice: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
    Pak Choy Dumpling: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
    Gluten: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
    Dumplings in Soup: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
    Seaweed Roll: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
    Tofu Roll: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
    Mango Dessert: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...

    Cheers and Happy Eating!

    8 Replies
    1. re: BokChoi

      Yes, Lotus Pond is still open. IMHO, it's the best Chinese veggie place in Scarborough... all of GTA, in fact.

      One thing that we always look forward to there is the dessert. We go for dinners most of the time, and are always delighted when it's red bean soup day for complimentary desserts. It's really hands down THE best in the city. Better than dessert places.... they make it oh-so-velvety-smoooooooooooth..

      Other than that, we love the veggie duck (fried bean curd). Ask for extra sauce. And ask for ones straight out of the fryer fresh too.

      1. re: jennjen18

        I agree, the red bean soup is amazing there. I do not even touch this dessert at the other restaurants around town. This is the only one I will eat. Another good dinner dish is the crystal fold with minced immitation duck (lettuce leaves).

        Cheers and happy eating.

        1. re: BokChoi

          we have also been eating at lotus pond for 12 years now!! Im delighted to hear that other people think its a fantastic vegetarian chinese restaurant as well. Thank you some much ..for sharing your favorite dishes as we have been eating the same dishes for almost 12 years now (we even know the Menu #'s by heart..sad eh?).
          Time to experiment though..its about time.
          Here is a list of our "must have dishes"..
          ..assorted gluten
          ...#50...veggie chop suey, honey walnut and hot pepper sauce
          #55....cashew nuts, mock chicken, mushrooms, celery, carrot
          #78...sweet and sour chicken (for the kids..lol)
          #96..the wonton soup...(so so flavorful)
          and we order something that isnt on the menu called "fake pork"...and we ask for xtra pork (coz its so good and we will happily pay for it).

          However next time we go there, Im ordering based on other chowhound posts!! Thanks again.

          1. re: domesticgodess

            For dinner, another stand-by favourite of mine is the egg tofu with cashews. I have been ordering it way too frequently over the years, so I've been getting a bit bored and forgot to mention it earlier. But you should definitely try it as a variation to the imitation chicken version. Cheers!

      2. re: BokChoi

        Thanks for posting those pictures! The dumplings look so good!

        1. re: Ediblethoughts

          No problem at all. I hope they help you choose what to try out. Cheers and Happy Eating!

        2. Oh another one's come to mind. Other than the Buddha's chow mein and the tofu fried rice that we always (and I mean 100% ALWAYS) get, we sometimes get a dish for dinner called (in Cantonese) "yim so" chicken. I can't even translate it literally in English 'coz the second character is .. I dont know what it means! Haha, but yim = salt. But I found that the mock chicken was so flavourful!!! This dish would usually come with stir fried gai lan, or you could get it in a noodle..

          1 Reply
          1. re: jennjen18

            Thanks for the recs, Jennjen. I'll give those a try next time. I love vegetarian dishes! Toronto needs more of these restos.

          2. There is also Graceful Vegetarian a bit north of Scarborough in the Market Square (the one beside the Pacific Mall) at Kennedy just north of Steeles. Not sure how good it is, but I am planning a trip there soon.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Pincus

              I've been there last year and found the Dim Sum quite pleasant. Definitely worth a visit.

              1. re: Pincus

                Not as good as Lotus. Try it, definitely try it, but I really found that Lotus's dim sum is just ... simply the best. Most intricate, most yummy tasting, ... most ... economical? nooo .. but ... I guess most bang for the buck.

                I dont know whether it's also because Lotus's owners are from a nearby Buddhist temple, so .. they put more effort into pleasing their local crowd. Not that they could really distinguish who's who, 'coz from what I hear, that temple's still pretty big. I usually go with some friends whom are also from that temple, and always go there to mingle ... Me? I just go for the food. :P They talk, I eat.... hehe....

                1. re: jennjen18

                  I would agree, Graceful doesn't match up to Lotus' standards for dim sum. I think I recall having a prince mushroom dish there once that was really tasty though. Their gluten is definitely sub-par though - but no one's gluten can compare to Lotus'. It's so scrumptuous!! Too bad they changed the texture of the little red cubed ones - I liked them a bit firmer (they tell me it's because most of their clients are a bit... older and have trouble biting through them using their dentures). But no complaints - they are still the first and foremost expert on gluten creations in my book!

                  1. re: jennjen18

                    Does Lotus have dim sum every day of the week? (Any advice on when one might go there when you wouldn't have to wait for a table?)

                    1. re: Ediblethoughts

                      yes, dim sum is served everyday from 11:30 until about 2:30 (call ahead to confirm). I have actually never had to wait for a table - but you can call ahead to make a reservation I'm sure. Let us know how you enjoy it!

                  2. re: Pincus

                    I haven't been there, but my coworker who is a vegetarian says it's very good. He is Caucasian and loves all types of ethnic food. He also likes Lotus Pond but had excellent comments on Graceful, saying the service is indeed, very "graceful." Hope this helps.

                  3. The Black Dog Pub in Scarborough (near the Rouge - Port Union/Hwy 401). They have a wide veggi selection (Enrgy Bowl is a fav) as are the sweet potatoe fries with Chipoltle dip or the red curry tofu scrmable for brunch....plus 54 kinds of beer all served on a nice patio. They also claim to be the Greenest resto inthe GTA

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Finnegan

                      That's not even in the Veg.ca catalogue (I don't think it is anyway). Thanks for the tip.

                    2. After reading this post, went to Lotus Pond for the first time this past weekend for dim sum -- ordered most of the items recommended below (plus the sesame balls dessert)this place is stellar. Even better than Graceful.

                      My only complaint is that while everything we ate was delicious almost all the items on the menu contained faux-meat gluten -- even more than at Graceful. Worth noting for the many vegetarians who are understandably turned off by food that "tastes like meat".

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: themself

                        Haha.. I have an SO that just cant stand meat. I can't bring him to Lotus either because there is just soooooo much gluten there, there's hardly a dish that's basic vegetarian, with no soy products in. I agree with you, themself. But then again, Chinese vegetarians' diet do contain that type of product .. so, it's hard to have it without. Though I understand your complaint for more non-faux-meat gluten dishes...

                        1. re: jennjen18

                          We have been going to Lotus Pond for longer than I can remember.
                          Graceful is good, but no comparison.
                          I was laughing at Jennjen's remarks, because we once took a vegan friend, and she too was uncomfortable with the meat taste of the chicken, and would only eat the mock fish and veggies.
                          Dinner is excellent, as well as the Dim Sum.
                          Recommend both.

                        2. re: themself

                          Hi themself, I didn't think I recommended that many dishes with gluten in it - which ones did you end up sampling? I too tend to avoid the gluten-heavy dishes, so I'm surprised by your post! I tried to recommend only the dishes I tend to eat, and they are mostly 100% veggie (no gluten). Glad you enjoyed it though!

                          pak choi dumpling: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
                          crystal bun: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
                          Curry pie: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
                          stuffed tofu: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...

                          1. re: BokChoi

                            Question - I'm up for trying Lotus Pond and Graceful, but will a meat lover like it? My husband is a die hard meat and potatoes guy and I've convinced him to try it, which he's fine with. Should we start with dimsum or go for dinner? I'm going to print out this forum so I'll know what to order.

                            Forgot to add: What does gluten taste like?

                            1. re: red dragon

                              A good Asian cook using gluten can make it taste very close to the meat they are imitating.

                              1. re: red dragon

                                I personally think their dim sum is stellar. Their dinner is nice, but not as varied as some of their dim sum selections. I recommend trying both out eventually though. Gluten has an interesting chewy texture. I personally don't find it very appealing and try to stick to vegetarian/non-gluten dishes when I order (unless you are talking about their gluten appetizer - which IMO is the BEST gluten offered in the city by far. The flavours are so intense and the textures are amazing. They do not taste like their meat counterparts though as they are supposed to imitate BBQ meats- but they are awesome). For dinner, their egg tofu, when pan-seared, is great. Their lettuce leaf wrapper dish is another winner. Who knows? Maybe your husband will become a convert!

                                Here is my photo set for dim sum at Lotus: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...

                                1. re: BokChoi

                                  LOL, no offense to the vegetarians out there, but my husband said he'd divorce me if I become a vegetarian. He's willing to try vegetarian, so I'll give him that! I think my MIL (mother-in-law) would enjoy it, so I'll think about taking her along as well.


                                2. re: red dragon

                                  Ummmm... I think that's kinda dangerous, really. :-P Mock meat is, indeed mock meat. It's not meat. At all. Never. And a meat eater would know ... and like my mom, she just seem to never understand why she'd go to a vegetarian restaurant to have mock meat when she could have real meat. So, when she DOES go, she goes to have top grade veggies done superb.

                                  Go with an open mind. Please dont expect mock chicken to taste just like chicken ... it's in fact soy. I'd rather they put the words "gluten" or "soy product" instead of "mock ______" 'coz it totally raises expectations. Like I said previously, the restaurant was opened by a couple who are Buddhists, which means that by their religion, they're not to eat meat.. thus the mock meat.

                                  1. re: jennjen18

                                    Some of my family/relatives are buddhist ...LOL, so I completely understand the vegetarian aspect. I think to be on the safe side, we'll order mostly veggies and veggie dumplings, desserts, etc. MIL (mother-in-law) might appreciate the mock meat dishes.

                                    Thanks for your feedback.

                                    1. re: jennjen18

                                      Some of my family/relatives are buddhist ...LOL, so I completely understand the vegetarian aspect.

                                      I think to be on the safe side, we'll order mostly veggies and veggie dumplings, desserts, etc. MIL (mother-in-law) might appreciate the mock meat dishes.

                                      Thanks for your feedback.

                                3. re: themself

                                  I'm not a pure vegetarian and I eat meat enough to know that it's mocking meat--not mock meat--in taste. I go to vegetarian places to eat vegetables--not to get mocking meat. So yeah, I agree completely. But then I've never been to a Chinese veg place that didn't have way too much mock meat. Oh well.

                                4. Here is a copy of the dim sum menu with the most recent prices (as of August 2008). Cheers and Happy Eating!

                                  Quality is not so great, but you get an idea of the offerings:

                                  1. So I finally went to Lotus Pond for dim sum and I had a mixed feel for the dishes we tried. I really enjoyed the stuffed bean curd rolls, deep fried salty pies and curry pies. I liked the stuffed veg tofu, eggplant and veg dumplings. I was less into the steamed rice flour tubes with fungus (fungus was too crunchy)--at least I think that was what it was called on the menu---and the mock pork with watercress (seriously, pork was so mocking me here) and the spring rolls were only ok. We also ordered the peashoot greens which, while of course (*sigh*) having no garlic added to the saute, was still very tasty.

                                    If I go back, it will likely be for dinner--and I'll make a note of the dishes posted here as being good.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Ediblethoughts

                                      Glad to hear you liked some of the dishes. Like most restaurants, many have their specialties - esp depending on your taste preferences. I was never a fan of the steamed rice tubes, the spring rolls, nor the mock pork with watercress (the pork was just ....tasteless IMO), hence why I never ordered them again (nor posted phots as recs. But to each their own, so I try not to recommend against certain dishes as I know everyone has different tastes. Hence I try to sway people through which photos I post and have comments in the photos if the dish speaks strongly to me one way or another). Hope you get to try some of the other dishes I have recommended as it appears you may have similar tastes to my own with respect to gluten/imitation meats. The dishes I generally recommend are either posted on this thread above, or on the posted photos.

                                      Cheers and Happy Eating

                                      1. re: BokChoi

                                        Thanks, BokChoi--and I definitely intend to try to use your recommendations as a guide next time I go.

                                        1. re: Ediblethoughts

                                          If you ever head over to try dim sum again - make sure you avoid the 'salad roll' or something to that name. It's this unappetizing concoction filled with mayonaise and veggies. Un gout tres desagreable (IMO). Then again, it's one of one of my guest's fave dishes... so hard to discount a dish completely.

                                          Their soup with orange rind is quite nice though if you have a chance to try the soups. Please note that if you don't order carefully (read: varied) they tend to have this one sauce that goes over every dish. So ensure you ask the waitress that you aren't ordering the same type of 'braised veggie' dish. It gets boring after a while...

                                          Cheers and Happy Eating

                                          1. re: BokChoi

                                            Yeah I know which roll youre talking about. Alternatively, there's this fruit salad roll.. again, a (spring) roll filled with mayonnaise and fruit cocktail. Blech.

                                    2. Lotus Pond is fantastic! I completely agree with the recommendations on this thread.

                                      Another restaurant option would be the Scarborough location of Saravanaa Bhavan, a fantastic vegetarian South Indian restaurant.
                                      Here's a link to the menu at Scarborough: http://www.saravanaabhavan.ca/saravan...

                                      I've really, really enjoyed their lunch buffet. As a strictly veg place, there are always lots and lots of vegan options on their buffet. I find South Indian food seems to have a lot less paneer/cream than North Indian, which makes the food infinitely more vegan-friendly. Enjoy!

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: thora

                                        Hi thora, I have always meant to try Saravanaa Bhavan. What dishes do you recommend from their normal menu (I am not a fan of buffets)? Also, do you find their dishes to be light (ie less oil)? You had mentioned less cream - but I am looking for something on the lighter side - if that is possible. I find most of my meals at Indian restos tend to be floating in a sea of oil/ghee.


                                        1. re: BokChoi

                                          Hi BokChoi,
                                          I've actually only eaten the buffet from Saravanaa Bhavan! But, I've never disliked anything there, so I can't imagine you'll go wrong ordering off the menu! Let me know if you end up ordering a really wonderful dish - I've been meaning to go order from the regular menu.

                                          Although so many of the breads (poori, etc.) and specials are deep-fried, the curry dishes themselves are not overly greasy. I do feel very, very full after a meal there, but I suppose that's mostly because I indulge a bit too much on the deep-fried goodies (and the sheer amount of food on the buffet is so, so tempting). Stick to rice instead of poori or the vada (savoury lentil doughnut) and you should be alright!

                                            1. re: BokChoi

                                              You're welcome!
                                              My boyfriend reminded me, though, to let you know that the food is certainly quite dense & rich. So, while it's not overly greasy/floating in ghee, it is still a bit heavy.

                                              Let me know how it goes!

                                              1. re: thora

                                                What dishes did you like of the buffet items? Maybe I can start from there with regards to trying the normal menu. I am not that familiar with South Indian food so I am not sure what to try.

                                                1. re: BokChoi

                                                  I'm sorry BokChoi - I was out of town.

                                                  I'm having a hard time matching up my memories of the buffet with the items on the menu, but I'd say you would do well with a dosa filled with masala veggies and an order of Baingan Bartha (spiced roasted eggplant). For dessert, try out some Rava Kesari - I'm pretty sure this is what they always serve on weekends!

                                                  Maybe some of the other CH can weigh in with their favourite south indian dishes?

                                                  1. re: thora

                                                    Thanks thora, no worries.

                                                    Thanks for the suggestions. I will try them hopefully soon and let you know my thoughts.

                                                2. re: thora

                                                  I tried out Saravanaa in Mississauga and while I found the food tasty, I didn't realize until I looked at the menu that they are one of those veg Indian places that don't have many... vegetables. It appears from the website that you have to go to Scarborough to get the aloo gobi/aloo palak, etc. Oh well.

                                        2. I went to lotus pond for the first time today. It was delicious!! I took my grandmother, who loves chinese food, so I was a little nervous that she wouldn't like it. Good thing she did, because now we have a new chinese food restaurant that we can visit without me having to worry about hidden meat ingredients (fish sauce, etc).

                                          The employees were very friendly and could speak english, despite what others have said on this forum. Our server was even good enough to ask us if we were ok with egg being in the rice (a nice warning, especially if you're vegan). We ordered the stuffed tofu (wonderful texture, but the sauce was bland), deep fried dumplings (awesome!), steamed vegetarian dumplings (not bad, but I wasn't crazy about the pink vinegary sauce that came with them), fried rice with mock chicken (my grandma's choice - very flavourful even on its own, despite the fact that there didn't seem to be any spice in it) and sweet and sour gluten chicken balls (also my grandma's choice, but admittedly, very good!) I will definitely go back and try some of the more unusual dishes...this time I tried to stay fairly close to the bastardized chinese food that my grandmother has been eating all of her life!

                                          So yes, I also recommend this place - even if it is a bit of a trek for you (as it was for me), it'll be worth it!!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: kweenshaker

                                            Glad you had an enjoyable visit. Please do report back if you have discovered any 'must have' dishes during your visits.